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How to Change Careers in 12 Months

Dreaming of higher paying, more rewarding, and less stressful work? If you’ve felt your passion at work plateau, it might be time for a major career shakeup – after you have all of your ducks in a row, of course. These are the steps Computer Systems Institute (CSI) recommends taking to make the leap to a new career:

  1. Take a deep breath! This is an exciting moment in your life that will allow you to invest in yourself and your interests.

  2. Discover your strengths. If you know you’re ready for a change, but are overwhelmed by all of the different career paths available to you, take some time to find out what types of careers you are best suited for. Personality and career tests are very helpful in identifying the areas you excel in. Career coaches can also be an indispensable asset during this discovery phase.

  3. Ask to job shadow. Because changing careers has the potential to impact every corner of your life, it’s important to do your due diligence and make sure what you choose is really what you want to do. After all, it’s one thing to read about a job online, it’s a whole other thing to actually see it in action. Research local companies with roles you’re interested in and ask if you can shadow for a day – it will be telling!

  4. Take inventory of your skills. Believe it or not, you won’t be starting from scratch when you launch a new career. Over the course of your life, you have cultivated many soft skills that are transferable to any career, including:

    – Critical thinking
    – Active listening
    – Judgment and decision making
    – Reading comprehension
    – Oral comprehension
    – Deductive reasoning
    – Inductive reasoning
    – Problem sensitivity

  5. Gain the technical skills you need. With many critical soft skills already under your belt, the next step on your career change journey is gaining technical experience. This can be done by continuing your education. At CSI, we offer a diverse line-up on business, healthcare, and technology programs that combine lectures and hands-on training to prepare you for a career change. The best part? Our one-year programs are affordable, so you won’t need to break the bank to change your career. You will also receive personalized guidance from your first day on campus through program completion and beyond. 

  6. Start the job hunt. Don’t worry – you aren’t alone in this daunting task. CSI has your back and will help you create a resume that deserves a second glance, teach you how put together an effective elevator pitch, share tips for interviewing, and much more.

Launch Your Dream Career in Just 12 Months!

It’s never too late to invest in yourself and your dreams. To find out how CSI can help make your career change aspirations a reality, contact us today.

5 Tips for Acing an Interview

Congratulations! You’ve put in the leg work that comes with applying for a new job and have landed an interview. Unfortunately, you aren’t off the hook yet. Now, you have to wow your potential employers.

Yeah, yeah, easier said than done – we know. But if you effectively prepare, you will be on your way to updating your LinkedIn profile with a new title. Here are Computer Systems Institute’s (CSI) top tips for acing your upcoming interview:

Do your Due Diligence

By the time your interview rolls around, you should be very familiar with the following:

  1. The role you’re interviewing for. Double and triple check the job description, and be prepared to explain how your education or past work experiences have given you the skills to complete the responsibilities listed. Don’t forget to think about the soft skills the company is looking for as well, such as teamwork, leadership, organization, etc.

  2. The company you’re interviewing at. Do. Your. Research. You should know as much as you can about the company before your interview, including its mission, values, history, and products/services. You can glean this information from the company’s website, social media channels, newsletters, recent news coverage, and even friends familiar with the business. This preparation will be a measure of how committed you are to landing the job, and your interviewers will most definitely take note.

  3. Who your interviewers are. If names are provided ahead of time, you should familiarize yourself with your interviewers. This allows you to get a sense of their current roles and experience, and will help you anticipate potential questions they might ask you. It also gives you an opportunity to formulate personalized questions for each interviewer.

Review Sample Interview Questions

While you won’t be able to accurately anticipate every question that comes your way during the interview, you can review and practice responding to commonly asked sample questions. Here are some of the most popular (a quick Google search will surface hundreds more):

  • What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are your professional goals?
  • What is your greatest professional achievement?
  • How have you overcome a challenge in the workplace?
  • What is your ideal work environment?
  • What are your salary expectations?

We recommend holding mock interviews with friends, family, or a mentor, so you can get comfortable with your responses.

Practice Your Elevator Pitch

During an interview you can be sure the following request will come your way: “Tell me about yourself.” This is an invitation to share your elevator pitch. It should include who you are, what you do, and what you want to achieve – all in relation to the job you are interviewing for. When it comes to creating an effective elevator pitch CSI recommends:

  • Speaking slow, clear, and concise 
  • Using simple language
  • Exuding enthusiasm
  • Practicing!

Prepare your Documents

We don’t recommend arriving at your interview empty handed. Bring copies of your resume and your portfolio. As a CSI student, you should have many worthy work samples to choose from upon graduation.

If your interview is taking place via phone or video, you can skip this step.

Dress for Success!

You don’t get a second chance at a first impression, which is why it’s important to dress professionally. A button-down shirt, tie, and nice pants tend to be a safe bet for men. Women can choose from a nice dress, or blouse with a skirt or slacks. Regardless of the outfit you choose, ensure it is pressed and ready to impress.

Learn More

If you still have the pre-interview jitters, don’t hesitate to reach out to CSI’s Career Services team for assistance. We can help you with all of the above and more. Email careerservices@csinow.com and we’ll be in touch.

How to Create an Effective Elevator Pitch

Benjamin Franklin said the only things that are certain in life are death and taxes. At Computer Systems Institute (CSI), we’d like to add a third: the need for a kick-butt elevator pitch. Whether you are at a networking event, interviewing for your dream job, or just meeting a potential new friend, you can be sure the following request will come your way:

“Tell me about yourself.”

These four words can turn a simple conversation into a meaningful moment in your life…if you are prepared. That’s why we’ve outlined what you need to know to craft a statement that will wow potential employers and acquaintances alike.

The Art of the Elevator Pitch

As its name suggests, your elevator pitch should be delivered in the time it takes to ride an elevator (usually around 30 to 45 seconds). So, how do you sell yourself in less than a minute? Start with the basics, including:

    1. Who you are: Begin with your first and last name – it’s as easy as that!
    2. What you do: Are you a CSI student? Recent graduate? Discuss your program and the skills you gained. This is also a great time to highlight your achievements and experience. Consider any and all relevant experience you might have, including internships, externships, volunteer work, etc. Ensure you sprinkle in the specific results/outcomes you reached, and discuss what sets you apart from others with similar qualifications.
    3. What you want to achieve: Speaking of professional goals…make sure you share them! Use your elevator pitch as an opportunity to reiterate what you want.

Need an example? Here is a model elevator pitch:

“My name is Bob Smith. In 2019, I completed the Business Career Program – Digital Multimedia Concentration at Computer Systems Institute. During my program, I mastered best practices in graphic design, webpage design, search engine optimization, social media optimization, and more. Following my studies, I worked at a local marketing agency where I was able to gain first-hand experience building and promoting three different websites. Today, I am looking to use my skillset to help your company achieve your digital marketing goals, and would love to learn more about this position.”

Tips for Success

As your work on your elevator pitch, keep these tips and tricks top of mind:

Speak Slowly and Clearly

You might feel pressured to speak quickly to fit as much information into your elevator pitch as possible. It’s key to resist this urge. It doesn’t matter if you have an excellent elevator pitch if your audience doesn’t understand or can’t retain what you are saying. Remember, less is more!

Use Simple Language

Assume the person you’re talking to isn’t familiar with the abbreviations and acronyms that might feel second nature to you. The last thing you want it for your message to get lost in translation.

Exude Enthusiasm

Don’t be so worried about reciting your elevator speech perfectly that you appear robotic. Fluctuate your tone, pause for emphasis, and remain upbeat and positive.

Practice Makes Perfect

The best way to ensure your elevator pitch is up to snuff is by practicing. Recite it in front of your mirror, to friends, mentors, or anyone else who can provide feedback.

Take Advantage of CSI’s Career Services

When it comes to feedback, don’t forget to utilize CSI’s career services! In addition to working with you on your elevator pitch, our team can:

  • Help you define your career objectives
  • Share resume best practices, such as:
    • Tell a story about you AND the prospective role
    • Have clearly defined sections
    • Incorporate keywords and phrases
    • Use a design that correlates with the job you want
  • Provide cover letter assistance
  • Offer tips and tricks for nailing interviews

Email careerservices@csinow.com for assistance! Simply include your name, goals, and any relevant documents (resume, cover letter, etc.), and we’ll be in touch.

7 Things You Must Do Before Applying for a Job

The job market is more competitive than ever, requiring applicants to bring their A game when pursuing new opportunities. That’s why Computer Systems Institute (CSI) prepares students for success beyond the classroom, and is available to help with career development, resume writing, and interview preparation. If you’re diving into the job hunt, make sure you prepare to put your best foot forward BEFORE submitting your first application. Here’s how.

Update Your Resume

Think of your resume as a personal advertisement that boasts your work history, education, qualifications, and skills. According to the Ladders Inc. 2018 Eye-Tracking Study, recruiters often have less than 10 seconds1 to review your submission, so you have to make a strong first impression FAST. Follow our tips for creating a stand-out resume that deserves a second glance:

  • Tell a story about yourself AND the prospective role (personalization is key!)
  • Break the content into clearly defined sections
  • Incorporate keywords and phrases
  • Use a design that correlates with the job you want
  • Proofread again, and again…and again

Craft a Personalized Cover Letter

This one-page document should explain why you want to work at the company, why you’re a good fit for the role, and any other relevant information about what you will offer. Paint a picture of your qualifications with your words, and, most importantly, tailor every cover letter you write to the job and company.

Contact Your Professional References

Many employers request contact information for at least three references. This allows them to confirm your abilities from a third party and get a better understanding of how you will fit into the role. Be very strategic when determining who to list. Consider:

  • Who will sing your praises?
  • Who is familiar with your skills and work ethic?
  • How long have you known this person?

Pro tip: ALWAYS ask before listing your references. You want to give them a chance to decline, brush up on your qualifications, etc.

Prepare Your Portfolio

Show that you can do more than talk the talk. Your portfolio should confirm that you have the skills needed for the job you are applying for. Only include your best pieces of work that show the breadth of your abilities. It never hurts to get a second opinion on what to include from a current or former instructor, mentor, or trusted peer.

Ensure Your Online Presence Is Professional

A CareerBuilder Study2 found 54 percent of employers have decided not to hire a candidate based on their social media profiles. Trust us, you do not want to fall in this category. As you post on your social channels, avoid publishing offensive content or photos that cast you in a negative light. You should also consider making your social media profiles private.

On the flip side, don’t forget that social media can be used to your advantage as well! Having an up-to-date LinkedIn profile is a must today, and is a great way to reiterate the information on your resume.

Network. Network. Network.

It’s simple: The more connections you have, the greater your chances of advancing your career. Break out of your comfort zone and ask to grab coffee or lunch with the people in your network, and remember, it’s not all about you. Consider what you can bring to the table to help the other person, and understand that sometimes networking can take months or even years to pay off.

Lean on CSI for Career Help!

Have questions about preparing for the job search? Don’t hesitate to reach out to careerservices@csinow.com for assistance! Simply include your name, career objectives, and any relevant documents (resume, cover letter, etc.), and we’ll be in touch.

1 Ladders Inc. “Ladders Updates Popular Recruiter Eye-Tracking Study With New Key Insights on How Job Seekers Can Improve Their Resumes.” PR Newswire: News Distribution, Targeting and Monitoring, 6 Nov. 2018, www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ladders-updates-popular-recruiter-eye-tracking-study-with-new-key-insights-on-how-job-seekers-can-improve-their-resumes-300744217.html.

2 CareerBuilder. “Number of Employers Using Social Media to Screen Candidates at All-Time High, Finds Latest CareerBuilder Study.” PR Newswire: News Distribution, Targeting and Monitoring, 26 June 2018, www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/number-of-employers-using-social-media-to-screen-candidates-at-all-time-high-finds-latest-careerbuilder-study-300474228.html.

5 Resume Tips for Recent Graduates with Limited Experience

Sending a text. Pouring a cup of coffee. Reviewing a resume. What do these things have in common? They all take 10 seconds or less.

*Cue your double take*

That’s right, recruiters spend less than 10 seconds – 7.4 to be exact – screening a candidate’s resume, according to the Ladders Inc. 2018 Eye-Tracking Study. Taking this into account, it is critical that you clearly and quickly sell your skills and talents to potential employers. This can be particularly challenging for students or recent graduates who have limited relevant job experience…but not impossible. Here’s how to create a resume that warrants a second glance:

Tell a story about yourself AND the prospective role. When crafting your resume, you must draw a clear picture of your talents, work history, education, career goals, and more. The kicker? All of this information should be tailored to the position requirements. Always, always customize your resume.

Break your resume into clearly defined sections. Your resume should include:

  • Your name, email address, and phone number.
  • A summary of your qualifications that highlights your achievements, skills, and experience. This brief blurb should appear directly under your name and contact information to help recruiters quickly glean your qualifications.
  • An education section that features the name and location of your school, the credentials you earned, your field of study, and your graduation year (or anticipated graduation year). You can also include your GPA if it demonstrates academic merit. According to Monster, “It’s best to only list a GPA of 3.0 or above.”
  • The industry certifications you have earned. If you are new to the workforce, you likely won’t be able to boast years of experience, but what you lack can be supplemented with other relevant qualifications that can validate your skills to potential employers, such as certifications.
  • A list of your professional skills that relate to the job listing like attention to detail, communication, and collaboration.
  • The awards you have received, if applicable. There is no time to be modest when it comes to your achievements!
  • Your work history, listed in reverse chronological order (meaning your most recent experience appears first). As you build this section, consider any and all relevant experience you might have, including externships, volunteer work, etc. Ensure that everything included focuses on the specific results/outcomes you achieved.

When crafting this content for your resume, you must think strategically. As mentioned above, every piece of information you share should tie back to the job you are applying for.

Incorporate keywords and phrases into your resume. Upon first glance, a recruiter or keyword tracking system will look for specific words and phrases that show your skills and expertise. According to Indeed, the keywords you use should describe your hard and soft skills, as well as demonstrate your accomplishments.

Design your resume for the job you want. There are countless resume templates available on the web, some flashier than others. When choosing a design, consider the job you are applying for. If you are pursuing a career in graphic design, use your resume to showcase your skills. If you are entering the world of medical coding and billing, you may want to consider a more reserved approach.

When in doubt, follow these best practices:

  • Use Verdana or Arial fonts.
  • Avoid varying the font size on your resume. Instead, use an 11 or 12 font size, and consider bolding headlines and dates for differentiation.
  • Do not use italics, fancy fonts, or page borders.
  • Never include watermarks or background colors on your resume. Use a plain white background with black font.
  • Always print hard copies of your resume on quality paper.

Proofread again, and again…and again! One of the easiest ways to ensure your resume gets cast aside is by having spelling or grammar mistakes. Try reading your resume aloud, asking a friend or advisor to review, and using Spell Check before submitting.

This is a lot of information to digest. But the good news is you don’t have to go it alone. As a student or recent graduate, you have multiple tools at your disposal to create a knock-out resume. Organizations like Computer Systems Institute (CSI) are committed to helping you from your first day on campus (or Zoom!) through the job search.

Keep in mind that a resume is just one component needed when applying for a job. To learn more career preparation tips and tricks, check out CSI’s blog.