GV Career Center workshop helps students prepare for jobs


GVL / Meghan Tripp

Joseph Poulos, Staff Writer

On Jan. 11, the Grand Valley State University Career Center hosted a virtual workshop called “Designing Your Future: Identifying Great Opportunities and New Approaches to Your Job Search.”

Hosted by Associate Director of the Career Center Lisa Knapp, the content of the workshop aimed to counsel students on how to best find a job and ways to market themselves to potential employers.

One of the first subjects addressed was the requirements listed on job postings, which can sometimes seem unrealistic.

“We know that job postings are dream sheets,” Knapp said. “An employer is sitting in their office and they’re talking to lots of people, and they say, ‘If we have the ideal candidate, what would they bring?’”

Many students said that they have an overall feeling of anxiety when searching for jobs, especially those fresh out of college.

“Often, we don’t feel qualified and it is not a fun endeavor,” Knapp said.

Assistant Director of the Career Center Lisa Orlando agreed with the idea that employers’ expectations can sometimes be unrealistic.

“It’s like you’re challenged before you even submit,” Orlando said.

Knapp said employers realize the discrepancy between applicants’ experience and the necessary requirements listed for a job. She said that often, employers are willing to meet students where they are if they show a majority of the qualifications.

“A job posting is a wish list,” Knapp said. “Candidates don’t have to have 100% of that wish list. (Having) 75% makes you a great candidate for that position.”

Additionally, Knapp emphasized the importance of having clear and concise goals. She stated that individuals should think about what they want from a job and what they can bring to the table as potential employees. 

“Your goal should be specific, reasonable and attainable,” Knapp said. “When you have something specific, people that are in those areas are more likely to think of you.”

Knapp said it’s important to conduct proper research when looking for a new job and that there are many aspects to look into within the process.

“75% of our time should be (spent) exploring our options,” Knapp said. “If I want to live in Grand Rapids, my options are going to be very different than if I want to live in a large city like Los Angeles, New York or Chicago.”

Knapp said certain websites can be beneficial to do this research such as LinkedIn and Handshake which allow people to network with other people and search for opportunities. Other ways to find jobs include industry-specific websites and organizations which can target the search to an individual field.   

“Companies are going to spend their advertising money on where they think they can reach the best candidates,” Knapp said. 

Knapp also said that networking is key and that individuals who have different connections may be able to get jobs.

“Networks don’t have to be 500 people wide,” Knapp said. “There are eight people in my lifetime who helped me develop and move into an opportunity where I could get hired.”

The types of questions a job-searching student can ask employers or connections are also important. Knapp emphasized the importance of reflective and open-ended questions which allow the respondent to consider their opinions and experiences before giving an answer. This allows people to talk about what they do every day and open up the conversation. 

“When people reflect on things, often it changes the dynamic of the conversation,” Knapp said. “They’re going to leave the conversation with you and think, ‘Wow that was great, I haven’t felt that way in years.”

Knapp said individuals should keep track of where they have researched and who they have talked to in order to organize the various parts of the job search. 

She said students can work to create support systems while searching for jobs. This system can help individuals check in on each other’s organization and progress, which can create mutual accountability. 

When it comes to applications, Knapp said the cover letter can be one of the few things that differentiate people from other candidates in similar programs or fields.

“Cover letters give you a voice to stand out from the other applicants,” Knapp said.

This seminar was a part of a series of workshops called the Career Readiness Series, which will discuss different aspects of starting a new career.

The next event is on Jan. 25 at 6 p.m. Students can register online on the GVSU events website.