The School of Professional Studies at Centenary University provides multiple support services to compliment the academic learning experience. In collaboration with the University’s Career Development Center, SPS offers career resources and guidance specific to adult learners.
Gain a competitive edge with career exploration strategies, tips on how to prepare for an interview, meaningful relationship building, and more topics to help you think about how your strengths, interests, and skills intersect with the careers you are considering.
We encourage you to make an appointment with a Career Advisor to get started!
Table of Contents
- Career Assessments
- Career Action Plan
- Job Search Strategies
- Relationship Building
- Cover Letter/Resume
- Professional Organizations
- Career Resources
In order to gain more insight on which career path best aligns with your values, the use of skills and assessment tools can be beneficial. The following assessments can assist you with determining which career path(s) best fits your needs, as well as your goals:
Occupational Choice Factors: This self-assessment worksheet helps you hone in on the occupational factors that mean the most to you when making career-based decisions.
Work Values and Life Preferences: This self-reflection worksheet aids in identifying your personal work values and life preferences to improve your ability to recognize positions that may provide overall career and lifestyle satisfaction.
Transferable Skill Checklist: This worksheet helps you to identify which skills you have mastered through your education and past work experience that can be transferred to a new role or work setting.
CareerOneStop Work Values Matcher: This free career aptitude test covers questions about different aspects of a job or workplace to help you find your ideal work environment. It is based on the O*NET (U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network) Work Importance Locator assessment tool.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): This personality assessment tool based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types uses your resulting personality profile to explore career options that match your personality type.
- This exam can be taken at the Parsippany campus for a fee of $20.00; please email MyAdvisor@centenaryuniversity.edu to schedule an appointment to take this exam and to discuss your results.
Career Action Plan
Whether you wish to advance in your current career or enter a new career field, by developing a career action plan you can create the roadmap towards landing your dream position.
A career action plan helps you reflect on your career aspirations and set clear priorities using a structured approach as you identify your career objectives and the steps necessary to fulfill those goals.
By completing the Career Action Plan, you will be prompted to self-reflect on and outline your career goals and define steps to make towards reaching these goals. Once submitted, this form will be shared with our Career Advisor for review. The Career Advisor will then reach out to you to schedule an appointment to discuss your goals further and set strategies towards fulfilling your career objectives.
When developing your career action plan, it is important to keep in mind the goals you wish to accomplish in order to reach your professional aspirations. Used as a goal-setting tool, SMART goals are made using a specific set of criteria to ensure that your goals are achievable. Please use the SMART Goals Worksheet as a tool towards achieving your short-term and long-term career goals.
Job Search Strategies
The first step prior to building professional connections and using job search strategies is to define what you want. If you can define the role and setting that best fits your work and personal values, then you can use job search strategies to identify available positions that match your preferences.
Once you have identified what you desire, the following strategies can help you work towards realizing your career aspirations:
- Apply to positions wisely – Instead of applying for all the openings you come across, be selective with the roles for which you apply. Once you define the specific desired role(s), tasks, and work setting, search for openings that best align with your preferences.
- Individualize your applications – For each position application, tailor your cover letter and resume to showcase your potential in that role. Tips to customize your applications include:
- When possible, directly address the hiring manager or the supervisor of the role in the cover letter rather than “To whom it may concern”
- If you have vast previous experience, tailor your resume to include experiences that best fit the skills sought in the new role
- Include the keywords from the job opening description in your cover letter and resume
- Utilize your connections – Once you begin your job search, use your current professional and personal connections to share your aspirations. Using digital platforms such as Handshake or LinkedIn can help connect you with potential job opportunities. Professional and personal connections alike can aid you in your search by letting you know of potential opportunities of interest.
- Develop an elevator pitch – Imagine that you had 30 seconds to share who you are, what experience you have, and why your experience matches the role for which you are searching … what would you say? By having an “elevator pitch” ready, you will be prepared to share this information with potential employers when the opportunity arises, either at the beginning of an interview or when you have a moment with an executive from a company for which you would love to work.
- Enhance your skill set – If you can identify a skill that would aid you within the new role you are seeking, search for opportunities to either learn or enhance this skill. Opportunities to develop new or enhance current skills may include formal education courses, continuing education workshops/webinars, company training opportunities, and training provided by professional organizations. Developing your skill set will not only directly benefit your career potential, it will also show potential employers that personal and professional growth is important to you.
- Use Handshake – Showcase your talents to over one million registered employers at Handshake. Create, upload and update your résumé, portfolio, cover letter, and more. Submit them to recruiters seeking qualified job candidates like you.
Creating connections both within and outside of the classroom can create opportunities that can benefit you personally and professionally. These connections can disclose new professional opportunities, as well as create a support system for you as you fulfill your goals. As you meet your instructors, peers, and other professionals, take the time to communicate with them to help create and foster these relationships.
Here are some tips and resources to build upon and enhance your relationship-building skills:
- Always be yourself – When creating new connections, you do not need to be the most outgoing person in the room, but you should be an authentic one. Use your natural talents to connect with those around you and to find those who inspire your natural strengths.
- Make it your goal to create new connections – Just like any goal, it takes deliberate action to create new connections and to maintain professional and personal relationships. Take the time to plan the type of connections you want to make (e.g., mentor, peer, professional) and develop an action plan towards creating those connections. This plan can be as simple as taking the time to introduce yourself to your peers on the first day of class, or actively attending networking events in your local area to meet other professionals in your career field. This SMART Goals Worksheet can help you to actualize success in creating new connections.
- Break the ice – Starting a conversation with a new contact can be nerve-wracking, so it can be helpful to have some conversation starters in mind beforehand. While a simple “Tell me about yourself” is a start, try to ask more insightful questions that can bring about more genuine connection, such as asking someone about a passion project on which they are working or their long-term professional goals.
- Maintain your connections – Once you have made a connection, take the time to maintain contact with that person and remain engaged with them. This can be as simple as sending a quick message to ask how they have been, scheduling a time to catch up, or inviting people to events in which they may also be interested.
- Expand your support system – By actively seeking out new connections, you can not only expand your own circle, but also invite others to join you in creating new connections. To connect with professionals in your career of choice, there are numerous professional organizations that provide resources for further education and opportunities for networking events to connect with others.
In order to provide and promote your qualifications for a position, you will need a tailored cover letter and resume that best reflects your potential as an employee in the role that you are seeking.
A cover letter is a one-page document that answers the following questions for potential employers:
- Who are you?
- What makes you qualified for this position?
- Why do you want this position?
- Why do we want you for this position?
Cover letters are your opportunity to bring to context the information on your resume, as well as to share information that a potential employer would not learn from your resume alone. It may seem daunting to highlight this information on just one page, but with revisions, you will be able to capture your audience and highlight why you would make the perfect candidate for the job succinctly.
A resume is a document, typically one-to-two pages, which includes your experiences, background, and skill sets to provide an overview of your qualifications for a desired position. Your resume is your opportunity to explain your experiences and skills gained from current and previous roles to showcase your ability to match the requirements of your new position. Like a cover letter, your resume should be tailored to the specific role you are seeking, and multiple versions may be needed to encompass the types of positions for which you are applying.
The following are the three most common types of resumes:
- Chronological: Lists your work history in order, starting with your most recent position and followed by your previous positions in reverse chronological order. This is the most common type of resume and tends to be the most preferred by employers. This type of resume works well for those with a strong work history; those changing career fields or starting their career may prefer another type of resume.
- Functional: Focuses on skills and experience rather than your work history. Instead of listing work history, there may be a “Skills and Achievements” section listing your skills and experiences that can transfer to the new role. Work history may or may not be included; if included, it might be listed concisely at the bottom of the resume. This type of resume is commonly used by people entering a new career field or with gaps in their employment history.
- Combination: A mix of a chronological and functional resume that provides a list of your skills and qualifications at the top of the resume in a reverse chronological order. However, the work history is not the focus of the resume. This type allows you to showcase the skills that qualify them for the job while providing the potential employer with work history information, which most want to see whether or not it is extensive.
Below are some local, national, and international professional organizations which offer opportunities for professional development and creating connections with professionals in the organization:
Accounting & Finance:
- AFA: American Finance Association, afajof.org
- AFWA: Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance, afwa.org
- PASA: Professional Accounting Society of America, thepasa.org
- NABA: National Association of Black Accountants, nabainc.org
- NJAPA: New Jersey Association of Public Accountants, njapa.info
- NJCPA: New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants, njcpa.org
- AICPA: American Institute of CPAs, aicpa.org
- HFMA: Healthcare Financial Management Association, hfma.org
- AMA: American Management Association, amanet.org
- APICS: American Production and Inventory Control Society, apics.org
- EO: Entrepreneur’s Organization, eonetwork.org
- NGLCC: National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, nglcc.org
- SHRM: The Society for Human Resource Management, shrm.org
- PMI: Project Management Institute, pmi.org
- NJBIA: New Jersey Business and Industry Association, njbia.org
- LAEDA: Latin American Economic Development Association, laeda.com
- NJCC: New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, njchamber.com
- SHCCNJ: Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, shccnj.org
- AACCNJ: African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, aaccnj.com
- NJCACC: New Jersey Chinese-American Chamber of Commerce, njcacc.org
- AICC: Asian Indian Chamber of Commerce, aicc.net
- WCEC: Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship, wcecnj.org
- AAHAM: American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management, aaham.org
- AHIMA: American Health Information Management Association, ahima.org
- NAHAM: National Association of Healthcare Access Management, naham.org
- AHCAP: Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals, ahcap.org
- ACHE: American College of Healthcare Executives, ache.org
- MGMA: Medical Group Management Association, mgma.com
- PAHCOM: Professional Association of Health Care Management, pahcom.org