Symposium aims to help career-minded people navigate today's job market
By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- When the recession caused layoffs in the manufacturing industry Ann Breeden found herself needing a career change.
So the Kernstown woman set out for an education in administration, specifically in the medical field. But as Breeden, 43, readies herself to complete her education at Lord Fairfax Community College, she wanted to learn how to stand out from among the other thousands of younger graduates and land a job.
"I'm making like a total complete career change," Breeden said. "I was one of the victims of the 2008 economy thing. Got laid off. Lost everything. So it's like, now's the opportunity to make that change."
Breeden joined hundreds of other career-minded people for the 4th annual Business Symposium held Wednesday by Shenandoah University's Harry F. Byrd School of Business. She and about 20 other people attended a breakout session titled "Transitioning from School to Real Life -- The First 90 Days." Faith Power, chief executive officer for Ambriel Technologies LLC, led the session on what recent graduates should do as they enter the job market.
Power was joined by Brenda Adams, owner of Simply Charming Boutique in downtown Winchester, Julie Schmidt with American Woodmark and Julie Soterin with Valley Health. Power went through a presentation about what prospective hires should and shouldn't do, say or ask during job interviews. They also made suggestions such as waiting at least a week before calling the employer and writing thank-you letters to those who conducted the interviews.
Breeden said she learned much from the symposium and the session she attended, but also went with specific questions in mind.
"That's what I was trying to ask them -- 'how do you get that person to give you a chance?" Breeden said. "You gotta get somebody to give you a chance. I know the work ethic. I know I can do the work but how do I get them to know I can do the work."
Breeden expressed worry that an employer may see a gap in job history on her resume because of her status as a full-time student for the past three years.
"So how do you get them to explain that?" Breeden said. "It's got to be that certain verbage on there for them to understand, hey, you know, she's making a change in her life. Some people don't want to see that. 'Oh she ain't worked since 2008.'"
Power's session also focused on what a new hire should do in the first three months of working at a job -- during which point a person must do more than just prove he or she knows the way around the office, she explained. Power gave the attendees five steps on what to do in those first weeks.
• Start with information given to you during the hiring process that describes the key objectives and tasks of your job. Compare this to your job description and write down your understanding of the top three expectations you need to meet
• Ask the manager what he or she expects of you and define key people you will interact with inside and outside the organization
• Write down and check what you are told
• Re-discuss with your manager about the input you have received to clarify overlaps, conflicts and prioritize your job objectives
• Ask for regular feedback from your manager
Symposium attendees heard from keynote speakers Susan Solovic, chief executive officer and co-founder of ItsYourBiz.com, and Timothy Gannon, co-founder of Outback Steakhouse and director emeritus of OSI Restaurant Partners Inc. After each speaker attendees could go to any number of breakout sessions on topics such as government contracting, how to become an entrepreneur, new technology for a small business, nonprofits under scrutiny, new media marketing, and small business opportunities with big corporations.
The symposium ended with a networking reception held around the resource tables.