Career Development Faculty & Staff Toolkit
The sections below describe the many ways that the Career Center partners with faculty by providing programmatic support, access to online career resources, and helpful tips as you guide and advise your students. We look forward to working with you!
DON’T CANCEL A CLASS or GROUP MEETING - OFFER A CAREER WORKSHOP
While creating your syllabi, you don’t need to cancel classes to work around your conference schedule. In addition, if your course has career development themes we have many resources in addition to workshops, with many online resources and tools including pre-recorded workshops that can be used any time or for assignments outside of class. The Career Center will cover your class time with a career-related workshop for 30 or 60 minutes. The Career Center staff is available to present on-campus workshops on a variety of topics to your class, group, or club. For more information, or to request a workshop, visit our Workshop Page.
Possible topics include:
- Introduction to the Career Center
- Resumes and Advanced Resumes
- Career Exploration and Defining Values
- Exploring Career Pathways
- Job + Internship Search
- Successful Interviewing
- Preparing for the Career Fair
- Graduate School
Additional tools and resources:
- For faculty looking to incorporate career center resources into their classes, please visit the Career Center Student Toolkit and/or review the student links above for resources on different career topics. In addition, we have a Faculty Toolkit available below. For questions or access to the Career Center Student Toolkit in Canvas, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Handshake - Our curated job and internship search tool along with events and career fairs, employer connections, and experiences, all students have access, all staff and faculty can create an account to be approved by our Career Center staff
- Sonoma State Network - our student-alumni networking and mentoring online platform, all students have access, all staff and faculty can create an account to be approved by our Career Center staff
- Focus2Career - Career and major exploration and career assessments along with job data, any SSU community member can create an account with their sonoma.edu email and by using the Code SEAWOLF when you create your account
- Stand Out - Video recorded mock interview practice platform, email us to request an account at email@example.com
- JobScan - Resume creation and review site that integrates job data into resume feedback (coming soon!)
- Mango - Communication etiquette tool for creating email and social media direct messages, this is a free resource, click here to learn more about Mango
Faculty Request for a Workshop
To request a career workshop, please complete this short form with your contact information and some details about your class. We require at least two weeks' notice to schedule a workshop.
Please go to the Request a Workshop page. Questions? Please contact Dr. Audra Grady Verrier, Director of Career and Leadership Development at audra.verrier@ sonoma.edu
CAREER AND MAJOR EXPLORATION
- Encourage your students to reflect on their skills, interests, competencies, personality, and values. We offer a variety of self-assessment tools, as well as information about competencies and career readiness, including practical ways that students can strengthen workplace skills. Utilize our Focus2Career tools here as a course assignment. Sign up for an account using the Code SEAWOLF. All faculty, staff, and students can access this resource.
- Suggest Career Center resources. Tools like Focus2Career and other sites listed on our Explore Careers page can be used to research career options for a variety of majors. Students can also schedule 1-on-1 appointments and complete an intake with us to determine the next steps.
- Debunk major and career myths. We believe that a major does not determine or limit students’ career options. Unless a student is planning to enter a technical field, such as engineering or accounting, he/she can obtain the skills necessary to succeed in a variety of careers. We encourage students to study what they enjoy, assess their values, interests, and personality, and explore careers related to what they have learned about themselves. We invite you to partner with us in encouraging this flexible career mindset and mentor students from a coaching perspective. What do they want to do? Explore? Learn more about?
COMPETENCIES AND CAREER READINESS
Career readiness is more than a college degree or doing well in one’s major. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) defines career readiness as “the attainment and demonstration of requisite competencies that broadly prepare college graduates for a successful transition into the workplace.” In other words, soft skills matter. Much has been written over the last few years about the fact that employers think students lack some of these important skills when they get to the workplace. NACE has identified eight competencies that students should be developing and the Career Center is dedicated to helping students continue to build these competencies so as to be more fully prepared when they leave Sonoma State as graduates and young alumni. As faculty, you most certainly foster these competencies with students throughout their time as a student.
Here are a few suggestions for helping students more intentionally focus on competencies:
- Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
- Oral and Written Communication
- Digital Technology
- Global/Intercultural Fluency
- Professionalism/Work Ethic
- Career Management
Make explicit which class sessions/assignments/projects link to building particular competencies. Discuss it during class and include them on your syllabus with definitions and further resources.
JOB + INTERNSHIP SEARCH
The Career Center offers numerous resources for finding jobs and internships, including tools just for SSU students, field-specific career sites, and much more. In addition, we meet with students in 1-on-1 appointments to discuss resumes and cover letters, internship and job search strategies, and more. Handshake is our online, mobile-friendly platform that connects students and early alumni to employers for jobs, internships, and career events. Students can find postings for thousands of external jobs and internships, on-campus student employment, career resources, virtual and in-person career events, and announcements.
Additional information about Handshake and other job search resources can be found on our website on the Finding a Job page.
CAREER FAIRS AND EVENTS
Career fairs and events are significant opportunities for students to meet and network with employers and professional connections. These events are meant for students of all years and majors. With the open career mindset approach, we also encourage you to share with students how these events are chances to practice their skills, build their professional network, and gain access to jobs and internships now and in the future. Often students don’t think career events are for them until the Senior year when it can, unfortunately, be too late leaving them without options or a job well into their post-graduation years. As a community of staff and faculty, we need to prepare our students for that eventuality early and often, from prospective student to orientation, through each year of the curriculum, and through to their alumni status. In addition, career engagement is proven to support students to persist and graduate when they aren’t sure what they want to do or what major they wish to choose.
Here are some of our annual events to promote and integrate into your curriculum:
- Fall Part-Time Job and Internship Fair
- Fall Employer Series
- Spring Career Fest - two weeks of events including annual career fairs!
- Grad Week Meet + Mingle (Fall and Spring for graduating seniors)
In addition to these annual events, we host many events throughout the year such as alumni panels during Social Justice Week or Women’s History Month, we participate and table in student activities and engagement events throughout the year, and we will co-sponsor or partner with departments for special events. See our website events page or Handshake for up-to-date event information.
How you can help your students:
- Announce Career Center events in your classes and encourage all majors, all class years to attend relevant events
- Help publicize events that are not an obvious match for your students, e.g. someone majoring in English can find a job in the life sciences industry, a student interested in law can work for a winery and an alum who wants to make a career transition into a new field can do so at any time. Bottom line, your major doesn’t define your career! 50% of graduates don’t directly use their degree major in their job/career - share the stats with your students.
- Offer extra credit for attending relevant events or make an assignment out of attending a Career Center event once per semester
How you can partner with the Career Center for events and employer outreach:
- Suggest alumni for events listed and to be mentors to your students in the Sonoma State Network
- Recommend companies to invite to virtual career fairs and/or to post jobs and internships in Handshake
- Volunteer or participate in events of interest - students like to see professors at events and there are always new things to learn!
- Bring a Career Center staff member with you if you’re planning an employer site visit
- Attend employer events to hear more about what is going on in the industry or to find funders for your research
PROFESSIONAL NETWORKING AND FINDING A MENTOR
Encourage students to join The Sonoma State Network and utilize SSU alumni connections on LinkedIn. By joining the Network (our student-alumni networking and mentoring platform) and utilizing LinkedIn, students will be able to find alumni and request informational interviews from individuals whose career paths interest them along with flash networking Q+A and more formal mentoring programs. Helpful tips for creating a Network or LinkedIn profile and composing questions for informational interviews, as well as more general networking info, are available via the Network or our website career.sonoma.edu.
Remind students to attend career events scheduled throughout the academic year. Students will find many networking opportunities with professionals and employers listed on Handshake under Events, or on our website. Encourage them to include in their calendars conversations and presentations with these connections that are provided.
Share personal networking stories with your students. Networking can be an intimidating process, especially for novices, and your success stories — or even times when things didn’t go as planned — will help demystify the process for students. Have you ever found a job lead through a connection? Received great career advice from a conversation with someone? These are examples of networking in action.
IDENTIFYING AND REQUESTING REFERENCES AND RECOMMENDATION LETTERS
References and recommendations are an essential aspect of students taking their first steps as professionals. A great reference can make or break getting a good job and impact their career trajectory and earning capacity for their entire lifetime. This is especially critical for women, people of color, and any underrepresented groups. As faculty, you become some of the best references and recommendation writers. A reference typically means agreeing to share your contact information and be called or emailed with a reference request that you can respond to in a timely manner - responding right away is key in the job search process.
A letter of recommendation is “expert testimony” to a student’s ability to perform a task: contributing to a team project, succeeding in graduate school, or learning from a particular experience (such as foreign study/travel). You need to be confident of the applicant’s ability to be able to write convincingly. You could put your professional credibility at risk if you consistently write letters for applicants who are not qualified.
Recommendation Letters for Graduate School Applicants
For graduate school, there is a kind of “code” for levels of confidence. Letter writers use these phrases at the beginning or end of the letter to express their professional evaluation. Generally speaking, there are four levels of confidence as suggested by graduate school forms themselves:
- Strongly recommend – You are very confident in the applicant’s ability
- Recommend – You are confident in the applicant’s ability
- Recommend with reservations – You are somewhat confident, but have specific areas of doubt (include an explanation)
- Do not recommend – You do not believe in the applicant’s ability to succeed (include an explanation)
Tips for Successful Recommendation Letters
A letter of recommendation succeeds on the same merits as any form of persuasive writing: good vocabulary, solid essay structure, appropriate content, and relevant details.
- Vocabulary – use strong, vivid language in both nouns and verbs
- Essay Structure – Structure the letter as a four-to-five-paragraph essay with a thesis
- The first paragraph should state how long the writer has known the applicant, in what context, and a general “thesis” statement regarding the applicant’s abilities/suitability for the position.
- The main body should provide two or three examples of qualities that inspire confidence (or lack of confidence) in the applicant’s skills or character.
- Conclude with an explicit level of recommendation (strongly/highly, recommend, recommend with reservations [must provide explanation], do not recommend [must provide explanation]).
- Appropriate Content – Avoid exaggeration or speculation outside of your knowledge base
- Details – Include a few well-chosen examples of why you recommend this individual. The examples should be obvious within your sphere of knowledge
- Be aware of your own biases and your language regarding the student. The following resources provide things to keep in mind:
Format of Recommendation Letters
These are official documents and should be written using the following professional/business format:
- On professional or organizational letterhead; Appropriate addressing
- Block flush-left paragraphs; Appropriate greetings and closings
- 11 pt. font; One to two pages long
ARRANGING GUEST SPEAKERS, EMPLOYER PRESENTERS, AND ALUMNI PANELS
If you’d like to invite a guest speaker to your classroom to speak on a specific topic, the Career Center can train you in the use of The Network, Sonoma State LinkedIn Groups, including using LinkedIn and campus resources to find potential alumni speakers. If you’d like to invite an employer presenter to a class or event please search through Handshake, LinkedIn, or ask us for recommendations. We have many employer partners and recommended speakers that recruit and hire many of our graduates. If you’d like to host an alumni panel discussion, the Career Center can help you think through your plan and advertise the event. Typical steps to planning a panel discussion:
- Determine the panel topic
- Secure a date, time, room, etc.
- Determine the appropriate number of panelists (we suggest securing 4-5 people to ensure 3-4)
- Determine the various perspectives on the topic you want to be represented on the panel
- Solicit possible panelist names from other faculty members, students, by using the Sonoma State Network, or contacting Alumni Engagement
- Send invitations to potential panelists in waves (as people are busy, you’ll need to invite many more than you need) well in advance of the event
- As alumni respond yes/no, we can assist you in determining who you’ll ask next to maintain a variety of perspectives on your panel
- Once the panel is finalized, stay in touch with panelists > Write a communication plan, including dates to send reminder emails and receive confirmations, information, and photographs from panelists as needed for marketing purposes.
- Complete the room request and finalize logistical details
- Write a blurb for advertising the event >The Career Center can publicize events in Handshake, as well as in our monthly eNewsletter and through our social media channels.
Professional Development Requests
SSU faculty & Staff seeking career center services must be alumni within 1 year of graduation or a current student.