About the Blog

This blog and its resources are here to assist all students throughout their college years and into their careers. Blog is moderated by a Certified Professional Career Coach and Master Tutor Trainer. Site moderator, Neil O'Donnell, is an EOP graduate of Buffalo State College and can be reached at odonnenp@buffalostate.edu.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

RRBC Back to SChool Blog Block Party


* Prize for this stop on Blog Party: One person will receive a $10.00 Amazon giftcard.

Happy Summer, Readers! Yes, I have joined up with a group of amazing authors to help showcase our collective works. While I write fiction and Non-fiction, it is the latter I wish to focus on in this post. Specifically,THE CAREER-MINDED STUDENT and RESUME ESSENTIALS: DO'S, DON'TS, AND IT DEPENDS . 

THE CAREER-MINDED is a practical college success guide that breaks down, step by step, what college students should do each year as undergrads to best prepare for jobs IMMEDIATELY after graduation. The book includes study skills advice, but it includes a significant amount of advisement on how to build up career-relevant experience PRIOR to graduating (I used this advice and was able to beat out Ph. D's for positions (when I had only a Bachelor's, but a good amount of experience attained through relevant jobs the summers after my Sophomore, Junior and Senior years  - none of those jobs were internships AND all of them paid well). This book was written to stop the cycle of college graduates having a degree and no experience other than one or two internships. FYI - I never had an internship - I found full-time summer jobs, which made a bigger (better) impact on my job search after graduation.

As for my second new book, RESUME ESSENTIALS, was written to provide job seekers with a straightforward guide to writing eye-catching resumes and cover letters (with 20 sample resumes included covering fields such as biology, journalism, fine arts, trades, computer science, business management, and even high school graduates). Why did I write this book? I found students were paying so called "professionals" over a hundred dollars for a resume, and the resumes they received were crap. MY STUDENTS DON'T HAVE $100 TO SPEND WITHOUT MAKING GREAT SACRIFICES! I kept this book short, sweet and inexpensive to give new graduates and career professionals a way to develop a resume when they can't afford to hire a resume writer. For the record, I am a nationally certified career coach and resume writer (CCPC) and a longtime college career & academic advisor.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

What is "Resume Filler": Guidance for Duties and Accomplishments to put on Resumes

I included a section in one of my books that includes what I refer to as "resume filler." What do I mean by "resume filler?" Great question! (see bottom of post for filler related to sales, social workers and paralegal professionals).

First, let me say that I always advocate that continuing education is incredibly important AND that whether through college courses or online workshops, we all need to continually improve our Skill Sets. When writing a resume, it is important to include accomplishments/duties performed for each job we list on our resumes. In my book, WRITING STANDOUT RESUMES, I include a "resume filler" section with accomplishments/duties that are typically looked for by employers - experience and expertise they are often seeking in the jobs ads placed online or elsewhere. That section is a guide. For example, for a 'Sales Associate' resume, I included the following bullet points as duties typically placed on resumes:


  • Led effort to expand company’s customer base into new region, which led to a 25% increase in customers and 35% increase in revenue from services rendered.
  • Dynamic customer service professional with extensive record of achievement in mediating customer complaints and increasing sales & customer base.

If you are a sales associate and have statistics to show you increased number of customers and increased revenue, then include this in your resume. On the other hand, if you don't have much or any experience in "mediating customer complaints," consider this sample as a guide of experience you should seek out so that you can put that skill down as soon as you acquire that skill. The filler recommended is actually just me saying, such experience catches the eye of hiring managers.


Sample accomplishments/duties for sales, social workers and paralegal professionals:

Sales Associate


  • Led effort to expand company’s customer base into new region, which led to a 25% increase in customers and 35% increase in revenue from services rendered.
  • Dynamic customer service professional with extensive record of achievement in mediating customer complaints and increasing sales & customer base.
  • Proficient in point of sale transactions and processing merchandise returns and/or exchanges.
  • Provided superior general office and customer service support.  Skilled at training new hires in use of point of sale technology and of new company merchandise & services.
  • Continually exceeded company’s sales goals achieving record sales marks in multiple quarters.

Social Worker/Case Manager

  • Secured private grant to fund continuing education for institution’s staff in areas of child development, classroom management, health & wellness, and first aid.
  • Graduate-level Substance Abuse Counselor with CASAC-T Certification.  Additional certifications in Child Abuse & Maltreatment, Tobacco & Chemical Dependence Interventions, First Aid (2014) and CPR (2015).
  • Proficient in patient advocacy and assessment.  Skilled at coordinating patient treatment and healthcare needs with staff, medical facilities and families.
  • Adept at crisis intervention counseling as well as individual and group counseling.  Proficiency in MS Excel, PowerPoint and Word.
  • Accomplished at facilitating communications between patients, physicians, and discharge planners.  Trained in and knowledgeable of HIPPAA regulations.
  • Facilitate the securing of proper housing for patients; provide patient referrals to appropriate social services for medical and financial assistance.
  • Adept at records research and analysis.
  • Coursework & field training in Group Counseling, Childhood Development, Interventive Methods 1 & 2, and Psychoactive Drugs & Health.
  • Proficient youth mentor adept at advocacy, assessment, and developing & implementing educational/wellness programming for diverse populations.
  • Accomplished at performing outreach within urban settings and providing individualized treatment and advisement to clients.


Legal Secretary/Paralegal

  • Led initiative to transfer client records over to Excel-based database and archive providing attorneys a secure and global 24-hour access to client files.
  • Proficiency in securing evidence for litigation including digital records, phone logs, employment files and business contracts.
  • An aptitude for quickly identifying relevant state and federal court decisions relevant to cases.
  • Expertise in prepping legal team for arguments and case histories of potential use by opposing counsel.
  • Adept in use of Excel and the use of multiple legal coding/billing software.
  • Coordinated evidence cataloging and completed court requests for evidence and depositions.
  • Assisted in research of historical proceedings to aid in providing precedence to support legal teams’ court actions.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

In The final stretch - but Time remains: Finals Preparation

Summer break is just around the corner, but don’t let the nice weather distract you from your classwork! Will a few weeks remaining, it’s important to keep at studying, complete all assignments and prepare for finals. That in mind, here are some last minute tips you should consider:

1) Tutoring services are usually available days and evenings; check your college advisement office and academic department to investigate tutoring options.

2) If there isn’t a tutor listed for the subject/class you need assistance with, stop by the tutoring center and ask if one is available. As for writing assistance, tutors are usually available throughout the day – just stop by a tutoring center. Also remember, Academic Mentors/tutors can assist you with learning better ways to study in addition to helping you understand content. Most of those that go to tutoring are the students getting A’s and B’s in classes.

3) Ask your professor for a study guide for the final exam. If the professor doesn’t provide one, create your own based on class assignments, readings and lectures (and then show it to the professor to see what she/he thinks of your study guide).

4) Start a study group if you don’t have one already for a class that you are struggling in (you should have a study group for every class even when you are doing well).

5) Start studying for final exams today if you haven’t already!!!!! It is easier to retain class material if you study early and repeatedly.

6) See me a counselor in the counseling center to address any test anxiety you are facing. Test anxiety is common amongst students of all ages. We can assist you in managing that stress.

7) Start final papers as early as possible. Work on developing a solid thesis statement to guide your efforts and ask your professor to check it over to make certain you are on track!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Do you have a paid or volunteer experience lined up for summer break?

This picture is of me in 1992. During the summer months before the Junior year stretch of intense Anthropology stats and research classes. I was a teaching assistant for an archaeological field school. By the end of the summer of 1992, I was contacted by a local archaeology team and would end up working for them at $9.00 an hour. Collectively, these experiences told me (well in advance of my senior year) that Anthropology was indeed the correct major for me. Then, when I graduated in December of 1993, I was well set to compete for jobs in my chosen field. In fact, I was out-competing those with advanced degrees because I had more field experience. The point? Just because you are not a senior or you don't have a degree, it doesn't mean you can't look into jobs or volunteer experiences that will give you field experience related to your major (paid or volunteer)

When you apply for jobs, experience matters, often times as much as having a bachelors or masters. So, in preparation for the summer break from college, speak to professors in your major and ask what types of volunteer and paid positions you should look into and can possible attain. In the immediate sense, such experience will help you determine if you picked the right major/career path. Additionally, such experience will look good on your résumé, making it easier for you to compete for jobs after graduating.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Career-Minded Student - the basic blueprint to get from Freshmen to Employed Graduate

Me teaching undergraduates and graduate students (I was just a Junior at the time - a paid job... not an internship!)
Hi everyone:

Okay, so what do you need to do to increase the likelihood you will graduate from college and be able to find a major-related job soon after graduating?  Networking and seeking guidance with professors in your major AND area professionals is key!  That said, here is a blueprint for steps for you to take to increase your odds of career success after graduation:

Freshman Year:
1) Complete Career Assessment at college’s Career Center.
2) Review Career Assessment results with Career Center Staff Member.                                                3) Discuss Majors of interest with Department Faculty (potential job opportunities, career paths and relevant courses in other majors to consider taking using free electives).
4) Discuss with Faculty jobs and volunteer opportunities available to undergraduates, which would provide good experience.
5) Discuss the need/usefulness of studying abroad to career goals with Department Faculty.
6) Complete introductory classes in Major

Sophomore Year:
1) Select concentration within Major and Department Advisor.
2) Discuss graduate school needs and options for Major/career goals with
Department Advisor and/or Department Faculty.
3) Start taking appropriate non-Major courses that would complement career goals.
4) Connect with off-campus professionals (particularly Alumni) to further  investigate job options related to Major as well as useful coursework to consider taking in preparation for  student’s career.
5) Attend campus lectures, guest speaker events and other Major-related events.
6) Discuss with Department Faculty current career goals and related long-term educational needs.  Start looking into required graduate exams and take ‘practice’ exams when offered.

Junior Year:
1) Complete internship(s); seek additional career/Major guidance from internship Supervisor.
2) Begin studying for and take graduate school exams (GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, etc.).
3) Start attending off-campus conferences related to Major and career interests.

Senior Year:
1) Complete additional internship(s); strengthen contacts with community leaders, not-for-profit institutions and businesses related to student’s Major/career path.
2) Complete graduate school exams (GRE, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, etc.).
3) Compile list of references from professors; obtain three to five written recommendations from amongst these references.
4) Through college Alumni Office, connect with Alumni from Major to investigate career options as well as local and national job openings.  Also investigate all benefits Alumni Office offers to graduates.
5) Work with Department Faculty and Career Center staff to construct an updated résumé and references list.