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Posts for December 2013

Why building a resume is an important step to your future

In the age of technology, a resume may seem like an outdated way to get a chance at your dream job. However, this piece of paper is not to be Keyboard_Fingers2underestimated. Potential employers look at your resume on average for 20 to 30 seconds and decide if you will be in the pool of interviews. In that short time frame, it must be made clear as to why they need to meet you about the opportunity they have available.

When finding a job, there are four steps that must happen in some form or fashion:

1. You must find the opportunity you are seeking
2. You must be considered as a viable candidate by the person doing the hiring
3. You must present yourself as the right person for the job
4. Terms and conditions of the job must be agreed upon by both parties

The second step is where having a good resume is crucial to the remaining steps in the process.

So what is it that potential employers are looking for in a resume? In short, they are looking for a cohesive document that showcases what you have to offer to the company/business. They are also looking for some information about you that prompts them to want to get to know you better or to know more about you. Often, a cover letter is also required with your resume. That letter will give the employer an idea of your personal style. One style is not necessarily better than another, but a good presentation is a must.

In the world of business, we all need some kind of shorthand way to represent who we are, what we have done, and perhaps most importantly, why we are a great fit for the job opening. Consider the alternatives for a hiring manager. Interview every applicant? Some jobs receive hundreds or even thousands of applications. That would be a daunting and time consuming task for even the most ambitious of employers. The resume provides a filter for these individuals to weed out the bad, and use their time to evaluate the good.

Most job applicants go through some sort of filtering process. Sometimes it's the direct supervisor that sorts through resumes, sometimes it's a Human Resource Manager, and some larger corporations use software that specifically seeks certain qualifications. In each scenario, the resume is the ticket for additional communication. Building a resume is crucial to the job seeking process and should not be taken lightly.

Scary and irrational though it may seem, this means that, to most hiring managers, you are really little more than that one piece of paper.

The more time and effort that you put into your resume, the more you have a chance of getting into the door for an interview. Take proactive steps to making your resume stand out. Some schools, such as Western Dakota Tech, offer assistance in resume building, interview skills, and offer career guidance. Take advantage of these opportunities to help make your first impression the best it can be.

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2013 Scholarship Ceremony

Western Dakota Tech held its 14th Annual Scholarship Recognition Ceremony on Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, to recognize students who have received scholarships and the donors who made the awards possible.

WDT scholarship program facts:

  • In the past eight years, 1,400 scholarships totaling $1.2 million have been awarded to WDT students.

  • This year, 34 donors have invested in 125 WDT students, awarding approximately $190,000 in scholarships.

  • Scholarships are a critical component of a student's funding. Approximately 85 percent of WDT students receive financial aid.

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Scholarship search — Where to Start?

With the cost of living on the rise, it can be difficult to envision a future involving higher education. After all, there are bills to pay already, so why would you want another? To answer this question, you must think about years down the road. What if you have a career that you love that not only lets you pay the bills, but gives you opportunities that would have been impossible without the proper education? That would be great, right? And, what if there were many great scholarship programs that would cushion the expense of that education; you would use them, right?
There are many online resources that you can use in your scholarship search. For a list that you may want to check out if you plan on going to school in South Dakota, click here.

Be cautious during your search. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There are many companies that promise to find or apply for scholarships on your behalf for a fee. Odds are very good that these companies will disappear soon after they pocket your cash. Also be leery of those asking for private information such as a Social Security number. This information may be required if a scholarship is won, but it should not be required in the application process.

For example, can help you find information about scholarships especially created for those living in South Dakota. The scholarships below will give you an idea of the opportunities that may be found at To get the full benefit this free service and for additional information about South Dakota scholarships and awards based on different search criteria, you can perform a free college scholarship search at

There are many great options in the way of school scholarships. However, scholarships are not a one size fits all solution. The qualifications for scholarships vary greatly, which can make the task of researching which are right for you quite tedious. But, with some basic information about you and your life situation, an afternoon or two spent filling out applications and writing essays can greatly impact the financial aspect of your education.

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Your digital footprint and your future — Creating your personal brand

Now, more than ever before, consideration must be given to how you represent yourself through different digital platforms online, thanks to social media. In creating online profiles, you are sculpting your own personal brand. This brand could work in your favor; however, if you are careless, it can work against you.

With the free forum nature of social media, you have to keep in mind the permanence of everything that is put online. In the movie The Social Network, there is a quote that rings true to this day, "The Internet is not written in pencil Mark; it's written in ink."

Every interaction you have online by way of posting, tagging, and commenting becomes your digital brand. Before employers meet with potential employees, they may already have a concept of who you are — or, at least how you have represented yourself. The rule of first impressions stands true, and many people are not even there to witness it for themselves. Each day, this digital world may be conducting business on your behalf, sometimes without your knowledge. Students getting ready to enter the job market must be aware of this rapidly evolving landscape.

When shaping your digital footprint, it does not necessarily need to be G-rated. We are human, after all, and a sunshine and unicorns presence is not given much credence. However, posts that are continually negative, indicative of tons of drama, or provide excessive drops of the F bomb may certainly throw a few red flags toward potential employers. Even with high privacy settings, potential employers may still be privy to your information by way of co-workers and acquaintances. Have you ever been surprised to find out how many mutual people you know after meeting someone new? The same rules apply in the workplace.

On the flip-side, why not use your social profiles to showcase what you have to offer? Not everyone is able to pull off a no-interview-required digital footprint, but it sure doesn't hurt to use social platforms to enhance assets that may otherwise be hidden. Do you have a blog about something that you are passionate about? Share it. Do you have a hobby that makes you unique or highlights your creative side? For example, you may enjoy cake decorating and have some photos of some fantastic cakes that you have created. Share those too. You never know what opportunities may arise from your network of friends and beyond.

Students use these forums every day and they are not going away. They may change on the surface, or evolve in their own right, but they will only continue to grow and become more accepted by the general population, including job seekers and employers. Learn to use social media to help achieve your goals in life, rather than as a line full of dirty laundry. These tools can help you pave the way to achieve your goals, or they can become a roadblock if used inappropriately. So think smart, and be social.

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The work place and the next generation—what's a Millennial to do?

For most, entering the working world is something you look forward to. When you are able to achieve independence by doing things such as buying a home, purchasing one's own items, and even having time to make a difference in the world would signify the stage of life known as adulthood.
For many Millennials, the current state of the economy has made such a level of freedom difficult, if not completely impossible. The reason that many Generation Y adults are living at home with mom and dad is due to the fact that unemployment or under-employment, along with the minimum wage jobs they have taken due to lack of options, do not provide wages sufficient enough to make renting a decent apartment or putting a down payment on a home possible. This makes future hopes such as marriage, starting families, and other potential scenarios a remote reality. The work place and the next generation could paint a scary picture.

Labels for different generations are nothing new. Many people considered Baby Boomers "selfish" or "greedy." Generation X-er's were looked upon as "slackers" or "self-absorbed." Millennials, or Generation Y, are no exception to the rule. They have been characterized by society as "entitled" or "narcissistic." So does that mean if you were born within a certain timeframe that you are sure to carry these characteristics, doomed forever by a potential employers labeling habit? Not necessarily. What it does mean is that careful consideration needs to be given not only to the career path that you choose, but also the needs of the workforce upon attaining the required certification toward that particular line of work.

With careers such as postal worker, telemarketer, and communications operators on a fast decline, due largely to evolving technology, how can a Millennial (or anyone for that matter) choose a solid career that will be looking to hire employees?

First, do some research on what employers are looking for in your geographical area (or one where you would like to live — and could feasibly do so). Many jobs can also be completed from a remote location or home office. Be sure that this is an option in some cases, especially if that is something that you are banking on as being part of your decision.

Next, choose a school that offers programs with a high placement rate upon graduation. Schools such as Western Dakota Tech offer a placement report for you to review, where you can see not only placement, but average wages in different fields. Knowing this information in advance offers security in your decision, and is an ace up your sleeve in planning for the future.

While it may not seem important before starting school, remember the other details that will help you to be placed in a career that you work hard to get ready for. The Career Services Office at WDT offers other services that can help you be successful by assisting you with resume and job interviewing skills, posting of career opportunities, hosting of on-campus job fairs, and career guidance.

Don't get bogged down by the generational label that you may carry. Take steps toward a solid and rewarding future that will allow you to wear the label of 'adulthood' proudly.

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