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Students searching for jobsI am about to tell you how to increase your odds for getting the job for which your degree qualifies you.

I write this mainly for the seniors and graduates who are looking for a job.

Perhaps you know someone in that situation and will share this advice with them.

Juniors, sophomores and frosh may take even better advantage of this knowledge by using it to make advance preparation.

My advice comes in two parts: (1) do your research; (2) use your education, not just your degree.

I hear many students ask Will this degree get me a job?”

The answer to that question is “No” because your degree is a tool that you must use in combination with other tools to get that job.

“It is not what you can do with your degree, but what you can do with a mind capable of earning that degree.”

Many thousands of others all over the world have degrees just like yours.

That is why you hear human resource departments tell you that your application is one among many.

So the winning move in the employment game is to document your unique abilities that stand out from the many

There are clear ways to accomplish that standout quality and it is a fact that most job applicants do not do so.

The most basic method is to make your resume, cover letter and reference letters match the needs and values of the prospective employer.

How do you know what they need and value? Because you have done your research on that employer.

You should research your job hunt with double the rigor and intensity that you put into any project or paper in school.

Research means learning everything you can about the job, the company and the people who work there, much of which is online.Linkedin network

A critical way to research a job is through the people who work for that company and department.  They all have profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook which will tell you about the work they do, the skills they value and the projects they are working on.

Search for the company in social media to find its employees.

It will take creativity on your part to find the right information and piece it together, but this is not more intellectually challenging than many of the course assignments that you have succeed

You are accomplished at those skills at some level, or else you would not be getting an OSU degree.

In the end it is not what you can do with your degree, but what you can do with a mind capable of earning that degree.

So how do I, Dr. Tech, know all of this? Because I have hired scores of employees and read hundreds of resumes, from high-school volunteers to Vice-Provosts.

Most of the resumes I have seen resemble a grocery list, merely enumerating the jobs worked at.

Such a resume does not include either what you are good at or what the employer is looking for.

Many job seekers bemoan the experience paradox – i.e. you can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience without a job.

If you feel trapped in that paradox it is because you have a narrow conception of your own experience.  You have lots of experience; four or five or more years of it at OSU alone.  You just need to recognize the activity of your education as experiential and turn that activity into language that communicates your expertise.

Consider another bit of information gained through research: there are consultants who report every year on industries of all kinds by conducting surveys of companies to find out what skills they are looking for in the people that they hire.

Please read that sentence again. How much would knowing what skills are most valued by the employers that you are applying to be worth? A lot and you can have that information for free just by doing online research.

In this instance I will refer to The Bloomberg Job Skills Report 2016: What Recruiters Want and Forbes’ The Ten Skills Employers Most Want in 20-Something Employees.

For the 2016 report Bloomberg surveyed 1,251 recruiters in 11 industries to find out which skills they rate both highly desired and hard to find.

Forbes based it’s analysis on surveys asking hiring managers what skills they prioritize when recruiting from college graduates.

Here are the skills employers say they seek, in order of importance as rated by employers.

1. Ability to work in a team structure

2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems (tie)

3. Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization

4. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work

5. Ability to obtain and process information

6. Ability to analyze quantitative data

7. Technical knowledge related to the job

8. Proficiency with computer software programs

9. Ability to create and/or edit written reports

10. Ability to sell and influence others

The good news is that the learning objectives and requirements for the majority of OSU degrees cover most of the skills on the list, which means that

Bacclaureate Core Writing Skills

OSU Bacc Core Skills

you have practiced them and have the right to claim them on your resume and cover letter.

Those group projects that many students complain about required that you actualize team work, decision processes, planning, communication and influence.

Baccalaureate Core, DPD, WIC and other requirements involve obtaining and processing information in order to write and communicate persuasively.

These are real skills that you have specific and demonstrated evidence of your competence in.

Even better, those skills are explicitly stated in the learning objectives for the courses, so you can refer to objective sources in claiming success with those skills.

If you passed an OSU Bacc Core course, then you succeeded at the skills certified through that course.  Have you mined your course objectives for demonstrated skills?

Draw on that objective evidence and you have unique and demonstrable qualifications to bring your resume and cover letter into the top tier.

That you can communicate, solve problems, find information, and lead a team is exactly the experience that employers say that they want.

They also say that those skills are “hard to find.”

Do not make them hard to find in your resume and cover letter.

As the Forbes article notes; “The survey makes clear that employers want universal skills you can learn across academic disciplines and in any job where you are working with others. The trick is to communicate clearly that you have those skills.”

The trick for you is to take ownership of your acquired skills and take yourself seriously as a fully educated person, not merely an applicant with a degree.

You will accomplish that by researching what your prospective employer values and by researching what skills your OSU education gives you the right to claim as your own.


Image Acknowledgements




77aa99b53b82d17d5f03ca8a3fcbfe35All learning is a form of research as we test our mental models of reality against the cold hard facts of the world.

When someone keeps making the same mistake we can say that they have not learned what that mistake is and how to avoid it.

Humans have evolved the ability to keep track of our successes and failures in order learn.

Keeping track of and analyzing what happens is the basis of research, which I claim is the foundation of learning.

It follows that treating your education as a research process will make you a more capable learner.

Technology can help you to become a more capable researcher and to better understand the relations of information and reason to knowledge.

Zotero is an OSU supported no-cost application that assists with collecting, organizing and citing research sources.zotero_logo_300x300

You should be using Zotero or a similar tool because when you write a paper or produce a project the sources upon which it is based are critical.

Your sources are established by citations which follow formats including APA, MLA, Turbian and IEEE.

If these are not familiar to you, then you are at a distinct disadvantage when developing a paper or project for a class as many instructors place significant grade value on well-formed citations in the correct format.

Check your syllabus and assignment description to ascertain the citation format then install Zotero and access the OSU Library resources to learn how to use it well.

Zotero has a stand-alone version to install on Windows or Mac and also as plugins for FireFox, Safari and Chrome and apps for iOS and Android

Build your Zotero “Library” by creating a “Collection” and adding sources as you search for sources.

A Collection may be for a project, a class, a topic or whatever you need to gather information for.

The sources can be books, articles, websites, videos and other forms of information that you have used in developing your work.

While developing your work, such as a paper or project use Zotero to retrieve sources and then to cite those sources for your bibliography.

A bibliography is the part of a work that lists the sources that form the research upon which the work is based.

The purpose of a bibliography is so that readers can retrieve the sources in order to check on the accuracy of the claims in the work.

Bibliographies consist of references which provide the information that anyone needs to find and retrieve the source referred to.

Citations are the expressions embedded in the text of a work that indicate the reference on which that portion of the work is based.

In my work as an Editor I have received submissions that included bibliographies that contained numerous references that were not cited in the text of the paper.

I sent those submissions back for revision because the relevant references are those that are used in creating the work.

It is an error to pad a bibliography with books and articles that you did not read or use in your writing.

If you did use a source, then cite and reference it properly.

If you did not use a source, then do not refer to it.

2447112317_b1f13112cbIf any of these aspects of research puzzle you, then you should visit the OSU Writing Center at 123 Waldo.

Writing Center assistants will help students, staff, faculty and community members with all aspects of writing from brainstorming to writer’s block to bibliographies and beyond.

Once you understand what citations and bibliographies are and know what formats are required for your papers, then you are in a strong position to use writing tools like Zotero effectively.

A powerful feature of Zotero is the capability to create Collection items contextually from your Web browser so to gather relevant reference information from whatever web source that you are viewing.

This contextual sensing feature is amazing when researching journal articles, news articles and books in the OSU Library; see the Valley Library tutorial “Using Zotero with 1Search.”

I emphasize again that finding likely titles and capturing reference information is not research unless you read the sources and use them in your work.Research-Illistration-4x4

Once you have a collection of sources Zotero helps you tag, sort, move, copy, annotate and edit your sources.

Organizing and connecting your sources, which are prior information about a topic, is a powerful way to construct knowledge out of your research.

Knowledge constructed from intentional collections of sources may involve finding patterns, drawing inferences, producing new research questions, identifying problems and much more.

A research-based paper and project is designed to communicate the knowledge that you have constructed, your findings, from the sources that you have collected and analyzed.

That is a basic description of how research and learning work.

Zotero supports sharing collections online which vastly increases its power as a research tool, for instance when working on a group project designate a role for “research managerin the group and have them curate the Zotero collections.

With your thesis, narrative, and references accomplished you then use Zotero to produce the bibliography which can export to Word and OpenOffice documents.

With a collection and bibliography created it is easy to re-format your references to different citation standards.

Valley Library has many resources including workshops and online tutorials for becoming proficient with Zotero at

In addition to Zotero I have used Citation Machine, a web-based citation creator, to create bibliographies for publications –

Both tools provide a form in a selected citation style that prompts you for necessary information about a source such as author’s name, book title, publication date, page number and publisher.

Both tools allow switching citation styles for already created references.

Zotero is the more powerful of the two, but Citation Machine is handy.

Social bookmarking is a technology that is related to the research-oriented tools.

Diigo and Delicious are powerful social bookmarking applications, also called “social tagging,” with browser extensions that support tagging, annotating and highlighting web sources including pages, PDFs, blog posts, images and videos.

The social character of these tools is changing the way that information and knowledge works.

Think of the efficiency with which disinformation such as rumors spread.Wikipedia_-_taste_the_fruit_of_knowledge

Now imagine similarly efficient information but grounded in referenced sources.

Our information environment is changing fast and you will be better equipped for that change when you are able to use social bookmarking and referencing tools.

Most important is your understanding of how information constructs knowledge and how references provide evidence.

Of immediate value to you is how you can use these tools to do a stronger job of writing papers and projects.

Image Acknowledgements





emergent learning commons

emergent learning commons

The fourth year of the Oregon immersive Education (OiED) gathering was held in Portland, co-sponsored by U Oregon, ARVEL, and TAC.
The program was stimulating, the speakers vibrant, and the collegiality warm and productive as ever.  If you have any interest in emerging technologies for education – including immersive environments,  augmented reality, virtual ethnography, and much more – consider ELC the place for you.  Please join us.

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