Career and Professional Development

The office of career and professional development at UWS offers resources to students and alumni related to business success in their chosen field. We have refined these services over the years and continue to solicit feedback to meet the needs of both current students and alumni. We provide structured assistance to empower students and alumni to reach their professional goals.

The office of career and professional development provides focused guidance in the following areas:

  • Establishing connections to jobs and employers via Switchboard or other sites as well as connections to alumni and mentors through the Alumni Mentor Network and Peer Mentorship Program.
  • Providing and offering resources and education for creating resumes and curriculum vitae, interviewing skills, contract negotiation, market analysis, business plan creation and marketing through our online toolbox, webinars and in-person sessions.
  • Facilitating opportunities for students to connect with the internal and external community to practice networking, public speaking, unique sales propositions (“elevator speech”) and other essential professional development skills.

Switchboard

UWS Switchboard is for alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends of the university.

For professional opportunities, mentorship, advice, housing and goods, we hope you will consider creating an account and posting a personal ‘ask’ or ‘offer’ on UWS Switchboard. UWS Switchboard is free from spammers, advertisers and large-scale brokers. It is a place where our community members can ask for what they need or offer what they have to share.

Individuals or clinics not currently connected with UWS

If you are not connected with the university and you have a one-time ad or communication for our community we can post on your behalf. If you’d like this opportunity to be highlighted in our monthly online digest to our UWS community, please fill out this quick posting request form. If your opportunity has been selected, you will be notified of the posting and interested parties will be instructed to contact you directly.


TOOLBOX

Resume and CV

Resume or CV?

A resume and a CV are both documents that you create and submit to potential employers, but they are very different formats. Sometimes employers will specify which one you should submit to them. A resume is a summary of your education and professional experience and is limited to one or two pages. A curriculum vitae (CV) is much longer and more comprehensive and is typically used when applying for jobs in research, writing, teaching or presenting.

You can find templates for resumes, CVs and cover letters in Microsoft Word, at indeed.com or just by doing an internet search. You shouldn’t have to pay for any templates. There are plenty of free resources available.

RESUME

  • Name and contact information
  • Summary statement/personal statement
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Skills

A resume is the first step in applying for a job. Not only does it explain how your experience is relevant to the job, but it shows the employer that you can communicate professionally and concisely. Remember, you can and should tweak a resume to fit the job for which you are applying to highlight relevant experiences and attributes.

At the top of the page should be your name and contact information. Often people will include a summary statement or personal statement consisting of a sentence or two that highlights your most valuable skills and experience. Think of it as a statement to the employer about why you are qualified for the position, and why they should continue reading your resume. If you don’t have a lengthy employment history, for example if you are a new graduate, you may want to use a resume objective instead. This would be a sentence describing your career goals.

Summary example: Clinical mental health counselor with five years of experience treating children with dissociative disorder in an in-patient care setting.

Objective example: Highly motivated graduate of a nutrition and functional medicine master’s program seeking work experience with pregnant and nursing mothers.

The next section should highlight your work experience. You can do this by listing the position titles, organization name and location, and the dates you held the position. These should be listed in reverse chronological order beginning with the most recent. Remember to keep the verb tense in the past for previous positions and in the present tense for your current position. Each job listed should be followed by a few bullet points that describe the job responsibilities and your accomplishments. Try to cite measurable achievements. If you have very little or no employment history, you can use internships or volunteer experience.

Important: Many companies and organizations are using automated systems to scan resumes for keywords and terms to see if your qualifications match the job description. Look at the job announcement, find the keywords and see if you can use them in your resume.

The next section of your resume is to highlight your educational achievements in chronological order starting with the most recent. If you have a bachelor’s degree, there is no need to list your high school. If you are currently a student, list the institution and the date that you began the program. You can also list special licenses or certifications in this section. Also mention things like honors, awards, Dean’s list and scholarships. If you don’t have much in the way of employment history, you can highlight coursework that you have taken that is relevant to the job.

Next, list any skills you want to emphasize. Skills can include things like computer programs, language proficiency or leadership experience. It is also recommended that you divulge what level of proficiency you have in these skills such as basic, intermediate, proficient or expert.

CURRICULUM VITAE (CV)

  • Contact information
  • Academic history
  • Professional experience
  • Qualifications and skills
  • Awards and honors
  • Publications
  • Professional associations
  • Grants and fellowships
  • Licenses and certificates
  • Continuing education
  • Volunteer work
  • Personal information (optional)
  • Hobbies and interests (optional)

A CV is used when you are applying for an academic position such as a teaching position at an academic institution or a research position. Unlike a resume, a CV is a comprehensive description of your academic background, employment history, academic appointments, certifications, licenses, conference presentations, publications, thesis title, dissertation, academic achievements, etc. It is also more commonly used in places other than the United States in lieu of a resume. There is no recommended page length for a CV. A CV has the same content as a resume including name, contact info, personal statement/objective summary, employment history, education and skills.

Whether you use a CV or a resume, choose a font that is simple and easy to read. Intricate fonts are not only difficult to read but they may not be readable by the software an employer uses. It may be tempting to use a thin font to keep your resume down to a page or two, but readability is more important. Your name and the headers for each section can be called out by using bold, capitals, italics or a larger font size. Don’t forget to proofread your documents. Watch for spelling and grammar errors. If you’re using Microsoft Word, you can edit the document by clicking on “Review” at the top and then select “Check Document” in the left-hand corner. You can also use the Thesaurus if you need some inspiration. Remember, never include negative information about previous employers in your cover letter. 

Watch this short video for more inspiration.

Check out this sample skills and assets document to help you identify your professional assets. 

Cover Letter

  • Header: name and contact information
  • Greeting: hiring manager, hiring committee, human resources
  • Opening paragraph: get reader’s attention with 2-3 of your top achievements
  • Second paragraph: why you’re the perfect candidate for the job
  • Third paragraph: explain why you’re a good match for the company
  • Formal closing: sincerely

Include a cover letter with a job application whenever possible. It should start with your name and contact information as the header. You can address the letter to the “hiring manager,” “hiring committee,” or the person’s name if you have it. Don’t send a generic letter. Customize each cover letter to the job opportunity. Start by doing your research on the company. Look at their website. Look at the employer’s LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed, etc. Use the cover letter to tell the employer how your skills fit their needs. Start with summarizing your job experience. Then explain why you want the position and what you will bring to the table. Include why you think you’re a good fit for the company. The letter should have some excitement to get the reader’s attention. The tone of the letter should be professional and enthusiastic but not overly flattering or overly confident. Be authentic and succinct. Try to stick to one page. 

Informational Interviews

An informational interview is not a job interview. It is a meeting with a person who has knowledge and experience in a particular field, career or business that you’re interested in. Informational interviews are a great way to get more information about a field that you are considering, talk to experienced professionals about a business idea, or get information about a specific company or employment opportunity. First, research the career or business. Then find contact information for a few people that you would like to interview. If you don’t have actual names, you can research job titles and then ask to speak with a person in that role. You can email or call to schedule the interview. Start by saying that you are interested in a career in this field and that you would appreciate spending 15 or 20 minutes with this person to ask a few questions. The interview can be in person, on the phone or virtual. Start off by telling the person a little about yourself and why you are interviewing them. Feel free to ask them to review your resume as well. Sample questions include:

  • What drew you to this field?
  • What do you find most rewarding about your work?
  • What kinds of problems do you deal with?
  • What kind of education or training does this role require?
  • What is a common career path in this field?
  • How can I get more information about this career?
  • Is there anyone else you think I should interview?

After the interview, send a thank you note or email. Ask to join their LinkedIn network. Keep in touch. This is a networking tool! This person may be helpful in finding you a job.

Watch this short video for more inspiration.

Interviewing

An interview gives you the opportunity to showcase your qualifications to an employer so it pays to be prepared. The following information provides some helpful hints.

Personal appearance:

  • Employers expect you to look your best at an interview and will judge your professionalism by your appearance.
  • Dress according to the industry. Dress one step nicer than the dress code.

Important reminders:

  • Be ten minutes early; no more and no less. This respects their schedule.
  • Greet your interviewer by name.
  • Use good manners with everyone you meet as the interviewer may ask them about you.
  • Relax and answer each question concisely. It is ok to say, “let me think about that.”
  • Use body language to show interest like eye contact and good posture.
  • Thank the interviewer when you leave.
  • Send a short thank you note by email or mail following the interview. Use this as an additional marketing piece by reinforcing key information about your fit with the company.

Information to bring to an interview:

  • Government-issued identification (driver’s license, ID card).
  • Resume or application. Although not all employers require a resume, you should be able to furnish the interviewer information about your education, training and previous employment.
  • Document with the names, positions, addresses and phone numbers of your chosen references. Employers typically require three references. Get permission before using anyone as a reference and make sure to select the people that will give you a good reference. Try to avoid using relatives as references.
  • Do your homework about the company. Be sure to know their mission statement, core values and general information.

At a later time, the employer may ask for your social security card and educational transcripts.  Be sure to have these available.

Interview questions:

Because a candidate’s previous experiences and education are the best indicators of future performance, interviews are heavily focused on the following questions to gain information in five areas:

  1. They want to know if you are qualified for the position by asking:
  • What are your strengths?
  • How are you qualified for this job?
  • What do you feel you will bring to this job?
  1. They want to know what motivates you by asking
  • Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  • What did you like most about your last job?
  • Are you willing to relocate?
  1. They want to know how you handle conflict by asking:
  • What did you like least about your last job and supervisor?
  • How do you handle conflict with coworkers?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  1. They want to know if you are a good fit by asking:
  • What kind of people do you find it hard to work with?
  • Do you prefer to work as a team or on your own?
  • Of your many qualities which ones do you feel will benefit you most here?
  1. They want to know if you are sincere in your desire to work for their company by asking:
  • What can you accomplish here that you cannot in your current position?
  • What do you know about the company?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

By being able to understand what information the employer is trying to gain through various questions you will be able to clearly and succinctly deliver answers with the information they are seeking.

Tips for Answering Common Interview Questions

  1. Tell me about yourself? A strong answer will tell the interviewer why you chose this career and why are you interested in their position. They are not interested in your personal life unless it is directly related to the job.
  2. Why did you leave your last job? Stay positive regardless of the circumstances. Never say disparaging comments about a previous employer. Be prepared to answer this for every job you have had.
  3. What experience do you have in this field? Remember academic experience and on-the-job experience go hand-in-hand. If you only have academic experience, be specific and share what you learned from it. Include your internships, clinical rotations and volunteer experience.
  4. What do you know about this organization? Why do you want to work for this organization? Please explain how you would be an asset to this organization/why should we hire you? This is your opportunity to highlight your best qualities and explain how they relate to the position being discussed. Be sure to speak with confidence and excitement!
  5. Do you prefer to work on a team or alone?
    The best way to answer this question is that you are a team player but are able to work alone with minimal supervision. Be sure to have examples ready that show you perform for the good of the team and that illustrate your ability to take initiative.
  6. What are your long-term goals? Where do you see yourself in five years? Here an employer is looking for longevity in an applicant. Be sure to give the impression you are looking for a long-term commitment and emphasize how this position aligns with your goals.
  7. Have you ever been fired from a position? If you have not, say no. If you have, be honest, brief and avoid saying negative things about the people or organization involved. What did you learn from the experience?
  8. Tell me about a suggestion you made that improved a process at a previous job? Tell me about an accomplishment from your previous work experience? Tell a story that demonstrates the initiative and successful outcomes.
  9. Tell me about a time you didn’t get along with someone at work. They ask this question to explore your interpersonal skills. Be sure to illustrate a situation where you used your ability to separate the people from the problem and were able to address the problem, not the person.
  10. Tell me about a problem you had with a supervisor. Explain the problem and how it was resolved. Again, they are looking for interpersonal skills.
  11. What are your greatest strengths? A powerful answer will explain how your strength has contributed to success.
  12. What is your greatest weakness? It’s okay to be honest when revealing a potential weakness. Just make sure you can describe how you’ve recognized it, developed strategies to overcome it and what you’ve learned about yourself because of it. Choose a weakness that will not prevent you from performing the job you are applying for. Provide examples of how you are working on your weakness. Only focus on work-related weaknesses. Try not to sound too scripted.
  13. What have you learned from mistakes on the job? Here you have to come up with something or you strain credibility. Make it small, well-intentioned mistake with a positive lesson learned and positive outcome.
  14. Tell me about your dream job. The employer is trying to find out if this job will fulfill your long-term goals and ultimately, whether you will stick around or be looking for advancement with another company. Reiterate how this position aligns with your personal values and goals.
  15. What motivates you to do your best on the job? Some examples are: challenge, achievement, recognition.
  16. Do you have any questions for me? They want to hear that you are truly interested in finding a good fit.
  • Ask questions about the position and the organization but avoid questions where the answers can easily be found on the company website.
  • Avoid asking questions about salary and benefits until a job offer is made.
  • A powerful way to end the interview is to ask: “What is the most important thing you are looking for in the person you hire?” Then follow up by explaining how you meet that requirement.

Portions of this work have been adapted from the  http://www.jobinterviewquestions.org and www.bls.gov/OCO

Elevator Pitch

Also known as a unique sales proposition, an elevator pitch is a short description of who you are, what you do and what makes you stand out from the rest. It is called an elevator pitch because you should be able to share this information with someone in the amount of time it takes to ride in an elevator. You may be sharing this information with a potential employer or a potential client. It should sound authentic and not rehearsed (but you should rehearse it!). You need to have your pitch prepared and be ready to share it at any moment or any occasion. You never know when you will be talking to a potential future employer or a potential future patient/client. It could be at a party, a networking event, or, yes, even an elevator.

Watch this short video for more inspiration.

Networking

Sometimes people think of networking as a difficult and uncomfortable necessity. Yes, it is difficult to try to “sell yourself” to prospective employers or clients, but networking doesn’t have to be that way. Networking can serve many purposes in many different venues. Networking is about making connections, forming relationships and learning more about your profession. It can be an information-gathering activity or a place to find mentorship. Networking is helpful whether you are looking for a job or are trying to promote your established business. Find an event that interests you and think of it as a social activity instead of putting pressure on yourself to “perform.” Networking can happen at a formal event for job seekers, but it can also happen in other contexts. It is about building relationships.

Networking Resources:

Eager and ready to network? Here are a few ways to start:

  • Join the University of Western States Switchboard and Mentor Network.
  • Choose a cause that is near and dear to your heart and volunteer to help at community events in your area. You will be surrounded by like-minded people who may help you in your job search.
  • Join your neighborhood business association or chamber of commerce. It is a great way to make connections to people who live in your neighborhood and business owners in your business district. Letting people know who you are is beneficial whether you are looking for employment or have an established business. Volunteer on their committees to help break the ice and meet more people. You don’t have to join the chamber before attending a meeting to see what they are like. Guests are welcome at most chamber of commerce events and by alerting staff ahead of time of your planned visit, their ambassadors can help ensure that you connect with several individuals, even at your first event. Don’t be afraid to ask for more in-depth advice and connection from your local chamber staffers – they are great guides in networking.
  • Join online groups such as Nextdoor or your neighborhood association to be part of the conversation that is going on in your neighborhood and surrounding areas.
  • Joining organizations helps you meet people, practice professional skill-building and learn more about your profession. Professional organizations such as state licensing boards or trade associations are a great way to meet other people in your field. Often these organizations will have job opportunities posted on their website or send out emails to their members about available positions.
  • Toastmasters International may be a good way to connect with others and build up your public speaking skills which will in turn enhance your confidence with networking. University of Western States Toastmasters group coming soon!
  • Create a LinkedIn profile so people can easily see your accomplishments and what you are looking for, and you can make connections with people in your field.
  • Attend trade shows, Meetups or other events in your area of interest. Talk to vendors and other attendees to get leads on people with whom you can connect about potential employment or mentorship.
  • Moving abroad? Meet people, attend events and learn about your new location.
  • The UWS alumni department hosts many networking events throughout the year and can help you build connections within alumni and friends community. Contact [email protected] to learn more.
  • Ask your existing social network for referrals. Everybody knows somebody!

Market and Competitive Analysis

Market Analysis

Market research is needed whether you know exactly where you are going to open your business or if you are still trying to figure that out. Market analysis helps you determine whether your business idea is viable by looking at indicators such as consumer demand, such as:

• Do people want your product?
• Are there other businesses that already provide it?
• What is the income and employment rate of the area where you want to open your business?

These types of economic indicators and demographics can be obtained through internet research. Here is a list of sites with statical information. You can also get valuable information by doing the research personally through surveys, questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, etc.

Competitive Analysis

Market research should be coupled with competitive analysis to determine the level of market saturation. Are there existing businesses that provide the same product or service? Who are they? How many are there? What market share do they currently have? How will that affect your pricing structure? What makes your business different or better? Use the data from market research and competitive analysis to find your competitive advantage. Below is a sample of a chart comparing several companies that provide similar products.

Business Plan

A business plan is like a map that shows where you are going and how you will get there. Unlike a map, however, business plans change over time and need to be updated. It is a formal written document that speaks to your vision and values. It describes who you are, what and where your business is, why your business is important, who your customers are, what your financial goals are, how you plan to achieve them, and within what timeframe. This plan can be presented to bankers or potential business partners, and can also be helpful to revisit from time to time to make sure your business is on track with your goals.

Business Plan Resources:

Below is a one-page template from hubspot.com to help get you thinking about what kind of information you will need to include. Click on the template to download one for yourself. There are many free business plan templates on the internet to choose from.

business plan

Retirement

Are you planning retirement from your solo-practice? UWS brought together three practitioners for a facilitated discussion about retirement from the chiropractic profession – watch the video here. Retirement can be an emotionally and financially complicated topic, and although all three of these panelists are chiropractic physicians, this information is applicable to anyone who owns their own practice. The panelists are Minga Guerrero, Chuck Simpson and Joyce McClure – who all share open and honest feedback about their personal experiences. We hope this conversation provides some guidance, answers questions and helps connect you to others contemplating or actively working to retire. 

UWS Library Resources

Alums and local practitioners are always welcome to set up accounts to borrow physical library items. You can search the UWS library’s collection or check your local public library for resources on career and professional development topics. Many larger public libraries, in particular, may have collections related to employment skills (e.g. cover letter/CV, informational or formal interviews, networking, marketing, business plans, etc.) and small business development. The UWS library welcomes alums and local practitioners (or visiting alums/practitioners) to use resources on site as guests. The UWS library is not able to provide off-campus access to electronic resources for alumni or guests. Local practitioners may set up borrowing accounts with the library to check out physical materials. The UWS library also participates in a robust network of libraries to loan out physical resources via interlibrary loan; users just need to work with their local library to facilitate the borrowing request. UWS library staff are available to help students, alums and practitioners to locate resources to help with their career and professional development. Learn more about the UWS library and find contact information here. 

Other helpful online resources:


Resources for Minority Entrepreneurs

National Resources

Local Resources

LGBTQ+ Health Provider Resources

Resources for Chiropractors

Resources for Small Business Development

Career Outlook and Employment Statistics

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website is full of information that can be helpful when choosing a career or researching your chosen field by location. Click on the “Subjects” header for a drop-down menu. There you can choose from many different topic areas including wage data by area and occupation, employment rates and projections, and other regional employment data. Under the “Publications” header drop-down menu, there is the “Occupational Outlook Handbook”. You can find detailed information about specific occupations there. For example, click on “Healthcare” and then find “Chiropractors”. There is some basic information in the chart. Click on the word “Chiropractors” for additional information on job outlook and state and area data. Spend some time on this site. There is a plethora of useful information.


The office of career and professional development is here for you.

Check back often for updated information about professional networking opportunities. We can keep you informed about professional networking opportunities, teach you how to network, provide statistics about your chosen field, help you with cover letters and resumes, and more. Don’t see what you’re looking for? Let us know!