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Clues for the Clueless

Samantha Nolan of The Columbus Dispatch offers weekly guidance to job seekers in her column, Dear Sam. You can read her advice here, as well as catch up on other recent job-related news from the Dispatch.

Dear Sam
Cover letter essential part of job search portfolio

by Samantha Nolan


Q: Dear Sam: I'm struggling to write a cover letter. I've created what I believe is a good resume, targeting the types of positions I am interested in, but now I find myself stuck when trying to write a cover letter. My friend writes a cover letter for each job to which she applies. Is that necessary? If I can't write one letter, how on earth can I write one for every job to which I apply? If an ad doesn't ask for a cover letter, is it OK just to send my resume? -- Stacey

A: Dear Stacey: A cover letter is your opportunity to introduce yourself to a prospective employer, expand upon and personalize the experience presented in your resume, and highlight how your skills and experiences fulfill the employer's needs. While this suggests a new cover letter is necessary for each position, it isn't.

Your cover letter should be written with your objective in mind, just like your resume. When done well, it will be presentable to most positions for which you are interested in applying. You always can tailor your cover letter a little if there are specific nuances to a posting that you need to respond to, but overall you should be able to develop one resume and one cover letter that fit the bill most of the time.

A cover letter should be a key part to every application, regardless of whether it is requested. Keep in mind that a cover letter not only expresses your interest in the position, but it also gives the employer an opportunity to observe your attentiveness to detail, spelling, grammar and quality of written communication.

When writing your cover letter, there are many strategies you can employ in the development and organization of the content. Here are some guidelines:

  • Open the letter by noting your key qualifications and the position of interest. Use the first paragraph to capture the recipient's attention and make them want to read more. To do this well, you clearly have to understand your key qualifications, the position of interest and the intended audience.
  • Consider the following examples of a traditional and value-added opening sentence. The latter serves to pique the reader's interest by presenting the candidate's key qualifications for the position. Contrast this with the traditional opening and you can see what a difference an appropriately executed opening can make in grabbing the attention of the reader. Traditional (loses the reader's attention): "I am writing to apply for the merchandising manager position advertised in the newspaper." Value-Added (grabs and holds the reader's attention): "Having worked for some of the nation's leading fashion and trend-right retailers, I possess extensive experience in merchandising, inventory allocation, customer relations and retail management."
  • Use the main body of your cover letter to explore experiences, successes and skills that support your performance. I often use bullet points to focus the hiring manager's attention on the most important pieces of information. This helps to break up a "heavy" one-page letter and also allows for a quick and easy way to "custom fit" a cover letter to the position of interest. In bulleted sections you can interchange sentences or key phrases to market your most notable skills to each position.
  • Close with an action-oriented statement. Do not take the passive approach and wait for a hiring manager to call you. Of course if the advertisement says no calls, then you need to follow that advice, but most of the time a follow-up call is the appropriate strategy to reiterate your interest. A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management suggested the majority of hiring managers expect a candidate to follow up on an opportunity. This is no longer deemed a taboo practice.
  • Keep it brief. Generally cover letters should be no more than one page and include ample white space to facilitate ease of readability.
  • Do all you can to acquire the name of the hiring manager, and address your cover letter appropriately. When all else fails write to "Dear Hiring Manager" not "To Whom it May Concern."
  • Use the same heading from your resume in order to present a clean and professional package.

Don't forget to sign your letter if sending a hard copy, or scan your signature and place on your electronic version for a personal touch

To send your question to Dear Sam for possible publication, click here.

Other recent "Dear Sam" columns:

The big picture

Careers in 'green' energy could recharge Ohio
You've heard the numbers: Ohio has lost more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs so far this decade. But state officials say many of those could be replaced by 2030 if Ohio's manufacturing strength can be tapped in the cause of renewable energy. "This is one of our best bets, particularly on the manufacturing side," said Mark Barbash, chief economic-development officer for the state Department of Development. "It also offers the opportunity for additional research and development jobs." Read more

Rules relaxed for students receiving assistance
Welfare recipients who go to college can use as much as a year of classwork to meet the program's work requirements and no longer will need to have homework supervised for some of that time count. The new homework provision, which also applies to vocational school, represents a change from rules put into place in 2006 for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program. Read more

Taking steps to reach career goals can pay off
Workers who make career resolutions -- and create a plan to make them happen -- can see benefits that pay off for years. Only 12 percent of workers made career-related resolutions at the beginning of 2007, but nearly three-quarters of those who did achieved their goals by the end of the year, a survey by staffing agency Accountemps found. The top career resolution: to learn new skills. Read more

Community colleges help midlife students retool
Many baby boomers are looking to community colleges as places to develop skills that will lead to new jobs with a higher social purpose and more flexible hours. They may well be in luck. Labor analysts predict that the U.S. economy will face shortages of 6 million workers by 2012 and 35 million by 2030. The hardest-hit fields will be education, health care and public service. Read more

Labor farce: There’s no shortage of unusual jobs
"Gum buster" is an actual job? Yes, it's a little hard to believe. But do you know what a gum buster does? He or she removes chewing gum from park benches, school desks, floors and furniture. Plenty of jobs might be considered just plain weird. They might not be the most lucrative pursuits, but think about it: If gum busters didn't exist, we would be sitting on and stepping in a lot more gum. Read more

Retirees build Web careers around their hobbies
As people retire earlier and live longer, many are going back to work to pass the time or pay the bills. Some are making that work fun, starting Internet businesses based on hunting, fishing, golfing or the beach. These entrepreneurs say the work combines their talents from the corporate world with the leisure activities they want to enjoy in retirement. And it puts money in their pockets. Read more

Honda to ship motorcycle production to Japan
When Honda's first motorcycle rolled off the assembly line in Marysville in September 1979, it marked the beginning of an operation in Ohio that grew to employ more than 15,000. Now, Honda has announced that the plant that started it all will stop making motorcycles next year. It wants to find other uses for the 330,000-square-foot building and offer new jobs to the 450 affected workers. Read more

Author views China as technological powerhouse
When Rebecca Fannin left Lancaster for the bright lights of New York, she found, to her amazement, that those lights weren't quite bright enough to satisfy her. "It was while I was editing a monthly magazine called International Business during the early 1990s that I was sent on a reporting trip to Hong Kong," Fannin said. She quickly realized that Asia was better suited to her interests. Read more

Columbus must define itself to grow, expert says
Columbus needs to distill what makes it special before it can effectively sell itself to the outside world, an expert told those attending the annual meeting of Experience Columbus, the city's convention and visitors bureau. Carol Coletta, president and chief executive of the nonprofit advocacy group CEOs for Cities, said city promoters should look to compete globally, not just regionally. Read more

Columbus State, OU to offer special 4-year degree
Starting this fall, up to 500 Columbus State students a year can start building their associate degree into a bachelor's from Ohio University -- without ever leaving the community college. A new program effectively allows students who have completed any of Columbus State's 55 career and technical programs to jump into their junior year without having to redo any of their lower-level courses. Read more

Alternative energy sources can be job sources
When 1,800 workers lost their jobs after a Maytag appliance factory and headquarters closed last year in the small town of Newton, Iowa, a company that makes wind-turbine blades saw an opportunity -- an available, skilled work force in the middle of one of America's hardiest wind-energy production regions. Now, TPI Composites Inc. is building a plant in the community. Read more

Entrepreneurs are getting started earlier than ever
Forget mowing lawns or washing cars. Some young entrepreneurs already are doing big business. “It used to be that you’d work for a big company and lay the foundation for an entrepreneurial career later on,” says career consultant John Challenger. “Now, entrepreneurship is something that people aspire to do from the beginning.” Starting a business is easier for today’s 20-somethings than it was for their parents, so they’re more willing to try it, the Young Entrepreneur Foundation reports. Read more

College is prime time for starting your own business
You spend tens of thousands of dollars attending college with the hope of one day landing a good job. But Randal Pinkett, the winner of a job with Donald Trump on the fourth season of NBC’s The Apprentice, says you don’t have to settle for being an employee of someone else. It’s possible to become your own chief executive even while pursuing your college degree. And Pinkett has proof: Think Google, Yahoo and Facebook, all of which were founded by entrepreneurs while they were in college. Read more

Job market prompts some to pursue multiple majors
After climbing to the top of their high-school classes, more students at Ohio State University are pursuing double, triple and even quadruple majors. “These are smart, well-prepared kids who, faced with an uncertain job market, are hedging their bets by getting a diverse education,” said Linda Harlow, associate provost and director of the University Honors & Scholars Center. Of the 5,120 OSU graduates last spring, more than 11 percent had two or more majors, compared with 6 percent a decade ago. Read more

OSU to lead drive to train nontraditional teachers
As teacher shortages grow in certain subjects, more school districts are hiring college graduates with expertise in language arts, math and other areas but who haven’t been trained as teachers. Ohio State University will receive $6.8 million in federal money to help ensure that nontraditional teacher candidates in Ohio, Kansas, Nevada and Texas are well-trained. OSU will lead a consortium of colleges, school districts and nonprofit groups in the four states. Read more

Preparation usually pays off during job interview
Going into an interview with confidence in your professional skills and your interview skills will make for a comfortable and effective exchange. The best thing you can do is to seriously prepare for the interview well in advance of your appointment. Review your skills, achievements and qualifications, and rehearse the best ways to articulate them. Practice speaking confidently about your strengths and how you use them and about your weaknesses and how you have overcome them. Read more

Some steps toward workplace diversity reported
Some of the nation’s largest companies have made significant efforts this year to increase their diversity, but more initiatives are needed, according to a report released by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. After 11 years of tracking diversity initiatives in major corporations, the NAACP released the 2007 edition of the NAACP Consumer Choice Guide. The guide graded 51 companies on a scale from an A+ to an F-. Read more

Young people appear torn over money, happiness
Today’s young people have a complicated relationship with money, dismissing it as a paramount source of happiness yet conceding its power over them. Money is nowhere near the top of the list when they are asked what makes them happiest. Friends and family are their chief pleasures, followed by God, pets and pastimes such as listening to music. But money, the kids say, can certainly help, according to an extensive poll by the Associated Press and MTV. Read more

Many interns find themselves assigned to ‘real’ jobs
More companies are treating interns like regular workers, often expecting them to perform the same jobs as permanent employees, says Sue Murphy of the National Human Resources Association. "With the labor shortage being what it is and budgets being tight, more companies are finding that they simply don't have the funds to spend on expanding their staffs," Murphy said. "They're realizing that they can utilize their interns more creatively and exposing them to all aspects of the jobs to give them a true understanding of what the job is really about." Sixty-two percent of college students had internships last year, and more than half earned more than $11 an hour, much higher than minimum wage. Read more

‘CSI’ boosts interest in forensic science as a career
Tune in to CSI: Crime Scene Investigation on CBS and see forensic experts investigate a murder, unravel the tracks of a crime ring and get tangled up in their own personal relationships. The television show's a hit, but it had little influence on Martha Leon's dreams of becoming a crime-scene investigator. "It's interesting, but I know that the real CSI is nothing like the show depicts it to be," Leon said. "It is much more challenging and stressful." While CSI makes the job of crime investigator look glamorous, it's a "blessing and a curse," said Dean Gialamas, a specialist in forensic science. As entertainment, the show strays from reality. On the flip side, it has boosted interest in the crime investigation as a career. Read more

Twist on resumes: More job seekers hitting ‘record’
Fallon Rechnitz set her video-capable digital camera on a stack of books. She then hit the record button and spoke for about 30 seconds, instantly producing a video resume she plans to send to potential employers. Rechnitz is at the forefront of a growing trend in the hunt for employment. To stand out, some job seekers are turning to online services such as WorkBlast.com and ResumeBook.tv, or posting their clips on a video-sharing site such as Google Inc.'s YouTube. No longer limited to mailing video on tape or a CD, they are e-mailing links to employers or adding them to traditional resumes. Read more

OSU offers new kind of business ‘school’
Small-business owners looking for a little help can turn to a new online option for crash courses in business management. Called SmallBizU, the courses are offered online through a partnership with Ohio State University, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Ohio Department of Development. Lessons range from basic business skills such as accounting and creating financial projections to the more advanced, such as crafting a business plan, buying a business and managing employees. Read more

More education pays off, Census report confirms
The more education you have, the more you can expect to earn during your career. That idea is hammered home by new figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. The figures also show that the gap in earnings between those with a high-school diploma or less versus those with one or more college degrees is growing. Adults with advanced college degrees earn about four times more than those who don’t finish high school, according to the bureau. Adults with a master’s, doctoral or professional degree earned an average of $79,946 in 2005; those without a high-school diploma averaged $19,915. Read more

College can be the key to a rewarding career, ads say
Pssst ... Kids. If you want to go to college, you should be a “pain in the behind,” push yourself, find the right fit and get your hands on some cash. Worried that too many students miss out on college because they don’t know what to do, Ohio has unveiled a two-year, $200,000 ad campaign to set them on the right path. The key message of the KnowHow2 campaign: Going to college is the first step to pursuing a successful career – everyone should take advantage of it, and it’s never too early to start preparing. Read more

Don’t let early rejection derail your career dreams
Landing your dream job – or any job, for that matter – can be tough. Even the rich and famous, the people now recognized as leaders in their chosen fields, have had their share of challenges, embarrassments, rejections, goofs and outright failures. Here are some examples. We promise that this will make you feel better about that rejection letter you received from your “perfect” would-be employer. Read more

U.S. advertising industry wants more diversity
Advertising agencies help market everything from soft drinks and lingerie to cold remedies in a country in which minorities comprise a third of the population. Even so, at most agencies, minorities are underrepresented. The industry is trying to change that. Columbus firms TenUnited and Resource Interactive are joining about 100 other agencies across the country to take part in a minority-internship program sponsored by the American Association of Advertising Agencies. Read more

The latest numbers

Limited job growth projected for Columbus area
The number of jobs in the Columbus area will rise this year, but at a low rate as a result of struggles in retail, manufacturing and housing. The Columbus Chamber's recently released Blue Chip Economic Forecast projects that 3,500 jobs will be added in central Ohio in 2008, increasing area employment to about 940,000. The report described the 0.4 percent employment growth as weak. Read more

17,000 jobs lost in January, but data may change
Trying to hire an engineer near San Francisco? Then the job market looks robust. If you're a factory worker in Ohio, it looks dismal. The latest payroll figures from the Department of Labor look immediately depressing, but there's disagreement about what they show and whether they'll change drastically when they're revised. For now, it appears employers cut 17,000 jobs in January. Read more

Unions see first membership uptick in 24 years
The unionized share of the U.S. work force edged up to 12.1 percent in 2007, the first rise in 24 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The increase from 12 percent a year ago lifted total union membership to 15.7 million in a work force of 129.8 million. Union members' share of the work force is still below its 2005 level, when members represented 12.5 percent. Read more

Double whammy: Higher costs, higher prices
Prices for a wide variety of the materials that businesses buy soared in January, according to a government report, creating new pressure for businesses to raise the prices they charge consumers. The producer price index, which measures wholesale inflation, rose 1 percent in January -- more than double what economists had forecast. Wholesale prices are up 7.4 percent during the past year. Read more

Steady pace predicted for commercial real estate in '08
Central Ohio should have a steady if unspectacular commercial real-estate market in 2008, local observers say. That means continued industrial development and leasing in the Rickenbacker Airport area, some new speculative office buildings in the suburbs and plenty of hand-wringing Downtown. "I think it's going to be pretty much business as usual," said Richard Schuen, Adena Realty president. Read more

Ben Bernanke: Economy stuck on bad indicators
Using words such as sluggish and deteriorated, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave a pessimistic assessment of the nation's economy and signaled that the Fed will cut interest rates further if needed to combat the adverse effects of a prolonged housing slump and a severe credit crisis. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told a congressional hearing that the economy still could avert a recession, but Democrats said they believed the government should be doing more to help. Read more

Senate hopes jobless benefits will aid economy
For a bipartisan majority of senators, providing three months or six months of extra unemployment checks to more than 1 million jobless people is a better way to help the economy than just printing tax rebate checks. Some economists agree, and so, undoubtedly, do the nearly 1.3 million unemployed workers who face losing an average $282 a week in benefits before June. Read more

61 percent of Ohio women hold jobs, study finds
Last year, more Ohio women age 16 or older than ever -- 61 percent -- were working, up from fewer than half in 1979, a new study says. The report by Policy Matters Ohio, a labor-backed advocacy group based in Cleveland, said the male work force declined during the same period from nearly 80 percent to 73 percent. Men still earn more than women doing the same jobs, but the gap is narrowing. The median wage for men was $16.15 an hour in 2006, while the median women’s wage was $13.16. Read more

Many workers are likely to leave job, poll shows
U.S. workers are more likely now to switch jobs or careers than at any time in the past five years, although a large majority of workers are not interested in a promotion at their current jobs, according to the eighth annual World of Work survey by the staffing company Randstad USA. Just 26 percent of employees, and 31 percent of their managers, are interested in a promotion, according to the survey of more than 3,000 workers and managers conducted earlier this year. Read more

New report shows Ohio added tech jobs
Ohio gained high-tech jobs in 2005 for the first time since the beginning of the decade, according to a new report. Ohio added 1,200 tech jobs in 2005, based on the most current employment numbers from AeA, a nonprofit association representing the technology industry. The state lost tech jobs each year from 2000 to 2004, but the losses had been decreasing each year and the state finally had a net gain. The overall gain in Ohio was driven by growth in computer-systems design, which includes custom computer programming and computer-facilities management; research and development; and testing labs. Read more

Who's hiring?

Central Ohio call centers plan to add 900 jobs
Global call-center operator Teleperformance plans to hire 900 people in central Ohio by the end of August, the company said. The jobs will be divided evenly between the company's two call centers in central Ohio, one on the Far West Side and another on the Northwest Side near Dublin, said Jim Phillips, director of recruiting. Of the 900 hires, Teleperformance will allow 200 to 300 employees to work from home once they've been evaluated and have undergone 90 days of training, he said. Read more

Group sets goal to land 10,000 jobs for Dayton
A regional business group hopes that Wright-Patterson Air Force Base's favorable treatment by the board that decides which military bases close or expand will help land 10,000 new jobs in the area in the next 12 years. The Dayton Development Coalition is among the groups working to bring in those jobs, in addition to the research jobs relocating to the base by 2011, coalition leaders said. Read more

Soon-to-open water park looking for workers
Surf's up for job seekers at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Interviews have begun for 900 summer jobs at the zoo, its golf course and its new water park, Zoombezi Bay. Of the total, 175 will be lifeguards. The rest will be in catering, first aid, food service, admissions, guest relations, maintenance, park services, parking, retail and rides. Adding Zoombezi Bay means a jump from last year's 600 summer jobs. Teens as young as 14 can apply for food-service jobs that pay $6.55 per hour. Pay for workers 16 and older will range from $7.25 to $10, depending on age and experience. Read more

Rt. 33 coalition ready to pursue businesses, jobs
A group that is working to bring business and industry to the Rt. 33 corridor in Fairfield County soon will move from the talking phase into action. The fledgling Fairfield 33 Development Alliance plans to spend $1.25 million during the next five years on marketing and other efforts aimed at attracting new businesses, strengthening existing employers and providing area residents with jobs. Read more

Incentives expected to bring Lancaster 225 jobs U.S. Corrugated Inc. plans to build a manufacturing plant that will employ more than 100 workers in Lancaster, Ohio. Company executives said the plant is scheduled to open this year, paying workers about $16 an hour, plus benefits. Meanwhile, Anchor Hocking, elaborating on an earlier announcement, says it will add 125 jobs in the next three years, thanks to a $250,000 state grant. Read more

Kroger to hire up to 150 at Delaware warehouse
Between 100 and 150 jobs will be added during the next three months at a Kroger warehouse in Delaware County as the grocery chain shifts some distribution from a Michigan center. The jobs are for so-called order pickers, who take orders and prepare them for shipping. The starting wage is $11.50 per hour plus benefits. After five years, the pay increases to $16.80 per hour. Read more

PPG investment, state aid to add 14 jobs at plant
PPG Industries will invest $12 million in its Delaware operation, adding 14 jobs. Workers at the plant make coatings for PPG's North American automotive refinish business, which provides paint to auto body shops. PPG chose Delaware over Italy, England and several other U.S. sites because of the quality of its Delaware workers and managers, access to utilities and the availability of land. Read more

Modified Rt. 315 technology corridor in works
A year and a half ago, Columbus announced plans lure 50,000 jobs by turning 10,000 acres along Rt. 315 into a place that would attract research and technology companies, but the project stalled. Now, the city is pulling back its focus to the west side of Rt. 315 between Kinnear Road and Lane Avenue, where Ohio State University has been working to develop a technology park. Read more

Hayden Run still hot, despite poor economy
The Hayden Run area is still growing, if a bit more slowly, despite tough economic times. The finger of Columbus abutting Washington and Brown townships, Hilliard and Dublin was dubbed the region's hottest growth area in 2001. Developers envisioned thousands of houses, apartments and condos that would transform the once-rural area into one of central Ohio's busiest spots. Read more

Worthington approves tax deal for running center
A San Diego-based mail-order company that sells athletic shoes and apparel will open a distribution center in Worthington, bringing with it 100 full-time jobs. In September, the Worthington City Council approved a 75 percent, 10-year tax abatement for Road Runner Sports, whose payroll is expected to reach almost $4 million a year. Road Runner Sports plans a 65,000-square-foot distribution center and a retail store at 535 Lakeview Plaza Blvd. The store will include a running-analysis center, official said. Read more

Uranium-enrichment process being tested in Ohio
The nation’s only company that enriches uranium for nuclear power plants says it has begun testing a key process at its demonstration facility in southern Ohio. USEC Inc., based in Bethesda, Md., is developing the American Centrifuge Plant to enrich uranium using centrifugal force. Tests began in late August. The project, which has about 140 employees, could create up to 400 permanent jobs in the next few years in an area that typically has one of the state’s highest unemployment rates. Read more

Continental to add flights, jobs at hub in Cleveland
A $50 million Continental Airlines Inc. expansion in Cleveland will add at least 70 flights by next summer, create 700 jobs and help relieve congestion at the airline's Newark, N.J., hub, company officials say. Many of the new flights serving the hub at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport will be regional jets reallocated from Newark, the airline said. The airline is receiving $16 million in state aid, including job-training help, and the city is promising improvements to the city-owned airport. Read more

Hospital gets a new name — and a broader vision
Columbus Children’s Hospital’s new name, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, symbolizes the institution’s long-term goal of becoming one of the top pediatric hospitals in the nation, Abigail S. Wexner, chair of the hospital’s board of trustees, said at a renaming ceremony in September. A seven-year, $740 million expansion will make Nationwide Children’s the second-largest pediatric hospital in the country. The project is expected to bring 2,400 hospital jobs and 1,300 construction jobs. Read more

Columbus is a hotbed for educational publishing
Columbus has quietly joined the big leagues as a player in the educational-publishing industry, with thousands of people employed by several major companies. “ Central Ohio is really becoming a magnet for educational publishers,” said Jay Diskey, executive director of the Washington-based American Association of Publishers School Division. “This was a business that for a long time was based in New York and Boston. Now, a very significant part of it is in Ohio.” Read more

Banks looking to hire ‘more versatile’ tellers
Despite the ease and growing use of online banking -- paying bills, checking balances and reconciling accounts via the Internet -- banks say they still need tellers because customers demand them. As a result, banks are looking for tellers to do more than cash checks and record deposits. “The movement in the banking industry has been to staff the banking centers with a more versatile type of teller,” said Wendy Mallory, a vice president with Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank. Read more

Tech firm to add 158 workers in Columbus
Columbus tech company Rescentris Inc. will add 158 jobs over the next three years with help from a $1.5 million state loan. The company, at 4100 Regent St., is planning a $2.6 million project to enhance its software used for life-science research. The loan, at an interest rate of 8.75 percent for five years, will mostly go toward developing the software. Rescentris was formed in 2003 by former employees of LabBook Inc., a Virginia software company that closed its Columbus office. Read more

A graying industry in search of youth
Aerospace engineering student Justin Wong was schmoozing on Facebook.com last fall when he came across an ad for a job with Boeing. Wong, who had just interned at the company, viewed the banner on the social-networking site as another sign the aerospace giant is reaching out to today's youth. It's no secret that the U.S. aerospace industry is rapidly graying: The average age of an aerospace worker was 45 in 2005. Faced with a looming brain drain, companies are cooking up creative ways to lure and keep talent. Chatting with students online and fast-tracking young workers to be leaders are now common. Read more

Scientists find profitable niche in law practices
It's one of the hottest niches in law: the lawyer-scientist who understands technology and can explain it to a jury. Demand for these specialists is being driven by an explosion in patent applications and a growing need for lawyers to protect old patents or challenge new ones. The U.S. Patent Office estimates 450,000 patent applications will be filed this year, up from about 350,000 five years ago. Law professors say they're seeing more students with science backgrounds make the leap to law, where recruiters are snapping them up. "It's maybe not as sexy as defending a murderer, but it's sexy in a different way," said Loretta Weathers, who recently moved from a plasma-physics laboratory to a federal courtroom. Read more

SBC Advertising promises to create 50 positions
The state of Ohio has persuaded SBC Advertising of Westerville to keep doing business in Franklin County. The Ohio Tax Credit Authority granted the company $460,000 worth of tax credits, grants and loans. In return, the ad agency pledged to remain in Franklin County for at least 10 years and create 50 jobs within three years. SBC has 83 full-time employees and about 10 part-timers. Read more

Defense Supply Center seeks a few good workers
In case anyone forgot, there are new jobs at the Defense Supply Center, Columbus. Leaders of Team DSCC, who campaigned heavily for the base’s survival in 2005, are traveling to city councils in the region not only to say thanks for the support but also to encourage residents to apply. Because the DSCC was saved while other bases were closed, 1,100 jobs were created at the installation. Read more

10-year tax credit OK’d for firm promising 97 jobs
A Texas company that’s relocating to Columbus will receive 10 years’ worth of city tax incentives for the 97 jobs it is expected to create here. The City Council approved a 10-year, 65 percent job-creation tax credit for Zyvex Performance Materials Inc., which is moving headquarters from the Dallas suburb of Richardson. Zyvex produces additives used by the sporting goods and aerospace industries and other manufacturers and will pay an hourly average of more than $32, city officials said. Read more

Ad agency receives $1.3 million in tax credits
Resource Interactive, a Columbus ad agency that specializes in online marketing, has received more than a million reasons to expand its offices in the Arena District. The Ohio Tax Credit Authority and the city, through its Downtown Office Incentive program, approved tax incentives worth $1.3 million for the online-marketing company, tied to the agency’s creation of 90 jobs within three years. Read more

For-profit nursing school aiming to fill void
St. Louis-based Chamberlain College of Nursing is set to open Columbus’ first for-profit nursing school. It will offer associate and bachelor’s degrees, as well as Web-based courses so students in other states can do coursework online and clinical work in their hometowns. Local nursing schools say additional classroom space won’t ease a national nursing shortage. They point to too few teachers and increasing competition for clinical space at hospitals, nursing homes and centers where students learn on the job. Read more

The Ohio State University P-12 Project
The P-12 Project is a university-wide partnership created to assist in improving Ohio's schools with a special focus on the education of Ohio's underserved children and youth. Our primary goal is simple: increase success for all students. Our name reflects our focus: preschool through 12th grade. We develop strong partnerships and foster effective research and practice in P-12 education.


Samantha Nolan


Average starting salaries

    Here’s a look at the average starting-salary offers by job field for this year's college graduates and their change from last year:

  • Accounting: up 2.7 percent to $47,421
  • Business administration/management: up 7.5 percent to $44,048
  • Chemical engineering: up 5.6 percent to $59,707
  • Civil engineering: up 4.8 percent to $47,750
  • Computer engineering: up 3.2 percent to $55,946
  • Computer science: up 2.5 percent to $52,177
  • Electrical engineering: up 1.6 percent to $54,915
  • Liberal arts: up 1.2 percent to $31,333
  • Management information systems: up 4.9 percent to $46,966
  • Marketing: up 10.3 percent to $41,285
  • Mechanical engineering: up 5.7 percent to $54,695   

Job hunting tips for college grads

   To increase your chances of landing a job after graduation, experts suggest you:

  • Do your research: Be familiar with a company's corporate culture. Twenty-five percent of hiring managers said that a recent college graduate who is a good fit with the company culture is the most influential factor in their hiring decision.
  • Play up your experience: Considering that 21 percent of hiring managers cite experience as the most influential factor in their decision to hire a recent college graduate, be sure to mention your internships as well as other activities. Student government, volunteer work, organization of campus activities and team sports can be leveraged as useful real-world experience.
  • Show enthusiasm: Job interviews aren't a one-way conversation. Twenty-one percent of hiring managers say that asking good questions and showing enthusiasm weigh heavily on their hiring decision for recent college graduates.

    Sources: CareerBuilder.com, National Association of Colleges and Employers

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