Thursday, September 25, 2014

Soft Skills are Important Too

First of all, what are soft skills and how to they make a difference in a career? Soft skills are the combined personal qualities, habits, attitudes and social charm that a person possesses. Employers look at soft skills to see if the person is compatible with the office/work environment. Also, research has shown that soft skills are just as significant indicator for job performance, which is exactly what employers look for in a candidate (Lorenz, 2014). In other words, soft skills are essential for any job because they demonstrate how you work rather than what learned in college. Examples of soft skills are: Strong work ethic, positive attitude, good communication skills, time management abilities, problem-solving skills, acting as a team player, self-confidence, ability to accept and learn from criticism, flexibility/adaptability, working well under pressure, critical observation and conflict resolution.

Bill Coplin wrote 10 Things Employers Want You to Learn in College and it focuses on the soft skills employers want to see in college graduates.
1). Establish a good work ethic. Meaning employees need to be honest, manage time and money.
2). Develop physical skills. Employers want their employees to stay well and appear professional.
3). Communicate verbally. This means employers want employees to be able to hold a conversation and present information to groups. This also means employees have to effectively communicate with clients as well.
4). Written communication. Employees should be able to effectively communicate via email, write well, edit, proofread, use a word processor and be able to send information electronically.
5). Work directly with people, which means build good relationships, work as a team and teach others.
6). Influence people. Yes, that means leading effectively and managing efficiently.
7). Gather information by searching library holdings, searching databases, conduct interviews, use surveys, keep and use records.
8). Use quantitative tools. This means using numbers, graphs, tables, spreadsheets effectively in the workplace.
9). Know how to ask and answer the right questions by paying attention to detail and evaluating actions and policies.
10). Know how to identify problems, develop a plan, and launch a solution.
According to the Career Advisory Board, there is a skills gap between how hiring managers rank importance of a job skill and how entry level job seekers rank the skill. Hiring managers thought that the most important skills were their employees’ ability to work with others,  flexibility and interpersonal skills. On the other hand, those who were entry-level job seekers thought high integrity, problem solving and strong communication were the most important soft skills (Morgan, 2014).

The great thing about the Department of Health Studies is that students learn all of these things through the coursework, especially the working well with others. Since health educators need to work with a variety of groups, group projects play an important role in the programs. The curriculum for programs offered by the Department of Health Studies is designed to help students be prepared for the workforce. In particular, the undergraduate program has an Internship Preparation course as well as a required Internship.

Whether you are a current TWU Health Studies student, an alum, or a community member and find yourself needing help in refining your soft skills, there are curriculum and activities that can help you. Check out the Office of Disability Employment Policy and they have activities to improve soft skills. If you are a student, you might want to contact the Pioneer Center for Student Excellence or the TWU Career Services.

Coplin, B. (2003). 10 things employers want you to learn in college. New York: Ten Speed Press.
Lorenz, K. (2014). Top 10 soft skills for job hunters: People skills and relationship-building are key to success. Retrieved from
Morgan, H. (2014). Job search help for new college graduates. Retrieved from

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Professionalism 101- Interviews by TWU Career Services

This is our part two of the Professionalism 101 series.We are covering interviews this time. Last time we discussed the ins and outs of resumes and CVs.  You presented your polished resume/CV and now you have a job interview. Do not panic. We have help from TWU Career Services once again to help you prepare for a successful interview experience. Review their valuable information to get on the right track.

1. What should I wear to an interview?

For women, suits, tailored clothes in classic designs and neutral colors are best for interviews. Skirt lengths should be moderate – not above the knee nor ankle length. Wear clean medium to low heel shoes. If you wear jewelry, keep it modest and to a minimum. It is suggested that you do not wear perfumes or after-shave lotions to the interview. Hair should be clean and neat and hairstyle should be professional.

For men, a suit or jacket and slacks in a neutral color (gray, navy, black, beige) with a well-coordinated tie and polished black or brown shoes is always appropriate. See the pictures below for the interview attire dos and don'ts.

2. What are the most frequently asked questions during an interview?

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Describe your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Tell me about a difficult scenario at work and how you dealt with it.
  • What do you know about our organization? 
  • Why should I hire you? 
To review further interview questions, please check out

3.Would a thank you email be just as effective as a thank you card?

A thank you email can be just as effective as a thank you card. There are a lot of pluses when sending a thank you email. For one, you can send it the day of the interview to show how eager you are. It’s important to send a thank you note within 24 hours after the interview, while you are still fresh in the interviewer’s mind. Usually with handwritten thank you cards there is a delay and the possibility that it may not make it to the interviewer. Secondly, with a thank you email the interviewer may be more likely to respond to your email, ask you a follow-up question, or continue the conversation.

In the end, it may not matter too much if you write a thank you email or a thank you card, as long as you made the effort to take some time to reflect on the interview and thank the interviewer for the opportunity.

4.What services does your department provide for interviews?
We provide various services to assist students and alum practice their interviewing skills. Students can schedule a one-on-one mock interview or a telephone interview with a Career Services staff member. Students can also utilize InterviewStream, an online program that simulates the interview experience, and allows them to practice their interviewing skills anywhere, anytime. The instructions are listed on the Career Services webpage:

5.What should I do before the interview?  
  • Preparation is key; the better prepared you are the greater your success during the interview process.
  • Know yourself; you will be asked to describe and share information about yourself. Be able to clearly articulate your strengths/ weakness and why you are the idea candidate for the position
  • Research the company; it’s not uncommon for the recruiter to ask “Tell me what you know about our company” Discuss their products, services, customers, reputation/image, organizational structure, employees. It’s not necessary to discuss all but do have a clear understanding of who and what the company is and does.
  • Understand and research as much as you can to learn about the position. This will help you to understand and articulate how you can be an asset to the company.
  • Organize and prepare what you plan to wear to the interview; conservative attire is always the requirement.
  • Prepare questions to ask the interviewer. At the end of an interview, the recruiter will ask “Do you have any questions”. Your answer should be “Yes, I do have questions prepared.” This makes you look interested, prepared and it reinforces to the recruiter that you are organized and have time management skills.
  • Drive to the interview location beforehand so that you can get a clear understanding of where you are going and the traffic patterns. You Do Not Want To Be Late For An Interview!!!!!

6. What should I bring to an interview? You will need, extra résumés, paper/pens, list of references, and required documents (social security card, driver’s license, copies of certifications, portfolios are examples).

7. What should I not bring to an interview?
 You should not take your cell phone, or any friends, children, family members, spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend or pets.

8. How can I better prepare for an interview?

Practice…. Practice…. Practice!
With your TWU email address and a web cam, practice interviewing by using InterviewStream at This software will give you a video of your mock interview for review and to share with others to receive their feedback. You are able to practice as many times as you would like. Mock interviews are also available with Career Services Department, appointments required.

9. Interview Tips

  • Be enthusiastic, energetic, honest, and show interest.
  • Be pleasant, friendly, courteous, flexible and tactful.
  • Maintain good eye contact and greet with a firm handshake.
  • Listen carefully and answer the question asked.
  • Do NOT discuss personal information or issues. Being married with kids has nothing to do with how competent you are and this information may be used against you screening you out as a possible candidate for the position.
  • Keep answers brief and to the point unless specially asked to elaborate.
  • Thank the recruiter for the opportunity and ask what’s the next step in the interview process.
  • ASK FOR THE JOB! – What I have learned today during this interview process has reassured me that (Company’s Name) will be an exciting company for me to (start or advance) my career. I would love to be a member of your team!
10. What should I do after the interview?
  • Obtain the interviewer’s business card.
  • Assess what you did well and what you would like to improve on for future interviews.
  • Use the information from the interviewer’s business card to send a Thank You Letter. This will ensure that you have the correct contact information, that you spell the interviewers name correctly and use their appropriate title.
  • If you do not hear from the interviewer, conduct a follow up telephone call or email to inform the interviewer of your continued interest in the position and to inquire about the status of your application. Also ask if there is any additional information that you can provide. 
If you need more help finding job, writing a resume, or practicing your interview skills, feel free to contact the TWU Career Services DepartmentThey will be more than happy to help you achieve your goals. Thank you to TWU Career Services Department for their help in writing these blogs on professionalism.

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Guest Post: Get Involved! by Laura Valentino

The Write Site at TWU


Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Impact of Robin William's Suicide

Last month, I was hit hard by some news. Robin Williams committed suicide in his home. Yes, you might feel that it is silly to be so emotional about the death of a celebrity whom I never met, but this man brought laughter to many people in the world, including myself. He made people smile and forget about their reality for a brief moment when watching his stand-ups acts or his movies. This incident helped me realize that even people with a great sense of humor can struggle with depression and spurred me to write this post for National Suicide Prevention Week. 

Depression is real and it is an ugly illness that plagues at least 1 out of 10 U.S. adults (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). Also in 2011, one out of ten young people experienced a period of major depression (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.). Depression is not something that can just be set aside and forgotten. It is also not an illness that just disappears or that you wake up one day and you are suddenly “over it.” It can control and consume a person’s life, but thankfully it is treatable. 

The first step for treating depression is contacting your doctor. Yes, it is frightening with the stigma associated with mental illness. However, there are health care providers and counselors who want you to receive help and they are available to you. I have seen stigma’s impact on those suffering from mental health issues. I have seen stigma  in the privacy of homes where individuals are thought to be going through a phase. I have also seen the stigma of mental illnesses while walking crowded streets of cities where people are shunned because their mental health status has forced them into homelessness. It is difficult to see those who are suffering and in need medical attention, but are afraid to get help because of how they think others will view them. Please do not let the fear of stigma keep you away from receiving assistance.

Sadly, depression alone is not the only mental health issue. Did you know that in 2011, one in five adult Americans experienced a mental health issue (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.)? In 2o11, the United States had one in twenty Americans live with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.). As you can see, no one is ever alone in this battle and the effects of mental illness impact more people than we might think. 

You might ask, “How do I make a difference? How can I make a change for those suffering from mental illness?” Those are the questions that motivated me to write this post. One of the ways that we can all make a difference is knowing what resources are available and sharing that information to someone in need.

Fortunately, the TWU Counseling Center offers a variety of counseling services and information. For more information about their services, click here. Also, if you know someone or if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts because of depression, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number at 1-800-273-8255. It is free, confidential and there is a trained counselor that answers the line.

Additionally, my own Department of Health Studies offers some courses that can help promote mental health awareness. There is a course called Psychosocial Aspects of Mental Health where students learn how to promote mental illness awareness and incorporate principles and strategies to create health interventions for those suffering from mental illness. It also discusses the mental health system reform that is occurring now to decrease stigma, increase awareness of mental health and increase access to mental health care. 

Another course that increases mental health awareness is the Stress Management course. This course teaches students how to manage stress on a daily basis through a variety of techniques. If stress is not managed properly, it could lead to anxiety and depression-like symptoms.   

Yes, I know it sounds like a cliché, but it is true. You can make a difference.  You can decrease the stigma, you can influence policy changes to mental health reform, and you can make a difference in your life or someone else’s. 

This post reflects the personal opinions and thoughts of Amanda Hinson-Enslin and does not reflect an official position of Texas Woman’s University or the Department of Health Studies.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). CDC features. Retrieved from:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.) Mental health myths and facts. Retrieved from:

Resources complied by Amelia Garza.


TWU Counseling Center
(940) 898-3801

The TWU Counseling Center is an excellent TWU on-campus resource. Like their Facebook page and stay up-to-date on upcoming events, mental health, and self-care ideas. Their website also provides great online resources, such as online assessments, workshops, a self-help library, and virtual pamphlets, which can be accessed through the following link:

Denton County Health Department
(940) 349-2900

Denton County Health Department, located on 535 South Loop 288, is a facility geared towards improving the overall health of the Denton County community. Offering services such as dental, immunizations, and primary care, the Denton County Health Department is a great resource to work with.

Grant Halliburton Foundation
(214) 347-4900

The Grand Halliburton Foundation is an organization that believes in spreading the word that “I AM H.E.R.E”. This motto refers to a drive for working together to promote that no individual is alone. Geared towards teens and young adults, the foundation is the only coalition in the North Texas area that promotes mental health and well-being to the young people of the area.

Denton County MHMR Center
The Denton County MHMR center is a place where individuals can go to seek help if they are experiencing depression, thoughts of suicide, or other issues of mental health. The center is a non-profit organization that specializes in treating individuals with mental health needs. Their “person-centered” treatment plan is geared towards the individual’s specific needs.

Mayhill Hospital: Behavior Health
(940) 239-3000

The Mayhill Hospital treatment programs for behavior health include a variety of approaches such as recreational & occupational therapy, safe & secure environment, 24-hour nursing care, individual & group therapy, and many more. Providing a safe, confidential, and compassionate environment, the Mayhill Hospital: Behavior Health’s multi-disciplinary medical team works to understand the needs of the individual and develops programs based on those needs.

Texas Suicide Prevention

The Texas Suicide Prevention resource is an online tool that helps individuals navigate and understand issues surrounding suicide. Whether it is becoming aware of the signs of an at-risk individual, or working through life after the death of a loved one by suicide, this tool can help to build one’s knowledge and prevention tactics of suicide. Offering tips on ways to help with preventative measures, the Texas Suicide Prevention website offers a way for each person to get involved in suicide prevention and awareness.

Suicide Prevention Resources for Military Families

This online website is a great source for gathering information about how to help your loved one cope with suicidal thoughts following involvement in the military. Targeted specifically towards family and friends of military personal, the Suicide Prevention Resources for Military Families discusses how to identify the warning signs of suicide as well as how to find help for your loved one. This resource also gives a pneumonic for helping your loved one: ACE, which stands for Ask, Care, and Escort provide an easy way for families and friends to act on the needs of their loved ones.

Denton Regional Medical Center: PTSD
(940) 384- 3535

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can also play a role in suicide. The Denton Regional Medical Center provides great resources in understanding PTSD such as the risk factors, symptoms, and living with the disorder. Reviewed by Michael Woods, MD, the information is backed with expert help and advice.

Suicide Hotlines
Crisis Line: Adults, (972) 233-2233; Teen, (972) 233-TEEN; Española, (972) 233-2428
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK
24 Hour Crisis Line: (214) 828-1000/ 1-866-672-5100
Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)
This source is a Texas based hotline and is to be used in crisis situations. If you are someone you love is considering suicide, please contact this hotline.