What is career readiness and do you possess it?

Many college students believe that the college degree is their key to career success. It’s the knowledge gained in the classroom that makes them the qualified candidate for the job.

This is true…somewhat.

Yes, understanding concepts and topics specific to your chosen profession is important. But preparing for the world of work involves much more than earning a degree, certificate or diploma. The National Association of Colleges and Employers has outlined what makes a college student ready to successfully transition from college to career. Check out the seven skills below and determine your career readiness. Ask yourself how you measure against other graduates and job seekers. What are things you could do to improve the skills you currently lack?

Critical Thinking/Problem Solving: Employers want new hires who can receive information and use it to solve problems. They hire candidates capable of examining ideas and interpreting facts and data to make decisions.

Oral/Written Communications: All industries require solid communication skills. Being able to clearly and concisely share information through writing (emails, memos, documents), public speaking (talking in front of a group) and interpersonal communication (one-to-one or small group meetings) is essential.   

Teamwork: Can you successfully function within a team? Can you manage conflict? Are you able to work with people of diverse cultures, races, religions and viewpoints? Your individual contributions are important, but companies function in teams.

Technology: Computer skills are used in every job setting. It’s the type of computer work and amount that varies.

Leadership: Are you able to lead others either by being in charge or setting a good example of a strong work ethic? Can you prioritize and organize your responsibilities? Do people look to you as someone who can motivate them to be involved?

Professionalism: The employee who is always late to work or doesn’t submit projects on time won’t be an employee for long. Neither will the employee who refuses to understand the importance and effect of professional conduct in a work setting, from the way you talk to the way you visually present yourself.

Career Management: Students who are ready to join the world of work after college know how they want to contribute and what they’re capable of doing. Thus, they know what jobs to look for and how to apply.  During the job interview, a solid candidate can discuss their strengths, skills and experiences in relation to the job opening.  

Look for ways you can improve skills, from taking a computer course (technology) or public speaking class (oral communications) to visiting Career Services (career management, professionalism).


November 23, 2015

9 tips for a successful online job search

Searching for jobs online will be a component of your job search. As printed materials dwindle, so do classified sections. When employers post job openings they do so on the company website or an online job board. If you aren’t comfortable doing an online job search, it’s time to become familiar with the concept.

Here are nine elements to a successful online job search.

Create a professional resume. Technology may have updated the job search resources, but a solid, professional resume is still essential to your job search. Follow the tips and samples listed in the Career Services Career Guide.

Know your search criteria ahead of time. What’s your salary range? What geographic location are you targeting? Are you looking for full-time, part-time or contract work? Answers to these questions help narrow your search.

Use keywords in your search. When looking through online sites, use keywords and phrases from your industry. Doing so helps narrow the search.

Use different keywords in different searches. Changing one keyword could mean the difference between seeing a job posting or not. If you search for jobs with the word “mechanic,” you may not connect with a posting that uses the phrase “auto technician.”

Look for sites that update listings frequently. If a site only updates jobs monthly, you could miss out on opportunities the weeks in between.

Find out the site’s privacy policy. Some sites may sell members’ information to advertisers which at the very least increases the spam in your inbox. There are plenty of sites out there that you can stay clear of ones like this.

Watch for fees. Avoid sites that require payment to register. Some sites offer free basic services but charge a fee for advanced features. Research the features to find out if the cost is worth it.

Look for targeted job boards. Employers may post jobs on websites targeted to their specific audience. Targets could include industry-specific, college-specific or other demographics.

Don’t focus your job search to online resources only. While technology has made it easier to browse a variety of websites, online job searching should only be a small part of your job search. Networking is still the number one job searching resource; face-to-face communications remains a critical component of a successful job search.

Announcing Career Services Central Campus Drop-In Lab

Wednesdays and Thursdays, Central High Room 332

  • Search online job sites
  • Complete online applications
  • Write a resume and cover letter
  • Receive resume feedback and get answers to job search questions from an on-site career counselor

November 9, 2015

Job Interview Fashion Horror Stories

A surefire way to kill any hope of receiving a job offer is showing up to the interview looking bad. Sad but true – even the most prepared candidate doesn’t stand a chance if the first visual impression is a bad one.

In the spirit of Halloween, check out these main characters of job interview horror scenes- the interviewee’s wardrobe and overall presentation- that drew a scary reaction but no job offer.

Skirt too short, shirt too low and both too tight. Your outfit shouldn’t reveal too much when standing up, sitting down or bending over.

Unwelcome smells. This includes body odor, heavy perfumes and bad breath. Conquer all of them by showering and using deodorant before an interview, avoiding any perfumes and using mouthwash or a mint beforehand.

Loud jewelry. Avoid bracelets, earrings and necklaces that are noisy…to the eyes and ears.

Unkempt hair and nails. Your hair should be well groomed. Guys this includes facial hair (which you might want to consider shaving altogether). Fingernails should be neat and trimmed.

Food in your teeth. Double check in the mirror for any leftovers before entering the company’s building.

Inappropriate shoes. Platform shoes, flip flops and tennis shoes are very different from one another, but all could result in no job offer if worn to an interview.

Forgotten pants during a video interview. Television news anchors are known for wearing professional attire from the waist up while relaxing in jeans or pajama bottoms. If you do this during a video interview you run the risk of being exposed. Yes, this has happened.

Rival attire. There’s a time and place to support your alma mater or favorite professional sports team. During a job interview is neither. Your Florida Gators necktie may be your favorite, but the interviewer who went to Florida State may disagree on its value. Yes, this has also happened.

The flu. The only thing you should bring to an interview is yourself, your resume and your reference list. Leave the flu and any other ailments – along with their symptoms – behind. If you’re sick, contact the employer to reschedule the interview.  You won’t be penalized for doing so, you’ll be appreciated.

Visible underwear. Watch the bra straps (so that they don’t show), and the color of the undergarments (so that they don’t show either).

A coffee mug. It’s one thing when the interviewer offers you a cup of coffee (it’s probably still best to politely decline).  But showing up with your personalized travel mug that you continue to sip it during the interview isn’t wise.

Visible tattoos. Conservative is the best approach in a job interview which means covering up tattoos.

Distracting piercings. Remove piercings from everything other than ears (and keep earrings to a minimum).

Your parent. Mom or dad can give you a ride to the interview, but that’s it. Having them walk you to the interview or sit with you during the interview means you won’t get the job. Yes, this has happened.

Career Services has lots of resources to help you prepare for your job interview. Schedule a mock interview or check out our Pinterest boards and blog posts for tips on how to stand out in the interview without scaring your audience.

October 26, 2015

Tips for completing a job application

When applying for a job, you may be asked to complete a paper or online job application. This is a standard form that summarizes your work history, eligibility and education. You’ll likely complete a job application when applying for part-time jobs.

Listed below are typical sections you might see on a job application, along with tips for providing the information. It’s helpful to have everything gathered in a document beforehand (dates of employment, contact information, salary, etc.) so you’ll have it easily available when completing your application.

Personal information – Full name, address, phone number/email, felony convictions

  • Provide your complete name.
  • Don’t forget apartment numbers, city/state and zip code.
  • Provide a professional/appropriate email address and make sure the voice mail message for your listed phone number is appropriate.
  • If you have a felony conviction you must say so. You’ll have space to list the nature of the conviction. Consider writing “will discuss at interview” in the box. Another option is to attach a document to the application that briefly and clearly explains the facts of the conviction and focuses on your positive qualifications for the job.

Job information – Position you’re applying for, work availability, salary requirements.

  • List the specific job you’re applying for.
  • Be honest about your availability. If you can’t work weekends, don’t check “yes.”
  • Research salary ranges for the position to which you’re applying so your stated requirements won’t be too low or too high.

Education – Name/location of schools attended, degree/diploma, graduation date

  • Start with the most recent school, including those you’re currently attending.
  • List “Diploma” for high school section (or GED).
  • State the type of degree(s) you are pursuing or have earned (AAS, AS/AA, BA/BS, etc.)
  • Include month and year of completed and pending graduation dates.

Employment History – Company contact information, supervisor’s name, dates of employment, salary, reason for leaving

  • Even if the company no longer exists, provide as much contact information as you can (former location for example).
  • Include the month and year for your dates of employment.
  • List your hourly wage or annual salary.
  • Be honest about your reason for leaving. If there were extenuating circumstances, write “See attached” in the space provided and attach a document that briefly explains the reason.

References – Contact information of at least three people who can serve as an employment reference

  • Locate references ahead of time and confirm their willingness to serve as your reference.
  • Use professional references only, not family members.

Some final tips before completing and submitting your job application:

  • Use a black or blue pen for paper applications (not pencil or other colored pens).
  • Write clearly and legibly. Proofread for errors. Consider using correction fluid (Wite-Out) to paint over mistakes on a paper application. If there are numerous mistakes, ask for or download a new form.
  • Type any documents of explanation that you plan to attach to the application.
  • Be honest about all information you submit on the application. With background checks and interviews, any hidden truths will eventually surface.
  • Submit a resume with your application. It shows a level of professionalism that employers appreciate.






October 13, 2015

Start your holiday part-time job search now

There are approximately 60 days until Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving- which traditionally starts the holiday shopping season. But retailers are boosting their presence earlier each year, which means the time to begin searching for a seasonal job is now.

Almost all part-time seasonal jobs will be filled by November, so if you wait you’ll be left out of the hiring frenzy. Here’s a checklist to help start your seasonal job search.

Places to apply

Retail stores. Big box stores always look to increase their staff during the holiday season. It’s time to pay them a visit and look for “Now Hiring for the Holidays” signs.

“Mom and Pop” shops. Smaller stores tend to hire less but it can’t hurt to ask. Be sure to visit consignment stores, too.

Restaurants and catering business. More people eat out and organize parties during the holiday season. Check restaurants situated near shopping areas and businesses.

Floral shops. Even if you don’t have a knack for designing bouquets, there are sales and courier jobs available, too. Shipping facilities. FedEx and UPS always need more drivers and package sorters at this time of year.

Christmas tree lots and gift wrappers. These jobs are typically shorter in length (Thanksgiving to Christmas only).

What you’ll need when you apply

A resume or job application. Many employers will ask you to complete a job application either in person when you inquire or on their website. You might also be asked to submit a resume. Career Services can help you with both documents. Schedule an appointment today!

Solid interviewing skills. An interview will be part of the hiring process. You’ll need to show the employer that you’re the right person for the job. Whether this is your first job interview or you’re an interviewing pro, reviewing the list of commonly asked interview questions will help you prepare. Meet with a career counselor to discuss any interview concerns you have.

List of references. Whether on the job application or a stand-alone document, employers will ask for a list of references or people who can talk about your qualifications. Gather the names and contact information now so you’ll have them readily available.

Your schedule. Employers may likely ask your availability (when you can start working, how many days/ and hours per week you can work). Be prepared to provide this to them.

Remember, solid seasonal employees are often kept on staff after the holiday season is over. If you’re a hard worker you may be asked to continue working well into the new year.



September 28, 2015

4 simple steps to a targeted resume

To increase your chances of landing a job interview your resume should target the specific job you’re applying to. Employers can easily spot a resume that has been used to apply to a variety of different jobs. These resumes are most often rejected. Employers favor resumes that demonstrate the job seeker took the time to target the resume to their particular job opening.

Job seekers mistakenly think this means having to rewrite their entire resume for every job application. Not true. Follow these four simple steps to help grab an employer’s attention.

Write a targeted objective. The objective tells the employer which position you’re applying to and briefly mentions specific skills or relevant background information that immediately grab the employer’s attention. Listing an objective that could be used for any job opening at any company is a waste of space on the resume. See the Career Services Career Guide for sample targeted objectives.

Use industry-specific keywords. Pay attention to the specific requested skills listed in the job description. Employers will use these key words and phrases to help evaluate the resumes received. Make sure that your resume includes key words from the targeted industry. Incorporate the key words into job duties and a Skills section on the resume.

Add a “Related Experience” category. Do you have previous experience that relates to the position to which you’re applying now? If so, include it in a category called “Related Experience” that you could list before the “Employment” section of your resume. It’s okay to do this even if the related experience took place before jobs in the Employment section. Resume entries must be in reverse chronological order within a category. Remember, related experiences aren’t limited to paid positions. Internships, volunteer experiences, even significant on-campus activities count.

Organize resume categories to market your background in order of relevance to the job. List the objective first on the resume. But the category order from that point depends on the job to which you’re applying. For some job seekers, your degree may be more targeted to the job opportunity than your work experience. In this case the Education section should be listed before Employment. For others, your work experience might directly related to the position and should be listed before Education.

September 14, 2015

EmploymeNC: 7 reasons it’s your #1 job search site

When looking for job opportunities, you can’t rely on job boards alone. Job searching requires a multi-strategy approach. Your list of resources should also include networking, career expos and social media.

But for CPCC students and alumni who are using online job boards, EmploymeNC should be your go-to site because it’s more than just a job board. Here are seven reasons why you should bookmark EmploymeNC.

It’s only for CPCC students and alumni. The only way to access EmploymeNC is by using your CPCC login and password information. This cuts down the competition of others applying for the available jobs. It also means that employers posting jobs are actively looking for CPCC candidates.

Hundreds of full-time and part-time jobs are updated weekly. On average over 500 full-time and part-time job openings are featured on EmploymeNC each week. Employers regularly contact Career Services with job opportunities they want you to know about and all are directed to post their jobs on EmploymeNC.

Ability to save your job searches makes the process easier. When it comes to online job boards, having to apply to jobs one at a time gets frustrating. With EmploymeNC you avoid this hassle. Save your jobs of interest in a folder and apply to them all at once. Additionally, there’s no need to search the same types of jobs multiple times. After entering your keywords, select to have new job postings emailed to you that fit this same criteria.

Resume writing software. Creating a resume isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Career Services recommends that you create a resume from scratch that targets your specific career interests and best markets your skills and background. If you haven’t written a resume before, EmploymeNC offers a resume writing software called Resume Creator to help you get started. Unlike other resume templates, Resume Creator has templates designed by career services professionals that present your qualifications in a solid standard resume format.     

Free resume critique from a career services professional. Career Services wants you to put your best application forward; therefore, a career counselor automatically reviews each resume you upload into EmploymeNC. If there are any errors on your resume or opportunities to better market your background, you’ll receive an email with your resume attached that highlights the edit suggestions.   

Access to a Career Resource Library. EmployeNC’s Resource Library is filled with valuable career information about resumes, cover letters, interviewing and much more.  

Calendar of career events. Learn about upcoming recruiting events and Career Services programs. Check the box in your profile section to receive emails from Career Services about events as well.

EmploymeNC is a simple, effective online job board to use. Check out the video “Using EmploymeNC” that shows you how to upload your resume and search for jobs and highlights all of its features.  Get started today!



August 31, 2015

8 tips to start the fall semester off right!

Welcome to the Fall 2015 semester! Whether you’re a returning student or starting your first semester at CPCC, Career Services hopes you have a fantastic year!

Start the school year off right. Put together a plan for success and develop good habits now. Check out these eight tips to help ensure a positive start to the semester.

Don’t skip classes. Resist the urge to turn off your alarm clock. You’ll learn the material better by listening first-hand to the professor’s lecture rather than borrowing and trying to decipher a classmate’s notes later. By attending class, you’ll also be up-to-date about upcoming events, quizzes and assignments.

Learn about campus resources that can assist you. You’re not alone in your pursuit of a college degree. CPCC campus offices can answer questions and find resources to help you be successful. Visit the list of services on the CPCC website.

Create a work-life-school balance plan. If you work a part-time job while attending school, create a plan that prioritizes schoolwork and lets you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Talk to your supervisor now about a work schedule that won’t interfere with your studies. It’s better than calling off work throughout the semester.

Ditch the poor study habits. What study habits have worked for you in the past? Which ones haven’t helped? Now is the time to develop study habits that help you succeed. Avoid distractions (social media and television, for example). Designate specific study times and make sure family members, roommates and friends respect them.

Get involved on campus. It’s a fact: Student involvement leads to student success. CPCC offers a variety of clubs and organizations geared toward academic and personal interests. Joining a student group is a great way to meet new friends, too.

Take advantage of professors’ office hours. Instructors hold office hours for a reason. If you have concerns about assignments or topics covered in class, schedule an appointment with your professor.

Keep track of deadlines and appointments. This includes assignments noted on your class syllabi as well as financial aid deadlines and meetings with advisors to discuss course registration for the spring.

Ask questions. If you have questions about financial aid, ask. Questions about class assignments? Ask. Questions about career planning, registering for classes or anything related to your academic plans? Ask! And ask sooner rather than later. Letting unanswered questions linger only leads to more questions and uncertainty.

August 18, 2015

Spring graduates still job searching? Ask yourself these questions.

If you graduated in May and are still job hunting, you’re probably understandably frustrated with the process. Remember, job searching takes time. Although graduation day may seem a distant memory, the average job search can take months.

But it might be time to evaluate your tools and strategies, looking for changes that could lead to better results. Ask yourself the following questions as they relate to your job search to date.

Are you finding jobs to apply to? If you feel there are a limited number of available positions, examine ways to expand the list.

  • Expand your geographic region if possible.
  • Use multiple job search tools (online job boards, career fairs, social media, networking).
  • Search for different types of jobs. Your education and work experience may qualify you for positions you haven’t explored.

Do you receive calls for interviews? If the answer is no, your resume or application might not be effectively conveying your qualifications for the job.

  • Develop a targeted resume for each position you apply to.
  • Make sure your resume doesn’t have typos or grammar errors.
  • Use standard resume writing guidelines to produce a clean, concise document.
  • Submit a cover letter that effectively explains your interest in and qualifications for the position.

Are you getting interviews but no job offers? The good news is that your resume is getting noticed and employers are calling you for interviews. But if most or all of the interviews don’t lead to job offers, it’s time to examine how you’re presenting yourself in the interviews.

  • Practice answers to commonly asked interview questions.
  • Dress professionally.
  • Review the practice of Behavioral Interviewing, a common interviewing method used by many recruiters.
  • Ask the employer appropriate questions.
  • Send a thank-you email or note within 48 hours of your interview.

Can Career Services help? Yes! Career Services offers job search assistance to alumni.

  • Check out the Resources section of our website for many helpful online tools. View videos that offer tips on writing resumes, interviewing and more.  Use our online Career Guide that contains lots of helpful information about resumes, interviews and job search tools.
  • Visit Career Coach for regional-based job information. Search by CPCC degree or job titles to learn about the local job market for industries and view job openings in the area.
  • Use EmploymeNC, our online job posting and career information board that targets CPCC students and alumni. View hundreds of job postings.
  • Email your resume to Career Services to receive feedback or schedule a resume appointment with a career counselor at any CPCC campus.
  • Schedule a mock interview to receive interview tips from a career counselor.

August 5, 2015

Explaining “I was fired” in your next job interview

Getting fired from a job feels like the end of the world. But you’re not the first person to ever be fired and you certainly won’t be the last. Life – and your job search – goes on. When it’s time to apply for other jobs, you’ll need to explain what led to your termination. Keep the following tips in mind when the interviewer asks “so why were you let go from your previous company?”

Take time before job searching to process what happened. Receiving a pink slip is an awful feeling. You’re going to be bitter, sad and angry – three emotions you don’t want to bring to the job interview. Take some time to sort through your feelings and put things in perspective. This was a learning experience. Once you get a handle on your emotions you can begin to articulate that.

Know that you’ll have to talk about being fired in future job interviews. A reference may share what happened or you might make the mistake of talking about it in office conversation once you’re hired. So be prepared during the interview to summarize events that led to being fired. An employer will sense if you aren’t telling the entire story and will keep probing with questions or dismiss your application entirely.

Be honest. The truth will come out sooner or later and it’s best that it comes from you. Don’t add half-truths or leave out information in efforts to make yourself look better. Honesty is always the best policy. This job interview is an opportunity to start fresh. Don’t blow it by lying.

Stick with facts. Tell the story in a straightforward, concise way. Avoid sharing your emotions or perceptions about what happened.

Take ownership for your role in the firing. There are two sides to every story. Presenting yourself as the victim won’t gain sympathy or get you a job offer. How did your actions play a role in what happened? What could you have done differently? After having time to reflect on the situation what have you learned?

Talk about how things will be different. You’re a different person after being fired. You’ll be a different employee. Share with the interviewer how you’ll prevent this situation from happening again. Talk about what you learned about yourself (sharing your strengths and areas of improvement) during the ordeal.

Practice answering the question. Don’t try to wing it. You’ll become flustered and emotional. Rehearse what you plan to say so that you sound thoughtful, objective and confident.

July 21, 2015

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