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

8 reasons why your summer job is important to your future career plans

What’s your summer job this year? Mowing lawns. Serving ice cream. Working at the mall. Organizing camp activities for kids. Loading shipments at a warehouse. Babysitting. The duties and job opportunities vary, but all share one thing in common: Great work experience.

“It wasn’t a real job, just something I did over the summer to make money.” Not so fast. In addition to the paycheck you’re earning, a summer job is great for building skills and gaining experience. So yes, it is a real job. And here’s a list of the eight items you’ll gain from it.

Skills. Future full-time job employers will hire you based on your skills set. You’re building these skills every day in your part-time summer job. The ability to work well and communicate with others, solving problems, managing multiple tasks at once. Employers value soft skills that are developed in any work environment.

A resume builder. Part-time and summer jobs are often the first jobs listed within the Employment section of your resume. Employers are more likely to contact applicants who have previous work experience.

References. References are people who can talk to future employers about your ability to perform your job duties. They are required for almost any job application. Past supervisors and coworkers that valued your contributions make great references.

Connections. When it comes to job searching, the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is partially true. Developing a strong skills set is important, but you learn about many opportunities through word-of-mouth. Talk to your summer job coworkers and managers about your career plans. You never know who might know someone in the profession you’re targeting.

The ability to work with others. In every job you’re going to have to work with people who are different than you. Different personalities bring opportunities and challenges to each work setting. Your summer job may be your first experience with this fact.

A peak at money management. With your first paycheck, you’re going to learn about taxes, social security and W-2 forms. You’re also going to see how far your take-home pay stretches in between paychecks. Now is a good time to attempt a budget.  

Multi-tasking. Your job duties will likely require juggling many tasks at once. Additionally, you may be managing your work schedule with other commitments, which is a good lesson in time management.

Learning what you like and don’t like. A summer job is a great time to find out what you like and dislike when it comes to job duties and work environment. Is it appealing if your job keeps you outside most of the day or would you prefer an office setting? Do you like that your work has routine tasks or would you choose a job with more variety?  Observations like these are important factors when considering future career choices.

Don’t dismiss the importance of your summer employment. The foundation for your career development starts somewhere. Why not this summer?


June 29, 2015

Accomplish any of these career to-dos in 30 minutes or less

Summer is either very relaxing (light course load) or extremely busy (classes, increased work schedule, etc.). Whether your summer schedule allows time to unwind or barely any time to breathe, you can still accomplish career-related tasks. Check out this list of seven items, each of which you can achieve in 30 minutes or less.

1. Begin building a resume. Take 30 minutes to write down your employment history, education and accomplished skills. This information becomes the foundation for your resume that you can write in small chunks throughout the summer and have ready by fall. See the Career Services Career Guide for tips and samples. Email Career Services or schedule an appointment with a counselor to have your resume draft reviewed.

2. Complete your EmploymeNC profile, including uploading a resume. EmploymeNC is an online job searching and career information tool offered by Career Services to CPCC students and alumni. Search for full-time and part-time jobs, learn about upcoming career events and receive informative Career Services emails.

3. Watch a Career Services video. Whether you want to learn how to make career decisions, write a resume, interview for a job or use LinkedIn, Career Services offers short step-by-step videos to provide assistance.

4. Start completing your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is the social media resource for career and professional development. Watch the Career Services video about building your LinkedIn profile or attend a free LinkedIn webinar. Both provide great tips on what information to include in your profile and how to use LinkedIn effectively.

5. Visit Career Coach. If you’re still undecided regarding your academic or career interests, Career Coach is a great online tool for you to use. In just 30 minutes you can learn about job opportunities related to CPCC programs. All of the information is localized, which means the job statistics are regionally based.

6. Write and practice your elevator speech. If people ask you what your skills are, can you tell them? If you know your job interests, would you be able to talk about them in 30 seconds or less? An elevator speech is the tool to help you clearly and concisely discuss your qualifications as they relate to your career goals.

7. Learn about jobs related to your academic program. If you want to learn about jobs related to your A.A.S. degree, check out Career Coach (mentioned above). Students earning an AA or AS degree with plans to transfer to a four-year college or university to discover bachelor’s degree career options here.

Do you have time to spare and questions to ask? CPCC Career Services is open throughout the summer months. Now is a great time to meet with a career counselor to get your career and job search questions answered.

June 15, 2015

How do you answer “Tell me about yourself?”

It’s often the trickiest question you’ll hear during a job interview. It’s always asked at the very beginning and sets the tone for the rest of the meeting.

“So let’s start by you telling us a little bit about yourself?”

Answering this question is your “Shark Tank” moment. Your pitch to the recruiter could set the path for whether you’ll sink or swim during the interview.

Leave out long answers and personal info

  • Don’t tell them your name – they already know it.
  • Don’t volunteer your age, marital or family status, race or ethnicity – it’s illegal for recruiters to ask this information since it has no bearing on your application.
  • Avoid mentioning personal interests and hobbies – neither are relevant to your ability to perform the job well.
  • Don’t repeat your resume.

Start with a hook

Starting the conversation is sometimes the hardest part and causes you to leap into unnecessary or inappropriate information. Consider one of the following hooks to get started:

  • “First I’d like to thank you for inviting me to speak with you today.”
  • “I’m someone who is very excited to talk to you about this opportunity.”
  • “I’m looking forward to talking to you about the job and learning more about your company.”
  • “I’m excited to tell you what I can bring to this position and your company.”

These opening statements, and others like them, grab the interviewer’s attention and ask them to listen to what you’re about to say. Additionally, you’ve set the scene for providing your skills and qualifications.

Once they’re hooked, give them the elevator speech

After beginning the answer with a hook, launch into your elevator speech, or a brief highlight reel of your skills and qualifications related to the job. When preparing for the interview, list five skills you want the recruiter to know about. Write out a brief, scripted speech that touches on these five skills, using your hook as the introductory sentence.

Practice, practice, practice

You shouldn’t wing it when it comes to interview questions, especially this one.  Practice your answer in front of the mirror and in front of others. Pair it with solid eye contact and a genuine smile.

Know when to stop

Interview silence is so awkward that it frequently causes candidates to keep talking unnecessarily. Don’t let the silence suck you in.  When you’ve said what you want to say, stop talking and wait for the interviewer to proceed.

June 1, 2015

First day on the job: 10 ways to make it successful

You finally made it. Your first day on the job. You’ve proven yourself through your studies, your resume and your interview. It’s smooth sailing from here, right?

It can be with the correct approach. But don’t confuse smooth sailing with slacking. Now’s the time to assure your new supervisor and coworkers that their decision to bring you on board was the right one.

You’re going to make an immediate impression on the first day. Follow these 10 steps to make sure it’s a good one.

Arrive on time. Remember how important the arrival time was for the interview? It’s still important today. The “15 minutes early” rule still applies.

Dress appropriately. If you’re unsure what the office dress code is, it’s completely appropriate to ask your director or the HR department beforehand.

Ask questions. No one expects you to know everything from the start. Ask questions now because you don’t want to ask a question three months from now that should have been asked on the first day.

Practice your “tell me about yourself” answer. You’ll be asked this question. A lot. Revisit the elevator speech you gave during your interview (it’s okay now to sprinkle a few personal anecdotes such as where you live). Keep your answers brief – people aren’t going to remember a ton of details in the first meeting.

Bring necessary documents. On your first day, you’ll complete paperwork to get you established, such as securing a parking pass, a work badge and paycheck items. Be sure to bring a form of identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.) and bank account information, as it’s likely you’ll be completing a direct deposit form.

Don’t be the comedian. A sense of humor is great, but allow time to figure out the office culture when it comes to jokes and humor. Avoid being labeled the office clown or comedian who doesn’t take his work seriously.

Take notes. Bring a legal notepad on the first day, or grab one at the office. Write things down (you’ll tell yourself you’ll remember it all, but you won’t). Write down questions to ask. It’s likely you’ll carry this notepad for the first few weeks.

Accept an invitation for lunch. Even if you packed your favorite ham and cheese sandwich. If coworkers invite you to join them for lunch, say yes. They’re making the effort to welcome you so take them up on their offer.

Dodge office politics. Offices have cliques. Offices have coworkers who know the 411 about everyone.  Don’t get swept up in office politics on the first day.

Listen. You have a lot to learn.




May 19, 2015

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