Getting organized consistently makes the top 10 list of New Year’s resolutions. In January the internet’s filled with blog tips helping people de-clutter their closets, kitchens, bathrooms, work space…the list goes on and on.
What are some tips for de-cluttering and managing a job search?
De-clutter your resume: Start your resume with a clearly defined objective or career summary followed by a skills section that lists relevant, specific skills sets. Focus the employment section on jobs within the past 10 years. Use bullet points and short sentence fragments to help the resume read easier.
Avoid rambling interview answers: When an employer wants to know your strengths and weaknesses or wants you to “tell me about yourself,” a brief, informed and well-thought out reply is key. Know what interview questions to expect before the interview and practice, practice, practice.
Develop a clear, concise elevator pitch: When you attend a career fair or networking event, or simply strike up a conversation, can you tell the person your career goals and skills? It’s called an elevator speech and it usually doesn’t come naturally. Write one down and rehearse it. The speech length depends on your audience and situation but always leaves the recipient with an understanding of your career objective.
Clean up your Facebook page: Ditch the inappropriate photos. Stop using profanity and never trash professors, coworkers or supervisors. Employers check candidates’ Facebook pages and a tasteless social media image will cost you interviews and job offers.
Created a targeted LinkedIn profile: Employers also check a candidate’s LinkedIn profile to view their professional and educational accomplishments. Making a LinkedIn profile involves more than just copying and pasting your resume. Check out the Career Services LinkedIn Tutorial that provides tips to get you started.
Clear out your inbox (or create a new email account or folder for job searching): Email becomes an essential communication tool during the job search. You’ll use it to apply for jobs, follow up after interviews and initiate networking opportunities. First, make sure you’re using a professional/appropriate sounding email (email@example.com isn’t). Second, create separate folders to help you manage your correspondences. Finally, delete any emails you no longer need.
Develop a productive plan: Create a job search routine and stick to it. This involves more than making to-do lists. You must manage your time and prioritize activities. A career counselor can help you form a strategy.
Finally, don’t give up. It takes 30 days to start a new habit or break an old one. Which is why the best time to begin de-cluttering your job search is right now.
January 5, 2015
Career Services hopes you have a restful break and looks forward to working with you regarding your job search in 2015. If you’re graduating in the spring, here are nine items to work on over winter break that could help you land a job after graduation. And if you aren’t graduating? It’s never too early to start developing a job search plan.
1. Work on your resume. If you have one it’s time to update it. If you don’t, it’s time to create one. Utilize the CPCC Career Services Career Guide that contains helpful tips for creating a top-notch resume. Get your resume professionally critiqued by a career counselor when you return in January.
2. Start building your professional wardrobe, beginning with an interview suit. Put those gift cards you receive to good use. Take advantage of post-holiday sales. Check out the Career Services Pinterest page for great tips regarding professional dress.
3. Know some job options that can answer the question “what do you want to do?” If you’re unsure of what career options to pursue, it’s time to start exploring. Some great sites that can help you include Career Coach, the Occupational Outlook Handbook, CFNC and What Can I Do With This Major.
4. Let people know what profession you’re planning to pursue. Holiday gatherings present great opportunities for networking. Being in the right place at the right time is a big job searching component. Practice an introductory speech that lets people know what you’re interested in.
5. Make sure your online presence is squeaky clean. Take the time to clean up your social media profiles. Employers check candidates’ sites before and during the interview process.
6. Register for EmploymeNC. EmploymeNC is Career Service’s online job board that lists full-time and part-time job opportunities for students and alumni. The first step in using the site is to upload a professional resume. Take advantage of this free online job board.
7. Save the date for the 2015 CPCC Career Fair. Mark your calendar for Thursday, March 5, 2015. CPCC hosts its annual job fair that day at the Grady Cole Center near Central campus. Many companies attend recruiting students and graduates for full-time, part-time and internship opportunities. Check the career fair link for future updates.
8. Develop strategies for your job search if it is a unique one. If elements to your background make your job search unique (having a disability, being an international student, having a criminal record, for example), start putting together a plan to implement your job search with these components in mind.
9. Plan to visit CPCC Career Services – virtually or in person – in 2015. The Career Services staff is ready to help make your job search a success.
December 17, 2014
As you prepare for final exam week, Career Services offers tips for making this stressful week the least stressful it can be.
Manage your time wisely. Create a calendar listing the dates, times and locations for all of your final exams. Plan your studying accordingly. Remember that one exam might not require as much as study time as another.
Avoid cramming. Stick to your study schedule to avoid cramming. Last minute studying doesn’t help retain information and only increases anxiety.
Beware the ultimate distraction: social media. Okay, shutting down Facebook, Twitter or Instagram entirely during finals week isn’t going to happen. But pay close attention to how much of your study time you’re scrolling through your sites or texting friends. Study for dedicated smaller intervals (30-50 minutes) and check social media during a 10-minute study break.
Join a study group…or not. Study groups can be very beneficial but they’re also not for everyone. Decide if you’d benefit from joining or forming a study group. If the answer’s yes, be sure to find a quiet place to meet (the library). Avoid the study group becoming a social group.
Review, review, review. If review sessions are offered, attend them. If you can review previous exams, do it. Visit the professor during office hours or email to get answers to any questions and clarify what to expect on the final exam (content, format, etc.)
Take study breaks. You’re human. Your body and brain can’t go nonstop without breaks to refuel and re energize.
Remember to eat…healthy. It’s tempting to grab a candy bar from the vending machine. Instead, grab a granola bar, fruits, veggies and snacks that are high in protein. Make water your go-to drink rather than soda, coffee and energy drinks.
Exercise. If you have a normal exercise routine, stick to it as much as possible during finals week. But even a 10 minute walk will do wonders.
Sleep. Designate sleep time in your study schedule. Avoid all-nighters; you’ll be too tired to concentrate during the exam and will have trouble recalling information.
Relax. This is just a test. Think positively before the exam and once you’ve completed it, let it go.
On the day of the exam, be sure to do the following:
- Eat breakfast
- Arrive early (Check traffic reports and bus schedules before you leave. If you’re getting a ride with someone, confirm your transportation the day before).
- Bring all necessary supplies (pencils, calculators, etc.)
- Go to the bathroom before the test
- Use all of your allotted time. Check your answers and proofread your essays.
You’ve worked hard this semester. Good luck next week on your finals!
December 3, 2014
How do you land a job offer when you’re competing against applicants who have more experience than you do? It’s the rock and the hard place where job seekers often get stuck. You can’t get a job without having related experience. But you can’t develop experience until you get a job.
Internships, co op experiences, part-time jobs and volunteer opportunities are all great avenues for gaining related experience before applying for jobs. But pay attention to these strategies that you can use now.
1. Apply for jobs like you are a seasoned professional. Your lack of experience isn’t an excuse for not knowing how to conduct an effective job search. Do you have a top-notch resume and great interviewing skills? Are you researching and identifying companies? Are you networking and having informational meetings with others in the profession? Because effective, seasoned job seekers are.
2. Develop your personal brand. Identify your skills, values and talents. They help define who you are and that’s what employers are interested in knowing. Brainstorm a long list of each, then choose the top five you’re best at and/or enjoy doing the most. Use this top five list to create an elevator speech or verbal business card. Practice sharing this business card with family and friends so you’ll be ready to share it in interviews and networking meetings.
3. Don’t overlook your soft skills; sell them. When asked what employers look for when recruiting candidates, soft skills top the list. The bottom line is, possessing a strong knowledge base won’t matter to an employer if you can’t effectively communicate, work independently or in groups with minimal supervision. These are a sample of the soft skills employers seek. Review your background to see where you have developed these skills. Make sure the employer knows about them.
4. Have a pristine online presence. You demonstrate a lack of commitment, professionalism and maturity if your online presence is less than stellar. Your Facebook profile should not leave anyone questioning your character. Your LinkedIn profile should merit employers wanting to contact you or other professionals wanting to connect with you.
5. Hang out with professionals you aspire to be someday. The players sitting on the bench learn the most by hanging out with the team’s starters. Connect with professionals in your field. Join LinkedIn groups and both post questions and reply to others’ comments. Follow professionals on Twitter and use the retweet and reply buttons frequently. Attend seminars and meetings where you have the opportunity to introduce yourself to people in the profession.
6. Never apologize for your lack of experience. The job candidate whose cover letter begins “While I don’t have the specific experience you’re looking for…” won’t be called for an interview. The job interviewer who only tells a recruiter “I don’t have experience doing that task” won’t receive a job offer. Rather, write a cover letter that connects your skill set to the job. If an employer asks about a specific skill set that you don’t have, be honest but immediately change focus. “I don’t have experience with that particular task, but in my previous job I learned these skills that are applicable. Furthermore, my previous supervisor will tell you I’m a fast learner because I quickly learned new information for my previous position and excelled at it.”
These tips may seem simple. But sometimes the simplest suggestions make the biggest difference.
November 17, 2014
Happy Birthday Sesame Street! The television show that has entertained and educated millions of children turns 45 this week.
It’s likely that Big Bird, Grover and Cookie Monster were some of your first childhood friends. Some of you may have young children now who are getting to know these furry Muppets and the life lessons they’ve been teaching since 1969. The world has changed a lot since then. The world of work has, too. But it’s amazing how many of these lessons still hold true today, even when it comes to career planning.
What are some items you learned from Sesame Street that you can apply to the job search?
Your ABCs. Each Sesame Street episode is brought to you by a letter and a number. Both are helpful even with specific elements of your job search like your resume! Use numbers and statistics on a resume to make it stand apart from the others. And triple check your spelling so it won’t stand out for the wrong reasons.
Knowing a second language is helpful…and marketable! Thanks to Sesame Street, many of us learned to count to ten in Spanish. Fast forward to today’s job market where employers actively seek candidates with foreign language skills. Using the keyword “bilingual” brings up over 70,000 job matches on Indeed.com. If you know more than one language, make sure you market this skill in your job search.
The world (of work) is diverse and connected. Regardless of your language knowledge, you’ll be working in a very diverse world of work.
The different kinds of jobs are so vast. Sesame Street introduced children to so many different employers. Mr. Hooper’s Store, the Fix-It-Shop, the post office, subway station and Laundromat, just to name a few. Viewers saw many jobs in action, including a store owner, postal carrier, firefighter and police officer. And this was on one tiny street. So imagine how many thousands of jobs exist in the world of work.
It’s okay to be afraid. Finding your own career path, writing resumes, having job interviews, making decisions about job offers – all of it can be scary. It’s okay to admit your career fears. It’s important to seek out resources to help you navigate them.
If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Perseverance is key to a successful job search. Keep submitting resumes, keep contacting people for informational interviews. Reach out to contacts through LinkedIn. Even after an interview where the end result isn’t a job offer, know that the next interview could have the result you’re looking for.
Getting along with others. Employers consistently rank teamwork as a top skill they’re seeking.
Know who you are…and like who you are. Are you an introvert or outspoken? What do you value more: A stable or flexible work schedule? With both questions there’s no right or wrong answer. What’s essential is knowing what’s important to you and using those values to guide your career search.
Everyone needs support. While you’re a student and during your job search having a support network is important. Whether it’s friends, family or both, look for someone to share ideas, questions and concerns.
November 10, 2014
Saying no to a job offer is hard. If you just started your job search or have been looking for work for a while, saying no to a paycheck is tough. But sometimes it may be necessary.
If your personal circumstances permit you to do so, screen job opportunities carefully. Not for scams – although watch out for these, too – but for lemons. A legitimate job could be sour enough that you’ll be back to the job search within months or weeks of being hired.
Avoid the heartache by paying attention to these red flags when you apply for job openings:
Numerous job postings from one office. If you see multiple openings in one office, the good news is they may have an increased need for new workers. But be careful of high turnaround that could indicate a bad work environment.
Sketchy answer to “why is this position available?” This is a reasonable question that you should ask. You want to know if it’s a newly created position, did the predecessor leave or was she promoted? Or did something happen that no one really wants to discuss? Be wary of answers to the question that seem carefully crafted but don’t say a whole lot, or answers that contain more “ums” and pauses than concrete information.
Shady or vague job descriptions. A job description should tell the duties and responsibilities expected as well as list qualifications (skills, education, work background) sought. If a job opening lists little information or describes the position using language that leaves you suspicious, there might be a problem. It doesn’t mean you can’t take the interview, but it does mean you should ask many questions (and look for satisfactory answers).
Poor reviews. Websites like Glassdoor.com provide the opportunity for employees to post reviews. But it’s important to remember that online review sites are often used for negative reviewing. For every bad review, there may be 10 good ones that never get written. However, it’s helpful to research a company or department through LinkedIn and word-of-mouth. If friends wrinkle an eyebrow when you mention interviewing at Company X, ask them what’s up.
Refusing to let you meet potential coworkers or tour the office. Was a future colleague on the interview panel? If not, were you given a tour of the office allowing you to meet future coworkers? Or were you whisked away to an office for the interview and only permitted to meet with HR representatives? You should pay close attention to an interviewer who seems unsettled by your request to see where you’d be working.
Tense or unhappy office vibe. If you are given the chance to tour the office, pay more attention to the ambiance than the office size or furniture. Do you see smiling employees? Are people engaged in conversation? Or is there a sense that people are angry, scared or bored?
A quick interview. A brief interview could mean it was determined you don’t meet the qualifications or the interviewer isn’t interested in your specific qualifications and just wants to hire someone. Be on guard if there is no substance or “meat” to their questions or interest in your answers.
A job offer from an interview. It’s rare to receive a job offer at the end of an interview. Employers often review all applicant interviews before deciding, as well as check references before making job offers. It’s a big red flag if the employer’s final statement at the interview’s end is “You’re hired, when you can you start?”
There is the reality that even recruiters sometimes conduct bad interviews. Office tours may give off an unhappy vibe if employees are sick or just having a bad day. But when your gut is telling you something seems off, pay attention
November 3, 2014
It’s that scary time of year again, with Halloween on the horizon. This is the week when all things frightening get a pass – from costumes to tricks, it’s hip to scare and be scared.
But you never want to frighten away hiring managers. It might be a good time to double check that you aren’t doing anything scary to sabotage your job search.
Here are some sure-fire scary job search mistakes to avoid:
Not eliminating resume and cover letter typos. Don’t trust spellcheck! Have someone else read both documents. Review them yourself by reading them backwards. You’ll be more likely to catch spelling errors that way.
Not sending a thank you letter after an interview. If ghosts can contact people through séances, you can find time to write a short thank you note to an employer. It could make the difference between getting hired – or not.
Applying to every position available with a company. Even the most brilliant person isn’t qualified for every position. Doing so shows you lack direction in your job search.
Making online job boards your top job search resource. Job boards should only be a small part of your strategy. Networking through seminars and programs and conducting informational interviews should be a key component.
Not being worried about your social media profile. Employers check Facebook and Instagram to view job candidates’ profiles and pictures. That profanity-laced status update you posted on Saturday night might cost you a job offer.
Not utilizing LinkedIn. A great percentage of recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates. Furthermore, employers check LinkedIn to view applicants’ profiles. If you don’t have a profile, or your profile is underutilized, you’ll be passed over.
Going to an interview without practicing your interviewing skills. Whether it’s at home in front of the mirror or during a mock interview, practice answering commonly asked interview questions before the actual interview.
Going to an interview without first researching the company. Familiarize yourself with the company, from its mission to its product. Check out the Facebook page and Twitter feed to learn the most recent happenings and reports.
Treating your job search like a fulltime job. People who are unemployed spend an average of 40 minutes per day job searching. It’s tough to do a fulltime job in 40 minutes. Approaching your job search like a fulltime job yields better results.
Stopping the job search after an interview. It’s not over until you walk through the company’s door for your first official day on the job. Even if the interview went well, don’t stop looking until you have a job offer in hand.
October 28, 2014
It’s a question that career counselors hear all the time when reviewing job seekers’ resumes:
“Do I really have to target my resume to every position I apply to?”
You really don’t have to…unless you want to increase your chances of landing an interview.
Generic resumes don’t tell the employer how your skills and qualifications can benefit his or her company in the specific role they’re hiring. Not taking the time to target a resume may show a recruiter you’re not serious about your job search.
If you want the employer to know why you’re the candidate for the job and that you do take your job search very seriously, read on to learn five simple strategies for preparing a targeted resume.
Know that writing a targeted resume doesn’t mean rewriting your entire resume. You can’t change your education or previous work experience, so you’re not reinventing the wheel with every application.
Start with the objective or career summary. Listed at the top of the resume, either of these categories grabs an employer’s attention and encourages further reading. An objective should state the position to which you’re applying, the name of the company (if you know it) and quickly mention relevant qualifications (skills, education, etc.). Career summaries are a little longer and often utilized by job seekers with multiple years of experience or specific accomplishments they wish to market. It should still be tailored to the employer. Target both. If your degree isn’t specifically relevant to the job, no need to mention it; list your skills instead. If the degree is important for another job, be sure to market it.
List a summary of skills section and use industry-specific keywords. Here’s where you pay attention to the job posting, specifically the requested qualifications. What specific skills are listed? It’s these skills that made you say “I’m qualified for this job.” List these skills on your resume. Know the keywords for your targeted industry and make sure they’re represented.
Consider a “Related Experience” category when appropriate. Of all your previous jobs, is there one that stands out as more related to the particular position to which you’re applying? If so, consider listing that position in a category called “Career-Related Experience,” and place it before the “Employment” section on your resume. Resume entries must be in reverse chronological order within a category. If your job from two years ago is more relevant to a position you’re applying to now, creating this category highlights that experience.
Reorganize categories. An objective and skills category should be first on the resume. But the category order after that depends on the job you’re applying for. Of the remaining categories, which one is most relevant to the position? The answer determines your resume’s category order for each job.
Creating a targeted resume may add some additional time to the application process. But targeted resumes shorten the amount of time you spend job searching by increasing your chances of being hired sooner.
October 20, 2014
The traditional holiday shopping season is shorter again this year. There are only 26 days between Black Friday and Christmas (last year there were 25). That means retailers and other companies that thrive on holiday shoppers must start their season sooner.
Which means the search for seasonal employment opportunities starts now.
Even though the jobs may not begin right away, start researching job openings over the next few weeks. Consider the following tips for finding a part-time position during the holiday season.
Start with the big box stores. They are more likely to increase their staff than smaller stores and boutiques. Target, Wal-Mart and Kohl’s typically direct applicants to apply online through their website.
But don’t ignore the mom and pop shops. The main street shops may not hire as many seasonal employees as the big box competitors, but it can’t hurt to ask.
Look outside retail. Other organizations notice an increase in traffic over the holidays, too.
- Restaurants, catering businesses, floral shops and shipping facilities are some examples.
- With many people traveling during the holidays, opportunities may also exist with companies that cater to travelers, like hotels and even pet sitting businesses.
- What jobs exist solely because of the season? Think Christmas tree lots, gift wrappers and Santa’s helpers!
Dress appropriately when inquiring or interviewing. When you walk into an establishment to ask about job openings, don’t be surprised by an impromptu meet-and-greet. It’s likely the manager or assistant manager will speak to you, so wear business casual attire to make a good first impression.
Be prepared. In addition to proper dress, bring all the necessary documents when you visit businesses to ask about job opportunities. Examples include:
- A pen, in case you’re asked to complete a written job application.
- Your resume.
- When necessary, appropriate documents to show your eligibility for employment within the U.S.
- List of references.
- Time: Allow enough time for conversation if the supervisor or manager wants to talk with you.
Practice your interview skills. This may not be the full-time job interview after graduation, but it’s still an interview and you still want this job. Smiling, maintaining eye contact, delivering a proper handshake and solidly answering (and asking) interview questions are just as important. If you don’t take this seasonal job interview seriously, the hiring manager has no reason to seriously consider hiring you.
Know your schedule. One of the first questions you’ll be asked is your availability. Be honest. Know how many days per week and hours per day you can work. When establishing a start date, keep in mind important items like your class schedule and final exams.
Work hard and seasonal may become permanent. While companies reduce their staff after the holiday season ends, manager recognize solid employees when they see them. Don’t overlook the possibility that this seasonal job may last well into next year.
Career Services can assist your seasonal job search through:
- Resume and interviewing preparation;
- Job postings through our frequently updated job board (employmeNC);
- On-campus recruiting (check our website to see which companies are visiting campuses to speak to students about job openings);
Additionally, this year Career Services is hosting a Seasonal Job Fair at the CPCC Cato campus. Mark your calendar for Tuesday October 28 from 10 am to 12 pm. Local employers hiring for seasonal jobs will be on campus to recruit candidates and collect applications.
October 13, 2014
October is LGBT History Month, an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in American history. The month-long observance coincides with National Coming Out Day, which occurs on October 11.
The job search process can be stressful for many. But LGBTQ job seekers may find themselves faced with additional career planning concerns related to their sexual orientation and gender identity. The workplace is progressing, but still present challenges. Career counselors in the CPCC Career Services office can answer questions or concerns students may have about how their sexual orientation and gender identity may factor into their job search.
There are no steadfast rules to follow, but the following tips and resources can help LGBTQ students and job seekers begin to develop a plan.
Know yourself. Regardless of your sexual orientation or gender identity, knowing your skills, interests and values as they relate to the world of work is an important – and often overlooked – step in the career search. When beginning the process of self-assessment, how much of what you learn is related to your sexual orientation/gender identity? Valuing a diverse environment and adapting quickly to different environments may be skills and values that you have developed from your experiences as an LGBTQ person. How do you want these traits to be carried out in your career search?
Understand the law. There is currently no federal law that protects LGBTQ employees from discrimination. Selected states and municipalities have incorporated their own policies. Know which states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Research companies. Companies and organizations in a variety of industry are recognizing the importance of sensitivity and inclusiveness for LGBTQ employees. Do some investigating. Does the company’s non-discrimination policy include sexual orientation and gender identity? Are domestic partner benefits offered? Is the organization listed on any LGBTQ best places to work list? Do you know company employees who you feel comfortable asking about the office culture as it pertains to sexual orientation/gender identity? LinkedIn features many LGBTQ professional groups that can provide some of the information you seek.
Consider your options. Whether or not an LGBTQ employee choses to come out in the workplace is a personal choice. Sexual orientation/gender identity is a part of the work environment in some capacities. For someone who is not out, questions about weekend activities or the decision to display desk photos of significant others are suddenly not so simple. If the decision is made to not come out, how if at all will it impact interactions with coworkers?
As with any job search, resources and research can help. Become familiar with the following campus, local and national organizations and websites that can provide information and support for LGBTQ job seekers.
Spectrum Club CPCC student organization for LGBTQ students and allies.
Time Out Youth Charlotte-based organization providing support, advocacy and education for LGBTQ youth ages 13-23.
LGBT Community Center of Charlotte Charlotte-based organization offering programming and resources
Human Rights Campaign Provides information about corporate policies and culture surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity.
Out For Work A national organization that educates and empowers LGBTQ college students and allies for the world of work.
Simplyhired Search job openings within LGBT-friendly companies.
Note: The Levine Museum of the New South presents the exhibit “Out of the Shadows: Gay America from Kinsey to Stonewall,” now through January 25, 2015. This exhibit, organized by the Stonewall National Museum & Archives, offers a thought-provoking and historic look at the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered culture since World War II.
October 6, 2014