How to talk to employers at the Career Fair

It’s almost go time! The CPCC Career Fair is next week. Hopefully by now a career counselor has reviewed your resume (if not, email it to Career Services to receive feedback) and you’ve been researching and identifying companies you plan to meet with at the event.

What are you going to say to the recruiters at the fair?

Don’t walk up to a recruiter’s table and wait for them to start the conversation. Additionally, don’t just hand them your resume and walk away.

How you interact with employers can make or break your chances of landing an interview. Use the following steps – Start, State, Summarize, Seek – to increase your chances of receiving that email or phone call inviting you for an interview.

Start with hello, a firm handshake and an introduction. Give your name, academic program and your anticipated graduation date.

State your hook. The hook grabs the recruiter’s attention. It sparks their interest and encourages them to listen further and ask questions. Some sample hooks include:

  • “I’m really interested in talking to you about why my skills and qualifications match the positions you’re recruiting for.”
  • “I’ve researched your company and the job opportunities and I’d like to talk to you about how my qualifications best fit your needs.”
  • “I’m so happy to be able to talk with you. Your company is one of particular interest to me and I’d like to tell you why.”
  • “Your company is one that I’m very interested in joining. My education and skills set really match the qualifications you’re seeking.”

Summarize your skills in a 30 second PR pitch. Some call it an elevator speech; others call it a PR pitch. Either way, it’s a brief mention of the qualifications you can bring to the company. Practice this pitch before the career fair! Use the Career Services elevator speech guidelines to help.

Seek out information about the company. In other words, ask questions! Ask open-ended questions that show you’ve done your research and want to know more.

At the end of your conversation, thank the recruiter for their time, shake hands again and say you look forward to hearing from them. Ask for a business card – you’ll need it for follow up correspondence later.

Spend the next week practicing your handshake, eye contact, hook and PR pitch. Doing so will help ease some of your nerves the day of the event.

 

 

 

February 24, 2015

11 ways to create a career fair-friendly resume

When you attend the CPCC Career Fair next month, bring enough copies of your resume to give to employers of interest.

Career fairs are busy. Recruiters won’t have time to read your resume. They’ll glance at it – six seconds at the most.

Follow these tips to help you create a resume that will catch employers’ attention in a short timeframe.

Target the resume to the company: Research companies ahead of time to know which ones you’re interested in. Your objective and skills sections should match the positions and skills the company is seeking.

Use an Objective to specify your career interests and qualifications: An objective that includes the position of interest, company name and a quick mention of your background snags the recruiter’s attention.  

Create a skills category: Employers already know the skills they’re looking for. By doing company research you can know which skills they’re seeking. Make sure your skills category reflects this information.  

Avoid fancy fonts: They’re distracting. Standard fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri work best.

Keep it to one page in length: Unless you are a seasoned worker with years of relevant experience, your resume shouldn’t exceed one page.

Make sure the Education section clearly shows the college’s name, what you’re earning (degree, certificate, etc.), program (Criminal Justice Technology, Cosmetology, etc.) and graduation date:  Employers searching for candidates from specific programs immediately look for this information.

List your contact information at the top; don’t forget your phone number and email address: If you have a LinkedIn profile, this would be a great place to list your LinkedIn url.   

Use bullet points instead of paragraphs: Employers don’t have time to read a paragraph describing your job duties. Use bullet points that quickly summarize the same information.

Ditch the “I” statements and start with action verbs: Employers want to know what you did so don’t waste any time telling them. Use a variety of action verbs to convey duties and responsibilities.

Plug in numbers wherever you can: Numbers visually break up the resume presentation. Additionally, they can market your qualifications. List a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Mention the number of calls you field in your current call center job. Discuss the amount of sales you contribute to the restaurant in your server role.  

Check for typos: They’re still one of the biggest reasons why employers reject candidates.

Use sample resumes as guidelines. Have a CPCC Career Services career counselor professional critique your resume before the Career Fair to make sure you’re clearly and concisely marketing your qualifications.

February 16, 2015

Don’t believe these 8 myths about Career Fairs!

Attending a career fair can seem intimidating. Events like the CPCC Career Fair host many employers and attract thousands of job seekers. But often the intimidation stems from myths about career fairs. Let’s set the record straight.

Myth #1: Career Fairs are only for graduating students and alumni.

Reality: Many companies attending the CPCC Career Fair are looking for interns and part-time employees. Current students, this means you! Additionally, undergraduates attending the fair to meet employers and begin networking in their field make a great impression on recruiters.

Myth #2: None of the companies attending are hiring for my program/career interests.

Reality: With over 95 companies attending this year’s event, it’s quite likely your career interests are represented. Use the link that lists attending employers to research which programs companies are targeting. Programs in business, health care, hospitality, technology and more are in great demand.

Myth #3: Professional dress isn’t really necessary since this isn’t a job interview.

Reality: Not only is it necessary, it’s required. Job seekers will not be permitted into the Grady Cole Center unless they’re dressed professionally. You want to make a positive impression at the fair to be contacted for a job interview after the event. Professional dress makes or breaks this impression.

Myth #4: I can just show up the day of the event, no preparation is really needed.

Reality: Students who come to the event unprepared aren’t as successful as those who do. Three key ingredients to career fair are a top-notch resume, a solid employer pitch and effective company research. The Career Services career fair tips page offers ideas for all. Email your resume to a career counselor for a professional critique or schedule an appointment to meet in person.

Myth #5: People don’t get job offers after talking to recruiters at a career fair.

Reality: While job offers aren’t typically given the day of the event, solid candidates can expect follow up emails or phone calls inviting them for interviews. With so many job searching resources out there, career fairs are still ranked as one of the top recruiting tools by students and employers alike.

Myth #6: If I attend, all I have to do is give my resume to the recruiter.

Reality: This approach guarantees your resume gets placed in the “no” pile. With a confident smile and firm handshake, introduce yourself and offer your elevator speech that explains both your interest in the company and your qualifications for the job opportunities. Doing so catches the recruiter’s attention.

Myth #7: With over 90 companies attending, it’s too overwhelming and pointless.

Reality: The idea of visiting over 95 company tables is overwhelming. But a targeted approach makes the event more manageable. Not every company has opportunities that you’re interested in or qualified for. Research companies ahead of time. Figure out which ones are recruiting your background. Use this information to map out a plan of recruiters you’ll talk to.

Myth #8: My skills and background don’t match what companies are looking for.

Reality: Don’t judge a company by its name. You might be surprised where your qualifications match.  And you won’t know unless you attend.

Preparation is key to a successful career fair. Now that your career fair fears have been dispelled, get busy getting ready for next month’s event!

 

 

February 10, 2015

The CPCC Career Fair is coming!

The CPCC Career Fair is coming! Mark your calendars for Thursday March 5, 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Employers searching for candidates from a variety of programs will be at the Grady Cole Center (next to the Central Campus) recruiting for job openings.

This is the college’s prime career event.

Here’s what you need to know:

Who should attend the Career Fair?

Job seekers looking for full-time jobs. Job seekers commonly complain about having to blindly submit resumes online with no chance to meet recruiters in person. Here’s your chance! If you’re graduating, are a CPCC alumni or a current student searching for a full-time job, the Career Fair is an opportunity to talk to employers actively seeking candidates.

Candidates seeking part-time jobs, internships or co-op positions. Many employers at the fair are also hiring for part-time jobs as well as internship or co-op positions with their companies. The time to search for summer positions starts now.

Students wanting to network with employers in their industry. Begin building your network now for your job search later. Employers will be impressed with your enthusiasm and knowledge of the importance of networking.

What should I know before attending the Career Fair?

Professional dress is required. People not wearing professional attire won’t be admitted to the fair. Visit the Career Services Pinterest board for tips on how to dress professionally.

VIP Access for CPCC students & alumni, as well as all military service members and veterans. Students and alumni can present their CPCC ID and military service members and veterans can present their military ID to gain admission through the VIP entrance. This helps avoid long lines.

Get your resume ready. Employers accept or reject resumes within seven seconds. Make sure you’re presenting a top-notch resume that gets placed in the recruiter’s “Yes” pile. Schedule an appointment with a career counselor to have your resume reviewed. Use the online Career Guide for resume tips, guidelines and samples.

You need an elevator speech. This is the pitch you give to employers when you approach their table. Start practicing how you’ll confidently shake hands and clearly tell the recruiter your skills and interest in their company. A career counselor can help you develop your elevator speech.

The Career Fair is crowded. Last year over 90 companies attended the Career Fair. This year will be the same. Research companies ahead of time to target the employers you want to speak with. Clear your work and class schedule to allow enough time to attend the event.

What resources can help prepare for the Career Fair?

Career Services Blog. Check back each week before the career fair for helpful tips.

Watch the video “Prepare for the CPCC Career Fair.” Dr. Connie Johnston in the CPCC Career Services Office offers five great suggestions for making the most of the event.

Check out other online resources. Our Career Fair page offers additional information to help get ready.

Meet with a career counselor. Career counselors can answer any questions about the fair, review your resume, help you prepare your elevator speech and more. Schedule an appointment today.

 

 

 

February 2, 2015

7 tips to help de-clutter your job search

  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 (partygal@hotmail.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

9 job search items to complete over winter break

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 HandbookCFNC 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

10 tips for surviving final exam week

  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

6 job search strategies for overcoming a lack of related work experience

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

9 job search tips I learned from Sesame Street

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

8 signs you shouldn’t take this job

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

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