5 scary mistakes made during a job search


In keeping with the Halloween spirit, let’s spend some time this week taking a look at five scary errors people have made during the job search process.

Having a voice mail greeting that’s a little too “creative”

A student’s outgoing cell phone voice mail message said she was unavailable because “she was sleeping from having walked the streets all night long.” Remember that your voice mail message and email address say a lot about you.

Sending a cover letter addressed “Dear Sir”

This isn’t strange…unless the person receiving the application is a woman. This year more women hold CEO positions than ever before. What’s the lesson here? Try your best to confirm the name of the person receiving your letter (and if the name given to you is Pat Jones, inquire whether or not Pat is Ms. or Mr.). If you don’t know the name, don’t assume the person’s a man. In that situation, “Dear Sir or Madam” or “Dear Human Resources Representative” is the next best thing.

Confusing stalking and researching

One applicant sent a department director a cover letter, in which he referenced the director’s professional accomplishments as well the names of the director’s wife and children. Now that’s just creepy.

Social media permits some in depth research. Be sure to focus on the organization and the job. And while it’s understandable to inquire about potential supervisors and colleagues on Linked In, don’t mention the spouse and kids.

Using terrifying resume templates

Templates are great if you’ve never done a resume before. But templates can be tricky and guide you toward developing bad resumes.

Avoid templates that:

  • List your contact information at the bottom of the resume (it should be listed at the top)
  • Have a “Hobbies” section (irrelevant on a resume or during a job interview)
  • Provide lots of graphics and funky fonts (the simpler the presentation the better)

The trickiest element of templates is the lack of flexibility they allow when developing a resume. You spend more time formatting your professional background toward a pre-designed resume format rather than developing a format that works for you. And that’s no treat.

Eerie embellishing

Don’t say you won an office award that doesn’t exist. Don’t say you were a manager when you really weren’t. Employers find it “interesting” when a resume lists one year for dates of employment but the former manager only recalls you being an employee for one month. It’s one thing to professionally phrase common job duties. It’s another to boldly lie about your background.

If you find yourself falling prey to making the above mistakes, fear not. Correct your errors and go forward in your job search!  

Were you curious?

6 creepy professions and their average incomes

Funeral Director – $54,330

Coroner – $58,720

Gravedigger – $26,400

Hazardous Materials Removal Worker – $37,600

Forensic entomologist – $47,740

Arachnologist – $61,660




Volunteering makes a difference in your job search

 October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Did you also know that we pay attention to other noteworthy causes this month? Adopt a Shelter Dog, Bullying Prevention, and Domestic Violence just to name a few.

Which brings us to the topic of volunteering. Volunteers drive the efforts of practically every nonprofit and human service organization. And it’s not just folks from human services programs that contribute to an organization’s mission. Accountants, engineers, computer technicians and counselors work side by side to make a difference.

But did you know that volunteering can make a difference in your job search? Linked In research shows that one out of five hiring managers in the U.S. agrees they hired a candidate because of their volunteer work experience. Volunteering shows initiative and commitment to your community. Additionally it lets you develop your skills.

What are some reasons you should check out volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood?

1.  Networking

Meeting people is essential to a successful job search. Find a balance between networking and searching job boards. Through volunteering you’ll meet lots of people with varied professional backgrounds. Strike up a conversation with someone at the next volunteering event. People can’t know you’re job hunting unless you tell them.

Volunteering helps get your foot in the door in a particular profession. Interested in teaching? Contact a school principal to inquire about volunteer opportunities at a local school. Are you pursuing a job in the counseling field? Consider volunteering for a domestic violence or rape crisis center. If a job becomes available, their volunteer pool might be the first place they look for candidates.

2.  Building a resume

If you’re in between jobs or unemployed, volunteering is a great way to avoid gaps on your resume. You’ll list these experiences on your resume and talk about them at an interview.

3.  Polishing your skills – and developing some new ones

Animal shelters need more than dog walkers. They need help with fundraising, public relations, event planning, accounting, etc. Talk to the volunteer coordinator about your skills: You never know where they might come in handy! Additionally if you’re hoping to develop certain skills, volunteering is a great way to do so. You can develop the skills set minus the pressure of job performance reviews.

4.  Focusing on someone else in need

A job search can consume you. An extended job search can lead to depression. Making a difference in someone else’s life often helps you appreciate the positives in yours.

Example: One student experiencing a tough job search began volunteering at an organization that worked with kids. What a difference! Knowing the children at the organization were counting on him kept his spirits high. He also became more motivated to find a job because he realized his potential in a new profession (working with kids!).

If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities, check out the list of resources below. Start giving back to your community – and improving your hiring chances – today!

Charlotte Volunteer Opportunities

Hands On Charlotte

Serve Net

United Way of Central Carolinas

Habitat for Humanity

Charlotte Mecklenburg Parks and Recreation Department




What your email address and voice mail say about you

An employer received a resume for a job opening. The contact information at the top of the resume listed the email address lmfao@yahoo.com. Another employer called a candidate to schedule a job interview, and was greeted with LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” in the voice mail greeting.

Are you surprised that both employers moved on to the next candidate?

You actually get multiple chances to make a first impression with potential employers. Your resume and cover letter. Your handshake and dress. Your interview answers and questions.

And your email address and outgoing cell phone message.

Employers want to know whether or not you’re a candidate for the job. It starts with whether or not you take the job search seriously. Fair or unfair, a cute email address or funny voice mail message can give the wrong impression. What’s funny to one person may be inappropriate to another. In a competitive job market, there’s no room for taking chances.

Email address

  • Use a simple, professional email address for job searching. Your first name or combination of your name with numbers serves the purpose.
  • Don’t contact potential employers from an email address such as partygal@hotmail.com or rockfan@yahoo.com. With so many email options available, create an account specifically for job searching. This lets you keep your “rock fan” or “party gal” status with friends while corresponding with companies from a different address. Doing so will help you keep better track of applications and inquiries, too.
  • If you share an email address with a family member, spouse, or friend, now’s the time to create your own account.
  • Create a professional signature for your outgoing email. List your name, contact information and title (if appropriate).

 Voice mail

  • Avoid the funny outgoing message. You know, the one that plays music, has your kids record the message or lets your dog bark the greeting. They get a chuckle from family and friends, but possibly an eye roll from an employer.
  • Change your voice mail message to one that won’t ruffle a potential employer’s feathers. Keep it simple: “Hi you’ve reached 704-555-1212. Please leave a message and I’ll return your call promptly.” Boring? Maybe. Professional? Definitely.
  • Let your roommates know you’re job searching. If you share a phone with someone else, be sure they’re on board with the professional outgoing message approach. Additionally, make sure they’ll remember to give you messages!

During the job search every contact you make with employers – in person, over the phone, or through email – has the potential to make or break a job offer. Once you’re hired, celebrate with a funny outgoing voicemail or email from your “alter ego” account!

Looking for holiday work? Start applying now!

Holiday decorations are creeping into the store aisles, which means it’s time to start thinking about seasonal retail jobs. October is when retailers do most of their hiring for the upcoming holiday season, and a good percentage indicate they’ll be seeking more applicants than in recent years.

According to a survey conducted by the Hay Group consulting group, 36 percent of retailers plan to hire more seasonal workers, a major shift from last year’s projected hiring plans. If you’re seeking part-time employment, it’s time to start applying.

Looking for some tips for finding employment?

  • Check out employmeNC, the Career Services’ jobs database. Companies post part-time and full-time job opportunities in this database exclusively for CPCC curriculum students and graduates.
  • Hit the pavement.  To find out if companies are hiring, go directly to the source. Stop by the location and ask the manager if there are any opportunities.
  • Think outside the retail box. Restaurants, movie theaters, shipping companies, hotels, catering companies, florist shops and greenhouses.  Consider expanding your search beyond the malls, because retail stores aren’t the only ones affected by the holiday rush.  
  • Network. Let your friends and family know you’re looking for a seasonal job. They may have seen a “Now Hiring” sign recently, or know someone who is hiring for the holidays.
  • Use social media. If you’re active on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In, post a “looking for work” status update. Check out a company’s Twitter and Facebook pages, where they’ll be talking about possible job openings.

Searching for suggestions to improve your hiring chances?

  • Submit a resume. While most companies may have you complete an application, go the extra step and send a resume, too. Have a counselor in the Career Services office review your resume first for suggestions on ways to best market your skills and qualifications.
  • Apply for multiple positions. Increase your chances for hire by applying to many different openings.
  • Professional dress and demeanor. Another “extra step” to consider is dressing the part of the professional when inquiring about applications or interviewing. A business suit isn’t necessary, but business casual and conservative makes a more favorable impression than ripped jeans or short skirts.
  • Show enthusiasm. Many seasonal positions have a lot of public interaction in a very busy work environment. When meeting the manager, show him or her energy, people skills and a smile.

It’s not uncommon for companies to keep good seasonal employees on the payroll after the holidays are over. With the right approach, your part-time seasonal job could become a long term part-time job into the New Year.