I’m on LinkedIn: Now what?

Fact: Anyone doing a job search that isn’t using LinkedIn misses out on opportunities to connect with professionals, develop knowledge about their industry and learn about potential job openings.

But after creating your LinkedIn account, you may likely ask yourself “Now what?”

Just like any job searching tool, LinkedIn success is based on the effort you put into it. Having a LinkedIn account isn’t the same as using it, and the first step is completing a top-notch profile. Use the following checklist to ensure you have a LinkedIn profile that surfaces when other members search for possible connections.

1. Upload a professional headshot.  Selfies aren’t professional! Ask someone to take a picture specifically for LinkedIn and other professional sites that use photos. Avoid using a picture taken on vacation where you crop your friends but still keep the beach background. This screams unprofessional. Dress for a job interview and choose a neutral backdrop.

 2. Create a snazzy headline.  The headline appears underneath your name. It’s the tagline that others see when researching LinkedIn, so make the most of it. Don’t hesitate to utilize adjectives when describing yourself. Are you a CPCC student or are you an ambitious CPCC student in the Dental Hygiene program? Keep the headline short, listing job titles or skills.

3. Specify industry but keep your location broad. The location and industry section lets you choose a city and state by postal code. Your zip code matches you to two cities. Choose the largest one to ensure a larger network of connections. You select an industry from a drop-down menu so choose the one most connected to your professional interests.

4. Make the most of the Summary section. Think of this section as a resume summary statement or written elevator speech. What do you want professionals to know about you? Use your industry’s key words when listing skills and qualifications. Add some professional personality that encourages the reader to view your background.

5. Develop an action-oriented Experience section. List current and past employment in the Experience section. Like your resume, make each entry concise and use an active voice to describe your job duties. Grab your action verb list and get to work.

 6. Add Skills and seek  Endorsements. In the Skills & Expertise section you list particular skills that colleagues can endorse. Endorsements add credibility to your profile. Type a skill in the “Add” box. As you connect with colleagues they can endorse you for listed skills they know firsthand you possess. You can send a note to others requesting endorsements. Often if you endorse your colleagues, they’ll return the favor.

7. Make the most of the Education section. Don’t rule out the importance of school-related achievements. Use this section to highlight awards and activities such as internships, research or involvement in clubs and organizations.

8. Be cautious with Additional Info. The Additional Information section lets you list interests and personal details. Use resume rules when completing this section. Keep interests professional and leave personal details (marital status, birth date) blank.

9. Don’t hesitate to ask for Recommendations. Like endorsements, recommendations add credibility to your profile. Seek out recommendations from LinkedIn contacts you know professionally (coworkers, former supervisors, professors, etc.).

10. Start joining Groups and Following industry activity. Seek out groups in your industry and start following companies. Doing so shows LinkedIn members that you’re serious about your professional development or job search.

 Take advantage of resources to help you become familiar with LinkedIn, including CPCC Career Services’ own tutorial as well as LinkedIn Webinars. Don’t just have a LinkedIn account. Use it!


What’s hot for the 2014 job search?

With the start of the new year comes job market predictions. What’s hot and what’s not? Who’s hiring and who isn’t? What can job seekers expect in 2014?

The good news is that many experts predict a growing job market this year based on recent gains in employment and record stock market highs. Both are indicators that job growth will continue.

In any job market some professions experience more demand than others. The health care and IT industries are traditionally among the fastest growing. This isn’t to say employment opportunities aren’t available in other areas, just not in the larger quantities that IT and health care experience. You can use resources like the Occupational Outlook Handbook to find out employment trends for particular professions.

Locally, more positive news from the Charlotte Business Journal lists Charlotte as one of the top 10 cities for job searching in 2014. An article in the Charlotte Observer predicts that the hottest jobs in Charlotte will be in IT, retail sales, nursing and trucking. It’s encouraging to see Charlotte’s economy showing balance in a variety of industries rather than a heavy reliance on banking. This local good news is supported by the ongoing employer registration for the CPCC Career Fair planned for March 6. Companies from a variety of industries have already signed up to attend. As the date gets closer, look for a list of companies on the Career Services website.

It’s understandable wanting to know placement rates for a college program before starting one. According to a 2013 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers students choose a major because it leads to a career. CPCC’s Career Coach presents great information to help current and prospective students make decisions about careers. You can search thousands of job titles and retrieve local job market statistics for the field, as well as corresponding CPCC academic programs connected to the professions.

But be careful when using placement rates as your criteria. One CPCC student recently shared with a career counselor that she pursued a degree in transportation logistics at another community college, but dropped out after the first year. While job placement rates were high for the field, her interest wasn’t, which fueled poor grades in her courses. She hopes to study a program in the Human Services Technology division because it captures her true career interests.

And the key ingredients to a successful job search don’t change regardless of the economy. Even if many job opportunities exist in your targeted industry, you won’t get noticed without an effective resume. You’ll be quickly passed over for a job offer if your interviewing skills aren’t up to par. Any job search can’t rely solely on online job boards. Applicants have to incorporate networking and social media into their strategy.

If you’re preparing for a job search this year, know that the news is looking better than it has in recent years. Career Services can help you navigate the search to make it a successful one.


How your New Year’s resolutions can help you find a job in 2014

It’s estimated that over 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Are you one of them? If so, is finding a job or changing jobs one of your resolutions?

There are many elements to a successful job search. You need to identify the industries you’re targeting, use the best job searching resources (networking, online job boards, job fairs, etc.) and develop your resume and interviewing skills. Managing an effective job search can be a New Year’s resolution in and of itself. But if it’s one of many you’re making for 2014, don’t feel overwhelmed. The other goals you’ve identified can actually help you complete your resolution to gain employment this year.

Exercise: It’s a myth that your job search must be a 24/7 undertaking. This approach leaves you burned out. With less energy you’ll be less likely to catch typos on your resume, schedule networking meetings, find jobs to apply to or present the best version of yourself during an interview.

Take breaks and get some exercise that suits your interests. Anything from walking the dog to attending a Zumba class counts. Make time away from the job search a purposeful and planned part of your day. You’ll return to the task feeling more motivated.

Eat healthier: Sugar highs aren’t a myth. It’s tempting to munch on cookies or chips while scrolling online job boards. Instead, opt for healthier snacks like fruits, veggies or nuts. Trade in the energy drinks for water. Healthier eating provides more energy to focus and accomplish tasks efficiently. Your waistline – that has to fit into that interviewing suit – will thank you, too.

Become better organized: An organized job search is a successful one. Develop a system for keeping track of people you contact, jobs you apply to and what actions require follow up actions from you.

Have you wondered how much “job search time” you spend browsing Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? There’s an app that can track that! In fact many apps exist that can help you become more organized.

Volunteer: Wanting to help others makes many people’s New Year’s resolution list. In addition to the knowledge that you’re making a difference in your community, volunteering provides many tangible benefits to job seekers, too.

Learn something new: Current students achieve this goal through their courses. But all job seekers can find ways to develop new skills and interests. If you’re currently working, look for professional development opportunities through your company’s human resources office.

If you’re not employed, consider taking a course to develop a particular skill that you could market to employers. If you’re afraid of public speaking, now would be a great time to conquer that fear. Computer skills are always in demand. Doing so can be free or relatively inexpensive. Check local community organizations and library branches for seminars and classes.

Be less stressed: Reaching many of the above goals can help you achieve this one and obviously securing employment relieves a lot of stress. Conversely, stress can be a barrier to keeping a resolution. Simple actions like stretching and deep breathing can relieve in-the-moment stress attacks. Additionally look for other ways to eliminate unnecessary stressors.

When it comes to keeping resolutions, statistics aren’t on our side; only 8% of Americans achieve their New Year’s resolutions. Beat the odds and strive to make 2014 your best year yet!

Happy New Year from CPCC Career Services.