Archives – March, 2014
Playing April Fool's Day jokes at work can be fun. You have to get the job first.
Watch your back on April 1st, April Fool’s Day. But when it comes to job searching, it’s no joke that there are strategies that increase your likelihood of getting an interview or job offer. The catch? There is none. Yet, many job seekers often don’t think about these items when doing a job search, or only give them half-hearted attention. And the results aren’t very funny.
So what can you do to improve your chances of getting that interview or job offer?
Write a cover letter. If you have the opportunity to send a cover letter, send it. If it’s optional, opt in. A well written cover letter lets you make your case that you’re the strongest candidate for the job.
Don’t rely on online job boards. Sitting in front of the computer all day and applying for jobs is tempting. Don’t do it. You’ll limit your opportunities by not including networking and face-to-face informational meetings in your job search arsenal.
Sell your skills. If someone asked you what your skills are, could you answer? Do you know the difference between your job duties and the skills you use to perform them? Create a skills checklist as well as examples of where you’ve successfully used these skills.
Apply to select jobs rather than hundreds of them. Quantity doesn’t equal quality. Using the same resume to apply to many jobs in many different fields doesn’t increase your chances of being hired. In fact, it actually decreases the likelihood you’ll be offered an interview. Develop a targeted list of companies and tailor your resume to each company, position, industry, etc.
Use LinkedIn. More people are familiar with LinkedIn, marketed as “Facebook for professionals.” But are you actually using it in your job search? If not, you’re missing out on far reaching opportunities to network, learn about job openings and become informed about your target industries. Check out Career Services’ helpful video for getting started on LinkedIn.
Research companies before an interview. Employers might think you’re joking if one of your interview questions is “so what does this job entail?” or “what does your company do?” With social media and the internet, it’s easy to research a company and its product, mission and goals. Ask questions that show the employer you’ve done your homework.
Secure top-notch references. What does the phrase “references available upon request” actually mean? More than just the name and phone number of someone who can verify you once worked for him. Your references could make or break your job offer. Make sure you ask the right people and prepare them to assist you in your job search. Click here to learn how.
Practice interviewing skills. When it comes to interviewing, “winging it” is a poor strategy. Literally rehearse your answers to common interview questions out loud. Schedule a mock interview with Career Services to role play an interview and receive feedback about how you did.
Remember that interviewing isn’t just what you say. It’s how you say it and how you look at the person when saying it. And what you were wearing when you said it and how you shook their hand before you said anything. Nonverbal communication is judged just as much, sometimes more.
Send a thank-you letter. Take the time after your meeting to send a brief note or email to the employer, thanking them for their time and reiterating your interest in the position. Great job interviewers haven’t received job offers because they failed to send thank you letters. If it’s expected and you don’t send one you won’t get the job. If it’s unexpected and you send one anyway, you may have just move your candidacy to the top of the list.
Follow up with an employer after the interview. If the employer gives a hiring timeframe – a question you can ask during the interview- contact her if you haven’t heard anything within the stated amount of time. A quick note to ask about the status of your application and reiterate your interest shows your continued interest in the position.
March 31, 2014
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. This philosophy applies to many situations, including job offers. With technology and job searching so entwined, scam artists are hard at work luring job seekers with the promise of lucrative job offers that only result in identify theft, stolen money or both.
Many examples exist. A new scam targeting college students offers part-time online jobs. The notification is sent to campus email accounts, making it look more legitimate. But beware: the email indicates the company will send a check to the applicant who is then directed to cash the check and wire money to a stated account via Western Union. Being required to pay money upfront waves a huge red flag that this opportunity is a scam.
What other red flags should you look for? Here seven items that could signal the job you’re about to apply for is fake.
The job posting is very poorly written. If you see typos, mixed verb tenses or a job description that doesn’t make sense, don’t apply. When an ad reads like it’s been poorly translated or doesn’t actually say what the job entails, it’s a scam.
“No experience necessary.” Be careful of ads that indicate anyone could do the job, because not everyone can do every job. Certain skills sets, education level or years of work experience should be listed.
The email is a non-business address. When a potential boss reaches out to you from a Gmail, Hotmail or other personal account, hit the delete button. Legitimate job offers come from company email addresses, not personal ones.
“Please send money.” Candidates shouldn’t be asked to wire money, transfer funds or cash checks. Do your research when a company requires you to send money upfront to receive training materials, required company equipment or further instructions. Legitimate companies won’t do this.
“Before sending you an application, we need to receive your Social Security number, bank account and routing number.” No, they don’t. Once you’re hired, it’s customary to provide this information to human resources departments for tax or direct deposit purposes. But there’s never a reason to supply personal information based on a job ad. During the hiring process employers may run a background check or a credit check. But you must be notified in writing and give written authorization before the credit check can be completed.
The salary is extremely high. Job scammers post extremely high salaries to attract desperate job seekers. Resources like Salary Calculator and the Occupational Outlook Handbook list salary ranges and starting salaries so you can know what a reasonable salary offer is. Career Coach is a great source for learning Charlotte/regional salaries.
“Congratulations, you’re hired…even though we’ve never met you.” Receiving a job offer on the spot, sight unseen, is a big sign that the job offer isn’t real. If an interview isn’t part of the hiring process – or there isn’t any process at all – it’s likely a scam.
Your ideal real job is out there. Keep searching! Don’t be lured by scams of ideal jobs that really are too good to be true.
March 24, 2014
In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, we ask the question: How much of a job search is luck?
You hear references to lucky job searches all the time. “Being in the right place at the right time,” “Knowing the right people.” Some elements of a job search can’t be controlled and do have to be attributed to luck (good or bad).
But job applicants can manage many parts of the job search process. Here are nine tips to help ensure some luck is on your side.
1. Arrive on time to an interview. This means 15 minutes early. Plan your schedule accordingly. Take factors like traffic, bus routes and weather into consideration. But things happen. If you know you’re going to be late, contact the employer as soon as possible to explain your situation. And if you become ill, reschedule the interview for another day.
2. Have a solid online presence. Over 80% of employers research job applicants online before contacting them for an interview. It’s important to have a professional online presence, which means completing a LinkedIn profile. But it’s also important to have a positive online presence on social media outlets like Facebook. Does your Facebook profile paint the picture of someone an employer would hire?
3. Make sure your resume matches the specific job you’re applying for. Employers can spot a generic resume a mile away. It’s the one they receive in their inbox that could have easily been sent to hundreds of other employers in other industries. Targeting your resume to specific jobs might simply involve changing the objective. Other targeting strategies include editing your skills section to include keyword qualifications listed in the job posting. Even if a cover letter isn’t required, send one if given the chance. It’s one more outlet for telling this particular employer why you’re the right candidate for this particular job.
4. Dress appropriately for interviews. Even if you send a stellar resume that lands you an interview, your chances at being hired are zero if you don’t dress professionally for the interview.
5. Network. You won’t be lucky in your job search if you only apply to jobs online. Face-to-face meetings are essential. Schedule informational meetings with people in your targeted industry and companies. Find contacts through LinkedIn. Networking can be intimidating. Talk to a career counselor about developing an approach.
6. Do your company research. In addition to answering questions at an interview, you’ll be asked to show what you know about the job and the company. Research the organization through the company’s website or social media presence. If a company has a Twitter handle or LinkedIn profile, start following it.
7. Send a thank you note after an interview. This is one of the most overlooked step in the job search process. Too many people do not receive job offers because they think a thank you note is an unnecessary step.
8. Be realistic. Don’t narrow your job search (industry, geographically, etc.) too much. Allow time for the process – it can take several months to complete a successful job search. When you are offered a job, review the pros and cons carefully to make a solid decision.
9. Don’t panic. It’s hard not to because job searching is stressful. But when you panic you’re more likely to make errors on cover letters and resumes, appear anxious during interviews or overlook opportunities in your rush to find a job.
March 17, 2014
Now that the CPCC Career Fair is over, what’s next?
A job fair may be a one day event, but there’s still some follow up action items to complete in your job search.
Send thank you notes to recruiters you spoke with. Take the time to send a quick thank you note to any recruiters that you talked to, thanking them for their time and reiterating your interest in working for their company. Many applicants overlook this simple step that makes or breaks a person being considered for a job.
Contact employers you didn’t meet with. Whether you weren’t able to attend the career fair or couldn’t speak with all of the companies on your target list, reach out to them now. Check out the company websites for information about job opportunities.
Do what employers asked you to do. If an employer requested that you send additional application information, asked you to contact him or her this week or gave instructions to apply via the company website, do it!
Follow up with recruiters within two weeks after the job fair. Touch base to learn the status of your application or jobs you were interested in and to reiterate your interest in working for the company.
Develop a system for keeping track of recruiters, companies, applications and job leads. Mark dates you meet with someone, apply for a job or have an interview. Set calendar reminders to follow up. Many job searching devices exist to help simplify this task.
Review your strategies. Ask yourself what worked and what didn’t? If you felt nervous delivering your elevator speech to employers, consider rewriting or practicing it. If after a few weeks you do not receive requests for job interviews, it might be wise to have your resume critiqued. Applicants who receive interview requests but no job offers may want to review their interviewing skills.
Use other job search resources. A successful job search strategy incorporates all resources – job fairs, online job boards, networking, social media etc. – rather than focusing on just one. It’s critical to use all options available to you.
March 10, 2014
Career Fair week is here! This Thursday, March 6 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., over 95 employers will be at the Grady Cole Center to talk about job openings. Are you ready?
What last minute details should you pay attention to these next few days to ensure you’ll impress employers? The following checklist can help.
- Review February posts from the CPCC Career Services blog. Last month we offered weekly posts on Career Fair items. From resume tips to how to dress professionally, many of your questions can be answered here.
- Have a career counselor review your resume. Stop by the Career Services Central campus office tomorrow (Tuesday March 4) from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to have your resume critiqued by a career counselor. No appointment necessary. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive feedback.
- Assemble your professional dress now. Make sure clothes are pressed and accessories are chosen wisely. Don’t forget a tote or professional bag (if possible, no backpacks) to carry resumes and gather employer information.
- Practice your elevator speech. Rehearse your elevator speech in front of a mirror, friends or family. You want employers to know you’re confident and knowledgeable about your skills and qualifications as they relate to the job. Practice a firm handshake, too!
- Research employers you plan to meet with. Use the Career Fair Employer List to identify which employers you plan to speak with at the event. Use the companies’ websites and social media presence (Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles, Twitter handles) to learn about the companies and prepare questions to ask.
Some helpful hints for the day of the event:
- Arrive early. Parking fills up quickly and lines get long.
- Bring your CPCC Student ID. Doing so gives you access to the VIP entrance to avoid longer lines. *Note: Veterans who bring their DD-214 papers will also be admitted through the VIP entrance
- Check the weather. You may be standing outside in the early morning hours. Dress accordingly.
- Plan your transportation. Parking in the Student Decks will be available (no permit required), or plan your bus route.
- Arrange for childcare. Job applicants who bring children to the career fair will not be admitted to the event.
- Bring a snack. Pack a small bottle of water and a snack to keep your energy up throughout the day.
- Have multiple copies of your resume. Estimate how many employers you’ll be speaking to, but bring a few additional copies just in case.
Make the most of this great opportunity to meet face-to-face with employers. Check back to this blog next week for post-fair tips.
March 3, 2014