Get ready for EmployUP!

It’s just over one month away, taking place March 3, 2016 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

It will be held at the Grady Cole Center, adjacent to the CPCC Central Campus.

“It” is EmployUP, the largest hiring event of the year for CPCC students, alumni and community members.

Previously known as the CPCC Career Fair, EmployUP aims to connect job seekers with Charlotte/regional businesses and organizations that are actively hiring. But this is not your typical CPCC Career Fair.  Check out what you can look forward to at this year’s event:

  • Employers hiring for full-time job opportunities: Over 50 companies are attending this year’s event. All of them are hiring for full-time positions.
  • Companies targeting A.A.S. programs: Attending companies are hiring students and graduates specifically from CPCC’s A.A.S. programs.
  • Networking opportunities for undergraduate and transfer students: Undergraduate students and students who plan to transfer to four-year institutions can meet and network with regional employers who you might be working for someday.
  • Free professional photos: CPCC students and alumni can have their professional headshot taken to be used on LinkedIn, your online portfolio or professional website.

Take time before EmployUP to prepare for the event. Over the next month plan to:

Check back to the Career Services blog each week from now until EmployUP for detailed tips on how to make this event a successful job search strategy. Stay tuned to Career Services on Facebook and Twitter for more up-to-date information. Check out the Career Services Pinterest page for helpful boards that include details about attending companies as well as resume, interviewing and professional wardrobe ideas. Bookmark the Career Services homepage for helpful information, too.

It’s time. Get ready for #EmployUP16!

Should you earn a bachelor’s or associate’s degree?

Only you can decide.

Associate’s vs. bachelor’s degree: Which one is better? It’s a question career counselors hear all the time.

Ask yourself the following questions when deciding which path to pursue:

1. What careers are you interested in? Find out degree requirements for careers that catch your eye. A bachelor’s degree isn’t required for all professions. Furthermore, some professions require studies that are specific to an associate’s degree program.

2. What factors might affect your commitment to school right now?

Time. Associate’s degrees programs are typically two years in length, while bachelor’s degrees programs usually last four years. If you attend school part-time, completing both degrees will take longer.

Out-of-school/personal situations.  Are there circumstances for which one degree option may be better suited than another? Will childcare be a requirement? Will you be working while in school? Do you require the opportunity to       take night or online classes? Many associate degree programs and most bachelor degree programs require students attend class full-time during the day. How might this affect your choice?

Finances. Associate degree tuition is often less expensive than a bachelor’s degree. But additional expenses (lab fees, classroom materials, books) can add up. How much are your finances a part of your decision?

Interest in being a student. Be honest with yourself about your interest in being a college student right now. Both associate and bachelor degree paths require commitment to studying, attending class and participating in the college student process. You and others affected by your decision must be emotionally and mentally ready to make the commitment.    

Next, make sure you aren’t misguided by the myths about both degrees:

Myths about bachelor’s degrees

A bachelor’s degree means a better paycheck.  Not necessarily. Some industries do offer higher salaries for bachelor’s degree candidates, but not all professions. For example, a social worker may earn less than a cardiovascular technologist. Yet becoming a social worker requires advanced training beyond a bachelor’s degree, while cardiovascular technology specifically requires an associate’s degree.

Bachelor’s degrees are more valued by employers. “Value” is a subjective word. It’s important to focus on requirements for career fields rather than what is considered valuable. You’ll be valued as an employee for your qualifications, contributions and work ethic.

Myths about associate’s degrees

Associate degree courses are easier. Associate degree courses are college level courses taught by college professors. Content in a college science, math or humanities course is the same regardless of the degree.   

Associate degrees aren’t “real” degrees. Associate degrees prepare students for employment. What isn’t “real” about that?

At the end of the day, it’s not a matter of answering which degree is better, but rather which one is better suited for your current situation and future career plans.

15 Career “To Dos” to accomplishment over winter break

You’ve worked hard this semester and winter break is within sight. It’s obviously a time to regroup and relax before gearing up the spring semester’s arrival.

The semester break is also a great time to accomplish some items that might be – or should be – on your “career to do” list. Find some time before returning to school in January to check these items off your list.

Volunteer. In the spirit of the giving season take a day to give back to your community. The personal fulfillment is an eye opener. Additionally volunteering serves well in the job search.

Practice an answer to the question “Can you tell me about yourself?” This is the opening question at practically every job interview, career fair interaction, informational meeting and so many other career-related interactions. A well-crafted elevator speech can help you get started.

Explore career information sites. Now’s the time to research those career and academic major websites you’ve wanted to visit but didn’t have the time to because of class work.

Complete an informational interview. Talk to someone working in a career path that’s of interest to you. Ask questions to help you better understand the nature of the job.

Shadow someone in a profession of interest. In addition to talking to someone in your profession of interest, why not spend a few hours in their shoes?

Check out job postings in your career field. Whether you’re just exploring career fields or soon to be entering your chosen profession, start browsing job openings to know what employers are seeking in their new hires.  

Begin or polish your resume. The Career Services Career Guide can help. Email your resume draft to Career Services in January or schedule a resume appointment to receive feedback.  

Write a sample cover letter. Job seekers understandably focus on perfecting the resume, but you can’t forget about the cover letter. Check out the Career Guide’s guidelines and cover letter samples.   

Identify your professional weaknesses – and ways to improve them. No one is perfect. Employers will ask you what areas of improvement you have and what you’re doing to improve them.

Do some soul searching about your academic and career plans. Are your original career and academic goals still in line with your current interests and skills?

Clean up your social media sites. Make sure your online presence is one that you’d feel comfortable with potential employers and future coworkers seeing.  

Create or update your LinkedIn account.  LinkedIn is the #1 professional social media site. Not having an account means you’re missing out on prime networking and career activities related to your industry.

Set up an EmploymeNC account. This is the online job board and career resource for CPCC students and alumni. Take time to establish your account now so you can actively start using it during the spring semester.

Establish your reference list. Who will serve as your references in your upcoming job search? Assemble a list of 3-4 professional people now who will help you sell your skills to employers.  

Begin building your professional wardrobe (including accessories). Take advantage of post-holiday sales to start purchasing clothing and accessories you’ll need for your interviews and role as the new hire.  





What is career readiness and do you possess it?

Many college students believe that the college degree is their key to career success. It’s the knowledge gained in the classroom that makes them the qualified candidate for the job.

This is true…somewhat.

Yes, understanding concepts and topics specific to your chosen profession is important. But preparing for the world of work involves much more than earning a degree, certificate or diploma. The National Association of Colleges and Employers has outlined what makes a college student ready to successfully transition from college to career. Check out the seven skills below and determine your career readiness. Ask yourself how you measure against other graduates and job seekers. What are things you could do to improve the skills you currently lack?

Critical Thinking/Problem Solving: Employers want new hires who can receive information and use it to solve problems. They hire candidates capable of examining ideas and interpreting facts and data to make decisions.

Oral/Written Communications: All industries require solid communication skills. Being able to clearly and concisely share information through writing (emails, memos, documents), public speaking (talking in front of a group) and interpersonal communication (one-to-one or small group meetings) is essential.   

Teamwork: Can you successfully function within a team? Can you manage conflict? Are you able to work with people of diverse cultures, races, religions and viewpoints? Your individual contributions are important, but companies function in teams.

Technology: Computer skills are used in every job setting. It’s the type of computer work and amount that varies.

Leadership: Are you able to lead others either by being in charge or setting a good example of a strong work ethic? Can you prioritize and organize your responsibilities? Do people look to you as someone who can motivate them to be involved?

Professionalism: The employee who is always late to work or doesn’t submit projects on time won’t be an employee for long. Neither will the employee who refuses to understand the importance and effect of professional conduct in a work setting, from the way you talk to the way you visually present yourself.

Career Management: Students who are ready to join the world of work after college know how they want to contribute and what they’re capable of doing. Thus, they know what jobs to look for and how to apply.  During the job interview, a solid candidate can discuss their strengths, skills and experiences in relation to the job opening.  

Look for ways you can improve skills, from taking a computer course (technology) or public speaking class (oral communications) to visiting Career Services (career management, professionalism).


9 tips for a successful online job search

Searching for jobs online will be a component of your job search. As printed materials dwindle, so do classified sections. When employers post job openings they do so on the company website or an online job board. If you aren’t comfortable doing an online job search, it’s time to become familiar with the concept.

Here are nine elements to a successful online job search.

Create a professional resume. Technology may have updated the job search resources, but a solid, professional resume is still essential to your job search. Follow the tips and samples listed in the Career Services Career Guide.

Know your search criteria ahead of time. What’s your salary range? What geographic location are you targeting? Are you looking for full-time, part-time or contract work? Answers to these questions help narrow your search.

Use keywords in your search. When looking through online sites, use keywords and phrases from your industry. Doing so helps narrow the search.

Use different keywords in different searches. Changing one keyword could mean the difference between seeing a job posting or not. If you search for jobs with the word “mechanic,” you may not connect with a posting that uses the phrase “auto technician.”

Look for sites that update listings frequently. If a site only updates jobs monthly, you could miss out on opportunities the weeks in between.

Find out the site’s privacy policy. Some sites may sell members’ information to advertisers which at the very least increases the spam in your inbox. There are plenty of sites out there that you can stay clear of ones like this.

Watch for fees. Avoid sites that require payment to register. Some sites offer free basic services but charge a fee for advanced features. Research the features to find out if the cost is worth it.

Look for targeted job boards. Employers may post jobs on websites targeted to their specific audience. Targets could include industry-specific, college-specific or other demographics.

Don’t focus your job search to online resources only. While technology has made it easier to browse a variety of websites, online job searching should only be a small part of your job search. Networking is still the number one job searching resource; face-to-face communications remains a critical component of a successful job search.

Announcing Career Services Central Campus Drop-In Lab

Wednesdays and Thursdays, Central High Room 332

  • Search online job sites
  • Complete online applications
  • Write a resume and cover letter
  • Receive resume feedback and get answers to job search questions from an on-site career counselor

Job Interview Fashion Horror Stories

A surefire way to kill any hope of receiving a job offer is showing up to the interview looking bad. Sad but true – even the most prepared candidate doesn’t stand a chance if the first visual impression is a bad one.

In the spirit of Halloween, check out these main characters of job interview horror scenes- the interviewee’s wardrobe and overall presentation- that drew a scary reaction but no job offer.

Skirt too short, shirt too low and both too tight. Your outfit shouldn’t reveal too much when standing up, sitting down or bending over.

Unwelcome smells. This includes body odor, heavy perfumes and bad breath. Conquer all of them by showering and using deodorant before an interview, avoiding any perfumes and using mouthwash or a mint beforehand.

Loud jewelry. Avoid bracelets, earrings and necklaces that are noisy…to the eyes and ears.

Unkempt hair and nails. Your hair should be well groomed. Guys this includes facial hair (which you might want to consider shaving altogether). Fingernails should be neat and trimmed.

Food in your teeth. Double check in the mirror for any leftovers before entering the company’s building.

Inappropriate shoes. Platform shoes, flip flops and tennis shoes are very different from one another, but all could result in no job offer if worn to an interview.

Forgotten pants during a video interview. Television news anchors are known for wearing professional attire from the waist up while relaxing in jeans or pajama bottoms. If you do this during a video interview you run the risk of being exposed. Yes, this has happened.

Rival attire. There’s a time and place to support your alma mater or favorite professional sports team. During a job interview is neither. Your Florida Gators necktie may be your favorite, but the interviewer who went to Florida State may disagree on its value. Yes, this has also happened.

The flu. The only thing you should bring to an interview is yourself, your resume and your reference list. Leave the flu and any other ailments – along with their symptoms – behind. If you’re sick, contact the employer to reschedule the interview.  You won’t be penalized for doing so, you’ll be appreciated.

Visible underwear. Watch the bra straps (so that they don’t show), and the color of the undergarments (so that they don’t show either).

A coffee mug. It’s one thing when the interviewer offers you a cup of coffee (it’s probably still best to politely decline).  But showing up with your personalized travel mug that you continue to sip it during the interview isn’t wise.

Visible tattoos. Conservative is the best approach in a job interview which means covering up tattoos.

Distracting piercings. Remove piercings from everything other than ears (and keep earrings to a minimum).

Your parent. Mom or dad can give you a ride to the interview, but that’s it. Having them walk you to the interview or sit with you during the interview means you won’t get the job. Yes, this has happened.

Career Services has lots of resources to help you prepare for your job interview. Schedule a mock interview or check out our Pinterest boards and blog posts for tips on how to stand out in the interview without scaring your audience.

Tips for completing a job application

When applying for a job, you may be asked to complete a paper or online job application. This is a standard form that summarizes your work history, eligibility and education. You’ll likely complete a job application when applying for part-time jobs.

Listed below are typical sections you might see on a job application, along with tips for providing the information. It’s helpful to have everything gathered in a document beforehand (dates of employment, contact information, salary, etc.) so you’ll have it easily available when completing your application.

Personal information – Full name, address, phone number/email, felony convictions

  • Provide your complete name.
  • Don’t forget apartment numbers, city/state and zip code.
  • Provide a professional/appropriate email address and make sure the voice mail message for your listed phone number is appropriate.
  • If you have a felony conviction you must say so. You’ll have space to list the nature of the conviction. Consider writing “will discuss at interview” in the box. Another option is to attach a document to the application that briefly and clearly explains the facts of the conviction and focuses on your positive qualifications for the job.

Job information – Position you’re applying for, work availability, salary requirements.

  • List the specific job you’re applying for.
  • Be honest about your availability. If you can’t work weekends, don’t check “yes.”
  • Research salary ranges for the position to which you’re applying so your stated requirements won’t be too low or too high.

Education – Name/location of schools attended, degree/diploma, graduation date

  • Start with the most recent school, including those you’re currently attending.
  • List “Diploma” for high school section (or GED).
  • State the type of degree(s) you are pursuing or have earned (AAS, AS/AA, BA/BS, etc.)
  • Include month and year of completed and pending graduation dates.

Employment History – Company contact information, supervisor’s name, dates of employment, salary, reason for leaving

  • Even if the company no longer exists, provide as much contact information as you can (former location for example).
  • Include the month and year for your dates of employment.
  • List your hourly wage or annual salary.
  • Be honest about your reason for leaving. If there were extenuating circumstances, write “See attached” in the space provided and attach a document that briefly explains the reason.

References – Contact information of at least three people who can serve as an employment reference

  • Locate references ahead of time and confirm their willingness to serve as your reference.
  • Use professional references only, not family members.

Some final tips before completing and submitting your job application:

  • Use a black or blue pen for paper applications (not pencil or other colored pens).
  • Write clearly and legibly. Proofread for errors. Consider using correction fluid (Wite-Out) to paint over mistakes on a paper application. If there are numerous mistakes, ask for or download a new form.
  • Type any documents of explanation that you plan to attach to the application.
  • Be honest about all information you submit on the application. With background checks and interviews, any hidden truths will eventually surface.
  • Submit a resume with your application. It shows a level of professionalism that employers appreciate.






Start your holiday part-time job search now

There are approximately 60 days until Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving- which traditionally starts the holiday shopping season. But retailers are boosting their presence earlier each year, which means the time to begin searching for a seasonal job is now.

Almost all part-time seasonal jobs will be filled by November, so if you wait you’ll be left out of the hiring frenzy. Here’s a checklist to help start your seasonal job search.

Places to apply

Retail stores. Big box stores always look to increase their staff during the holiday season. It’s time to pay them a visit and look for “Now Hiring for the Holidays” signs.

“Mom and Pop” shops. Smaller stores tend to hire less but it can’t hurt to ask. Be sure to visit consignment stores, too.

Restaurants and catering business. More people eat out and organize parties during the holiday season. Check restaurants situated near shopping areas and businesses.

Floral shops. Even if you don’t have a knack for designing bouquets, there are sales and courier jobs available, too. Shipping facilities. FedEx and UPS always need more drivers and package sorters at this time of year.

Christmas tree lots and gift wrappers. These jobs are typically shorter in length (Thanksgiving to Christmas only).

What you’ll need when you apply

A resume or job application. Many employers will ask you to complete a job application either in person when you inquire or on their website. You might also be asked to submit a resume. Career Services can help you with both documents. Schedule an appointment today!

Solid interviewing skills. An interview will be part of the hiring process. You’ll need to show the employer that you’re the right person for the job. Whether this is your first job interview or you’re an interviewing pro, reviewing the list of commonly asked interview questions will help you prepare. Meet with a career counselor to discuss any interview concerns you have.

List of references. Whether on the job application or a stand-alone document, employers will ask for a list of references or people who can talk about your qualifications. Gather the names and contact information now so you’ll have them readily available.

Your schedule. Employers may likely ask your availability (when you can start working, how many days/ and hours per week you can work). Be prepared to provide this to them.

Remember, solid seasonal employees are often kept on staff after the holiday season is over. If you’re a hard worker you may be asked to continue working well into the new year.



4 simple steps to a targeted resume

To increase your chances of landing a job interview your resume should target the specific job you’re applying to. Employers can easily spot a resume that has been used to apply to a variety of different jobs. These resumes are most often rejected. Employers favor resumes that demonstrate the job seeker took the time to target the resume to their particular job opening.

Job seekers mistakenly think this means having to rewrite their entire resume for every job application. Not true. Follow these four simple steps to help grab an employer’s attention.

Write a targeted objective. The objective tells the employer which position you’re applying to and briefly mentions specific skills or relevant background information that immediately grab the employer’s attention. Listing an objective that could be used for any job opening at any company is a waste of space on the resume. See the Career Services Career Guide for sample targeted objectives.

Use industry-specific keywords. Pay attention to the specific requested skills listed in the job description. Employers will use these key words and phrases to help evaluate the resumes received. Make sure that your resume includes key words from the targeted industry. Incorporate the key words into job duties and a Skills section on the resume.

Add a “Related Experience” category. Do you have previous experience that relates to the position to which you’re applying now? If so, include it in a category called “Related Experience” that you could list before the “Employment” section of your resume. It’s okay to do this even if the related experience took place before jobs in the Employment section. Resume entries must be in reverse chronological order within a category. Remember, related experiences aren’t limited to paid positions. Internships, volunteer experiences, even significant on-campus activities count.

Organize resume categories to market your background in order of relevance to the job. List the objective first on the resume. But the category order from that point depends on the job to which you’re applying. For some job seekers, your degree may be more targeted to the job opportunity than your work experience. In this case the Education section should be listed before Employment. For others, your work experience might directly related to the position and should be listed before Education.

EmploymeNC: 7 reasons it’s your #1 job search site

When looking for job opportunities, you can’t rely on job boards alone. Job searching requires a multi-strategy approach. Your list of resources should also include networking, career expos and social media.

But for CPCC students and alumni who are using online job boards, EmploymeNC should be your go-to site because it’s more than just a job board. Here are seven reasons why you should bookmark EmploymeNC.

It’s only for CPCC students and alumni. The only way to access EmploymeNC is by using your CPCC login and password information. This cuts down the competition of others applying for the available jobs. It also means that employers posting jobs are actively looking for CPCC candidates.

Hundreds of full-time and part-time jobs are updated weekly. On average over 500 full-time and part-time job openings are featured on EmploymeNC each week. Employers regularly contact Career Services with job opportunities they want you to know about and all are directed to post their jobs on EmploymeNC.

Ability to save your job searches makes the process easier. When it comes to online job boards, having to apply to jobs one at a time gets frustrating. With EmploymeNC you avoid this hassle. Save your jobs of interest in a folder and apply to them all at once. Additionally, there’s no need to search the same types of jobs multiple times. After entering your keywords, select to have new job postings emailed to you that fit this same criteria.

Resume writing software. Creating a resume isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Career Services recommends that you create a resume from scratch that targets your specific career interests and best markets your skills and background. If you haven’t written a resume before, EmploymeNC offers a resume writing software called Resume Creator to help you get started. Unlike other resume templates, Resume Creator has templates designed by career services professionals that present your qualifications in a solid standard resume format.     

Free resume critique from a career services professional. Career Services wants you to put your best application forward; therefore, a career counselor automatically reviews each resume you upload into EmploymeNC. If there are any errors on your resume or opportunities to better market your background, you’ll receive an email with your resume attached that highlights the edit suggestions.   

Access to a Career Resource Library. EmployeNC’s Resource Library is filled with valuable career information about resumes, cover letters, interviewing and much more.  

Calendar of career events. Learn about upcoming recruiting events and Career Services programs. Check the box in your profile section to receive emails from Career Services about events as well.

EmploymeNC is a simple, effective online job board to use. Check out the video “Using EmploymeNC” that shows you how to upload your resume and search for jobs and highlights all of its features.  Get started today!