10 scary job search mistakes you must avoid

It’s that scary time of year again, with Halloween on the horizon. This is the week when all things frightening get a pass – from costumes to tricks, it’s hip to scare and be scared.

But you never want to frighten away hiring managers. It might be a good time to double check that you aren’t doing anything scary to sabotage your job search.

Here are some sure-fire scary job search mistakes to avoid:

Not eliminating resume and cover letter typos. Don’t trust spellcheck! Have someone else read both documents. Review them yourself by reading them backwards. You’ll be more likely to catch spelling errors that way.

Not sending a thank you letter after an interview. If ghosts can contact people through séances, you can find time to write a short thank you note to an employer. It could make the difference between getting hired – or not.

Applying to every position available with a company. Even the most brilliant person isn’t qualified for every position. Doing so shows you lack direction in your job search.

Making online job boards your top job search resource. Job boards should only be a small part of your strategy. Networking through seminars and programs and conducting informational interviews should be a key component.

Not being worried about your social media profile.  Employers check Facebook and Instagram to view job candidates’ profiles and pictures. That profanity-laced status update you posted on Saturday night might cost you a job offer.

Not utilizing LinkedIn. A great percentage of recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates. Furthermore, employers check LinkedIn to view applicants’ profiles. If you don’t have a profile, or your profile is underutilized, you’ll be passed over.

Going to an interview without practicing your interviewing skills. Whether it’s at home in front of the mirror or during a mock interview, practice answering commonly asked interview questions before the actual interview.

Going to an interview without first researching the company. Familiarize yourself with the company, from its mission to its product. Check out the Facebook page and Twitter feed to learn the most recent happenings and reports.

Treating your job search like a fulltime job. People who are unemployed spend an average of 40 minutes per day job searching. It’s tough to do a fulltime job in 40 minutes. Approaching your job search like a fulltime job yields better results.

Stopping the job search after an interview. It’s not over until you walk through the company’s door for your first official day on the job. Even if the interview went well, don’t stop looking until you have a job offer in hand.


7 job search tips you can learn from the World Cup

  Even if you’re not a soccer fan, you’re likely aware of the sport’s major event currently taking place in Brazil. The World Cup captivates billions of futbol fans across the globe. It’s estimated  that one out of three people worldwide will be enjoying the matches over the next month.

In the spirit of the world’s game taking center stage, did you know there are seven career and job search tips you can learn from the World Cup?

1. Back up your stats. Being qualified on paper only goes so far. Spain was heavily favored to repeat as World Cup champions this year. Yet, they were eliminated in the first round of play. England’s roster consistently sports talented players, but they haven’t won a World Cup since 1966.

When you’re job searching, a solid resume highlighting your skills gets your foot in the door. But job offers are made based on how well you interview to convey your qualifications for the job.

2. Start preparing early. The World Cup takes place every four years. Yet national teams start preparing for the next event mere months after the current matches end. Finding the right career path and implementing a successful job search take time. Don’t wait until the weeks before – or after – graduation to prepare.

3. Know that others can help you.  Teams advance out of the first round of World Cup play based not only on their own success but how other teams in their group do. Fans find themselves rooting for one country to help their own. In job searching, networking is the way others help you in your career development. Just like in World Cup play, relying on others is a strategy you can’t ignore.

4. Use many tools to create a winning strategy. Job seekers can’t rely solely on one job search tool to get a job. It’s like a soccer team relying completely on their goalkeeper to win the game. Job boards like employmeNC provide great job leads, but you also need to incorporate other resources like networking, on campus recruiting and job fairs.

5. Develop a parallel career plan. When one of the US team’s essential players – Jozy Altidore – was injured in their first game, the coach immediately substituted a player and implemented a plan. If internal or external circumstances prevent you from reaching your first career goal, what other options are you considering and what do you need to do to achieve them?

6. Remember that luck plays a part. Some World Cup teams have an easier time advancing into the next round literally thanks to the luck of the draw. You control many elements of your job search. But luck is a factor. Being in the right place at the right time, being the more qualified candidate, etc. Someday this will be you.

7. Believe that with hard work, dreams come true. John Brooks, a backup player for the US team, literally dreamed two nights before the first game that he scored the winning goal. Brooks entered the game when starter Matt Besler was injured. His dream from the night before came true when his goal led the US team to victory. Half the battle of job searching is believing you can do it.

Are you doing ALL that you can to find a job?

Accenture, a global consulting company, recently released its 2014 College Graduate Employment Survey. The survey examines the difference between graduates’ expectations of the world of work and the reality of that world. The results are pretty interesting.

One statistic in particular stands out: 69% of 2014 graduates expect to find work within the first six months after graduation. However, for graduates of the classes of 2012 and 2013 only 42% found jobs within the first six months after earning their degrees.

Factors that affect the length of a job search:

  • The state of the local and national economy
  • Quantity of jobs in a candidate’s preferred location (not many film jobs in Iowa, for example)
  • Demand for a candidate’s skill level and degree
  • A job seeker’s flexibility regarding types of jobs, geographic location, salary, etc.
  • Quality of the job search

The fifth factor – quality of the candidate’s job search- is critical and one that the job seeker completely controls. For graduates who didn’t find a job within the first six months after graduation, it’s worth asking what their efforts were like. If you’re job searching, ask yourself: Are you doing everything, using every resource and considering every option in your job search? Before answer yes, ask yourself if you’ve done the following:

1. Join professional associations: Every industry, from accounting to zoology, has a representing association or society. Members have access to membership directories, job search databases and other resources. 

2. Join regional groups: Most major cities organize groups that allow residents to meet others. A city’s Chamber of Commerce is a great resource for locating such groups. Meetup.com is another source. The common interest might be professional, cultural, hobbies or a combination.  

3. Attend meetings and seminars: Simply joining a group isn’t enough. Be an active member. Attend networking meetings, seminars and conferences. Meet people face-to-face.

4. Become active on LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a social media outlet for professional purposes. It needs to be part of your job search toolbox. Learn how to create a LinkedIn profile and utilize this critical job search tool. The CPCC Career Services LinkedIn How To video can help.

5. Volunteer: Get involved in a local community group or cause that interests you. You’ll meet people who share a common interest in that group or cause. Volunteering is one more avenue for meeting people.

6. Conduct informational interviews: Find a professional working in your targeted industry. Contact someone employed at a company you want to work for. Set up a 30 minute meeting to  talk about the company or the profession, ask questions about the person’s career path and receive suggestions for your job search.

Networking is the commonality for all of these tips.

Most job searches take longer than anticipated and it’s not uncommon to spend more than six months searching. But regardless of industry, geographic location or flexibility when considering options, job searching takes longer if you aren’t actively connecting with others.



No joke! These 11 tips increase your chances of being interviewed and hired.

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.



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.


7 holiday shopping tips that can help your job search

To be a kid again, when a man from the North Pole magically brings gifts every Christmas Eve.

But the reality is holiday gift shopping is a process. Job searching is, too. What strategies for successfully navigating the stores could also help you in your job hunt?

Know that deals and steals won’t come to you. You won’t know who’s having the best sales unless you actively look. Even setting up your smartphone to receive coupon alerts requires effort on your part. Similarly, job opportunities won’t passively come to you. You have to take an active role in your job search.

Remember the early bird gets the gift.  If you wait until the last minute to purchase something, don’t be too upset if it isn’t available or they don’t have the right size or color. You may have to settle for something else. When you see a job posted that looks interesting, apply to it. That day. Right away. You’d hate to finally get around to applying only to find that the application period has closed – or you can still apply but now are in the middle of hundreds of applications instead of one of the first three received.

Develop a plan. Gift buying strategies vary. Some people pluck items off of wish lists received from family and friends. Others think of a gift idea and purchase it. Some browse online or in stores until they find a gift idea they like. Regardless of the approaches, they’re all strategies. Job searching also requires a plan, so take the time to develop one that works best for you.

Keep notes on what you’ve accomplished so far. If your shopping list includes many people, or you’re one who starts shopping in August, you need to keep track of what you’ve bought and who you’ve bought for. When you begin your job search, keep track of applications sent, phone calls and emails. Mark your calendar with deadlines and notes to follow up on job leads.

Read the fine print before purchasing. Be aware of a company’s return policies and other items before making your final purchase. When you receive a job offer, make sure you understand the specific offer (salary, benefits, etc.) as well as duties and responsibilities before accepting.

Let everyone know your progress. Doing so helps people avoid giving the same gift to the same person. In the job search process, letting everyone know your progress equates to networking, a must-have job search tool. People can’t help you find a job if they don’t know you’re looking for one.

Understand that nonverbals can mean the difference between a good or bad experience. A grumpy customer, grouchy sales associate or rude driver in the parking lot turns any holiday shopping experience into a sour one. The same thought holds true for job interviews. What nonverbal messages are you sending in an interview? They could mean the difference between receiving and not receiving a job offer.

As you make your way through the malls this holiday season know that you’re developing some excellent job searching skills along the way.


Break the elevator etiquette rule (and four other ways to find job networking opportunities)

Networking. It’s the one word that collectively makes most job seekers cringe. But cliché phrases such as “not networking means not working” exist for a reason. When it comes to job searching and career exploration, networking is the number one tool. It’s the key to unlocking doors you won’t find through job fairs, on-campus recruiting and online job boards.

Networking opportunities exist all around you. Here are five outlets for sneaking networking occasions into your life.

1. Work at networking events: If you are a member of a professional association, don’t just attend the conference. Volunteer to help organize the meetings and conferences that everyone is attending. You likely won’t have to pay to attend the event, can be privy to the guest list and make connections with other volunteers.

2. Volunteer at “non-networking” events: Instead of running in the 5K, serve on the committee to help organize it. Is the organization you volunteer for coordinating a fundraiser? Join the group to help plan it. Look for joining opportunities through your place of worship, child’s school or other venues where you can work alongside other people.

3. Look for disguised networking events: Book clubs, exercise classes, moms’ groups/play groups. The reason for gathering isn’t to network, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t. Knowing that you already have something in common with others in the group makes these outlets less intimidating.

4. Break the elevator etiquette rule: Or strike up a conversation with the person you see every day at the bus stop. There are one-to-one networking opportunities around you every day. It won’t work every time, but you’d be surprised how often it does. Are you going to land a job interview through engaging in small talk on the elevator? Maybe not. But you might land an informational interview – which could lead to a job offer down the road. You’ll never know unless you try.

5. View family and friends from a networking perspective: It’s time to look at aunts, uncles, neighbors and friends in a different light. Do they know you’re job searching? Do they know the industries you’re interested in? Because if they don’t know, then you don’t know connections they may have to those industries.


Talk to a career counselor about developing your networking strategies. It’s a part of job searching that can’t be ignored.



Information Interviewing Part II: Easy ways to set up informational interviews

Last week’s blog post talked about excuses people often use for not setting up informational interviews. Now that any excuses have been eliminated, it’s time to contact people and request a meeting.

Before doing so:

Remember the primary objective is to learn information about a profession. This isn’t a job interview. Your goal isn’t to impress the person as a candidate to hire.

Research the career field. Even though you’re trying to learn about a career, don’t waste the interviewer’s time by asking general questions such as “so what does a dental hygienist do?” You can learn the answer to this question quite easily through career exploration sites.

Check your calendar. Most informational interviews take place during regular business hours. See what days and times work best for you but remain flexible to accommodate the interviewer’s schedule, too. When scheduling a meeting, allow enough time for transportation, knowing you’ll want to arrive 15 minutes prior to the meeting.

Check your wardrobe. A business suit won’t be necessary, but business casual attire sends a positive and professional message. Ladies, does your closet have a nice pair of pants or skirt and top you can wear? Guys, do you have a collared shirt and pants (not jeans)?

When you have the name and contact information for someone it’s time to reach out. An email or letter is the best first approach. Check out the following sample email that can you can easily adapt to fit your specific needs. Notice the three important components: 1. Name of the person you’re writing; 2.The reason you’re writing; 3. Clarification that you aren’t requesting a job interview.

Ms. Ann Johnson

Dental Hygienist

Charlotte Pediatric Dentistry


Dear Ms. Johnson:

Hello, my name is Jane Smith and I’m a student at Central Piedmont Community College. Julie Rhodes, whose daughter is a patient at Charlotte Pediatric Dentistry, suggested I contact you.

I’m in the process of researching career options of interest to me and am considering the dental hygiene field. I’m not seeking a job interview, but was hoping I might be able to meet with you to discuss your work in the profession and preparation for it. Speaking firsthand with someone in the field provides the chance to obtain valuable insight and perspective.

I understand your schedule is busy and would appreciate 30 minutes of your time. I am happy to contact you to inquire what days and times are convenient for us to me.

Thank you in advance and I look forward to speaking with you.


Jane Smith


After sending the email, give the person about one week to reply. If you don’t hear back feel free to resend the email or consider calling if you also have the person’s phone number.

You: Hello, Ms. Johnson?

Professional: Yes?

You: Hi, my name is Jane Smith. I’m a student at Central Piedmont Community College. I don’t know if you received an email from me last week? Julie Rhodes, whose daughter is a patient at Charlotte Pediatric Dentistry, suggested I contact you.

Professional: Okay, how can I help you?

You: I’m researching career options and am considering dental hygiene. I was wondering if you might be able to meet with me sometime for approximately 30 minutes to talk about your experience in the field?

Professional: Oh, sure I’d be happy to do that.

You: Thank you so much! Is there a day and time that works best?

Professional: Could you come to the office this Thursday at 3:00?

You: That would be perfect. Thanks again and I will see you then.


Once the meeting time’s established, it’s time to think about what questions to ask. We’ll provide a long list next week.




Seven tips for job searching while unemployed

After losing a job, negative feelings and a sense of urgency can stall a job seeker’s attempts to find employment. Without knowing it a job seeker may be sabotaging their hiring chances. Below are seven tips and suggestions for keeping your job search on track during this stressful time.

Have someone review your resume, interviewing skills and job search strategies: If you aren’t receiving calls for interviews, your resume may need some tweaking. If you’re getting interviews but no job offers, a critique of your interview skills may be in order. Are you using the right job search resources? Contrary to what many believe, browsing online job boards for hours is not the best strategy. A career counselor can help pinpoint where your job search might be breaking down as well as suggest other strategies you may not be aware of.

Network: The least effective job search is one that doesn’t involve networking. While online job posting boards exist in high numbers (and people find jobs using them), face-to-face meetings are still essential to a successful job search.

Develop a savvy social media presence: Social media is fast becoming the number one online job search tool. If you’re researching companies of interest, be sure to check out their Twitter feed. Make your presence known on LinkedIn to connect with other professionals, follow companies and learn about job openings.

Volunteer: Volunteer with a community organization. Doing so gives you a chance to meet other people and allows you to focus on something else besides your job search. Furthermore, the volunteer experience can be listed on your resume, downplaying the employment gap.

Keep cynicism and negativity to a minimum: Job searching is a long, lengthy process, often taking months to complete. Interviews that seem like a sure thing sometimes don’t result in a job offer. It’s tempting to develop a poor attitude or chip on your shoulder. Do your best not to. The negativity may come across in cover letters and interviews, further sinking your chances of getting hired.

Plan playtime: Job searching is a full-time job, but not one that should be done 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Play is essential to a healthy lifestyle, and maintaining good health is critical. Don’t feel guilty stepping away from your email to read a magazine, go for a walk or meet a friend. You’ll feel re-energized and re-focused when you return to the job search.

Rely on your support network: Everyone needs a helping hand at some point. If a family member offers to make dinner, say thank you and accept their kind gesture. Call a friend when you’re feeling discouraged. Don’t hesitate to reach out to others who can help in a variety of ways. You’ll be able to return the favor someday.