6 easy steps for investigating companies you want to talk to at EmployUP

EmployUP is less than one month away! Don’t miss out on this great opportunity for face-to-face time with recruiters who are hiring candidates for full-time jobs. The event takes place March 3 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Grady Cole Center (adjacent to the Central campus).

Career fairs can be overwhelming, but they don’t have to be. The key is knowing ahead of time which companies you want to talk to and why. Doing this will make EmployUP seem more manageable and help you make a positive first impression with employers.

Follow these six steps for learning about companies and mapping out a successful career fair strategy.

1. Find out which companies are coming to EmployUP. Check out the list of attending companies. This page is organized by AAS programs, making it easier for you to see which companies are recruiting students with your academic background and skills.

2. Check companies recruiting complimentary academic programs. Students in the Culinary Arts program may also want to check which companies are recruiting Baking and Pastry Arts students. Companies looking for Mechanical Engineering Technology applicants may also be interested in Mechatronics Technology students.

3. Make a list of companies you want to meet at EmployUP.  When you arrive at the event you’ll be given a floor plan showing where company tables are located. Bring your company list and a highlighter so you can quickly locate your targeted companies.

4. Log onto EmploymeNC and apply to jobs posted by your target companies. Employers are directed to post their job openings in EmploymeNC. Applying to posted jobs before attending EmployUP shows your high level of interest in the company.

5. Research your target companies. This is a critical step. Employers are interested in candidates who know about their company.

  • Learn the company’s mission, products and services.
  • Visit the company’s social media sites to get the latest, up-to-date information.
  • Know how your skills and qualifications match the company’s needs (hint: Next week’s blog post will focus on how to market your skills to employers, so stay tuned!).

6. Prepare a list of questions to ask. Having a set of questions ready shows you’re prepared. Our list of questions can help you get started.

Researching companies ahead of time is extremely important for success at EmployUP. Schedule time over the next few weeks to accomplish this step.

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.


The one tip to remember for academic and career planning success is:

Are you having trouble remembering all the different strategies for doing well in school and developing a successful career plan? Too many tips to keep track of? If you’re looking for one golden rule to remember, here it is:


1. Meet with your academic advisor…EARLY! Be aware of priority advising dates for the fall (Sept/Oct) and spring (February/March). Don’t wait until the last minute to schedule an appointment with your advisor. If you do, you’ll have limited meeting time options to choose from. Arrive EARLY for the advising appointment. Otherwise, you won’t have time to address all of your questions.

2. Register for classes…EARLY! You’re not the only one who needs that math course, English course, computer course or humanities elective this semester. Other students are also trying to coordinate class schedules with work schedules. Waiting until the last minute only ensures that classes you need or particular class times you want will be full.

3. Decide which program you want to pursue…EARLY! Research CPCC’s academic programs that interest you. Learn about the programs’ course requirements, competitiveness, desired GPA, necessary exams, etc. Narrowing your focus saves you stress and lets you focus on your studies. You’ll also save money by not taking classes that end up being unnecessary in the end.

4. Focus your career goal…EARLY! If you’re tired of family and friends asking about your career plans, take time to figure them out. Career planning doesn’t happen overnight. Researching career paths that compliment your personality, interests and skills takes time. A career counselor can help navigate this process. The sooner you get started, the more time you have to make a meaningful decision.

5. Develop a resume…EARLY! Yes, even recent high school graduates should have a resume. It’s a living document that you build as you gain more experience and develop new skills. Don’t wait until your graduating year, when you’re doing a job search, to start a resume. At that point, your resume should only need fine-tuning.

6. Research job opportunities and companies in your area…EARLY! Do you know what the regional job market is like for the field you’re pursuing? What companies are hiring? Learning this information earlier makes your job search easier. Resources like Career Coach and CFNC can help.

7. Start using LinkedIn…EARLY! LinkedIn is Facebook for professionals. But here’s the catch; don’t wait until you’re a professional to start using LinkedIn. This will be a go-to job search resource, but it won’t be helpful if your LinkedIn profile isn’t properly completed and you haven’t begun establishing contacts or joining industry-related groups.

8. Prepare for interviews…EARLY! Know what to expect in an interview, from the questions you can expect to the questions you should ask. Career Services offers fantastic interview prep materials, from mock interviewing to in-print and online resources.

9. Show up for the interview…EARLY! But not too early! Arriving 15 minutes prior to your interview is appropriate. Showing up an hour early is rude. If you’re late and you don’t call or offer an explanation, the employer doesn’t have to conduct the interview. And if they do, it’s likely out of courtesy – a job offer isn’t likely.

10. Send a thank you note or email after the interview…EARLY!  Within 48 hours is best. The interview is fresh in your mind and the employer – who is anticipating receiving a thank you note– will still remember you.




7 factors when considering a job offer (besides salary)

When considering a job offer, it’s understandable that the starting salary usually gets top billing. Money matters, so make sure the offer is what you expected. It’s important to research salary ranges for the position you’re interviewing for so you’ll know an appropriate offer when you receive it.

But when weighing a job offer’s pros and cons, avoid focusing solely on the paycheck. Other factors should also be considered.


Health insurance is a hot topic these days and for good reason. A company’s health care package (out of pocket expenses, deductibles, etc.) can be just as important as the salary. What type of life insurance is offered? Find out details about retirement packages; even if you’re years away from the retirement age, planning starts now. More immediate information to consider might be the company’s vacation and sick time policies.


If you’ll be driving to work and travelling a long distance, a big chunk of your paycheck will go to the gas tank. Additionally, how bad is traffic during the hours you’ll be driving to and from work? If you are relying on public transportation, can you easily get to work or will you be required to change multiple bus routes?

Work Hours

How long is a typical work week? The job description may state 40 hours per week, but is it realistically 50 hours? If so, is overtime offered? An additional 10 hours per week may not look like much on paper, but can feel much longer each week in the office.

Professional development

Perhaps the initial offer is slightly below your professional expectations. But is there opportunity to grow within this company? Are new hires promoted quickly? Have employees been with the company for a long time? Will you have the chance to attend seminars, conferences or continuing education events? A “yes” answer to any or all of these questions indicates the company’s commitment to its employees’ career development.

Company culture

Fitting a square peg in a round hole is tough. If this analogy applies to how you might feel working in the company’s environment, give it serious thought. The flexibility and newness of a startup company, for example, is very different than the established procedures of a Fortune 500 company. If your previous office employed 10, how will you respond to now being one of 100? Take time to evaluate how the company culture fits your personality and preferences and what changes you’ll have to make – and are willing to make – to succeed.

Compatibility with your supervisor

Consider it a red flag if you aren’t given the chance to meet your prospective supervisor during the interview. If you’ll be working closely with this person, it’s important to learn if his or her managerial approach works with your work style.

Rapport with coworkers

You usually spend more time with coworkers than family. While you needn’t become best friends, you need to be able to work together to achieve workplace goals.

Receiving a job offer is exciting and wanting to accept the offer right away is normal. It’s important to fight that feeling and give the job offer serious consideration. Otherwise, you may likely find yourself job hunting again sooner rather than later if the new job isn’t a good fit.



Researching companies – and questions to ask them at the job fair

The guest list has just been posted! Check out the CPCC Job Fair link to find out which companies are scheduled to attend the event being held Thursday March 7. There are three reasons why researching the list and doing further investigating about companies you plan to visit is important.

1. Save you time. You can’t visit every employer at the job fair. With the variety of companies attending, you won’t want to. Take the time to research the companies attending that match your job search needs and goals. You can look for companies according to position type (full-time, part-time, internship, etc.), job category (accounting to writing and everything in between) and degrees sought (certificates, associates, bachelor’s etc.).

Hint: Don’t enter too many search criteria. Search criteria are based on information the companies provide when they register to attend. Searching for companies with too many criteria checked may eliminate potential matches.

2. Learn about the companies attending. When you enter the Grady Cole Center in three weeks, you’ll encounter a sea of companies. By taking the time to research the organizations, you’ll know which tables you’ll want to visit, as well as some information about the companies you’re targeting. By researching the companies, you’ll be ready to engage in conversation when it’s your turn to speak with the recruiter. Company recruiters can tell you all about their organization; but, they prefer to hear what you know and why you’re interested in working for them.

3. Prepare to ask some questions. After learning a bit about the companies you wish to speak with, what questions do you still have? Hint: None isn’t the right answer!

Asking questions shows the recruiter you’ve done your homework and are really interested in learning more about the company.

Questions to ask

What makes a candidate for your positions stand out?

The answer to this question lets you know what skills and qualifications to highlight.

What is the typical career path for employees who start in the position(s) you’re recruiting for?

In addition to learning about promotional opportunities, you’ll show the recruiter you’re interested in long-term employment.

What type of training is offered?

You’ll find out what’s expected of you before your first day and what on-the-job training takes place.

What is the application and interview process like?

This answer lets you know when to expect to hear about a potential interview.

What do you enjoy most about working for this company?

Find out the positives about the organization.

Questions to avoid asking

What does your company do?

If you’re asking this question, it tells the employer you either have  no idea what type of job you’re interested in, or didn’t take the time to learn more about the company.

What are starting salaries?

It’s best to let the employer lead salary-related discussions, which usually take place during interviews. You can learn salary ranges for the occupations through sites like the Occupational Outlook Handbook and Salary.com.

What type of benefits are offered, including vacations and holidays?

Avoid asking about time off before you are involved in the interview process. Again, this topic is best led by the employer at a later time.

Remember, a job fair is an opportunity for brief face-to-face meetings with employers. Don’t monopolize their time. Present your elevator speech (details about this in next week’s blog), ask questions, ask for a business card, confidently shake hands and move on.