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.


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!


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.

10 Quick Tips to Make the Most of LinkedIn

As we’ve discussed over the past few weeks, LinkedIn is a valuable tool in your professional development. Whether seeking a job or seeking professional development opportunities, LinkedIn’s resources are extremely valuable.

But LinkedIn is only as helpful as you are involved with the social media tool. Creating a top-notch profile and making connections are the keys to LinkedIn’s ability to assist you.

Check out these other top ten quick tips for LinkedIn best practices.

1. Include a photo. Studies show that profiles with pictures get more clicks than those without. Make sure the photo is a professional head shot of only you.

2. Use keywords throughout your entire profile. Potential employers and contacts find your profile through keywords. Use resources like the Occupational Outlook Handbook and O*Net to learn keywords in your industry. Use keywords from job postings that you view.

3. Put some thought into your profile title. “Talented CPCC graphic design student” grabs attention quicker than “Student.”

4. Use the Profile Summary section to explain any potential red flags. A stay-at-home mom who fears her years of at-home status may hinder her hiring abilities. The “job hopper” accounting for multiple terms of employment. The downsized manager who has been unemployed for two years. All three examples can benefit from an honest, professional approach in their LinkedIn summary.

5. Seek and give recommendations and endorsements LinkedIn’s endorsement section is fairly new and very powerful. Prospective employers consider these testimonials a great resource for evaluating candidates. Take the time to endorse your contacts’ skills as well as write professional LinkedIn recommendations. They’ll likely return the favor. You can also ask a contact to write a recommendation for you. If possible, have at least one recommendation for each place of employment listed in your profile, ideally from people who’ve supervised or managed you (and those you’ve supervised and managed, when applicable).

6. Get active in applicable LinkedIn Groups. Not only are groups important for professional development, but your involvement shows potential employers how serious you are about your profession.

7. Update your status. Just like Facebook, LinkedIn lets you update your status. Get professionally creative. Post links to newsworthy web posting or news item. Link to appropriate YouTube videos that fit your professional niche. If you’re employed, post an important announcement about the company. Recently hired or looking for employment opportunities? Let your contacts know.  Quotes of the day always get noticed and often reposted.

8. Research the Job Seeker Premium option. Everyone can create a basic LinkedIn account free of charge. For a fee, members can upgrade to the Job Seeker Premium level. Some of the additional features are very helpful for someone using LinkedIn for intense job searching.

9. Keep your profile current. Just like a resume, updating your LinkedIn account is easier as you go, rather than playing catch up.

10. Add contacts often. Don’t wait until the unfortunate event when you need many connections (a job loss). Build your contacts and connections as your career develops.

Don’t forget to join the CPCC Career Services LinkedIn group. We’re talking about a variety of career-related topics. It’s a great resource for employers and students alike.


LinkedIn 101: Searching for jobs

Photographer: Robert S. DonovanMore companies are posting job opportunities on LinkedIn. While reading online job boards shouldn’t be the focus of your job search, adding LinkedIn to your list of websites is a must. You can apply for jobs directly on LinkedIn as well as view and contact connections that might be able to refer you for the job.

Before getting started, make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete. Employers look at it. Additionally, start making connections with other LinkedIn members. If you only use LinkedIn to look for job postings, you’re missing out on a significant component of the site’s job searching purpose and effectiveness.

Check out these four ways to search for jobs using LinkedIn.

1. Search for jobs – general and advanced search

  • Click on the Jobs tab at the top of the page and then click on the Find Jobs tab.
  • Enter keywords related to the jobs or profession you’re interested in and click Search.
  • To specify your search, click on the Jobs tab, followed by Find a Job tab, and select Advanced Search, located just below the keyword search box. You’ll then be able to search for jobs by zip code, industry, function and (for Job Seeker Premium members) salary levels.

2. Receive job opening alerts based on profile

  • Once you complete your profile, LinkedIn begins suggesting job openings based on the information supplied. Someone whose summary and employment emphasizes keywords in the IT field will be notified of open positions related to the profession.
  • Click the Jobs and Find Jobs tabs. After the keyword search box, you’ll see a section called “Jobs you may be interested in.” If the jobs listed aren’t of interest, check your profile to make sure it clearly outlines your professional interests.
  • Select to receive daily or weekly email alerts to your email address affiliated with LinkedIn. Find the Get email alerts icon in this section.

3. Find jobs posted at companies where your contacts work

  • Click on a contact to view their employment history.
  • Click on the company logo of their current or previous employers.
  • View information about the company including a list of open jobs as well as other employees who have LinkedIn accounts. Is it beneficial to connect with any of them?

4. Look for jobs at a specific company

  • Click the Company icon at the top of the page, followed by the Search Companies link.
  • Enter the name of a company you wish to follow on LinkedIn.
  • Start following the company to learn about jobs posted by the company on LinkedIn, as well as receive company updates.

 Applying for jobs on LinkedIn

Employers have the option of having applicants apply to jobs directly through LinkedIn or on the company website. If directed to the company website, follow the instructions. When applying through LinkedIn your profile is forwarded to the company and you’ll be given the opportunity to send a cover letter. Do it. It’s an extra step that makes all the difference.

LinkedIn 101: Connections and Contacts

LinkedIn 101: Connections and Contacts

Many students who are very active on Facebook hesitate to get involved with LinkedIn. LinkedIn is simply another social media outlet, a way to connect with others who share commonalities with you.

Your Facebook profile generates suggestions for people to connect with who share your same friends or may be from the same city, college, high school or place of employment as you. LinkedIn functions in the same way. But instead of friends who you’ll share recipes and fun stories with, they’ll be people who share your professional background and career interests.

That’s what makes LinkedIn a fantastic job search and professional development tool. Networking is essential to any job search. Meeting people in your profession is the best way to find mentors, learn more about the field and tap into the hidden job market. Once you set up your profile it’s time to start linking!

Keys to building your LinkedIn Network

1. Be proactive and initiate making contact with others.

  • Friends and family. In any networking situation, the first place to start is with people you know best.
  •  Alumni. Search the LinkedIn Alumni Page to find fellow alumni who are living in the same region, working in the same industry and even employed at companies of interest to you.
  • Former coworkers and supervisors. Connecting to coworkers is especially helpful to see who they’re linked with in the profession.
  • Industry members and company employees. If you’re profile indicates being employed at Wells Fargo, LinkedIn will likely start suggesting possible contacts who work at other financial institutions. This is the way to build your network outside of your employer.  

2. Join industry-related groups.  Under the Group icon at the top of the page, scroll down to find the Group Directory. Enter keywords in the search box to find groups of interest. You’ll need to request to join the group. If a group is a closed group, the group moderator will have to approve your request. This is done to ensure group members have a true interest in the group’s mission.

In addition to providing opportunities to connect with others, groups give their members the chance to keep up with the profession’s latest trends through online discussion.

3. Send a productive and professional connection request.

When you request a connection with someone on LinkedIn, a screen pops up asking you how you know the person, along with an automated note saying “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” When linking with someone you don’t know well or haven’t met, take the time to write a short note explaining how you located the person, what you have in common and why you’d like to link with him or her.


Hi John,

I located your profile through the American Dental Hygienists’ Association group, of which we are both members. I’m a first year student in the Dental Hygiene Program at Central Piedmont Community College and look forward to connecting with you to learn more about the profession.

Would you be willing to connect with me?



The more involved you are with LinkedIn the more it will benefit your professional development. How many times a week do you visit Facebook? You’re LinkedIn account deserves as much time, if not more.


LinkedIn 101: Preparing a Powerful Profile

Whether you’re revamping your job search or conducting a job search for the first time, you can’t ignore LinkedIn. Regardless of the profession you’re pursuing LinkedIn is a valuable tool for finding job leads and connecting to others working in your industry.

Why is LinkedIn so important? Consider the facts:

93 percent of recruiters surveyed in 2012 tapped into LinkedIn to find qualified candidates;

89 percent of recruiters surveyed hired someone they found or were introduced to through LinkedIn.

Additionally, when you have an interview scheduled, if you don’t think recruiters are checking you out on social media beforehand, think again.

Just like other job search tools – resumes, cover letters and interviews – make sure your LinkedIn account stands out. Here at the CPCC Career Services blog we’ll be spending the next few weeks discussing LinkedIn to help you get started.

The first step in using LinkedIn is completing your profile. Like a resume, your profile summarizes your professional and education background. An effective profile contains the following items:

Professional photo. People look favorably at a profile containing a headshot of the person dressed professionally and wearing a smile on their face. Make sure it doesn’t contain another individual. Have a friend or family member snap your picture that can be uploaded into LinkedIn in a matter of minutes.

Catchy headline. Like a newspaper headline, your profile headline should capture what you’re all about. Examples might include “Dental Hygiene Student,” “CPCC Dental Hygiene Graduate,” or “CPCC Dental Hygiene student seeking job in Charlotte, NC region.”

Summary stacked with keywords. Similar to a Summary of Skills section on a resume, your profile’s summary is a concise snapshot of your overall qualifications. Be sure to include keywords from your field of interest. Mention relevant years of experience, accomplishments and other relevant details.

Well-written Experience section. List items in this segment in reverse chronological order. Like the resume, use keywords and action verbs when describing your duties and responsibilities. Don’t forget relevant internships and volunteer experience.

As your profile begins taking shape, LinkedIn will start suggesting people you should connect with. These suggestions are based on all of the information you add to your profile. When it comes to connections, quality is just as important as quantity. We’ll talk about connecting to others next week, including joining relevant LinkedIn groups.

In the meantime, the first group you should join is the CPCC Career Services group. Group members include the Career Services staff, employers, as well as CPCC students and faculty. Lots of great career-related discussion. Be sure to check it out!

5 tips to keep your Facebook profile from hurting your job search


If you think friends are the only ones checking out your Facebook profile and status updates, think again. Without the proper privacy settings, current or prospective employers can view everything you post on Facebook.

Social media sites like Facebook give users a false sense of privacy and freedom. Writing two random sentences about being “totally wasted” on Saturday night seems harmless. But written words cause just as much damage as spoken ones.

It’s time to start looking at your online presence from an employer’s perspective. Here are five ways to keep your Facebook page from being flagged by employers.

1. Use a flattering profile picture.

If your profile picture is of yourself, don’t use one taken at Saturday night’s party. Use a nice photo and consider cropping to a good headshot. Hint: Don’t take an Instagram using your bathroom mirror reflection or “extended arms” method. Ask a friend to snap the shot.

Positive and fun profile pictures of other people, places and things are also fine. Took a beach vacation this summer? Use a picture of the ocean rather than the close up shot of your sunburn.

 2. Untag those unfavorable photos.

Friends have a funny way of having a camera handy at our most embarrassing times. While these “oops” moments make for a good laugh among each other, delete the evidence posted on Facebook. Not everyone will find them funny.

3. Avoid discriminatory remarks.

Don’t post sexist, racist or other discriminatory comments. They don’t reflect your opinion, they show poor judgment.

 4. Check your apps, groups, and “liked” pages.

Does their purpose and profile portray you favorably?

 5. Ask yourself before posting: “How would my (parents, professors, employers) react to this?”

Don’t post anything you wouldn’t say or write to someone whose opinion you value. Status updates can be funny without profanity and make a point without being rude. If you’re unsure whether or not to write the post in the first place, that likely means you shouldn’t.

When using Facebook, double check your privacy settings. You can do this by clicking on the downward facing arrow in the top right hand corner of your Facebook page (next to the “Home” tab). Right click on the arrow, scroll down and select “privacy settings.” Here’s where you control who sees what. Make sure only friends can see your photos and posts.

Facebook is a great way to connect with friends and family, engage in dialogue and share items and observations that are important and interesting to you. You can do all of the above without being rude, offensive, inflammatory or ignorant. Think before your post: Your job search thanks you!