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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.
October 26, 2015
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.
September 28, 2015
Welcome to the Fall 2015 semester! Whether you’re a returning student or starting your first semester at CPCC, Career Services hopes you have a fantastic year!
Start the school year off right. Put together a plan for success and develop good habits now. Check out these eight tips to help ensure a positive start to the semester.
Don’t skip classes. Resist the urge to turn off your alarm clock. You’ll learn the material better by listening first-hand to the professor’s lecture rather than borrowing and trying to decipher a classmate’s notes later. By attending class, you’ll also be up-to-date about upcoming events, quizzes and assignments.
Learn about campus resources that can assist you. You’re not alone in your pursuit of a college degree. CPCC campus offices can answer questions and find resources to help you be successful. Visit the list of services on the CPCC website.
Create a work-life-school balance plan. If you work a part-time job while attending school, create a plan that prioritizes schoolwork and lets you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Talk to your supervisor now about a work schedule that won’t interfere with your studies. It’s better than calling off work throughout the semester.
Ditch the poor study habits. What study habits have worked for you in the past? Which ones haven’t helped? Now is the time to develop study habits that help you succeed. Avoid distractions (social media and television, for example). Designate specific study times and make sure family members, roommates and friends respect them.
Get involved on campus. It’s a fact: Student involvement leads to student success. CPCC offers a variety of clubs and organizations geared toward academic and personal interests. Joining a student group is a great way to meet new friends, too.
Take advantage of professors’ office hours. Instructors hold office hours for a reason. If you have concerns about assignments or topics covered in class, schedule an appointment with your professor.
Keep track of deadlines and appointments. This includes assignments noted on your class syllabi as well as financial aid deadlines and meetings with advisors to discuss course registration for the spring.
Ask questions. If you have questions about financial aid, ask. Questions about class assignments? Ask. Questions about career planning, registering for classes or anything related to your academic plans? Ask! And ask sooner rather than later. Letting unanswered questions linger only leads to more questions and uncertainty.
August 18, 2015
What’s your summer job this year? Mowing lawns. Serving ice cream. Working at the mall. Organizing camp activities for kids. Loading shipments at a warehouse. Babysitting. The duties and job opportunities vary, but all share one thing in common: Great work experience.
“It wasn’t a real job, just something I did over the summer to make money.” Not so fast. In addition to the paycheck you’re earning, a summer job is great for building skills and gaining experience. So yes, it is a real job. And here’s a list of the eight items you’ll gain from it.
Skills. Future full-time job employers will hire you based on your skills set. You’re building these skills every day in your part-time summer job. The ability to work well and communicate with others, solving problems, managing multiple tasks at once. Employers value soft skills that are developed in any work environment.
A resume builder. Part-time and summer jobs are often the first jobs listed within the Employment section of your resume. Employers are more likely to contact applicants who have previous work experience.
References. References are people who can talk to future employers about your ability to perform your job duties. They are required for almost any job application. Past supervisors and coworkers that valued your contributions make great references.
Connections. When it comes to job searching, the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is partially true. Developing a strong skills set is important, but you learn about many opportunities through word-of-mouth. Talk to your summer job coworkers and managers about your career plans. You never know who might know someone in the profession you’re targeting.
The ability to work with others. In every job you’re going to have to work with people who are different than you. Different personalities bring opportunities and challenges to each work setting. Your summer job may be your first experience with this fact.
A peak at money management. With your first paycheck, you’re going to learn about taxes, social security and W-2 forms. You’re also going to see how far your take-home pay stretches in between paychecks. Now is a good time to attempt a budget.
Multi-tasking. Your job duties will likely require juggling many tasks at once. Additionally, you may be managing your work schedule with other commitments, which is a good lesson in time management.
Learning what you like and don’t like. A summer job is a great time to find out what you like and dislike when it comes to job duties and work environment. Is it appealing if your job keeps you outside most of the day or would you prefer an office setting? Do you like that your work has routine tasks or would you choose a job with more variety? Observations like these are important factors when considering future career choices.
Don’t dismiss the importance of your summer employment. The foundation for your career development starts somewhere. Why not this summer?
June 29, 2015
April is National Volunteer Month. On any given day millions of people donate their time and skills to companies and organizations. Whether it’s long-term volunteer commitments or one day events, volunteering positively impacts everyone involved.
It also positively impacts a job search. While you don’t earn a paycheck from your volunteer experience, research shows that volunteering can increase employment opportunities. Here’s why:
- Showcasing your skills set. Volunteering lets you put your skills to use in an actual work setting. The duties and responsibilities become resume content and job interview topics.
- Acquiring new skills. A volunteer position is a great place to try new skills you’ve never used before. The accountant who thinks he might want to work with kids? Volunteering to tutor in an after-school program offers an inroad to developing the necessary skills.
- Introduction to new career options. The best way to learn about career possibilities is seeing them first hand. Many organizations representing many different industries utilize volunteers. This can be a great way to try a job setting before committing to it.
- Staying connected to the world of work. Whether you’re donating your time to an animal shelter or an environmental organization, you’re in engaged in the world of work. This benefit is especially helpful for job seekers who have recently been laid off. When you begin your job search, prospective employers prefer candidates who have remained involved.
- Meeting people. Networking is a key component to any job search. Many jobs are not found through online job boards, but rather word of mouth. Volunteers for one organization have many professional backgrounds. Strike up a conversation with the volunteer next to you. You never know where it could lead.
- An outlet for demonstrating you’re motivated and hard working. You aren’t getting paid for your efforts. If that doesn’t show your commitment, what will? Prospective employers look for candidates who possess a solid work ethic. Volunteer work catches employers’ eyes for this reason.
- Feeling productive. Being engaged and productive increases your motivation level. Job searching is an exhausting process. Volunteering is a great energy boost to help continue the job search. For this reason, and all the reasons mentioned above, you should actually view it as a step of the job search process rather than an extracurricular activity.
Where to find volunteer opportunities
www.volunteermatch.org (Volunteer Match, Charlotte)
www.handsoncharlotte.org (Hands On Charlotte)
www.cpcc.edu/service-learning (CPCC Service Learning)
April 2, 2015
It’s almost go time! The CPCC Career Fair is next week. Hopefully by now a career counselor has reviewed your resume (if not, email it to Career Services to receive feedback) and you’ve been researching and identifying companies you plan to meet with at the event.
What are you going to say to the recruiters at the fair?
Don’t walk up to a recruiter’s table and wait for them to start the conversation. Additionally, don’t just hand them your resume and walk away.
How you interact with employers can make or break your chances of landing an interview. Use the following steps – Start, State, Summarize, Seek – to increase your chances of receiving that email or phone call inviting you for an interview.
Start with hello, a firm handshake and an introduction. Give your name, academic program and your anticipated graduation date.
State your hook. The hook grabs the recruiter’s attention. It sparks their interest and encourages them to listen further and ask questions. Some sample hooks include:
- “I’m really interested in talking to you about why my skills and qualifications match the positions you’re recruiting for.”
- “I’ve researched your company and the job opportunities and I’d like to talk to you about how my qualifications best fit your needs.”
- “I’m so happy to be able to talk with you. Your company is one of particular interest to me and I’d like to tell you why.”
- “Your company is one that I’m very interested in joining. My education and skills set really match the qualifications you’re seeking.”
Summarize your skills in a 30 second PR pitch. Some call it an elevator speech; others call it a PR pitch. Either way, it’s a brief mention of the qualifications you can bring to the company. Practice this pitch before the career fair! Use the Career Services elevator speech guidelines to help.
Seek out information about the company. In other words, ask questions! Ask open-ended questions that show you’ve done your research and want to know more.
At the end of your conversation, thank the recruiter for their time, shake hands again and say you look forward to hearing from them. Ask for a business card – you’ll need it for follow up correspondence later.
Spend the next week practicing your handshake, eye contact, hook and PR pitch. Doing so will help ease some of your nerves the day of the event.
February 24, 2015
Getting organized consistently makes the top 10 list of New Year’s resolutions. In January the internet’s filled with blog tips helping people de-clutter their closets, kitchens, bathrooms, work space…the list goes on and on.
What are some tips for de-cluttering and managing a job search?
De-clutter your resume: Start your resume with a clearly defined objective or career summary followed by a skills section that lists relevant, specific skills sets. Focus the employment section on jobs within the past 10 years. Use bullet points and short sentence fragments to help the resume read easier.
Avoid rambling interview answers: When an employer wants to know your strengths and weaknesses or wants you to “tell me about yourself,” a brief, informed and well-thought out reply is key. Know what interview questions to expect before the interview and practice, practice, practice.
Develop a clear, concise elevator pitch: When you attend a career fair or networking event, or simply strike up a conversation, can you tell the person your career goals and skills? It’s called an elevator speech and it usually doesn’t come naturally. Write one down and rehearse it. The speech length depends on your audience and situation but always leaves the recipient with an understanding of your career objective.
Clean up your Facebook page: Ditch the inappropriate photos. Stop using profanity and never trash professors, coworkers or supervisors. Employers check candidates’ Facebook pages and a tasteless social media image will cost you interviews and job offers.
Created a targeted LinkedIn profile: Employers also check a candidate’s LinkedIn profile to view their professional and educational accomplishments. Making a LinkedIn profile involves more than just copying and pasting your resume. Check out the Career Services LinkedIn Tutorial that provides tips to get you started.
Clear out your inbox (or create a new email account or folder for job searching): Email becomes an essential communication tool during the job search. You’ll use it to apply for jobs, follow up after interviews and initiate networking opportunities. First, make sure you’re using a professional/appropriate sounding email (firstname.lastname@example.org isn’t). Second, create separate folders to help you manage your correspondences. Finally, delete any emails you no longer need.
Develop a productive plan: Create a job search routine and stick to it. This involves more than making to-do lists. You must manage your time and prioritize activities. A career counselor can help you form a strategy.
Finally, don’t give up. It takes 30 days to start a new habit or break an old one. Which is why the best time to begin de-cluttering your job search is right now.
January 5, 2015
As you prepare for final exam week, Career Services offers tips for making this stressful week the least stressful it can be.
Manage your time wisely. Create a calendar listing the dates, times and locations for all of your final exams. Plan your studying accordingly. Remember that one exam might not require as much as study time as another.
Avoid cramming. Stick to your study schedule to avoid cramming. Last minute studying doesn’t help retain information and only increases anxiety.
Beware the ultimate distraction: social media. Okay, shutting down Facebook, Twitter or Instagram entirely during finals week isn’t going to happen. But pay close attention to how much of your study time you’re scrolling through your sites or texting friends. Study for dedicated smaller intervals (30-50 minutes) and check social media during a 10-minute study break.
Join a study group…or not. Study groups can be very beneficial but they’re also not for everyone. Decide if you’d benefit from joining or forming a study group. If the answer’s yes, be sure to find a quiet place to meet (the library). Avoid the study group becoming a social group.
Review, review, review. If review sessions are offered, attend them. If you can review previous exams, do it. Visit the professor during office hours or email to get answers to any questions and clarify what to expect on the final exam (content, format, etc.)
Take study breaks. You’re human. Your body and brain can’t go nonstop without breaks to refuel and re energize.
Remember to eat…healthy. It’s tempting to grab a candy bar from the vending machine. Instead, grab a granola bar, fruits, veggies and snacks that are high in protein. Make water your go-to drink rather than soda, coffee and energy drinks.
Exercise. If you have a normal exercise routine, stick to it as much as possible during finals week. But even a 10 minute walk will do wonders.
Sleep. Designate sleep time in your study schedule. Avoid all-nighters; you’ll be too tired to concentrate during the exam and will have trouble recalling information.
Relax. This is just a test. Think positively before the exam and once you’ve completed it, let it go.
On the day of the exam, be sure to do the following:
- Eat breakfast
- Arrive early (Check traffic reports and bus schedules before you leave. If you’re getting a ride with someone, confirm your transportation the day before).
- Bring all necessary supplies (pencils, calculators, etc.)
- Go to the bathroom before the test
- Use all of your allotted time. Check your answers and proofread your essays.
You’ve worked hard this semester. Good luck next week on your finals!
December 3, 2014
How do you land a job offer when you’re competing against applicants who have more experience than you do? It’s the rock and the hard place where job seekers often get stuck. You can’t get a job without having related experience. But you can’t develop experience until you get a job.
Internships, co op experiences, part-time jobs and volunteer opportunities are all great avenues for gaining related experience before applying for jobs. But pay attention to these strategies that you can use now.
1. Apply for jobs like you are a seasoned professional. Your lack of experience isn’t an excuse for not knowing how to conduct an effective job search. Do you have a top-notch resume and great interviewing skills? Are you researching and identifying companies? Are you networking and having informational meetings with others in the profession? Because effective, seasoned job seekers are.
2. Develop your personal brand. Identify your skills, values and talents. They help define who you are and that’s what employers are interested in knowing. Brainstorm a long list of each, then choose the top five you’re best at and/or enjoy doing the most. Use this top five list to create an elevator speech or verbal business card. Practice sharing this business card with family and friends so you’ll be ready to share it in interviews and networking meetings.
3. Don’t overlook your soft skills; sell them. When asked what employers look for when recruiting candidates, soft skills top the list. The bottom line is, possessing a strong knowledge base won’t matter to an employer if you can’t effectively communicate, work independently or in groups with minimal supervision. These are a sample of the soft skills employers seek. Review your background to see where you have developed these skills. Make sure the employer knows about them.
4. Have a pristine online presence. You demonstrate a lack of commitment, professionalism and maturity if your online presence is less than stellar. Your Facebook profile should not leave anyone questioning your character. Your LinkedIn profile should merit employers wanting to contact you or other professionals wanting to connect with you.
5. Hang out with professionals you aspire to be someday. The players sitting on the bench learn the most by hanging out with the team’s starters. Connect with professionals in your field. Join LinkedIn groups and both post questions and reply to others’ comments. Follow professionals on Twitter and use the retweet and reply buttons frequently. Attend seminars and meetings where you have the opportunity to introduce yourself to people in the profession.
6. Never apologize for your lack of experience. The job candidate whose cover letter begins “While I don’t have the specific experience you’re looking for…” won’t be called for an interview. The job interviewer who only tells a recruiter “I don’t have experience doing that task” won’t receive a job offer. Rather, write a cover letter that connects your skill set to the job. If an employer asks about a specific skill set that you don’t have, be honest but immediately change focus. “I don’t have experience with that particular task, but in my previous job I learned these skills that are applicable. Furthermore, my previous supervisor will tell you I’m a fast learner because I quickly learned new information for my previous position and excelled at it.”
These tips may seem simple. But sometimes the simplest suggestions make the biggest difference.
November 17, 2014
Happy Birthday Sesame Street! The television show that has entertained and educated millions of children turns 45 this week.
It’s likely that Big Bird, Grover and Cookie Monster were some of your first childhood friends. Some of you may have young children now who are getting to know these furry Muppets and the life lessons they’ve been teaching since 1969. The world has changed a lot since then. The world of work has, too. But it’s amazing how many of these lessons still hold true today, even when it comes to career planning.
What are some items you learned from Sesame Street that you can apply to the job search?
Your ABCs. Each Sesame Street episode is brought to you by a letter and a number. Both are helpful even with specific elements of your job search like your resume! Use numbers and statistics on a resume to make it stand apart from the others. And triple check your spelling so it won’t stand out for the wrong reasons.
Knowing a second language is helpful…and marketable! Thanks to Sesame Street, many of us learned to count to ten in Spanish. Fast forward to today’s job market where employers actively seek candidates with foreign language skills. Using the keyword “bilingual” brings up over 70,000 job matches on Indeed.com. If you know more than one language, make sure you market this skill in your job search.
The world (of work) is diverse and connected. Regardless of your language knowledge, you’ll be working in a very diverse world of work.
The different kinds of jobs are so vast. Sesame Street introduced children to so many different employers. Mr. Hooper’s Store, the Fix-It-Shop, the post office, subway station and Laundromat, just to name a few. Viewers saw many jobs in action, including a store owner, postal carrier, firefighter and police officer. And this was on one tiny street. So imagine how many thousands of jobs exist in the world of work.
It’s okay to be afraid. Finding your own career path, writing resumes, having job interviews, making decisions about job offers – all of it can be scary. It’s okay to admit your career fears. It’s important to seek out resources to help you navigate them.
If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Perseverance is key to a successful job search. Keep submitting resumes, keep contacting people for informational interviews. Reach out to contacts through LinkedIn. Even after an interview where the end result isn’t a job offer, know that the next interview could have the result you’re looking for.
Getting along with others. Employers consistently rank teamwork as a top skill they’re seeking.
Know who you are…and like who you are. Are you an introvert or outspoken? What do you value more: A stable or flexible work schedule? With both questions there’s no right or wrong answer. What’s essential is knowing what’s important to you and using those values to guide your career search.
Everyone needs support. While you’re a student and during your job search having a support network is important. Whether it’s friends, family or both, look for someone to share ideas, questions and concerns.
November 10, 2014