What to wear to a job fair…

When attending a job fair, in most cases, business-appropriate or business casual is best.  The difference depends on the level of job for which you are looking.  Your appearance makes the first impression before you even speak.   Be sure your job fair attire supports your image as a professional who takes the job search process seriously and understands the nature of the industry you are targeting.

For men, if you own a suit, wear it.  If you don’t have a suit but have a sports coat, then wear that.  Never go in less than a nice shirt and tie.   For women, wearing a suit (either skirt or pants) is fine, as is a nice blouse or sweater and pants or skirt.  Clothing should be clean and pressed.

Do’s:

  • Eliminate dressing distractions
  • Clothes should be clean, neatly pressed, and fit properly
  • Collared shirts demonstrate more authority
  • Think professional but comfortable since you’ll be on your feet for several hours
  • Hair should be well maintained
  • Nails should be clean and well groomed. Avoid extremely long nails and loud or fashion colors (no blue, black, green, yellow, etc.)
  • Keep jewelry to a minimum and choose conservative, simple styles
  • Keep make up conservative
  • Facial hair should be well groomed

Don’ts:

  • Look shabby (unshaved, wrinkled clothes, scuffed or dirty shoes)
  • Show too much skin
  • Wear clothes or fabric that’s too revealing
  • Wear anything that makes noise (no charm bracelets, bangles, jangling keys, or fabric that makes noise)
  • Piercings (Remove any earrings beyond one per ear)
  • Cell phones should be turned off or on vibrate
  • Take calls within a potential employer’s booth
  • No chewing gum

 

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Volunteering–How important is it?

Let me set the scene. You are 18 years old, a new high school graduate and you are looking for your first summer job to make some extra money for college. You have no prior work experience, but you were encouraged by your career advisor to prepare a resume when applying for jobs. You finally sit down to create a resume and end up staring at the document for a good bit before actually writing.  You know you have no experience, so what in the world are you supposed to include on this resume.

Thankfully, your parents encouraged you to be a part of the boy scouts years ago, which you had to complete multiple projects including building kayak racks along with volunteer work within the community throughout the years. Even though you may not have thought anything of that volunteer work at that time, other than I want it to get a badge, now it is really the most important experience you have to add to your resume. Therefore, you swallow that pride and acknowledge that your parents were right. Volunteering does mean something.

You are now able to add that volunteer experience to your resume to help you get that first summer job. In this case, a functional resume is most useful in highlighting your skills and experience. A functional resume is recommended when you may have a large gap in your work experience or are switching careers.

Yes, volunteer work is important in some cases. Especially for those who may not have actual work experience to include on their resume. However, one of the most important things you need to ask yourself before adding volunteer work to your resume is “Is it relevant to my desired position?” Take the scenario from above, for example. If you were applying for a position that was more hands-on and included manual labor, this volunteer experience would fit perfectly. However, say you are going for something more in the computer field; does this volunteer work really fit in? Will it make you stand out from someone else? Not so much. It has to be relevant. Just because you volunteered, does not mean you will get an interview.

When including volunteer work on your resume, you want to list it just like work experience. Be sure to include: the company name, your job title or role, the timeframe and how often you participated, along with your responsibilities that are relevant to your desired job.

Here are the key times to include volunteer work on your resume:

  1. If you are a recent graduate with limited work or professional experience.
  2. You have a large gap in your work history due to taking a break to raise a family, take care of a family member or illness.
  3. If you have a large gap in your work history due to unemployment.

So yes, is volunteer experience important? Absolutely, but only in certain situations. If you can, volunteer! There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer even if you currently have a job. If you need assistance in finding volunteer opportunities, visit our career services office!

Tips for formatting your resume

Let’s talk about mastering your resume. Knowing what to include and what not to include can be tricky. Employers only look over resumes for a few seconds, so it is important to grab their attention so that they will continue reading.

You want to include your contact information, work history (listed in reverse chronological order, along with the employer’s name, the dates you worked there, and a list of your job description), and education.

Contact Information

At the top of your resume you will want to include your full name, address, phone number, and email address. Your email address should be professional; remember you are representing yourself to a possible employer.

Education

Here you should list any degrees received and the college or university you received them from. Any certificates or continuing education should also be listed here. If you are still in school and have not yet received a degree or certificate, you should include your expected graduation date.

Work Experience

When listing your job description, use bullet points. Employers are skimming your resume and bullet points are easier to read. Save the paragraphs for your cover letter.

Layout

The most important thing about your resume is that it should be well organized and easy to read. The layout should be basic. Font size should be no smaller than 11, but avoid really large fonts as they are too distracting. Stick to fonts that are easy to read and classic. Do not use words like I and me. Try to fill the entire page and avoid having too much white space on your resume.

References should not be included on a resume. They should be included on a separate page or made available upon request from the employer.

Make adjustments to your resume to fit the position for which you are applying. You want to let the employer know that you are qualified for the position and that you are passionate about that specific opportunity.

Cut it out. Keep from Sabotaging your Own Resume.

With every job opportunity, you are going to update your resume to keep it tailored to the position you are applying for. Unfortunately, with the change of time, the best practices of resumes has changed too. Here are some tips to keep you from sabotaging your own resume by keeping things that will not help you get the interview.

  1. Silly Email: You really do not feel like changing your email. Why? Because you use it for everything. Why would you change it now? Well, the “explodingwaffles@yahoo.com” email may be amusing; however, an employer may see it as immaturity. Think about company email addresses. Usually, they use a first and the last name with a mix of initials or a period. Nevertheless, Gmail is free! Create a professional email account that you use specifically for job searching. You can immediately count yourself out just by your email being unprofessional in your contact info. Which is literally at the top of your resume!
  2. Advanced High School Diploma: It may be a hard pill to swallow but your advanced high school diploma means nothing to an employer. If you have some type of post-secondary education than it is understood you either received your high school diploma or GED. Your education should consist of only the education you are currently receiving or have received in the past. You especially do not want to include education where you only earned “X” amount of credits. Only education where you have earned a credential while attending. Be sure to include the most recent education first along with the college, city, and state, the degree you are pursuing and your expected graduation date.
  3. Irrelevant Experience: Nowadays, everyone wants everything done quick and easy. The same goes for an employer reviewing a resume. If you are using long paragraphs, have a five-page resume and list irrelevant work and education, count yourself out. Employers are only looking for information that is relevant to their opportunity.

This includes work experience, skills, and education. The best way to make sure you are keeping your resume relevant is to make sure you are using the job description as your “cheat sheet” and highlighting that information on your resume. If something is not relevant, take it off.

You also do not want to add too much fluff. Saying you can use the internet is more of an obvious skill and not something that is going to help you stand out from another resume. Incorporate skills relevant to your desired job and be sure to support them within your experience.

  1. Responsible For: We get it. When you are listing your work experience and highlighting your responsibilities, you do not need to put “responsible for” as that is understood. It is best to start your information with action verbs. For example, “Organized an event that hosted 200 students on campus to learn about careers.” It starts with an action verb and tells the employer what you did. Another key factor in that statement is that it shows your accomplishment and not just, what you did. Adding numerical values help support your responsibilities.
  2. “References Available Upon Request”: I admit it. I used this on my resume. However, does it really do anything other than take up space? Nope, nothing. Whether you have that on your resume or not, your employer is going to ask you for references either in the job application or before final interviews. Easy as that. Do not include references on your resume. Have your references on their own reference sheet. A general rule of thumb, include three professional references and two personal references. You will want to include their name, job title, company, phone number, email and relationship with you. This leaves out no additional information that an employer may need from you. Have it ready so when they do ask, it is available.

So, have you been sabotaging your resume? These simple things could be what is hindering you from getting the interview. Take my advice and cut it out.

Sup Y’all? Email Etiquette

It is a well-known fact that the average U.S. employee spends a quarter of his or her time at work combing through hundreds of emails that an employee sends and receives each day. Whether you are a student, a stay-at-home mom, or a working professional, plenty of people still don’t know how to use email appropriately. How many of us make embarrassing mistakes that could end up being detrimental in a professional setting? With technology being so advanced and everyone having the latest and greatest smartphone in hand at all times, spelling errors are made more frequently and people’s tone or content may come off as more casual.

While we are continuously trying to work faster and more efficiently, we must remember the social rules that come with any form of communication. Here are some do’s and don’ts of email etiquette.

Do have a clear subject line.

As professionals, we all have hundreds of emails clogging our inbox every day, so the clearer the subject line, the more likely the message will be read. Try to make your subject line more specific so it catches your reader’s attention.

Don’t forget a signature.

Every email that you send should include a signature that tells your recipient who you are and how they should contact you. Your signature should include all contact details so the recipient doesn’t have to look up your information.

Do use a professional salutation.

Beginning an email with “Hey”, “Yo” or “Sup” is not professional, regardless of how well you know the recipient. You should use “Hi” or “Hello” instead. When writing a more formal email, use “Dear (insert name).”

Don’t use humor.

Sometimes, humor does not translate well via email. Something you might think is funny is often misinterpreted by the other party, or taken as sarcasm, without seeing your facial expression. When in doubt, leave humor out of written, professional communication.

Do proofread your message.

Always check your spelling, grammar and structure before hitting “send.” If your email is full of misspelled words or grammatical errors, you could be perceived as careless.

Don’t assume the recipient knows what you’re talking about.

You should create your message as an email that stands-alone, even if it is part of a chain email. Because you and your recipient both have hundreds of emails coming in each day, they likely won’t remember the chain of events leading up to your one email.

Do keep private material confidential.

These days, it is very easy to share emails, even if you don’t mean to. If you have to share highly personal or confidential information, it is always best to do so over the phone or even better, in person. You should ask permission before posting sensitive material in an email or attachment.

Don’t shoot from the lip.

Never give a quick response or send an angry email. Take some time and give your message thoughtful consideration, especially if emotions are high. A good practice if you feel angry when writing an email is to put your message in the “drafts” folder so you can review it again later when you are calmer.

Don’t overuse exclamation points.

Exclamation points and other indicators of excitement, such as emojis, abbreviations and all capital letters do not translate well in professional communication.

Creating your reference list

You might have an amazing resume on file to give to your potential employers, but it’s not the only thing you will need to have prepared. A common request among employers is to provide a list of references. This is a way for employers to verify information that you have provided them. Here are some important things to keep in mind when making a top-tier reference list.

 

Selecting your references

It is important who you include on this list. You want to choose people who will emphasize your strengths to employers. An awesome resume with bad references can ruin your chances for a potential position. A good rule of thumb is to select at least four references. The more on you include on your list, the better. It’s always good to have more than the employer will need than to not have enough. Some good examples of people to include are former employers, professors, colleagues, mentors, etc. Avoid using family members or close friends. It’s better to keep your references professional.

Ask Permission

Before including someone on your reference list, it’s best to ask them if it is okay to use them on your list. Explain the position you are applying for and why you want to include them on your list. Be sure to let the reference know that they should be expecting to be contacted by your potential employer. You do not want them to be caught off guard.

Creating your list

Once you have the people you want to include on your list, it’s time to create the list. This list should be separate from your resume. You will want to include the persons first and last name, their relationship to you, their job title, address, phone number, and email address. This page should be formatted in the same way your resume is formatted. If you included a headline on your resume, that should also be included on your reference page. The best way to list your references is who knows you the best. Employers are more than likely going to start at the top and work their way down. With this in mind, it is best to have your strongest reference at the top of your list.

 

The Federal Job Search

Navigating the hiring process for federal jobs can definitely be a challenge.  Join us for our upcoming workshop where Tracey Randall with NASA will assist job seekers with the USAJobs portal as well as offer answers to many frequent FAQ’s!

Federal Jobs November 2017

 

Social Media and the Job Search: For Better or Worse

Social media is completely changing the way people search for jobs, and it is changing the way employers make hiring decisions.  As a job seeker, it is important to understand how your social media accounts impact your job search for better or worse.

First, you must to understand is that employers look at your social media accounts. Social media provides a great deal of information about candidates so employers feel they would be putting themselves at a disadvantage by not utilizing it. Keep in mind that anything you put online never really goes away. Your social media accounts will either be an advantage or a disadvantage to your job search.

Second, it is beneficial to understand what employers are looking for when they peruse your social media accounts. In a survey managed by CareerBuilder, employers were asked why they used social networks to research candidates and employers stated that they use social media to…

  • See if the job seeker presents him or herself professionally
  • Determine if a candidate is a good fit for the company culture
  • Learn more about his or her qualifications
  • Determine whether the candidate is well-rounded
  • Find reasons not to hire the candidate

Finally, you need to understand how to use your social media accounts in a way that has a positive effect on your job search. Make sure your photos reflect you in a positive light. It is your social media account, so it is up to you to ensure that it reflects you positively. Make sure that the topics, that you post about and the language you use show the best side of you. Here is a good suggestion, write what you want to say on a piece of paper or in a note app on your phone, wait ten minutes, then go back and read it and ask yourself if it is something you want associated with you forever. Emphasize your positive attributes; don’t just use your social media account to let off steam.  Instead, use it to show how well rounded you are. Careful maintenance of your social media accounts will make all the difference in your job search.

Qualified, but not Qualified Enough

Qualified, but Not Qualified Enough

It seems like every available position nowadays has one line included on the job requirements that automatically excludes many college students: “This Many years of experienced required.”

This can be a difficult and frustrating situation to navigate. Countless college students and graduates feel well-qualified for positions in their field because they have spent a few years studying the content; however, employers often require on-the-job experience outside of education.

Here are a few tips to help when it feels like you’re qualified, but not qualified enough:

1. Deliberately Search for Entry-Level Positions. Just because they are entry-level does not mean that they are not competitive. Do research and networking even for the most “basic” job in your field.

2. Consider a Co-Op. A co-op or internship could help you gain experience in your field easier than searching for a position on your own. Check with the career services department at your school or alma mater, or even visit your local career center. Companies collaborate with these groups to hire individuals with no experience specifically for the purpose of a co-op.

3. Never Stop Learning. Read job descriptions, interview people who have the job you want, and consider testing for more certifications and attending seminars. All of these things help to boost your resume, enhance your knowledge, and help you discover skills that are in demand. The more you learn, the more you can steer your resume to validate your knowledge and expertise.

 

One important element to remember is that the years of experience employers “require” aren’t necessarily strict cut-offs. Companies are mainly looking for someone who can demonstrate the skills necessary to efficiently and accurately perform the job.

If you believe that abilities you’ve acquired in other settings (i.e. school, previous positions, projects, and volunteering) will allow you to do the available work accurately, then make sure those talents are listed on your resume and apply! The worst they can say is, “Please try again later.”

Welcome Freshmen!

Welcome, Freshman! Career Advice for Your First Semester in College

Calhoun Community College is bustling this week! We’ve kicked off our fall semester and welcomed thousands of students to campus, where many of them are beginning their journeys as first-time freshman. In honor of those brand-new students, here’s some career advice for our college newbies.

Get Involved

The time you spend in college affords you many chances to explore career possibilities and gain experience—don’t waste these opportunities! Talk to professors, college staff, and fellow students about careers. Attend on-campus events and workshops. Career Services at Calhoun will be hosting a fall workshop series as well as a college- and community-wide job fair. Clubs and honor societies can be awesome for both networking and volunteering. There’s something for everyone on a college campus; find your niche and get to work!

Use Your Resources

Set a goal your first semester to get familiar with the various departments on campus. Advising, financial aid, career services, the student success center, disability support services, the library, the writing and math labs…all of these resources exist to help you! Peruse your school’s website to see what’s available to you, and consider dropping by the different offices to pick up a brochure and chat with staff about how they serve students. Timesaving tip: if you don’t have an urgent need, wait until the third week of classes to stop by. Things will have settled down after the first couple of weeks, which are typically hectic in the student support world!

Have a Plan

Do you have a career goal? If so, do you have a plan to reach that goal? Now’s the time to roughly sketch out a plan for your first couple of years in college. What are your goals for this time? Maybe you would like to have an internship, or maybe you’re intent on keeping a 4.0 and joining Phi Theta Kappa. Make plans now to achieve these goals!

On the other hand, if you find yourself goal-less, your first semester is a great time to refine your dreams and figure out what you really hope to accomplish. Once you know what you want to achieve, you can plan the steps you’ll take to get there.

Take Action

Do something! Need a job? Start applying. Struggling with your math class? Talk to your instructor, find a tutor, or visit the math lab. Bored? Take up an extracurricular activity or add a mini-mester class.

Those goals and plans you’ve set? They won’t achieve themselves. Ask yourself what one thing you could do this week to get closer to your ultimate goal, and then do that thing. Small steps over time add up to big results in the end.

Don’t Panic

College is very different from high school. Suddenly, the responsibility belongs to you and you alone, and that can feel overwhelming. Remind that you don’t have to take care of everything all at once, and remember that there’s always someone out there who can help you.