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.

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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.

What to Do If You Get Fired

Your boss says she needs to see you. Immediately. You head to her office, and she closes the door. Her boss is there, too, and so is the head of human resources. When you sit down, you hear your boss say the words no one wants to hear: “This isn’t working out. We’re going to have to let you go.”

You just got fired.

If you’re like many people, you’re shocked, even if you knew you weren’t performing the way you needed to if you wanted to keep your job. On the other hand, maybe getting fired comes as no surprise; your manager told you clearly that if you didn’t improve, and quickly, she’d be terminating your employment. Whether you expected to be let go or not, you now find yourself needing a new job—and fast.

If you were recently fired, here are some tips to help you get back on track as soon as possible.

Tip #1: Don’t despair.

Getting fired feels bad. It’s a rejection, which is never a fun experience, and then there’s the added stress of losing income and taking a hit to your professional reputation.

You will recover from this. Let me repeat that: You WILL recover from this. Unless you got fired for something particularly egregious, like violence or theft, you’ll be able to find a job again. Many people before you have been fired and then gone on to have successful careers. I know it’s hard to believe now, but you might even be glad one day that you left this particular job behind.

Tip #2: Be very careful how and where you complain.

It’s understandable if you’re angry about getting fired, and you might be tempted to unload that anger. Don’t do it! While you can certainly talk through what happened with close friends and family, think twice before lambasting your old company or ex-boss to professional acquaintances or on social media. You want to avoid doing anything that might hurt your job search.

Research suggests that complaining about something can make you even more unhappy, so while we think venting makes us feel better, it can actually make things worse. This article from Inc. explains more. Do yourself a favor: process your feelings, but don’t get stuck in an endless cycle of venting.

Tip #3: Reflect on what happened.

Why did you get fired? Maybe your boss is a jerk and the whole situation was incredibly unfair, with you blameless. Most of the time, though, there’s a reason when someone gets fired. Maybe you didn’t have the skills this particular position required. Perhaps you weren’t a good fit for the fast-paced, deadline-oriented environment. It could be you let yourself get careless, and you made too many mistakes that cost your employer money, time, or status.

If you can be brutally honest with yourself and take responsibility for your part of the whole thing, you’ll avoid finding yourself in a similar predicament in the future. You may also be asked about the firing in interviews, and introspection is the key to formulating a satisfying answer.

Tip #4: Move on.

Take a few days if you need to and get your head right, and then jump right back out there. Look for jobs. Network. Think about retraining or continuing your education, if that’s something you want to do. Write the best resume you’ve ever written and then start applying. Dwelling on your old job won’t help you find a new one, but engaging in a well-organized job search will.

GPA: How much does it matter?

If you’re a college student or recent grad, you’ve probably heard a lot about the importance of a good GPA. Your GPA, or grade point average, is often viewed as an indicator of academic success, and a good GPA can be key in many scholastic pursuits, such as securing scholarships or getting accepted into graduate school. How much does GPA matter once you graduate from college and go out into the work world, though?

The answer to this question, like so many other career-related quandaries, is “It depends”. Let’s look at some different scenarios and see whether your 2.0 will torpedo your chances or your straight-A 4.0 means you’re a shoe-in.

In some fields, GPA matters a lot.

Academia. Medicine. Big Law. If you plan to go into one of these fields, you should be paying attention to your GPA because it matters. One thing college professors, doctors, and lawyers have in common is they earned another degree beyond their Bachelor’s. Grad schools and professional programs have admissions requirements that can be very strict, and they almost always consider your grade point average. Many employers in these fields will check your transcripts, too, so keep that GPA up as high as you can get it.

In some fields, your GPA matters a lot less.

I’m not saying you can flunk out of school and still become an engineer; however, you aren’t likely to lose out on an engineering career just because you graduated with a 3.3 instead of a 3.7. Depending on factors such as work history and interview skills, an accountant with straight B’s may be just as competitive as a candidate with straight A’s is. Don’t slack off, though! Doing the best you can is still important when it comes to competing for opportunities like internships, where they’re still likely to check your grades.

Consider the Side Effects.

Your GPA may have an indirect impact on your job search, as well. Professors tend to fondly remember their best students, the ones who worked hard, engaged in class, and (you guessed it) made good grades. Sometimes, that glowing instructor recommendation can be what gives you the edge in a job search or grad school application. Good news, though: your instructor’s view of you has a lot to do with how hard you work, not just how well you did on the final exam. You may not get an A for effort, but that doesn’t mean your effort won’t be rewarded.

Know that you can overcome mistakes.

Already messed up your GPA? Thinking it’s too late for you? Well, it’s not. Many successful people have less than perfect grade point averages. If you’ve failed a class or even a whole semester, all is not lost. I would encourage you to investigate all the options your college offers, such as grade forgiveness if you repeat and pass a failed class. Even without wiping the slate clean, doing well in enough classes will help bring that GPA back up; that’s the beauty of averages. For most fields, your work experience will eventually matter a lot more than your college GPA ever did. So hang in there!

The takeaways? Know how GPA works in your particular discipline, do your absolute best, and don’t let a setback become failure. You got this!

What Can You Learn from a Career Assessment?

Maybe you took my advice from the last blog post, and you saw a career advisor. If you did, were you given the option of taking a career assessment? If so, you might be wondering just what a career assessment can do for you.

A career assessment is a tool that helps you match specific aspects of your personality with careers. Sometimes the assessment results will suggest specific careers or jobs, like electrical engineering or law enforcement. Sometimes the results will be more general and will suggest, for example, jobs where you do hands-on work. The best assessments are validated, which means experts have determined that the assessment is consistent, reliable, and effective. Check with your career advisor if you have questions about assessment validity, or if you’re striking out on your own, consult the source of the assessment to determine how it was validated.

A good career assessment can give you a leg up in your career decision process. At the very least, the assessment can serve as a jumping-in point for career research. Tests such as these might reveal possibilities you haven’t yet considered. Taking a career assessment can also provide assurance that the career path you are pursuing is, indeed, the right one.

No matter how good an assessment tool is, there are some things it won’t be able to do. A good assessment will not make a career decision for you, and if a test does suggest that there’s one right career for you, you should view it with skepticism and suspicion. Career assessment results are also only as good as the information put in on the front end, which means that if you have no clue about what you like to do, or what you’re good at, or what interests you, then the test won’t be able to tell you much. If I just described you, you are probably better off doing some research or speaking with a career advisor before you take the assessment.

A career assessment isn’t a crystal ball, but a good one can provide insight you didn’t have before you took it. Keep in mind that a career journey is unique to the individual career seeker, and one size does not fit all. If you find one career assessment unhelpful, move on to another one! If assessments aren’t your thing, pursue other avenues of career discovery.

If you’re a present or former Calhoun Community College student, you can find the assessment we offer here: http://www.calhoun.edu/focus.