Finding Public Career Fairs

The University of St. Francis Career Success Center offers excellent opportunities from career fairs, career month, and other networking opportunities. These are all great resources to take advantage of, but it can never hurt to expand your network outside of USF. Public career fairs are a great way to do this. They are free to the public; all you have to do is register and show up! What’s stopping you? Get out there and build your network!

  • By creating a Handshake account, you have access to public career fairs as well as events at USF and other surrounding schools. Handshake is also helpful for tailored job searches, employer reviews, and connecting with your peers. Create an account at joinhandshake.com and use your MyUSF Portal information to log in and get searching.
  • jobfairsin.com is a great resource to find public job fairs not only in Illinois but other states year round.
  • nationalcareerfairs.com is another resource for finding career fairs all over the country, all through the year.
  • https://www.myemploymentoptions.com/register-for-virtual-job-fair/ offers online job fairs in addition to job listings open to all.

By attending multiple job fairs, you can expand your network, grow your confidence, and become a more marketable job candidate. Be sure to update your resume before every event you attend, and maintain a professional manner to be successful at any career event you may attend.

Dealing With Illegal Interview Questions

When interviewing for a job, you should understand your rights as an applicant. You have the right to certain privacies and by law, employers cannot ask you questions regarding specific personal information.

So what can and can’t an employer ask you in an interview? Specifics on age, gender or sex, religion, country of origin, disability, pregnancy, marital or family status, living situation, if you’ve previously applied for workman’s compensation, credit, and financial status are all examples of topics that should not be explicitly asked in an interview (“Illegal Interview Questions- What Not To Ask Candidates”, 2019). If the applicant offers the information on their own, that is at their discretion. The interviewer may ask around these topics in order to be sure that the applicant is available and physically capable of doing the job, but that is the extent that the questioning can go.

Why would an interviewer ask these personal questions in the first place? Some may ask because they want to get to know more about their applicants and they are unaware of what is appropriate and what is not, but applicants are still entitled to privacy rights. Especially in the cases of questioning that may have discriminatory motives, the applicant is not required to answer illegal interview questions.

So, what do you do if an interviewer asks an illegal or inappropriate question? Depending on your personality and comfort with confrontation, there a few ways to handle this situation respectfully and maturely. The simple one—answer the question. For example, if asked about your religious beliefs, you could answer “I attend church, but I prefer to keep my views separate from work” (Doyle, 2019). This way of dealing with the situation is much less confrontational, but still gives up the applicant’s rights to privacy. Applicants are also entitled to not answer these sorts of questions. If an applicant feels uncomfortable or like their privacy is being invaded by the questions, they could simply ask how the information relates to the job being discussed. If it doesn’t, redirect the conversation.

Furthermore, if a truly inappropriate or offensive question is asked, this is the time to decide if the employer is one in which you would like to work. IT is not a good sign if your interviewer is unaware of what questions can and cannot be asked. Pay attention to your impression of the culture at the workplace, and think about if it is one in which you would enjoy to work and thrive.

Although most HR personnel should be familiar with (and using) the appropriate practices for interviewing candidates, it may not always go as expected. If you are an applicant that is educated on your rights, and you communicate effectively, this should be of no issue.

References:

Doyle, A. (2019, March 14). Tips for How to Answer Interview Questions Employers

Should Not Ask. Retrieved from https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-answer    inappropriate-interview-questions-2061334

 

Illegal Interview Questions – What Not to Ask Candidates. (2019, May 22). Retrieved from

https://www.betterteam.com/illegal-interview-questions

 

For more information, check out these helpful articles:

https://www.betterteam.com/illegal-interview-questions

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/job-interview-questions-that-are-illegal-1918488

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-answer-inappropriate-interview-questions-2061334

What is Handshake?

Handshake is an online database that has become popular among college students and employers searching for college students or recent graduates to fill positions. Handshake is much like any job search database, but has some special features that are tailored to college students and employers.

This job board creates custom lists of jobs that you may be interested in based on your field, location, and other jobs in which you’ve shown interest. When you favorite a job, Handshake curates a list of similar jobs for you to browse. You can also view jobs based on if they require travel or not. This is helpful in finding a job that genuinely interests you and matches your skillset and career goals.

Handshake provides an events tab that includes events at University of St. Francis as well as other venues. This is a good place to find free public career fairs and other career related events that you can attend outside of USF. While USF offers great opportunities to meet with recruiters and find a job, it can never hurt to explore on your own.

In looking for a job, you might be wondering, “what’s it like to work here?” or “what’s the job environment like here?”. With job reviews, you can see what others had to say about their own experiences with employers, and get a better idea of the place you’re applying for.

In addition, Handshake gives you the opportunity to create your own profile to highlight your skills, experiences, and what makes you valuable to an employer. While this information is available via your resume, it makes the information easily accessible for employers looking for ideal recruits.

If you haven’t created a Handshake account yet, check out stfrancis.joinhandshake.com and use your USF portal information to login and get access to all the helpful job search tools they have to offer.

Keeping Up with Technology in Your Industry

It’s no secret how quickly technology has changed over the past decade. This has affected every industry imaginable: medical, business, art, education, etc. As an upcoming graduate or recent graduate, technology is key to understanding what’s happening in your industry and knowing it allows you to keep up with industry standards. Candidates with updated tech skills can put these on a resume and enhance their A2B (Applicant to Business) marketing.

Because technology is changing so fast, it may be intimidating to try to decode and understand all of the facets of what you should be familiarizing yourself with and learning. It is an unrealistic goal to know every system in your field, especially with no experience. Patience is crucial in keeping up with technology because there is always a learning curve.

            Research: A great place to start is to review some job postings to see what skill sets and technology are listed.  Go on indeed.com, monster.com, joinhandshake.com, or any other job search boards, and look through various entry-level and mid-level positions in your field. First, look at the required skills and then the preferred ones.  Take note of your findings, and be aware of the programs or technical skills that you see listed for multiple different positions.

Network: Professors, mentors, and other people you know in your field may be able to give you an idea of what technology you should know before entering the workforce. Reach out to recent graduates in your field and ask them what they needed to learn to be successful in their post-graduation positions. Not every position is the same, and will not require all the same skills. Focus on the ones that are being talked about most among your network and job descriptions, and build your skills around those programs or technologies.

More Research: Once you gather a list of technologies and skills you would like to learn, start a preliminary search among others who already possess this knowledge. Look for YouTube How-To’s, Reddit threads, and Google. You need to conduct a cost-benefit analysis.  Is this software worth the price to learn because it will lead to more employment opportunities, or can I use a free trial to gain some experience and evaluate my plan after the trial?  Any experience with technology can help build your resume and land you an internship where you can gain more skills or even a job.

Every industry is changing due to technological advances, and keeping up with them makes you more marketable as a potential employee. Your A2B Marketing Plan will benefit from your technical skills, and so will your resume.

 

Dress to Impress

When interviewing for a potential job, it’s important to look your best and make a good first impression. All you will need is a few staple items that can work for any interview or professional event you have. For women and men alike, it is important to take care of your professional clothes to make sure they’re always clean, free of wrinkles, and properly fitting.

Men’s Professional Dress

When considering what to wear for an interview, consider clothing that is professional but comfortable. If you are comfortable in your clothing, you are more likely to be confident and do well in your interview. Wear a pair of nice pants, a shirt and a jacket that fit well.

In addition to fit, your ensemble should match. The shirt, pants, jacket, tie, and shoes you wear should all coordinate and go together seamlessly. For example, men should have a black, grey, or navy blue matching pants and jacket that could easily pair with a white or light blue collared shirt, and a plain tie. Shoes, usually black or brown, should be polished and match the color of the belt you wear as well.

Your attire is only the beginning: you must be well groomed. Men’s hair should be well kept, and facial hair should be properly groomed.

Women’s Professional Dress

Women’s professional clothing can be very simple to create a wardrobe that is timeless. Women have an array of choice for professional looks. Women can wear sleek dresses, slacks, blouses, blazers, heels, flats, scarves, and multiple combinations of these to create a professional look. Like men’s clothing, these items should match or be coordinated to look put together, and well kept. Clothing should fit properly (not too tight, not too loose) and be able to conservatively cover chest, stomach, legs, and bottom. For an interview, a conservative look is recommended.

Women should be sure to keep a basic look, with neutral colors and clothes that aren’t distracting. Bright colors and prints shouldn’t be worn to an interview, nor should eccentric jewelry, makeup, nails, and other accessories. You can still be expressive, but keep flashy and dramatic pieces away from the interview.

Overall, as long as your clothes are pressed and well put together, and you keep your look simple, you should be ready for any interview. After all, the interview isn’t about your clothes, so you don’t want to outshine your personality with your clothing choices. Remember if you think maybe something you have on is inappropriate or not a good fit, you are probably right. Update your appearance and land the job.

Keeping it Real (On Your Resume) with Kellie Wujek

Our Career Success Center’s new Career Advisor, Kellie Wujek, is a resume expert. She has shared some basic tips on achieving resume success:

Q: How should recent college graduates organize their resumes?

K: For college students and recent grads, education should always go towards the top, and under your name and contact information. It should remain there until you’ve gained a couple of years of experience in your field.

Q: How can I add personality to my resume?

K: That’s a tough one. It’s better to focus on customizing your resume for the job in which you’re applying. Save your personality for the interview.

Q: What are some tools to help me create my resume?

K: Your Career Success Department and YouTube. Avoid paying “resume builders”.

Q: What are your top 3 do’s and don’ts of resume writing?

K: You will get better results with quality over quantity. Take the time to customize your resume. Use keywords from the job posting.

Q: How do I tailor my resume to the job in which I’m applying?

K: In your profile summary, and by using keywords in the entire document.

Q: Can I add non-job related experiences and achievements to my resume? Where?

K: Volunteer and clubs/cocurricular activities can often fit under “Leadership Experience”.

Q: What are some formatting tips to help me make sure my resume works well with resume review scanners?

K: Avoid odd fonts and the use of italics.

For more resume or job search help, or to make an individual appointment to discuss your resume further, stop into the Career Success Center in N204 in the Tower Hall and meet with one of the advisors.

Preparing For An Interview

Picture of Young woman and recruitment procedure in corporation.

You finally get the call you’ve been waiting for… you landed an interview for your dream job! This is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for, and you really want to nail that interview, but how? How can you be sure to stand out against your competition? Have you created an A2B Marketing plan?

What’s an A2B Marketing plan?

Much like B2B (Business to business) or B2C (Business to consumer) marketing, A2B (Applicant to business) marketing is how you reach the company you’re applying to and convince them that they need you on their team. In other words, A2B marketing is how you market yourself to the company and sell yourself as the best candidate for a job. Here’s how to start your A2B Marketing plan.

Start with research

Researching the company you’re interviewing for is one of the most important steps in the A2B and interview processes. It will give you a better idea of what the company and its employees do, what the goals and values of the company are, and what type of employees and customers the company has. Research the company’s website, social media, and LinkedIn. Doing your research is also expected by most employers. If you show that you’ve researched the company before the interview, it shows you have an interest in the company, and you are serious about the position. Furthermore, it gives you a chance to ask better, more meaningful questions at the end of the interview.

Prepare your Documents

During a job search, your resume is your greatest asset, and it can make or break your chances at a position. In most cases, the resume is the first impression of the candidate, and so you want to use your resume to leave an impression on your reader. For more information on writing a resume, check out this article.

Next, you should create a cover letter. Not all applications require a cover letter, but your cover letter is a good place to outline your A2B skills and let the company know why you’re the candidate they should choose. Just like your resume, it is best practice to tailor your cover letter to the company in which you are applying.

If your application requires recommendation letters, you should reach out to your contacts and provide them with some context about the job. Receiving recommendations can help you stand out from other candidates.

Choose an appropriate outfit for the interview

When deciding what to wear for the interview, it is important to keep in mind that you want to impress the interviewers with your achievements and skills—not your outfit. You should dress sensibly and professionally. There’s no reason to wear any flashy or distracting clothing or accessories to the job interview. Make sure your clothes are clean, wrinkle-free, and fit properly.

Practice

Interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience; and if you come unprepared, it will be evident. Take a moment to draft out some answers to questions like, “Tell me about yourself” and “Why should we hire you”.  Have an idea of what some strengths, weaknesses, and experiences are that you’d like to highlight. Also, think about a few examples that show your work ethic and show your ability to follow through.   Even if these specific questions aren’t asked in the interview, you can use these stories to show how valuable you are, and by telling a story, you are making yourself memorable to those who are interviewing you. Practice telling these stories in a way that show your strengths, and how you can add value to the company. Mock interviews can also be conducted at the Career Success Center if you want extra experience answering interview-type questions. Practice and preparation are two components to a solid A2B promotional plan. By practicing, you become more confident in yourself and you will connect better with the interviewers.

Get to the interview

Much like a job, you should NOT be late for a job interview! Be sure to give yourself enough time to get to the interview accounting for traffic, weather, etc. You want to be there at least 10 minutes early, ready to go. Make sure to bring extra copies of your resume, a notepad, and a pen to the interview. If applicable, you should also have a portfolio of your work with you. Leave your phone out of sight and off (not on vibrate, OFF) for the duration of the interview. Bring your smile, and don’t be afraid to be yourself during the interview. Find tips on the interviewing process here. Good luck on your job hunt!

Other helpful links:

https://usfcollegetocareer.com/2017/08/02/4-open-ended-interview-questions-and-what-employers-really-want-to-know/

https://usfcollegetocareer.com/2013/06/25/10-unconventional-tips-for-job-seekers/

Is your thank you letter in the mail?

Hand Written Thank You Note

Previously, we had talked about the importance of enclosing a cover letter with your job application and personalizing it, to ensure, that you’re addressing the job requirements while explaining your qualifications.

Though this may seem like a tedious task, it is one that will show employers you have thoughtfully considered how your skillset could best serve the company.

This week, we’re going to talk about another often overlooked component of the job application and interview process: the thank you letter. Commonly, thank you letters are a great way to show gratitude for a gift that you have received.

And, when a hiring manager calls you in for an interview, they are gifting you their time. So, use it wisely and then follow up with a thank you.

Thank you letters (or emails, we’ll get to which one is better in a second) allow you to do three things:

  • Show that you have good manners: Like when showing gratitude for a gift, a thank you letter sent after an interview shows the interviewer that you are thankful for their consideration of you.
  • Show that you’re serious about the job position: According to a CareerBuilder.com survey, those who don’t send a thank you letter or email following an interview—a shocking 57% of job applicants—“stick out as a sore thumb” to hiring managers.
  • Reiterate points that were made in the interview by you or the interviewer: Show that you were being attentive during the interview while making sure that the interviewer remembers specific information about you.

According to Monster.com, whether or not you send a thank you email or letter is largely dependent upon where you’re applying.

If you know a hiring decision is not likely to be made for a couple of weeks, then sending a thank you letter through snail mail is fine, and at a more traditional company, may be preferable.

If you know that the decision will be made within 48 hours of your interview, then it is beneficial to send a thank you email to make sure that the message travels fast and is sent to the appropriate person.

Employers want to hire employees that are committed to the company and are grateful for the experience. Be one of the few that shows appreciation before even getting the job offer.

USF Career Success Center

Tower Hall N204

MWF 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

References:

Doyle, A. (11 May 2017). Job interview thank you letter examples. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/job-interview-thank-you-letter-examples-2063964

Kaufman, Z. C. (2017). Job interview thank you: Is it better to send a letter or email?. Retrieved from https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/interview-thank-you-email-letter

 

The cover letter: the hidden gem to landing an interview

Rejected Resumes

In most cases, employers won’t look at a job applicant’s resume until they’ve read their cover letter, and if the letter doesn’t convince the hiring manager and/or executive director that you’re the right person for the job, your resume will most likely be thrown in the trash.

What exactly is a cover letter, you ask? Simply, it is a letter that is addressed to the hiring manager and/or executive director of a company and explains an applicant’s qualifications for the job.

It allows the applicant to go into more depth regarding their skills and qualifications than their resume allows, although, like a resume, it too should be short.

The most important element to writing a cover letter is directly addressing the needs of the company and position to which you’re applying.

The hiring manager or executive director will want to ensure that an applicant has a basic understanding of the company’s mission and needs.

For example, the Illinois Spina Bifida Association (ISBA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that “works to improve the quality of life of individuals and families living with Spina Bifida [a spinal cord disorder]”.

So, the applicant would need to understand how the organization is currently achieving their mission e.g. ISBA provides in-home social work services; sleepaway camp for individuals with Spina Bifida looking to become more independent and provides youth and adult support groups.

The opening paragraph of a cover letter should address who you are, what position you’re applying for and how you came to hear about the job listing. Did you see a newspaper ad about it? If a respected employee of the company or organization told you about the position, make sure to include that information.

As a precursor to the following paragraph, where you’ll be explaining your qualifications in detail, write an opening of 1-2 sentences that summarizes why you believe your qualifications make you the right person for the job. For example:

“As a recent graduate of University of St. Francis where I studied Communications with a concentration in PR/Advertising and Journalism, I believe I have a deep understanding of how to target messaging and branding towards specific audiences. It is my hope that my educational background combined with five years of experience working for ABC Advertising Firm, as a project manager, will prompt you to consider me for the position of Marketing Research Analyst.”

The body paragraphs are where you’ll want to elaborate on the specific qualifications you have that are applicable to the position you’re applying for. For example, if the job posting specifies that the company is looking for someone who can, “improve quality results by studying, evaluating, and re-designing processes; implementing changes”; then, you may want to mention any experience you’ve had as a project manager. For example:

“At ABC Advertising, I was tasked with leading a team of graphic designers to create a logo for a sports recreation facility. It was during this time that I came to learn the importance of evaluating progress not only within the context of the finished product but in the ability of the team to work together. My considerations have helped me better manage my creative teams and increased overall workplace efficiency.”

The closing paragraph of your cover letter should reiterate why you’re qualified for the position, and as a personal touch, why you think the company is the right fit for you. Make it clear that you’re interested in interviewing for the position and that you’ll be in touch.

Sign your name, include your contact information and check for any grammar or spelling mistakes and you’re good to go!

Visit the USF Career Success Center for cover letter writing assistance

USF Career Success Center

Tower Hall N204

MWF 8:00 a.m. 4:30 p.m.

References:

Doyle, A. (18 June 2017). How to write a successful cover letter. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-write-a-cover-letter-2060169

Is your social media up to par?

Social Media - strategy conceptIn 2016, a study from CareerBuilder.com, found that last year, 86% of employers consulted potential hires’ social media pages before deciding to make an offer.

This should come as no surprise in an age where social media takes up much of our time and allows us to share our lives as well as our thoughts and opinions instantaneously.

While social media can be a vehicle for self-expression, it is a vehicle for first impressions too, so it is important that you are presenting an honest yet professional version of yourself. Here are ten things to keep in mind when posting online.

  • Show that you know how to use social media: Just because employers may be looking at your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn does not mean you should be scared to use them.

 In fact, 41% of respondents in the CareerBuilder survey reported that they were unlikely to hire job candidates that did not have an online presence.

So, create that LinkedIn profile or professional Facebook Page.

On both Facebook and LinkedIn, join and participate in career-focused discussion groups. Show potential employers that you have a genuine interest in industry conversations and have the expertise and thoughtful opinions to share.

  • Show that you are articulate: According to the CareerBuilder survey Jobvite.com, 36% of employers look to see that potential hires are communicating clearly online. Are your commas in the right places? Are you spelling words correctly and using correct tenses and proper sentence structure?

If not, you may want to correct those errors. If an employer catches a big mistake, such as the misspelling of several words or improper capitalization, this may leave the impression that you don’t care to present the best version of yourself and may not work to represent the company well.

  • Be creative and strategical in how you use social media: Especially if you’re applying for a marketing or graphic design position, it’s important to show employers that you are able to bring something fresh to their organization.

Are you creating a personal website? Link to the content that you create whether it be logos, photos you take or content you write. Show potential employers what you have to offer them.

Share articles or videos that are pertinent to your industry. Share your opinions and encourage others to do the same in a constructive way.

Don’t:

Set your social media profiles to private: Not only will this make it easier for you to find and make connections but it also puts potential employers at ease.

According to Monster.com, setting your social media profile to private leaves employers to assume that you have something to hide. Do not lose out on a job opportunity because you chose to keep your profile private, even though, you have nothing to hide.

If you do have something to hide; remove it.

 Badmouth previous employers or coworkers: While social media may seem like a diary to vent your frustrations, remember that everyone, including potential employers, can read what you write.

Do not give off the impression that you are unable to exhibit self-restraint and to find productive ways of dealing with your emotions. If you must speak out about work online ensure that you are able to show potential employers that you have found a positive resolution to your problem.

 Use profanity: According to Jobvite, 63% of employers say that the use of profanity on a job candidate’s Facebook page is a put-off. Swearing comes off as aggressive and sometimes crude, two characteristics that you do not want employers associating with your personality.

Social media is a great resource for connecting with potential employers and other industry professionals. Remember, however, that once someone clicks on to your page they are receiving an impression of you whether it is one you intended or not.

USF Career Success Center

Tower Hall N204

MWF 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

References:

Kasper, K. (February 17, 2015). Jobvite infographic: Watch what you post on social media. Retrieved from http://www.jobvite.com/blog/jobvite-infographic-watch-post-social-media/

Thottam, I. (2017). These social media mistakes can actually disqualify you from a job. Retrieved from https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/these-social-media-mistakes-can-actually-disqualify-you-from-a-job

Number of Employers Using Social Media to Screen Candidates Has Increased 500 Percent Over the Last Decade (2016, April 8). Retrieved from http://www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?ed=12%2F31%2F2016&id=pr945&sd=4%2F28%2F2016