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Posted February 16, 2016 by

7 resume tips for non-traditional college students

Even though the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that the vast majority of today’s college students—73 percent—are categorized as non-traditional college students, or adult learners, still struggle on university and college campuses to find adequate answers to their unique problems and challenges. One of the problems and challenges non-traditional college students face is preparing a great resume prior to entering (or re-entering) the workforce after graduation.

This 4-minute video featuring College Recruiter’s Content Manager, Bethany Wallace, provides non-traditional college students with resume tips.


If the video is not playing or displaying properly click here.

1) Bend the resume rules.

Many of the standard resume tips college students find on the internet and even from career services experts are great tips, but they’re geared toward traditional college students, students who enroll in college immediately after high school graduation, attend college full-time without taking breaks in attendance, and graduate within four to five years.

Non-traditional college students and adult learners must be prepared to adapt the resume guidelines provided for traditional students, particularly if they have several years of work experience related to their college majors. Some of the guidelines non-traditional college students may want to stray from include sticking to a one-page resume and listing education at the top of their resumes. Depending on years of experience and level of experience, these guidelines may or may not apply.

2) Seek professional help.

All college students benefit from resume editing assistance. However, seeking resume writing and editing assistance is even more crucial for non-traditional college students since non-traditional college students often have multiple exceptions to the typical resume rules to address and multiple questions to ask. Should I list the part-time job I held for only three months and quit when I had my daughter? Is it better to list my sales management position or not since I was laid off after three years, and I was the only person who was laid off? These are questions best answered by a professional. Seek help from career services experts on your local campuses and from College Recruiter’s free resume editors. Don’t edit your resume alone!

3) Avoid affiliations.

Your parents or grandparents may have advised you to avoid talking about politics and religion on first dates. The same general rule goes for resume writing. Avoid listing volunteer work and service positions which reveal religious, political, or other affiliations. Non-traditional college students often feel more grounded and sure of themselves in terms of beliefs and values; however, use caution when sharing those beliefs on your resume.

If you insist on doing so, understand that putting your religious and political affiliations in writing on your resume may open you up to unintentional discrimination by potential employers when they review your resume during the screening process. Review the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website; a good rule of thumb is if it’s an illegal interview question, don’t willingly offer the information to recruiters and talent acquisition professionals by listing it on your resume before you make it to the interview.

4) Update your resume.

If you change jobs, take on more responsibility in your current position, join a new campus or community organization, or earn an additional scholarship or award, add this information to your resume. Regardless of the changes and accomplishments in your life, set a reminder in your phone or on your calendar to update your resume every six months. For non-traditional college students, this regular resume updating is crucial because non-traditional college students typically live active lifestyles, working part-time or full-time while attending college, all the while maintaining community involvement and tending to family responsibilities.

Think of a resume as a working document. You should never create your resume and then file it away. Always be prepared to email an updated copy to a recruiter or potential employer on a moment’s notice. You never know when someone in your social network may hear of a great job opening and think of you.

5) Tend to details.

Countless human resources managers and recruiters have passed over resumes with spelling errors, grammatical errors, and mechanical errors. Use past tense to describe prior jobs and present tense to describe your current position. Use spell check and grammar check. Take advantage of College Recruiter’s free resume editors. Visit the career services office on your campus. Ensure proper spelling of all job titles and companies listed on your resume. Do not misspell your own references’ names. These are small details, but details matter. Employers want to hire professionals who can handle making important daily decisions for their companies; submitting a seamless resume is the first step in proving you’re qualified to make big decisions. Remember, seek resume editing assistance.

6) Address gaps.

Non-traditional college students often have gaps in their work history. When you have gaps in your work history, you may choose whether to list them or not. If you don’t list the gaps on your resume, be prepared to explain those gaps in your work experience in your interviews and/or cover letters. If you list the gaps on your resume, list transferable skills and volunteer duties performed.

For example, if you took three years off from working full-time to stay at home with your child, and during that time you worked in the nursery at your church, volunteered during vacation Bible school, and babysat two other small children one day each week, you can list in-home childcare for three children for three years, volunteer teaching experience for 12 toddlers for a non-profit organization during each summer for three years, and volunteer childcare worker one day per week for 2-10 children. This experience might not feel substantial to you, but it demonstrates that you were involved in your community, managed others, planned lessons, taught skills and material to small children, and a variety of other tasks which you can list as transferable skills on your resume.

7) List all experience.

Entitle your work experience section “Experience.” This allows you the freedom to list all experience in this category, including your military experience, volunteer work experience, internships (paid or unpaid), and paid work experience. Whether you value your volunteer experience as highly as your paid work experience or not, many employers will. Don’t underestimate the value of your own experience.

For more career tips, follow our blog and our YouTube channel, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages.

 

Posted February 15, 2016 by

3 tips for a focused job search

Man writing job search diagram on glass board

tommaso lizzul/Shutterstock.com

College students must stay focused when conducting a job search for entry-level jobs. This means eliminating distractions. Consider these three tips to help you conduct a more focused job search.

1. One creative and effective idea for a more focused job search is creating a weekly workflow plan every Friday afternoon for the following week. Which organizations will you reach out to for the first time, how, and when? Which organizations will you follow-up with for the second time, how, and when? Which organizations will you follow-up with for the third time, how, and when? Plan your job search schedule in the same way your college courses are planned out with syllabi.

2. Limiting the number of times you check email and text messages will help you stay focused on your job search. If you’re always glancing at your inbox, it will take away from time-consuming tasks such as writing resumes and cover letters. Unless messages are urgent, answer them later.

3. Setting timeframes and goals is another way to stay focused. Creating a plan provides college students with structure in finding jobs. By breaking down the time to search for jobs into individual parts, you won’t overwhelm yourself, and you will feel a sense of accomplishment by completing tasks.

A successful job search requires a commitment. By avoiding distractions, you won’t get sidetracked from that commitment. College students and recent grads who stay focused will ultimately land great entry-level jobs.

Need more tips related to staying focused and motivated during your job search? Follow our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube for career tips and job search motivation.

At College Recruiter, we believe every student and recent grad deserves a great career. We work to create a quality candidate and recruiter experience. Our interactive media solutions connect students and grads to excellent entry-level jobs.

Posted February 03, 2016 by

Overcoming employers’ preference for candidates with work experience

Many employers prefer job candidates to have work experience when they apply for jobs. While gaining work experience gives college students and recent graduates a leg up on their competition, there are ways to overcome not having it. Bill Driscoll, District President of Accountemps, discusses the work experience dilemma and offers advice to college students and recent graduates searching for entry-level jobs. (more…)

Posted January 01, 2016 by

Connecting the dots: Creating a 2016 career action plan

Most college students make a list and check it twice before leaving campus during finals week. Catch up on countless hours of missed sleep during fall semester? Check. Hang out with hometown friends and reminisce about old times? Check. Curl up in Dad’s crusty old recliner and watch every episode of “The Big Bang Theory” aired since 2007? Check.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

There may be other items that make the list but rank lower in priority because, let’s face it, they’re simply not as fun to complete—obtain seasonal employment, complete the FAFSA online for the upcoming academic year, fill out grad school applications, stop by the local architect’s office to ask about a summer internship opportunity, etc. The list could literally go on FOR-EV-ER, as The Sandlot’s Squints puts it.

Realistically, many students head back to campus in January without having completed the lower-ranking, future-focused tasks. This doesn’t seem like a big deal in January; the entire spring semester lies before you like a blank notebook. Sounds simple, right?

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

But a blank piece of paper gets you nowhere in terms of a future career or internship (and certainly generates little cash flow). And most people, not just college students, tend to put off today what can be done tomorrow. Unfortunately, employers and recruiters don’t feel your procrastination pain. They only care if you’re the smartest and best if you’ve actually applied on time and filled their needs for openings.

While you still have time and aren’t stressed by the pressure of spring courses, pour a cup of coffee, prepare to brainstorm, and draft a simple 4-step blueprint for action.

1. Accept your limitations and lower your expectations. This might sound like odd advice, but it will keep you from dropping the career-planning ball altogether. Most of us think more highly of ourselves than we ought; this causes us to set ridiculously high expectations and goals (AKA perfectionism). It’s been said that it’s unrealistic to plan more than 90 days out, so don’t do it. If you do, you’re setting yourself up for failure before you’ve begun. Eat that elephant one bite at a time.

2.Identify a few (3 to 5) key career-related goals that matter to you. These goals need to be directly related to obtaining an entry-level job after graduation or an internship during the summer of 2016. Perhaps you’re not interested in an internship but are interested in obtaining part-time employment during the summer that relates to your academic major or minor. Regardless, you might need help with this step. Who can help?

a) 
College Recruiter’s blog. Keep reading this month and follow our blog (via email, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn). During January, you’ll read about nothing but information related to helping college students plan for and obtain entry-level jobs after graduation and internships during the summer.   b) Your career services office on campus.

Let’s pretend your goal is to work for Target Corporation in entry-level management near Houston, Texas, and  you plan to graduate in May 2016. This is a pretty specific goal (which is good—the more narrow your focus, the easier it is to set goals and action steps).

Some career-related goals might be:

  • Develop a more polished resume (your current resume was drafted when applying for college three years ago and hasn’t been updated since) and learn how to write a great cover letter.
  • Improve phone/online interview skills since you live three states away from Texas and will most likely interview over the phone or online.
  • Learn how to convey your “campus life” experiences as transferable skills during interviews since you’ve only held one part-time job and feel insecure about your lack of real-world experience.

(Spoiler alert: Stay tuned to our blog this month to learn about all this and more.)

3. Define action steps necessary to help you attain your 3-5 goals. This step’s crucial; goals are simply idealistic dreams unless you take steps to realize them.

Let’s stick with our hypothetical you who hopes to work in entry-level management for Target Corporation near Houston, Texas, after graduating in May 2016. Here are some suggested action steps:

  • Update existing resume with part-time job, volunteer experience, campus involvement, and coursework relevant to future employment.
  • Submit resume to College Recruiter’s free resume review service (yep, FREE) and to campus career services office.
  • Follow College Recruiter’s blog this month for posts related to interview skills. Search College Recruiter’s blog for past articles and webinars related to interview skills.
  • Attend mock interviews and career fairs on campus—these are free and afford you valuable practice.
  • Work on revising your resume to reflect transferable skills and to reframe the way you think about your own skills, too.
  • Search for job openings with Target Corporation near Houston, Texas, on College Recruiter’s website after registering. Registering first is important because College Recruiter sends you new postings (saving you time and effort).

4. Get busy. Blueprints look impressive hanging on the wall, but they’re much more impressive when framed inside the buildings built by the very architects who drafted them in the first place.

Developing an action plan is tough brain work—but the real work kicks in when you crawl out of the comfy recliner (even though you have three more days of winter break) and begin implementing your plan.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The payoff may not be immediate, but pretty soon you’ll see results—the empty page will fill with a pretty cool image you created by simply connecting the dots by taking action all semester.

 

Posted November 03, 2015 by

How to write better emails and cover letters

melinda osteen photo

Melinda Osteen

Because there are so many people looking for jobs, standing out is quite difficult these days. The hiring environment has changed, and candidates have to persuade employers without even meeting them in person.

The internet has interfered with the job market, too, and now the main tools of job seekers are resumes and cover letters. The basic rules of successful submissions are the same as the ones for traditional paper writing – no mistakes at all, clear structure, uniqueness, originality, and 100% professionalism. Along with these, there are other aspects that must be taken into consideration when applying online for a job. (more…)

Posted July 15, 2015 by

Caring for Your Cover Letter – 6 Tips for Success

Have you given much thought to writing a cover letter when applying for a job?  If not, you may want to think again.  Your cover letter supports your resume, but it also allows you to go into more detail about why you are the best candidate for a job.   Even if you are not required to have one, creating a quality cover letter can help you stand out from the competition.  Show how much you care about your cover letter by following these tips. (more…)

Posted June 18, 2015 by

Hunting for Your First Job in IT? Here Is How to Land It!

Young engineer business man with thin modern aluminium laptop in network server room

Young engineer business man with thin modern aluminium laptop in network server room. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Although there are tons of open job positions for IT specialists all over the world, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get your first job in this sector. There are many professionals with better skills, greater experience, and more recommendations that will attract an employer’s attention. How do you get the right people to notice you?

It is hard to get a job of this type with no previous working experience, but you cannot gain the needed experience if no one is willing to give you a job. That’s a paradox we’ll never solve. Don’t despair; there is always hope for everyone with the right set of skills needed for success in this industry. After all, you can attract attention with your own projects, right? Read on; the following tips will teach you how to get that first job in the IT sector. (more…)

Posted May 13, 2015 by

How To Write Crisp, Clean, Clutter-free Cover Letters!

Jimmy Sweeney

Jimmy Sweeney, President of CareerJimmy

There’s nothing quite like a crisp, clean, clutter-free dress shirt or blouse. It makes a statement about the person wearing it. And the same is true for a job search cover letter. Include your experience and skills in as few words as possible and then ask for an interview for the job you want. The hiring manager will remember you because your cover letter will have made a statement about you as a person. (more…)

Posted May 01, 2015 by

Make Yourself More Employable Upon Graduation – 6 Things You Can Do Right Now

Portrait of two happy graduating students. Isolated over white background.

Portrait of two happy graduating students. Isolated over white background. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Yes, it’s a tough job market; yes, the statistics say that the jobs are just not there the way they used to be. But a certain percentage of college grads do land jobs in their career areas. Sometimes it is because they are in high-demand, low-supply fields; in a few cases, they have contacts through a parent or other relative. But there are grads who land those jobs because they have taken some critical steps before graduation that just make them more attractive to employers. Here are 6 steps for you. (more…)

Posted December 26, 2014 by

Getting a Legal Internship

Law student outdoors

Law student outdoors. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Graduating law school is a great accomplishment. It takes a remarkable amount of studying and dedication to become a criminal lawyer. Lawyers are very bright people. However, you will still have work to do after you receive your diploma. Now you need to set your sights on getting a legal internship. As you might imagine, there is a great deal of competition for these coveted positions. Therefore, you need to do everything you can to set yourself apart from the other applicants. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways you can go about landing a legal internship as soon as possible after you graduate: (more…)