• Ask Matt: How to respond to the 5 most basic interview questions

    May 11, 2017 by

     

    Dear Matt: I recently completed an interview, and realized, I wasn’t prepared to answer the most basic interview questions. I spent more time preparing for that odd, or unique question that may come up, and not enough time on the basics. What are some answers or responses to the most basic interview questions every recent job seeker should be sure to master before the next interview? 

    Preparation is key to a successful job interview. But when preparing for a job interview, many recent college grads focus on how they will answer the tough interview questions, instead of mastering how they will answer the most basic interview questions. While the former is important, the latter is crucial to a successful entry-level job interview.

    “As you prepare yourself for interviews, you may find yourself focusing solely on prep for the more complex interview questions,” says Jill O’Connell, VP of Talent Management at Cengage, an education and technology company that provides resources for the higher education, K12, professional, library, and workforce training markets worldwide. “You don’t want to be caught unprepared to answer the most basic questions.”

    What are the most basic job interview questions and what responses do employers want to hear? O’Connell and Michael Steinitz, Executive Director of Accountemps, a division of Robert Half, provide a list of five basic interview questions every recent college grad should master for interview success:

    Continue Reading

  • Interviewing student veterans

    October 11, 2016 by

    1700620Are you interviewing a student veteran for a job at your company? Congrats! Veterans bring a set of skills that can stand above the other students you are interviewing.

    If you are like many hiring managers, you have limited experience interviewing vets, and are not extremely familiar with what military experience looks like. It’s important to make sure you don’t ask anything inappropriate. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your interview while remaining sensitive and legal.

    What NOT to ask

    • Unless you are hiring for a Federal agency or work with Veteran Preference Points, don’t ask about their discharge status.
    • You cannot ask if they will be deployed in the future, even if their resume says they are in the Reserves.
    • Do not ask about potential disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act states that an employer may only ask disability-related questions after the applicant has been offered a job.
    • “Do you have PTSD?” (First, check your biases about vets and PTSD, and second, any question that relates to their mental health is legally off limits.)
    • “Did you get hurt in combat?” or “Do you expect your injury to heal normally?”
    • “Have you ever participated in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program?”

    Instead, you can ask…

    • Behavior-based questions that help you truly understand their previous experience
    • Questions about their goals (be smart and avoid the cliche “Where do you see yourself in the future?”)
    • “How did you deal with pressure or stress?”
    • According to the Office of Disability Employment Policy, you may ask “”How did you break your leg?”
    • “Have you ever been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol?”

    Veterans Day is November 11. Reach out to student veteran groups as part of your college recruitment this fall, and you may be impressed with what you find.

  • Why building great relationships with career services benefits employers

    August 18, 2016 by
    Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

    Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

    Employers and career services offices/college campuses each play important roles in the lives of college students and recent graduates. Employers can provide entry-level jobs and internship opportunities to students and graduates; the former can be their first real jobs and the latter offer them valuable work experience preparing them for those first real jobs. Career services offices and campuses guide college students not just academically but professionally also. Career services professionals can help with various parts of the job search such as writing resumes and cover letters, interview preparation, and networking. While recruiters are partners for employers in finding young, top talent to fill job openings, they are often not the only ones.

    Building great relationships with career service offices and campuses is a smart move for employers, recruiters, and hiring managers. If companies know the type of job candidates they need, and colleges have them, then it’s a win-win for both sides. Employers gain access to communicate directly with qualified candidates, and career services offices and campuses connect college students and recent graduates with internship and job opportunities. Deborah Pratt, Assistant Dean for Career and Professional Development at Whittier College, highlights her school’s relationship with Peace Corps.

    “There are several employers who come to mind that have built great working relationships with Whittier College’s Weingart Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD), but the stand-out employer for the CCPD team is the Peace Corps.

    Peace Corps has a terrific talent acquisition approach which appeals to students and emerging professionals. Nick Leichliter and Tiffany Tai, the Peace Corps recruiters assigned to Whittier College, partnered with us to design customized on-campus recruiting sessions. The Peace Corps recruiting sessions included two employer meet-and-greet roundtables, coffee talks, one hiking session (with a Peace Corps dog), and two classroom presentations. Nick and Tiffany also provided one-on-one coaching to Whittier College students offering our students tips to succeed with the intensive Peace Corps application process. Peace Corps extra efforts paid off, and the organization received a record amount of resumes and attention at the annual Career and Internship Fair.

    Our partnership with Peace Corps continues to deepen. The CCPD’s goal for this year is to establish the Peace Corps Prep certificate under the auspices of the Whittier College Early Talent Identification Program.”

    Deborah Pratt, Assistant Dean of Whittier College's Weingart Center for Career and Professional Development

    Deborah Pratt, Assistant Dean of Whittier College’s Weingart Center for Career and Professional Development

    Employers, want more advice on recruiting? Reach out to College Recruiter for help and follow us on LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

    Assistant Dean Deborah Pratt leads a dynamic team of career development professionals at Whittier College’s Weingart Center for Career and Professional Development. In this role, she drives the strategic vision and blueprint for the college to transition from a traditional career services business operation to a four-year career development college-wide approach and program.

  • Graduating in 2017? 3 job search tips you can use right now.

    August 02, 2016 by
    Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

    Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

    Despite the soaring temperatures, the fall semester is just around the corner. If you plan to graduate in the upcoming academic year, anticipation (or apprehension) for planning your job search is probably sinking in. Commencement is a date in the distant future, and it feels reasonable to hold your job search until you can actually work full-time, right?

    In truth, now is the best time to begin planning your strategy for locating a great employer and opportunity. Following are just a few strategies to gain a jump on your job-search competitors.

    1. Begin by finishing strong.

      Chances are you are currently wrapping up a summer job, volunteer experience, or internship. Now is the ideal time to close this experience by delivering quality work. Connect with your supervisor to schedule a feedback discussion and ask if there will be full-time openings available post-graduation. Also ask if he or she will offer a strong recommendation if contacted. Networking, interning, and building strong references will significantly impact your first job search and beyond.
    2. Employers are identifying talent earlier; help them find you.Recruiting cycles have changed over the past five years. As the economy has picked up, highly skilled applicants (top talent) can be in short supply. Employers are looking for the best possible talent for the job, which is impossible if a competitor has already hired away the best candidates. For many majors, fall is the ideal time to devote the most energy to your job search. Visit your career center immediately when you return to campus for the fall. Carve out time to visit career fairs and employer information sessions to connect with as many recruiters as possible. If employers in your field are not recruiting in the fall, use this time to talk with faculty, parents, and anyone else who may be willing to make a networking introduction. Finally, attend community events, or tackle a fall volunteer project. The connections and skills gained will be valuable for your job search.
    1. Give yourself time to practice and prepare.If you participate in sports, theater, music, or writing, you have probably put in a significant amount of practice time. Similarly, consider putting some significant preparation time into your job search. Start drafting resumes, scheduling mock interviews, and researching employers as soon as possible. Your second or third interview will probably be a lot more relaxed than your first. In addition, pretty much everyone will have suggestions for your first resume draft. Start building your job search skills now.
    Mike Caldwell, Director of Business Careers and Employer Development, William & Mary

    Mike Caldwell, Director of Business Careers and Employer Development, William & Mary

    Want more great job search suggestions before you really dig in and begin searching for jobs? Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube for a steady stream of tips and job postings.

    About Mike Caldwell, the author: 

    Mike Caldwell serves as the Director of Business Careers and Employer Development at the Cohen Career Center for the College of William & Mary.  He has held leadership roles in local, regional, and national college recruiting organizations including the American Association for Employment in Education and the Utah Association of Career Educators. 

  • 4 winning resume tips for recent graduates

    August 01, 2016 by
    Businessman passing document to businesswoman photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    You don’t like getting spam, do you? Well, neither do hiring managers. It may be quick and efficient to upload your resume on popular job sites and send employers the same robo-resume, but hiring managers view these generic, mass mailings as spam. They can spot one-size-fits-all resumes in a nano-second and quickly discard them.

    Here are four tips from hiring managers featured in the book, Graduate to a Great Career, on how to create a winning resume:

    1. Add a short profile statement and your key selling points at the top “above the fold”

    Realize your resume is an ad for branding yourself. Like a newspaper, an ad, or web page, the most important “real estate” is in the top half of your resume. Branding resumes begin with a profile or qualifications statement, a couple of crisp sentences that define your value. A strong profile statement is critical for recent graduates. You don’t have an impressive job title and career history yet, so you’ll need to specify your career focus and value proposition in your profile statement. In fact, many hiring managers told me a big problem with new graduate resumes is it can be hard to determine what entry-level job the new grad is looking for, especially if the grad doesn’t have a career-specific major like accounting or computer science. A profile headline like “Seeking an entry-level positioning” is too generic and doesn’t convey your career path. Remember, it’s your job to convey your career identity, not the hiring manager’s. For example, a recent grad named Erin who was a psychology major pursuing a career in marketing began her profile with the headline, “Aspiring marketing assistant: Psychology grad with pulse on the consumer mindset,” followed by a few bullets outlining her focus, strengths, and marketing credentials through two internships.

    2. Expand your skill set to take advantage of new market opportunities

    Be willing to take advantage of where the momentum is in the marketplace. During her job search for marketing jobs, Erin, our aspiring marketer mentioned above, noticed big retailers were advertising entry-level jobs and internships in merchandising, an area related to marketing that involves selecting products and evaluating sales performance. She decided to expand her job search and pursue both career paths: merchandising and marketing. Because there were a lot of merchandising internships online, she snagged a three-month, part-time internship at a large global retailer. But Erin needed a different elevator pitch and resume to apply for full-time merchandising jobs, and now with her internship, she had a story to tell. She had a hands-on role in compiling trend and competitive analysis reports, which gave her specific marketable skills. Here is Erin’s new profile statement for her merchandising resume, “Merchandising assistant with strong analytic, merchandising, and marketing skills.” She included new skills such as “completed Excel reports for accurate demand forecasting that resulted in a 10% improvement in accurate buying.” Before long, Erin was offered a merchandising job at a top global retailer.

    3. Play to keywords and how the resume robots screen resumes.

    The first “person” your resume has to impress is not likely to be a human being but a computer. Due to the volume of resumes that large and medium-sized companies receive, most companies use ATS (applicant tracking systems). Most ATS’s are not kind to new grads since they are programmed to check for a strong keyword match. Since most recent grads have limited experience, they don’t score high on an ATS (Only 25% of resumes make it past the resume robots). If you do have a strong skills match with a job posting, take the time to use the same exact words in your resume so the resume robots pick them out. Your resume can also be discarded if you format it incorrectly. Keep the layout simple with commonly used section titles like profile, work experience, education, etc.

    4. Emphasize skills, experience, and results in the “Action + Numbers = Results” format.

    Employers now give twice as much importance to specific skills and work experience as academic courses and grades. How do you make your abilities and skills stand out when you’re a new grad with limited work experience? It might take more effort than for an experienced job seeker, but you have more experience and accomplishments than you realize. Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished in internships, school projects, volunteer activities, part-time jobs, and the like. Then, follow this formula to create a powerful results bullet:

    Action + Numbers = Results

    Did [A] + as measured by [N] = with these results [R]

    Here are a few examples of how college students and recent grads have created marketable results bullets out of internships and part-time jobs:

    • Raised $55,000 in first month calling alumni for university capital
    campaign; the top student performer all four weeks.

    • As a brand ambassador interning at X Company, challenged to increase
    website traffic, wrote ten blog posts that generated over 240 responses,
    and helped boost sales.

    • Prepared detailed Excel reports and pitches for business development
    group at fast-growing technology company that
    increased response rate by 15%.

    The key to a successful resume and job search is to go for quality over quantity. You need to invest a little more time to create a resume that is right for each job, but it will pay off. Your efforts will be rewarded, and you’ll be on your way to an interview in no time.

    Catherine Kaputa, guest writer

    Catherine Kaputa, guest writer

    Catherine Kaputa is a Personal Brand Strategist, Speaker, and Author of the newly-released book, Graduate to a Great Career: How Smart Students, New Graduates, and Young Professionals Can Launch Brand You. (April 2016. graduatetoagreatcareer.com). She is the author of two best-selling books, You Are a Brand and Breakthrough Branding for entrepreneurs. She is the Founder of SelfBrand (selfbrand.com). Speaking clients include Google, PepsiCo, Microsoft, Intel, Citi, Merck, Northwestern University, New York University, and University of Illinois.

  • 10 most tricky HR questions for students

    July 16, 2016 by
    Interview photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    You know what the problem is when you graduate and start the interviewing process? You have perhaps half a dozen, perhaps twice that number of interviews under your belt. The people sitting there behind those big desks staring at you steely-eyed? They have done hundreds. That means they know the tricks, they know the strategies, and they know how to make you stumble. If you want to stand a chance at beating them at their own game, you have to be prepared.

    Why should I hire you?

    This one catches people a lot. They are afraid they will either come across as too arrogant or that they will not push themselves enough. The thing is that is not really what the question is about, and both those traps can be easily avoided if you realize that.

    This is not about you telling them how amazing you are. This is about you showing how much you know about them (which is everybody’s favorite topic). So show them that you know what the position entails and what skills will be required. After you have done that you can modestly admit that you have those skills (preferably with a few examples of where you’ve used those skills as showing is always better than telling).

    Why is there a gap in your work history?

    You have been unemployed for six months because you needed some time to chill out and get your priorities sorted. Or you spent some time living on a beach seeing if it is really true your skin turns green when you drink too many mojitos. Or you lived in your parents’ basements and played video games. Fantastic! You do not necessarily want to tell them that though.

    Instead, talk about how you used that time to make yourself a better person. Talk about freelancing work you did, social outreach, or how you spent your time searching for the perfect job (which is obviously the one you are interviewing for right now). Put a positive spin on things by showing how much you grew as a person.

    You have been fired from your last job. How did it make you feel?

    You have to demonstrate that you can take a blow without becoming either angry or resentful. So even if you are, burry that deep and instead tell them about how you used this as an opportunity to improve yourself so that nothing like this can ever happen to you again.

    What is your biggest weakness?

    A nasty question! There is no doubt about it. You better prepare to meet this one every so often, because a lot of HR managers have this one in their repertoire and like to throw it out there to see how you react.

    The right way to go is to remember that strengths and weaknesses can be different sides of the same coin. So if you have a weakness, admit it and then explain to them how in some situations it can be a strength. Alternatively, take your greatest strength and admit when it might actually be a weakness. That way you show you understand yourself.

    Have you ever had a bad experience with an employer?

    This one is as much to see how you handle being put on the spot as to see if you will be honest. Remember, everybody is bound to have bad experiences occasionally. We are all human. So they are not going to believe you when you say ‘no, never.’ Instead think of something that did go wrong then admit that it was at least partially your fault and explain how you learned from it and how you will be better next time. That shows both humility and wisdom.

    Do not bag on your previous employer! That will raise all sorts of red flags. Yes, it they might be bad people, but this person sitting opposite you will not have a better impression of you if you decide to tell them that.

    Frustrated businesswoman screaming photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Tell about a day when you messed up at work

    Another one of those situations where you have to be honest and admit you have done something wrong. After all, nobody is perfect, and if you are not willing to admit you have screwed up you can wave the job you are interviewing for good-bye. Just like with the last question the trick here is to show what you have learned.

    How would you deliver bad news to a colleague?

    Here is your opportunity to demonstrate empathy and your ability to deal with a stressful situation in a grownup manner. So do not suggest you would send them a text or first let everybody in the office know so that you can all have a laugh. Instead, show them how diplomatic you are.

    Will you be out to take my job?

    Okay, here you can lie. ‘No’ is the correct answer. ‘I doubt I could do it as well as you’ is a good follow up.

    How did you prepare for this interview?

    Here is where you demonstrate that you care enough about the job to actually have researched the position (you did research the position didn’t you?). So tell them how you went to the website and read this that and the other. Here you get to show off some of the things you learned, including talking a little bit about the industry as well as what their company specifically does.

    Where would you really like to work?

    ‘Here’ is the right answer. Now you can be a bit honest and suggest that you want to ultimately move into another area in the company, but whatever you do, do not say another company name! That is a fantastic way to close the door on any opportunity to work there.

    Last words

    The most important thing to remember is that there will be other interviews and however many ‘no’s you get you only want one ‘yes’, so don’t get too stressed out. You will get there in the end. After that, you will have to go through the hard work of keeping the job. That is not exactly easy either, but at this moment, that probably feels more like a ‘wish I had that problem’ problem.

    Need more interview tips? Visit our blog and connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

    Dante Munnis, guest writer

    Dante Munnis, guest writer

    Dante Munnis is a blogger and idea maker from Stockholm who is interested in self-development, web related topics, and success issues. He shares ideas for students living a better life and building habits that stick. To get strategies for boosting your mental and physical performance, you can get in touch with Dante via Twitter.

     

  • 4 ways sophomores can take advantage of career services

    July 12, 2016 by

    It’s your sophomore year of college. You’re feeling pretty comfortable with the whole college thing—a little too comfortable, maybe. It’s easy to get in a rut your sophomore year and forget about your long-term career goals while you go to classes and hang out with friends.

    Don’t let this happen to you. Before you move back to campus this fall, make it a point to commit to setting the four following goals for yourself, suggested by College Recruiter’s Content Manager, Bethany Wallace, in this short video about how to take full advantage of career services during your sophomore year of college.


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

    1. Declare your major.

    Actually, this really isn’t an option at most colleges and universities; you’re required to declare a major course of study by the time you earn 60 credit hours. The important thing is to declare the best major for you and to do a little prep work in advance. Before declaring your major, be sure you have taken skill/interest inventories available through career services, visited with trusted advisors (not just your assigned advisor, but also your faculty members, unofficial mentors, parents (if you actually get along with them), and people who work in career fields you’re considering). Do a little homework and research about the career fields you’re considering, too. Use the salary calculator on our website—how much can you potentially earn in your chosen career fields? Even though you can’t predict what the job market and economy will look like in two or three years, it’s better to crunch numbers hypothetically than not at all. Remember that above all, you must take full responsibility for your career plan because it’s YOUR career plan.

    2. Work.

    Whether you volunteer or work in a paid position (internship, co-op position, part-time job, full-time job during the summer, whatever), gain some work experience you can list on your resume during your sophomore year. This is crucial, and it may take some time, so don’t wait until two weeks before summer break to begin looking. As Chris Czarnik of Fox Valley Technical College says, “Finding a bad job is easy, but finding a great job takes work.” Preferably, attempt to gain experience in your chosen career field or tied to your major field of study. Seek help in career services with this, and don’t overlook CollegeRecruiter.com as a helpful source in the job search process. We make finding a great job much easier.

    3. Create a true resume.

    If you created a solid draft of a resume or a working resume during your first year of college, that’s a great start. Your sophomore year is the time to convert the draft into a solid working resume which you can continually revise as you gain experience throughout your college career. You’re going to apply for jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities during your sophomore year, so you definitely want to have a great working resume on hand. Seek help from career services to develop your resume, and don’t forget to take advantage of the free resume editing tool on our website.

    4. Attend the career fair on your campus hosted by career services.

    Make it a goal to visit face-to-face with at least three actual recruiters during the career fair. Ask for their business cards and try to remember at least one important fact about the companies they represent. Invite the representatives/recruiters after the career fair to connect with you on Twitter or LinkedIn after the career fair. It’s not too soon to begin considering which employers you might want to work for when you graduate. If you meet an employer you feel you genuinely connect with, ask for an informational interview during the career fair or at a later time. That employer might plan to return to campus to conduct on-campus interviews, or the employer may be able to do the interview online or over the phone as well. The employer might even invite you to conduct a site visit. These are great opportunities to build relationships with potential future employers!

    For more suggestions about how to create a solid career plan, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

     

     

  • The power of networking

    June 22, 2016 by

     

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Kenneth Heinzel’s 33 years of experience shine through in his recently published book, Private Notes From a Headhunter: Proven Job Search and Interviewing Techniques for College Students and Recent Grads. Throughout the job search process, Heinzel suggests that job seekers never underestimate the power of networking and your network. Ever. Your personal network and support group are two key elements of a successful job search.

    Your personal network includes people who can provide you with leads that result in your getting an interview or job. Your support group should include friends or associates who are also currently looking for work. Meeting with your support group on a regular basis allows you to share contacts, research information, and discuss what worked or didn’t work in a job search or an interview.

    “Many, if not most, of the jobs that you land in your career will come from information and contacts discovered in your own personal network,” says Heinzel.

     

    Heinzel also touches on the role recruiters and career professionals play in getting job seekers interviews and jobs. Remember these tips: Never ever pay a recruiter for anything. Almost all legitimate recruiters are paid by the client (the hiring company) in the form of a fee that is based on a retainer (fee paid in advance), or on contingency (fee paid after successful placement). If you are working with a career coach, employment agency or career marketer, Heinzel’s advice is to never pay more than $500 for those services. Before paying for services, check to see if these services are available for free through an organization like College Recruiter, which offers a free resume editing service. If you must pay, pay only for three things, says Heinzel:

    1. Help in improving your interviewing skills
    2. Your resume (especially if you’re not used to writing resumes or your writing skills are shaky)
    3. Contact names.

    Do you apply for jobs but never hear back from an actual person?

    Remember, Heinzel points out, HR’s number one job is to protect the company. They act as the screener for almost all incoming resumes. If someone in HR doesn’t feel that your resume is what they are looking for or if the resume screening software determines that your resume doesn’t have enough of the keywords found in the online job description, it won’t advance to the next step in the application process.

    Picture this possible scenario, says Heinzel: The screener is an HR staffer and not feeling well that day, and even if he sees that you are marginally qualified, because he is a Cal grad and you graduated from Stanford… well, so long, buddy.

    Remember, there are hundreds to thousands of resumes coming in, so the majority of HR’s time is spent eliminating candidates, says Heinzel.

    The hiring manager is the one with the power to interview and hire you, not HR. So what do you do?

    Get to the hiring manager – a direct contact responsible for hiring for the position for which you are applying. Networking with the right people at companies is important. This can be difficult unless you have a contact within the target company.

    Heinzel provides encouragement and educates readers on the importance of being persistent but gracious. Getting an interview and getting a job is hard work.

    “Looking for work is a full-time job in itself,” says Heinzel. “If you’re not putting in at least six hours a day in related job search activities, you’re not doing the job you’re supposed to be doing right now, until you find a better one.”

    For more career advice and networking tips, check out our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

    Kenneth A. Heinzel

    Kenneth A. Heinzel

    About Ken Heinzel
    Ken Heinzel, author of  Private Notes From a Headhunter: Proven Job Search and Interviewing Techniques for College Students and Recent Grads taught marketing and business management at Sonoma State University in Northern California from 2000 to 2009. Prior to teaching at SSU, professor Heinzel was an Executive Recruiter (Headhunter), in the high-tech industry. He placed scores of candidates over a ten-year period in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. In addition, he was an executive and sales manager in corporate America for twenty years at large corporations, such as Xerox and Ameritech. He and his editor/wife Inese live in Santa Rosa, California.

  • How to get a dream job even without experience

    June 20, 2016 by
    Dream, job, way photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    It’s intensely frustrating. You spend years getting further education, you work your butt off, you rack up extra debt, and afterwards no doors will open because ‘you lack experience’ or because university ‘didn’t teach you the skills you need.’ But how can you get experience if nobody will give you a job?

    Well fear not; there are actually ways to get that dream job after all, and that’s without first working 10 years at some entry-level position trying to make your mark. It just means working hard right now and showing everybody that you’ve got the mojo to pull it off.
    So are you ready to get noticed? Here’s what you’ve got to do.

    Do the time

    Despite what many young people think, the world doesn’t owe them anything. That means your dream job is not going to get thrown into your lap. If you want it, you’ve got to look for it, hunt for it, and when you found it, battle to get it. So make sure you don’t sit back and wait for something to happen.

    Instead, pursue every channel to get the job you want, be it social media, friends of the family, career counseling at university or the classifieds in the local newspaper (some people actually still use those). And apply to everything that sounds close to what you want. Even if you don’t end up wanting it, the experience from going to the interview can be just what you need to wow your future employers when you do land the right interview.

    Develop your soft skills

    One of the biggest problems employers have with fresh graduates is that they don’t have the soft skills necessary to actually get anywhere in the workplace. By soft skills I mean teamwork, communication, writing and problem-solving skills. An even bigger problem? Graduates think they’re actually very good at those things and therefore don’t take the time to become better at them. Don’t be like everybody else; accept that you’ve still got a lot to learn, then go out of your way to learn soft skills!

    Be confident but not arrogant

    There is another good reason besides soft skills that many people don’t like hiring recent graduates – and that’s because recent graduates often have a much higher estimation of what they’re capable of than what they’re actually capable of. They come swaggering into the workplace believing that they’ll show these business people a thing or two about how it’s done.

    The thing is, often they don’t know how it’s done. They’ve got too little work experience and often too much idealism. They’ve got a lot to learn but think too highly of themselves to realize this is so.

    Don’t be that person. Be respectful, accept that you’re still at the beginning of your life and that experience is valuable, but make it clear to your future employer that you’re smart enough to know what you know and driven enough to learn what you don’t. That will impress them.

    Prepare for the interview

    There are some tricky questions interviewers can’t ask you, and if you haven’t prepared then they may stump you. So take time to prepare. Not only that, but make sure you know the names of the people you’re going to interview with, as well as whatever basic facts you can find online. People will be impressed if you are well-informed. It shows that you care, that you’re a good researcher, that you’re proactive and that you’re willing to invest effort to get what you want.

    Show off your expertise

    If you want the dream job, you’ve got to show that your skill set is much greater than your limited CV gives you credit for. So you’ve got to show off your expertise. This can be done in multiple ways–by getting an endorsement from somebody who matters in the industry or one of your professors, for instance, but probably the best way is to actually start working in the field. So either start freelancing while you’re still in college, or otherwise start blogging and build up a reputation as somebody who knows what they’re talking about.

    Be passionate

    Read books and articles in your field, understand theory as best you can, know who the players are, and when you get around to writing your cover letter, show them how much you care. Now don’t be a gushing ninny. You’ve got to be professional, but you still have to demonstrate to them that even though you don’t have as much experience as everybody else in the field, you’ve got more than enough passion to make up for it.

    Be a protagonist

    You’ve got to take responsibility for your actions or your lack thereof. It won’t be easy to jump the cue. It will, in fact, take a lot of hard work, so you’ve got to prepare for that. That said, it is possible so long as you take the time to be do what you’ve got to do and show that you’re a cut above the rest.

    And if it goes wrong, own it, learn what you can from it and get back up again. Then push on. That’s the only way it’s going to work. You’ve got to be the hero of your own story, because otherwise you’re the victim. And who hires the victim?

    Jonathan Emmen, guest writer

    Jonathan Emmen, guest writer

    Jonathan Emmen is a student and an inspired blogger from Copenhagen. His passion is writing, and he finds inspiration in traveling, books, and movies. You can follow him on @JonnyEmmen or you can also follow him on Kinja.

  • Top 9 excuses for not attending a job interview

    June 13, 2016 by
    Abdomen photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Oh no! Something has gone horribly wrong and now you can’t attend the job interview! What can you possibly say to the company to make them give you another chance? Well, whatever you are going to say, may I suggest that you say it as early as possible? Call in a timely fashion. This will show them you respect them and their time. This is vital if you want to make certain that you’ll get another chance.

    Also, though you might be a fantastic writer and have followed all the writing tips in the world, sending an email really isn’t an option when cancelling a job interview. First of all, it’s impersonal. Secondly, by doing so you demonstrate that your discomfort is more important to you than their opinion of you. That is not how you make friends. So whatever excuse you’re going to use, you should at least have the courtesy to call.

    Here are nine excuses job seekers often give when calling employers to pass on job interview opportunities.

    Family emergency

    Though it is a golden oldie that every recruiter has no doubt heard hundreds of time, what makes this one so good is that they really can’t say ‘that’s unacceptable.’ An important thing to consider, however, is that you don’t make the emergency too drastic. There is no need for somebody to have died, for example. Your mother has fainted, your grandmother broke her hip, or your little brother swallowed a marble really are good enough reasons. And as an added bonus if they invite you to come in for another job interview a few days later, they don’t require you to put on a show of misery.

    A friend was in bad shape, and I couldn’t leave them

    This one is good as it shows that you care about other people enough to sacrifice something that is important to you in order to look after their well-being. Again, just like with the reason outlined above, you don’t need to take this too far. They should be depressed, not suicidal.

    Car trouble or accident

    It happens to a lot of people and therefore is a good excuse. You can also go with any of the other common accidents that happen if you prefer. That might make it slightly more original. After all the car trouble has been used a lot.

    Illness

    “The plague” might not be the way to go. Instead, anything that significantly impacts your functioning is good enough. Some people will suggest something like “the runs.” I wouldn’t go that way, however, as dirty illnesses can end up getting associated with you, which can thereby reduce your chances of getting the job. Better to go with a migraine or the flu.

    I just got a freelance gig at the last minute that I have to take to keep my head above water

    This is a great one as it shows that you’re not just looking for work but also working at jobs in the process. Of course, it’s even better if it’s actually true. Have you checked out real freelance opportunities?

    Woman having a bad morning photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    I’m not in good shape today, and I’d just be wasting all your time

    Maybe you suffered from a bout of insomnia because of the job? Maybe you’re just in a weird place? If you call early enough in the day then there’s a good chance they will understand and allow you to reschedule your job interview.

    Somebody called me and told me that the job was gone. Only later did I realize they were calling from another company.

    It’s an honest mistake. It does make you look slightly scatterbrained as you got confused, but it could have happened. It’s also not that common of an excuse, meaning you’ve got originality going for you. So there’s that.

    There was an emergency at work, and it would have been irresponsible to leave.

    The great thing about this one is that it makes you look like you care a great deal about your current employer, despite looking for other work. It also makes you look indispensable, which is also a bonus.

    The truth!

    But honestly, I would never use any of these if they weren’t true, as that means you’re starting off your relationship with a potential future employer with a lie. There are a lot of employers’ reviews websites where there could be negative information about you. And to me that that doesn’t feel like the right way to go. Call it karma, call it doing the right thing, call it the golden rule, but for me the only option is calling them and telling them the truth.

    If you miss out on the opportunity to reschedule your job interview because you told the truth, then so be it. Better to miss an interview and maintain integrity than to move forward under false pretenses.

    Looking for more information on interviews? Click on our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

    Diana Beyer, guest writer

    Diana Beyer, guest writer

    Diana Beyer is an experienced and self-driven media expert who is passionate about writing. Her purpose is to share values amid those interested. She is always seeking to discover new ways for personal and professional growth. Connect with Diana though Twitter.