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Posted August 01, 2016 by

4 winning resume tips for recent graduates

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.

Posted July 16, 2016 by

10 most tricky HR questions for students

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.

 

Posted July 12, 2016 by

4 ways sophomores can take advantage of career services

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.

 

 

Posted June 22, 2016 by

The power of networking

 

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.

Posted June 20, 2016 by

How to get a dream job even without experience

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.

Posted June 13, 2016 by

Top 9 excuses for not attending a job interview

 

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. (more…)

Posted May 23, 2016 by

5 tips to manage a stress-free online job search

Women laptop photo by StockUnlimited.com

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

Today, most job searches are conducted online. Although some parts of the country will still focus on more personable job searches, the majority of young Americans will be searching for their first entry-level jobs on computers. Online job searches are both convenient and troublesome. Recent graduates no longer have to go to an employment agency’s office or endlessly drop in on various professionals in order to gain employment in a company; rather they can conduct all of their employment research from the comfort of their own homes. On the other hand, potential entry-level employees can be difficult to distinguish from one another because their résumés tend to look similar. On paper, new grads can appear to be one and the same, but in person their different skills, interests, and personalities can shine through. For many employers, the right personality is just as valuable as qualifications on paper. So how can recent grads manage their online job search without becoming entirely overwhelmed?

1) Focus the job search

New grads who have obtained broad degrees such as in business or communications will be able to apply to a diverse range of jobs. However, applying to several different jobs in several different subfields can become stressful very quickly. Job seekers are encouraged to focus their searches on a particular job title (and similar positions) during their online searches. They should start with a subfield they feel passionate about because their excitement for the position (or lack thereof) will shine through and give them a better chance of achieving interviews.

2) Supplement with in-person contacts and connections

Although online job searches are convenient, they are not always successful if conducted without the help of in-person contacts. Former professors and alumni connections are an essential part of a first time job search, and they can provide introductions and tips that can be extremely valuable. An online resume can easily go from the middle of the pile to the top with an introduction or recommendation coming from someone already within the company.

3) Pick a time of day to call it quits

At some point, job seekers have to call it quits, at least for that day. In many cases, recent grads are searching for a job late in the evening after coming home from their part-time college jobs. Job seekers don’t do a great job of proofreading or checking for important details late at night and often send out applications they later wish they could have taken a second look at. The late hours of the evening also come with varying degrees of mental fatigue that result from a full day’s work. Even if job seekers are a few minutes away from finishing an important application, they’re encouraged to proofread the next morning with fresh eyes.

4) Go the extra mile

Because most current applicants don’t reach out in person or on the phone, those who do will get more attention. If there is a number for an HR Manager or department head, applicants should give them a call and introduce themselves or ask any pertinent questions regarding the position. Instead of following up with just an email, follow up with a personable phone call. Applicants who are giving an interview are encouraged to send a handwritten thank-you note that will make them stand out from the crowd.

5) Put a little piece of your personality in each cover letter

Because the hiring manager only learns about applicants from a couple pieces of paper, it’s important their personalities shine through. Most applicants write one cover letter and gear it towards each position. However, an applicant’s skills and passion tend to become apparent when each cover letter is written from scratch. Additionally, it’s important that job seekers write their cover letters at a time of day when they have a lot of energy and enthusiasm. It’s also a great idea to ask another person to proofread a cover letter and make sure that it’s personable, professional, and easy to read.

For more help with your online job search, make you way to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Robyn Scott, guest writer

Robyn Scott, guest writer

Robyn Scott, a guest writer for College Recruiter, is a private tutor with TutorNerds LLC. She has a BA from the University of California, Irvine, and a MA from the University of Southampton, UK.

Posted May 12, 2016 by

10 soft skills employers expect of recent graduates

Background concept wordcloud illustration of soft skills glowing light courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Kheng Guan Toh/Shutterstock.com

Are you ready to find your dream job as soon as you graduate? Then, it’s high time to draw a detailed plan with soft skills required for the workplace. This will help you stand out from other candidates and be a perfect fit for the position of your choice.

To successfully accomplish the task, college graduates can analyze requirements for current vacancy announcements, make use of LinkedIn or Branded.me profiles of people with a great experience, and study analytical articles on the labor market to always stay updated.

It’s not a secret, though, that plenty of online sources post about top soft skills potential employers want in their candidates’ CVs or resumes. So, why not focus on them to make your preparation for obtaining a good entry-level job a bit easier? Here’s what is highly demanded by most of the recruiters:

1 – Lifelong learners

Recent grads can hardly boast of knowing everything about the work they will perform daily. It’s quite natural when something is learned along the way. Sometimes employers prefer young, enthusiastic graduates over highly experienced professionals, since the former tend to learn and absorb new information more eagerly and are ready to develop a learning habit. The latter instead are quite often more stubborn and unlikely to reach a compromise, which can hinder team effectiveness. Additionally, lifelong learners are supposed to know how to obtain and process information to solve the problems they haven’t faced before.

2 – Team players

Teamwork is not only about collective responsibility for every team player’s actions. It’s also about communicating your message to others and achieving that goal with the help of knowledge and each employee’s efforts. Effective team performance depends much on the correct management and delegation of tasks. In contrast to past expectations for team players, modern employers are looking for those who will be proactive and suggest creative solutions. Initiative is strongly encouraged.

3 – Effective time managers and schedulers

Chaos brings no positive effect. To show high productivity and performance, it’s crucial to hone time management and prioritization skills. These two skills rank high on most employers’ lists of soft skills. For that, managers and schedulers need to negotiate deadlines and schedule tasks appropriately. Should tasks be equally urgent, they’d better discuss which one to take first together with their reporters. When using electronic or paper planners, think of short breaks that need to be made between tasks, divide time-consuming tasks into several subtasks, and leave about 10 or 15% of time for coping with emergencies and contingencies. Set reminders well in advance, and review to-do lists daily.

4 – Good listeners and masters of convincing people

Being a good listener doesn’t mean you should keep silent while somebody else is expressing his or her thoughts, so that you can further move on to your statements. The point is to really listen and hear other team players and choose the best solutions working together. Another important thing is to know how to make everyone understand what you mean. In other words, you should learn to use simple and concise statements, speaking with confidence to all people in the company regardless of their seniority.

Problem solver words on business cards courtesy of Shutterstock.com

iQoncept/Shutterstock.com

5 – Problem solvers

At the top of most top list of soft skills is “problem solving skills.” The first step to successful problem solving is to clearly understand what the problem is and what caused it. The next step is to carefully consider interests of others and list all suitable solutions. The final step is to evaluate suggested options by listing their advantages and disadvantages, and then choose the one that has the most pluses. To be an efficient problem solver, you need to get rid of fear. By focusing more on tackling the problem, you will be able to do it with ease.

6 – Company fan

Being a company fan means to be knowledgeable about your employer’s industry. Understanding what key benefits the company gives to its customers or clients, how the process of decision-making is organized, what main competitors the company has, etc. are among the things job seekers should learn before a job interview.

7 – Data analyzer

If you work with people with analytical mindsets, you are a lucky person. This allows you to quickly gather, assess, and analyze new information, selecting only the things you will need at work. This soft skill is highly required for making future plans or prognoses, and creating recommendations for others to follow. This skill is also helpful when you need to analyze your successes or failures, which is very important for your progress.

8 – Tech-savvy person

This means not only knowing how to create, delete, or remove presentations or surf the Internet proficiently. Being tech-savvy means knowing what tools and programs are used by the specialist you want to become. For example, if you want to become a web designer, you will need to master such programs as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or Indesign.

9 – Critical thinker

If you have a chance to join a series of workshops on how to become a good critical thinker, jump at the chance! These practical lessons will teach you how to criticize somebody else wisely by finding a strong argument and how to accept criticism of your work. Being a critical thinker is essential for improving your communication skills and professional growth too. Critical thinking ranks high on the list of soft skills regardless of your job title or position.

10 – Curious mind

Being curious means to never be afraid of asking questions. Though, it doesn’t mean you should behave like a chattering box, annoying other employees with your never-ending questions. You should ask questions when you don’t know the answers so your work won’t be done slowly. You must use proper discernment to ask questions of the right person (your manager or mentors) at the right time (one on one and in quiet settings, and preferably not during the last five minutes of meetings).

A few final tips

Taking an active part in extra-curricular activities and voluntary projects can also help job seekers develop a set of useful skills for their future jobs. By establishing friendly relationships with people, you increase your chances of getting what you need. Who knows, maybe some of your peers or instructors will recommend you as a highly promising hire one day.

Need more help with your job search? Head over to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Nancy Lin, guest writer

Nancy Lin, guest writer

Nancy Lin is a student of Rockhurst University and enthusiastic freelance writer who enthuses about rock music, writing, and classic English literature. Feel free to contact her at Twitter or Google+.

Posted May 09, 2016 by

6 common mistakes grads make when searching for entry-level jobs

First Job word; business man touching on red tab virtual screen courtesy of Shutterstock.com

PhuShutter/Shutterstock.com

Recently, research from the Australian government shows how the shift from college education to full-time employment is becoming more challenging. Job prospects for young Australians are decreasing and on the other hand, recent graduates are making key mistakes when searching for entry-level jobs. Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading online educators, has gathered information from a variety of recruiters to help recent graduates understand their mistakes when applying for entry-level jobs. Avoid these most common mistakes to avoid when searching for entry-level jobs.

1. Negative attitude towards work

Australian government research confirmed young people do not have enough of a positive attitude towards work. Recruiters recommend job seekers be more motivated and demonstrate enthusiasm to potential employers.

According to the study, young people need to be more responsible and reliable concerning their behavior and approach to their jobs. Recruiters suggest working with a business for a while, coming in to shifts, being punctual, and showing respect to colleagues, and customers or clients.

2. Think learning is over after college

Recruiters ask young professionals to be more open to learning when they start their first entry-level jobs. We all need to continue learning during our professional lives to stay updated with industry changes. But when starting a new job, it is especially important to have the right attitude towards learning because everything is new; employees will need to gain knowledge of the working process in their new companies and the different procedures to complete work correctly and in a timely manner. Your first employer is giving you an excellent opportunity to learn and gain valuable experience, so absorb as much as you can.

3. Underestimate the importance of previous work experience

Even though job seekers are applying for their first full-time entry-level jobs, having some related work experience will give them a competitive advantage. This may be some volunteer work done while still in school or some unpaid jobs during the summer. Don’t underestimate this experience; include it on your resume and tell your interviewers about it.

Studies are essential, but having first-hand experience shows employers that you have some practical skills and a better understanding of work responsibilities and professional work life.

4. Failure to make a good first impression

Whoever says his opinion is not influenced by the first impression is lying. In an interview, job seekers only have a few seconds to convince interviewers that they are the right candidates, so along with their studies, work experience, and the right attitude, their presentations during interviews will play an important role in their success in landing their first full-time jobs.

According to the research, recent graduates often dress inappropriately for work and have untidy hair, so recruiters recommend paying special attention to appearance. Not every company’s dress code is the same, so make sure to verify details about the company culture before an interview in order to dress appropriately.

5. Poor job search and application skills

When looking for their first jobs, Australian young professionals are making very common mistakes, according to research. These skills improve with time and practice, but a couple pieces of advice recruiters give are: make sure each application (resume and cover letter) is tailored to the position for which you are applying, and always double check your application’s spelling and grammar. Recruiters see these types of mistakes as a lack of attention to detail and unacceptable in today’s marketplace.

Recruiters also suggest job seekers approach employers directly after providing their resumes and personally following up with them.

6. Unrealistic work expectations

When applying for their first entry-level jobs after college, recent graduates need to understand they cannot “start at the top.” They have to make an effort to work their way up through the business.

Another common mistake is to expect high compensation. This will also come with time as employees gain experience and assume more responsibilities. The nature of the work they do may not be exactly what they want initially, but as long as workers are learning and doing something they like, they are on the right path.

Need more tips for your job search? Check out our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Maria Onzain, guest writer

Maria Onzain, guest writer

Maria Onzain is a content marketing expert writing for Open Colleges about education, career, and productivity. She is passionate about all things digital, loves technology, social media, start-ups, travelling, and good food.

Posted May 04, 2016 by

Stay-at-home mom to CEO: Transferring skills to the workplace

During one of our one-on-one meetings, Faith Rothberg, CEO of College Recruiter, laughed as I described some of my potty training woes with my toddler.

“Just continue to lower your parenting expectations, and you’ll be fine.”

This sage advice has saved me from numerous mommy meltdowns. Faith Rothberg is not only a wonderful workplace mentor, but she’s also a mentor for young moms as well. Faith was recently featured in an article about returning to the workplace by OptIn as well.

Faith, a mother of three children, two of whom no longer reside at home, is a true parenting expert. She chose to stay home to care for her children after establishing her own career in the field of information technology after earning her MBA at the University of Michigan. Before earning her stay-at-home mom (SAHM) status, she worked for Ford Motor Company as a programmer, a manufacturing information technology consultant for KPMG, and for Wells Fargo as a project manager. Faith’s family photos adorn the walls of her house—even her home office—and she doesn’t hide the fact that her family comes first.

Yet as CEO of College Recruiter, an online recruitment media company named one of the world’s top career sites by Forbes, WEDDLE’s, and Business.com, how does Faith strike a balance between work and family? How did she transition back into the workplace after staying home with her children for 13 years? How did her SAHM experience provide her with transferable skills which now benefit her as CEO?

I recently interviewed my boss, Faith Rothberg, to ask her these very questions and more.


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Faith made the decision to stay home with her children after her second son was born. She admits she didn’t feel she was doing well as a mom or as a professional at this time in her life. The biggest surprise she had at this time was how hard it felt to be home every day and how many decisions she was faced with making all day long while caring for her children. She realized right away that she was building better multitasking skills, decision-making, and problem-solving skills as a parent. These are transferable skills that certainly aid her now in the workplace.

Many stay-at-home moms struggle when deciding whether to re-enter the workplace. “I don’t know if you ever know exactly that it’s the right time. When I made the decision to come back and start in our business . . . it was really good timing for the business, and it was almost good timing for me,” Faith candidly shares.

She admits she was worried she would not be able to be as available for her children. There was certainly an emotional component which was difficult during the transition back to work.

Faith suggests that parents who stay home with their children should remain active in their communities and at their children’s schools. Parents can volunteer in the classroom, on committees, and in non-profit organizations in order to round out their resumes to avoid major gaps with absolutely no experience.

Faith offers three tips for stay-at-home moms considering a return to the workplace.

  1. Evaluate what you want to do.

Often what you were doing before you had children isn’t what you want to do now (when returning to the workplace). You may have had a great paying job before having children, but now you may have different goals or objectives. Take some time and either work with a career coach or take career assessments online to reevaluate your goals. Get a career mentor and seek advice and guidance.

  1. Once you know what you want to do, update your resume.

You’ll have a gap on your resume during the time you stayed home with your children, and you may not have professional work experience to list on your resume during this gap. Use the volunteer experience and community involvement to fill in the gaps on your resume.

  1. Network.

Network with other children’s parents and with the spouses of those other stay-at-home parents. Network back with your former coworkers. Use LinkedIn and other social media sites. Send your resume to your contacts and friends and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

For more tips related to transferable skills, transitioning back into the workforce, and searching for jobs, visit our blog and follow us on social media at LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.