Monthly Archives: April 2011

A Professional Email Address is Crucial

Every small detail enhances that first impression of you.  Something as small as an email address can speak volumes about your personality.  That is not the proper place for self-expression when seeking employment.  Electronic mail has become crucial for communication in the business world and often times the preferred method of contact by a prospective interviewer/employer.

That is why it is so important that you should create a functional, professional email address.  There are numerous free email services out there.  Create a new address strictly for job searching purposes.  Make sure your email address is just your name or a shortened variation of it – sanjolley@email.com; sjolley101@gmail.com, not a nickname like elvisfan22@hotmail.com or mikesgirl@yahoo.com.

There are two obvious reasons for doing this:

  1. It isn’t funny, and the potential employer won’t take you seriously.
  2. The potential employer will have an easier time remembering your email address.

Finding a job is serious business, so take it seriously.  You will then find that other people will take you seriously as well and perhaps offer you a job.

Sandy Jolley

Employment Specialist

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Filed under Resume, Tool Box

Don’t Do It!

Remember that the whole point of a resume is to get an interview.  Some people treat resumes as Curriculum Vitae, listing every job, duty and accomplishment since they entered the workforce.  You want a resume to impress employers and show them you are capable of performing the job duties.  With that said, remember NOT to include the following:

1.     Your birthdate, year of high school graduation or any other indicator of age.  The person reviewing the resume may think, “This person is too young to do this job”, or “This person is too old to do this job”.
2.    Personal information which may contain or suggest discriminatory information such as sexual preference or religion.  All information in a resume needs to be professional (unless it directly pertains to the open position), so don’t include hobbies, either.
3.    References.  Giving out personal information such as addresses and cell phone numbers to every prospective employer may indicate a lack of respect.  Type a separate page in the same font as your resume and give out only when requested.
4.    Irrelevant job experience.  If you have performed duties in the food service industry and in construction, have two separate resumes.  Use the header Relevant Work Experience and include jobs that show you have the experience.
5.    Social Security Number-the basis for identity theft.  This should be guarded information.
6.    Salary history or requests.  Again, employers may make assumptions based on your previous rate of pay.  If the position you have applied for pays much more than you have made in the past, the company may assume you will work for less.  After all, you have in the past.  If the position pays less, they may not offer the job in fear that you won’t accept or will be expecting a raise soon.
7.    Grammatical errors or typos.  This is your first impression.  If you don’t take the time to proofread and produce quality results, what does that say about your job performance? Will this person take the time at work to make sure that quality is priority?
8.    Bashing of previous employers.  Any negative comments will be a direct reflection on the type of person you are, not the previous employer.  This is the quickest way to NOT get a job.

A resume is merely a list of skills and experiences you have.  Once you have the interview, you can let your personality shine through as you sell yourself!

Carrie Cole

Career Connections Coordinator

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Filed under Interview, References, Resume

Four Helpful Writing Tips for Job Seekers

Composing a resume and filling out a job application both have specific rules.  Often times, however, you may be asked to provide a writing sample for a future employer.  This request is made to verify that you, the applicant, has a strong grasp of language and grammar.  As with any art form, writing has no definitive rules so always be sure to write for your audience.   If you are not sure who your audience is, here are four tips that will help you compose a basic, well written sample.

1. Try to avoid long sentences. A sentence should not have more than ten or twelve words.

2. Each sentence should make a clear statement. It should add to the statement that went before. A good paragraph is a series of clear, linked statements.

3. Do not use big words. If your computer tells you that your average word is more than five letters long, there is something wrong. The use of small words compels you to think about what you are writing. Even difficult ideas can be broken down into small words.

4. Never use words whose meaning you are not sure of. If you break this rule you should look for other work.

Good Luck!

Thomas Royal

Public Relations Specialist

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Filed under Interview, Self-Improvement, Skill, Tool Box

Responding to an Inappropriate Interview Question

By now most people know they’re not supposed to ask questions about age, race, religion and whether a woman is planning to have children.  But beyond the illegal questions I’ve found clients sometimes confronted with the occasional inappropriate question.

These usually occur when the employer is a smaller one or a family-owned business.  In other words, larger, more structured companies typically operate in a more standardized setting.  But less structured interviews, particularly if they involve a lunch or supper meeting, can occasionally stray into question about public issues of the day.  I don’t necessarily think the employer is trying to catch the candidate as much as the inquiry is simply born of ignorance.

Politics and pop culture can be dangerous topics if not handled properly.  Imagine sitting there during the height of the Iraq War and being asked your view on President Bush and our nation’s strategy?  Or President Obama and healthcare?

On the one hand you’re thinking, “What does that have to do with my ability to do my job?”  And you’d be correct.  Yet, how should you handle that inquiry without appearing rattled, confrontational or evasive?  How can you convey that, well, it’s none of that person’s business without somewhat alienating the interviewer?

A simple technique I’ve found effective is to use a verbal cushion to acknowledge the question, but to then turn things around and ask the employer their thoughts on the subject.

For example, “I’m not sure there’s any easy answer on the war.  There are certainly passionate opinions on both sides.  I’m curious, Mr. Employer, what you think about it.”  And if the interviewer doesn’t respond, change the subject.  If they do respond while giving their opinion, at least you know whether what you might have said would have matched your with your potential employer.

If the employer responds, then further asks you your opinion, I think you’re within your rights to respectfully refuse to answer.  Try, “While we both know it’s a hot topic, I hope you’ll appreciate my desire to separate my personal views and interests from my work objectives.”  Be careful not to impugn the employer’s motives for asking or verbally slap their wrist too harshly.

Awkward, inappropriate or even illegal questions can easy rattle many candidates.  How calmly you respond under such circumstances could help separate you from your competition.

Learn more about us at www.woodengroup.com.

Randy Wooden

The Wooden Group

As founder and president of The Wooden Group, Randy brings over 25 years of experience in a number of human resource areas including outplacement, career coaching, executive recruiting, in-house staffing and training. Additionally, Randy has served as a college adjunct instructor, teaching classes on interviewing and the overall job hunting process.

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Filed under Courtesy, Interview, Unexpected

There Is No Such Thing As Being Overdressed For An Interview!

It is imperative that one dress appropriately for a job interview.   First impressions can last a lifetime so making the right one can make all the difference in how a future employer perceives your  attitude and work ethic.  If one takes the time to properly groom and dress, then it should be inferred that their time spent on the job will also be spent diligently.

What to wear for men:

-Suit (solid color – navy or dark gray)

-Long sleeve shirt (white or coordinated with the suit)

-Belt

-Tie without bold designs or loud colors

-Dark socks

-Conservative leather shoes

-Little or no jewelry

-Neat, professional hairstyle

-Limited aftershave

-Neatly trimmed nails

-Fresh Breath

-Portfolio or briefcase

What to wear for women:

-Suit (navy, black or dark grey) – The suit skirt should be long enough so you can sit down comfortably

-Coordinated blouse

-Conservative shoes

-Limited jewelry (no dangling earrings or arms full of bracelets) – No jewelry is better than cheap jewelry

-Professional hairstyle

-Neutral pantyhose

-Light make-up and perfume

-Neatly manicured clean nails

-Fresh Breath

-Portfolio or briefcase

Things to avoid During an Interview

(you would be amazed at how often interviewees arrive for an interview with the following items):

Revealing Clothing, Too Much Jewelry,  Flip Flops or Sneakers, Visible Underwear, baggy clothes, Poor Footwear, Hats, anything Denim, Stained Clothing, Excessive Jewelry (no nose, tongue, or eyebrow rings), Baggy Pants w/out a belt to hold in place at WAISTLINE, Midriff, Mesh, Halter, Tank Tops, or Spaghetti Straps, Remnants of a Late Night Out, Graphic T-Shirts and cover large or offensive tattoos.  Do not bring in portable electronics (ipods), turn your cell phone off, do not chew gum or suck on a mint, do not carry large bags or backpacks into the interview.

Dressing for success is crucial to landing a job.  Even if the job you are interviewing for requires a uniform or casual clothing, be sure to dress your best and follow the above guidelines.  There is no such thing as being overdressed for a job interview!

Fredrina Pinkney

Employment Retention Specialist

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Filed under Courtesy, Fashion, Grooming, Self-Improvement

Job Fair Survival

Kenny Beck from WXII-12 in Winston-Salem has some great timeless tips for job fair attendees that were broadcast before last year’s Goodwill of Northwest North Carolina’s Employment and Resource Fair.

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Filed under Initiative, Network

The Value of Workshops

Do you ever wonder why it is worth attending workshop after workshop?  What could possibly be the importance of hearing an individual talk about a topic with which you are already familiar?  Because it’s just that, IMPORTANT!

There’s nothing better way to learn than through repetition.  Hearing topics over and over again helps to retain all of the valuable information that is presented.  This information becomes part of you.  The topics and tips taken from workshops become a habit and routine in your endeavors for success.  You can never get an overload of good information.  Although instructors may inevitably be saying the same thing, there are different ways to apply the information to your job search.

Search the community calendars, job posting websites and workforce development centers for employment workshops.   Go into each one looking for “new ways” to implement “old knowledge.”

Bryant King

Career Connections Specialist

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Filed under Initiative, Self-Improvement

The 60 Second Elevator Speech

The job search process has changed.  Networking is more important than ever.  One must be ready to go out to network.  My biggest rule on networking is to BE THERE.  You must be at functions and must be there mentally.  In order to have a successful networking session, you should:

a) have a goal and a plan

b) be ready to “practice” your plan

c) have a positive attitude.

The first part of your plan should be your 60-second elevator speech.  Who are you?  What do you do?  What is unique about you?  What are your special skills?  Where would you be at your best?
Now practice that on your friends and family…..I find that dogs make the best judges…they are so positive.  So if Rover likes the speech, you’re good to go!

Tempy Albright

Job Developer

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Filed under Attitude, Network

Attitude

ATTITUDE
Charles Swindoll

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude to me is more important than facts.  It is more important than the past, than failures, than success, than what other people think or say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skills. It will make or break a company…a church… a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday the attitude we will embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past…we cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.  And so it is with all…we are in charge of our attitude.

Attitude

•    Your thoughts (attitudes) and not the actual events create your feelings.  All experiences must be processed through your brain and given a conscious meaning before you experience any emotional response.

•    Only your thoughts can upset you, but if you learn to think more realistically you will feel less upset.

YOUR ATTITUDES FOLLOW YOUR THOUGHTS

•    Face it; nothing is carved in stone, take control of your life.  Believe in yourself.

Remember: 10 two letter words
If it is to be,
It is up to me!

Tonja Fultz

Project Re-entry Employment Specialist

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Filed under Attitude

Do Your References Know That They Are Your References?

It is imperative when you are job searching that you alert your references, personal and professional, and tell them that you need their support. Remind them that you are job searching, tell them why you chose them, and make sure their contact information is updated. Although we are now deeply immersed in a world of texts, emails and social media, a phone call is still a very accepted means of communication. So do yourself a favor and call your references and thank them in advance for helping you to land a job and prepare them to be an effective spokesperson for you.

Tanika Hawkins

Career Connections Coordinator

Prosperity Center

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Filed under Courtesy, Network, References