Wednesday, August 24, 2016

OWLS 2 WORK: Interviewing: Tell Me About Yourself

Most interviewers will start with a request to “Tell me about yourself.” Even though it is an easy request to anticipate, it often causes undue stress and anxiety, resulting in rambling responses that include complete life stories. With a little preparation, you can use this question to clearly articulate your strengths and accomplishments, setting a confident, positive tone for the rest of the interview.

To craft a strong response, start by carefully reviewing the job requisition, researching the employer, and asking these questions:
  1. What strengths do you have that are pertinent to the position? (3-5)
  2. What are key accomplishments that have benefited past employers and are relevant to this position? (1-2)
  3. What personal traits (or soft skills) do you have that complement your other skills?
  4. What educational credentials enhance your employment background? (diplomas, degrees, and professional certifications)
Create a script including information from your answers.  Keep your response relatively succinct. It is surprising what can be said in just 30 to 45 seconds.  For example:

My passion is numbers. With more than five years experience in accounting, I have been recognized for completing complex accounting projects under stringent time restraints. In my current role as a fund accountant, I generated over $230,000.00 in cost savings by identifying expense reduction opportunities. I enjoy collaborating with others to understand my employer’s pain points and addressing problems head-on.  My bachelor’s degree in accounting is a strong foundation for my accounting career and I am currently on track to obtain my CPA License by this October. 

In most instances, avoid sharing personal matters or ancient work history. Instead, focus on highlighting:
  • how you can do the job
  • what you have previously accomplished 
  • how you can help the organization
Practice with your script until you feel confident, but avoid memorization. Your response should sound natural and conversational. With a thoughtful, prepared response, you are bound to make a memorable and positive impression.

For additional interview preparation resources or to schedule a mock interview, please contact WGU Career & Professional Development. We are here to help.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Types of Cover Letters: Pain Letter

A cover letter can be a vital tool for setting you apart during a job search. The key to a great cover letter is that it has to be to targeted specifically towards the company and job you are interested in. Templates rarely work well in any form and especially not for a cover letter. Many employers have admitted they do not read cover letters because they are often boring and unoriginal. Everyone wants to feel special and companies are no different. That’s why it’s important that you take the time to research the company in detail. Read about the company culture, community outreach, press releases, awards received, and, if possible, connect with people who work there to gain additional insight about the company. Targeting your cover letter may seem a bit time consuming but it will pay off in the end.

There are several different types of cover letters. A pain letter is one example of a cover letter you can use when applying to jobs that will help you stand out.

Pain Letter – Designed by Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace, this non-traditional cover letter will certainly grab the hiring manager’s attention. The idea around this letter is that companies hire people who are able to solve problems for them. Every company has a set of challenges or “pain” that they are experiencing at the moment. Your job is to position yourself as the solution to the “pain” they are experiencing. There are 3 short paragraphs to this approach.

The 1st paragraph grabs the reader’s attention by mentioning the hiring manager by name and talking about a specific accomplishment the company has achieved. Again, this will require some research to find out who the hiring manager is. You can usually find this information on the company website, LinkedIn, or conducting research online. You can find out specific information about the company achievements on their website under press releases.

The 2nd paragraph addresses the business pain. This is where you make an educated guess as to the challenges the business may be facing. Maybe they are growing and they will need great new employees. Whatever the case, during your research you will spot trends on the happenings inside the company or you connect with a company insider to find out more information about the challenges.

The 3rd paragraph talks about a time when you experienced a similar challenge that the company may be facing and you were successful in addressing that challenge. Finally, you close the letter with a few sentences about the next steps in the interview process and request a meeting.

Look for more examples of non-traditional cover-letters in blogs to come. In the meantime, WGU’s Career & Professional Development Center has put together all the resources you need to feel confident and prepared!  Review WGU’s cover letter resources to help you create a compelling letter. For a critique of your resume or cover letter or individual assistance in creating your own pain letter, contact your WGU Career & Professional Development Specialist.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Dos & Don’ts Of Interview Etiquette!

For many people, job interviews are the most stressful part of the job search process. But they don’t have to be if you prepare and practice!

Know the dos and don’ts of interviewing and be ready to address the three basic questions that are at the heart of every interview:

Can you do the job?
Do you want the job?
Will you fit in?

WGU’s Career & Professional Development Center has put together all the resources you need to feel confident and prepared! Review WGU’s interviewing resources to help prepare for your next interview! For a practice interview and personalized assistance, contact your WGU Career & Professional Development Specialist.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

6 Characteristics of Resumes That Get Results

There has been much written on resumes and what is needed to have an effective one. There are six basic characteristics of resumes that get results. Results include securing interviews, informational sessions, invites to visit an organization, lunch meetings, or any kind of direct contact with a prospective employer. Let’s review the 6 characteristics.

1. Well Written & Organized Strategically
Your document must have correct grammar, no spelling errors and organized in a way that will get the reader’s attention immediately. There must also be clear distinctions between the various areas on your resume. We all know that resumes are scanned quickly by employers and recruiters, so it’s imperative to strategically place information in a way that will grab their attention and encourage them to read further.

2. Targeted To Each Position
There is no such thing as a “general” resume that you send to each job that you apply for. With companies utilizing applicant tracking systems to scan resumes for key words and relevant information, you must target your resume for each position. You can accomplish this by first going to the “required qualifications” section within the job description and strategically adding the required information throughout your resume. Don’t just add the information so it can get around the applicant tracking system, but make sure you are qualified for the job. You should not apply for jobs where you don’t possess most of the required qualifications or chances are you won’t receive a call. Be sure to include relevant industry related skills you have as well, preferably at the top of your document under your professional profile, so it’s easy for the reader to spot. It can seem a lot easier to send out a “general” resume, but if you take the time to make sure that your document is targeted to each position, you will see more results.

3. Branded- What Do You Personally Bring To An Organization
Your resume must include your “brand”. When writing your resume, you must start with a clear idea of the skills that you want to highlight to prospective employers. The employer should get a really good understanding of what you will personally bring to their organization after reviewing your resume. Think about the skills you believe that you are really good at and highlight them throughout your resume. This “brand” should be clear everywhere: in person, on your resume, and social media. The goal is for people to associate you with the “brand” that you have created.

4. Include Practical Experience
It’s not enough to just have the required education to obtain employment. Employers want to see practical relevant experience on resumes. Students and alumni sometimes believe that since they have completed their education, they were somehow assured employment in their field of choice. Include internships, apprenticeship programs, personal and freelance experience, related projects, and organizations you are active in that are relevant to the particular job you are applying to. This will show the reader that you are passionate about your field of choice and that you are actively engaged. It also shows that you have real world experience that is valuable to any organization. Check out WGU Career & Professional Development’s resources for Internships & Volunteering.

5. Results Oriented
Resumes are often “task oriented” instead of "results oriented". Under each experience there are usually lists that outline general tasks that any person in that position would normally do. Using words like “responsible for” or “assisted”, don’t tell the reader that you can produce results. Instead choose to display results and accomplishments, this will display to the reader that you are a high achiever as opposed to an employee who does the bare minimum on the job. Bold your accomplishments and achievements so it’s easy for the employer to see it. Show that you can produce positive measurable results and you will be more marketable to an organization.  Use our Accomplishment Statement Worksheet today to create effective results oriented resumes.

6. Get In Front Of Hiring Managers
You can have a well written and organized resume that highlights your skills perfectly, but if it does not get in front of a hiring manager then it serves no purpose. Your resume works in concert with your actions. You must be visible and active in order to get your document reviewed by those responsible for hiring. Networking must become a regular part of your activities even when you are not looking for a job. Contact people in your personal network, join organizations, become active on LinkedIn and social media, and network as much as you can in order to get your document in the hands of the person responsible for hiring.  Build upon your networking skills with WGU Career & Professional Development’s networking resources.

For help with resume writing, be sure to review the resume resources on the WGU Career & Professional Development website. For personalized assistance or resume review, contact your WGU Career & Professional Development Specialist.