Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Salary Negotiations

Salary negotiations can be intimidating and confusing, often raising questions like “How much should I ask for?” or “How do I know what my net-worth is?” With a few simple steps, you can quickly answer these questions and provide employers with an appropriate salary expectation when an employer requests salary information on an application or in an interview.

  1. Research your net worth. Consider your experience, skill-set, capability to successfully do the job and your education as it relates to the industry. Websites such as Salary.com and PayScale can help in determining an appropriate salary range based on your skills, experience, and education. 
  2. Research the company. Beyond knowing your net worth, is it also important to research the company. Websites such as Glassdoor and CareerBliss allow you to gather salary information based on company name and job title.  Every day thousands of people share their salaries anonymously allowing you to see what employees earn at companies worldwide.
  3. Reframe. Compensation is more than a paycheck. We all have to pay the bills but compensation can also be included in benefits such as insurance coverage, vacation and sick leave, flexible schedules, and much more. These “perks” can be monetized and add value to your quality of life—personally and professionally. In an interview let the company know that your first priority is to make sure that you both agree that this is a good fit and that you’re well qualified for the position. You don’t want “numbers” to become a distraction. 

Job candidates often think that there is no leverage to negotiate salaries today and the first offer must be accepted if you want the job but you may be leaving money or additional benefits on the table. Although there is no guarantee that an employer will raise your salary, with a little research and confidence you might be surprised at what can happen. For additional assistance with salary negotiations or any additional career questions you may have, please contact WGU Career & Professional Development.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

10 Online Job Application Blunders

Submitting online job applications can be a long and tedious process. However, it is a critical job search component and rushing through the application can lead to costly mistakes. Employers use online applications to gather critical data about prospective employees and to evaluate applicants based on experience, continuity of employment, educational background, and overall potential. An application is a legal document and when you complete an application, your signature and/or submission of the application certifies that the information you provided is accurate and true. Your job application creates a strong first impression so you’ll want to make sure to avoid these top job application blunders:
  1. Poor spelling and grammatical errors. Like your cover letter and resume, one mistake can send your application to the discard pile. 
  2. Incomplete information or unanswered questions. You want to make sure to follow instructions carefully and complete the entire application.  If a question does not apply, put “N/A” in the response section.
  3. Not applying for a specific position. Always make sure to select or list the job title to which you are applying. Avoid stating that you are applying to “Any” position or “Will Do Anything”.
  4. Incomplete work history or large unexplained gaps in work history. Include all positions held over date range requested. Double check your dates (most applications will want month and year for start date and end date) and make sure your application aligns with your resume and social media profiles.  Provide all data requested which can include company address, phone number, job title, supervisor’s name, salary, start date, end date, responsibilities, and reason for leaving. Address gaps in employment (if longer than 6 months) by including time spent as student, volunteering or other professional experiences. 
  5. Saying “Please See Resume”. You don’t want to skimp on the responsibilities section of the application. If you already have a strong resume, incorporate the information from your resume into your application. Make sure to highlight your skills and accomplishments for each position utilizing key words from the job description.
  6. Use of problematic words, such as "quit" or "fired". You want to be honest, however, try to include only neutral or positive information. Some “Reasons for Leaving” include: Returned to school, Company reorganized, Changed careers, Relocated, Business closed, Contract ended, General lay off due to economic downturn, and New job opportunity.
  7. Abbreviations of degree, school, and other application information. Although the abbreviations may seem standard or obvious to you, the person initially reviewing your application may not be familiar with the abbreviations and miss key information.
  8. Forgetting to include additional relevant information. Make sure to add certifications, licenses, or any additional relevant training. You may be asked to provide license/registration numbers and/or expiration dates. Also, if relevant to the position to which you will be applying, you’ll want to consider including awards and recognition, additional languages, technical/computer skills, volunteer experiences, memberships and associations, and publications.
  9. Not letting your references know that you are using them as reference. Keep in touch with your references to let them know when you have included them as a reference on your application and for what type of position. Professional references are the most preferred type of reference. Professional references are people who can talk about the quality of your work and can include supervisors, co-workers, former customers/clients, teachers, instructors, mentors, volunteer connections, etc. Professional references do not include family members.
  10. Only submitting an online job application. Even if your application is perfect, you may not hear back from the employer. In addition to submitting an online application, make sure to research the employer, leverage your network, and utilize LinkedIn to find ways to personally connect with individuals within the organization to which you are applying. Finding ways around the online application process will greatly increase your chances of obtaining an interview.
Investing time now to gather standard job application information can save you time in the long run and prevent costly errors when filling out online applications in the future. For answers to additional job application or career questions you may have, please contact WGU Career & Professional Development. We look forward to assisting you in reaching your career goals!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Reboot Your IT Job Search

If you’re in the Information Technology Sector, then you know that new technologies are born every day. Some say that students are being taught and trained for technology that hasn’t even been invented yet. Let’s look at some ways to stay on top of your job search as we’re zooming forward in our techno-world at warp speed.

Don’t go crazy. You might have heard the saying, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. If you’ve been on the job hunt for 6 months or more, using the same strategy with no results, then maybe it’s time to change your approach. If you’re looking only at IT-specific companies then you might be missing out on a large part of the job market. Just about everyone uses some sort of technology today. The retail sector, financial agencies, and higher education - you name it and there’s probably a computer involved. So, when you approach your job search keep your options open to the various different industries. To widen your vision, visit our Occupational & Industry Research page for some great ways to look deeper into various company backgrounds. Then, hop over to our Employer Research page to help identify companies that might be a good fit.

Say it with skills. IT recruiters look for specific information on resumes to help make it easy for them to identify applicants based on their technical knowledge and competencies. One of the easiest ways for you to make sure that you are highlighting these competencies is to include a list of your technical skills: Operating Systems, Databases, Computer Languages and Protocols, and Software knowledge and experience. These skills should be based on the job description and industry standards. A separate section for your certifications would also be a great idea. Check out the Getting a Job section of our website for more information on launching a successful job search.

Begin with the end. In Steven Covey’s, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,  he mentions that the second habit of moving from dependence to independence is to envision what you want (for your career) and then come to know concretely what to make a reality. What does your dream IT job look like and what will it take to get there? Career planning is a huge part of the answer. Mapping out your career path is a great way to manage your expectations and to achieve your professional goals. WGU Career & Professional Development is here to help with everything from resume development to interview skills to IT Professional Development opportunities. We’re just a click away!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Informational Interviews

By now we have all heard that networking is the key to a successful job search – “it is not what you know but who you know.” Informational interviewing is a powerful (and underutilized) networking tool that can jump-start your career. Review the 5 W’s and the How of informational interviewing and schedule your own informational interview today!

What?
An informational interview is an interview in which the goal is to gather facts and opinions from someone with expertise and experience in a specific field or position. It is important to remember that an informational interview is NOT a job interview. They are investigative opportunities for you to derive information about a job, company, industry, career space or person. They are led by you as the interviewer.

Why?
An informational interviews allow you to:
  • Explore your career options and clarify your goals 
  • Learn more about an organization, their needs and the requirements for a particular job 
  • Network with decision-makers and expand your professional network 
  • Generate job leads 
  • Build confidence in yourself, your job search process and your interview skills
  • Demonstrate professionalism, initiative and motivation to a prospective employer by  taking control of your job search by interviewing an employer before you even apply a job! 
Who? 
Identify with whom you want to interview or what industry, company, or specific position you are interested in learning more about. Once you have an idea of with whom you want to talk to ask family, friends, coworkers, students, alumni, and others in your immediate network if they know of anyone they can put you in touch with. Don’t forget to connect with people on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and other social networking sites. Also, by choosing WGU, you are now part of an international network of WGU students and alumni. Make sure to join the Western Governors University Student and Alumni group on LinkedIn and to check out the careers of fellow WGU Night Owls.

When?
There is no time like the present.  Informational interviews are helpful to conduct during career exploration or to utilize as a networking tool during your job search.

Where?
Meeting at the interviewee’s work place is more convenient for your interviewee and can also give you a better feel for the job and organization.  However, over the phone or via video conference are other methods to consider, especially if you are conducting the informational interview long distance.

How?
Send a brief email to the person you want to interview explaining your background, career goals, interests and what you hope to gain from the interview. Make sure you state clearly that you are just seeking information – not a job. Request a 20-30 minute appointment .

Prepare for your informational interview as you would for a job interview. Research the person you will be interviewing, their profession and their company. This advanced research shows the interviewee that you are professional and that you respect their time. It also allows you to focus on acquiring information that is not readily available through websites and company brochures.

Prepare questions to ask ahead of time and consider bringing a current copy of your resume with you. However, only share your resume if the person you are interviewing has expressed interest in seeing your resume!

Show up to your appointment professionally dressed and on time. End the interview by thanking the interviewee for their time and asking if there are other people they suggest you talk to. This is a great way to grow your professional network.

Send a thank you note within 24 hours of your interview thanking the person for their time and briefly describing what you learned from the interview. See if your interviewee is on LinkedIn and invite them to join your network. In addition, send periodic updates on your career progress and be sure to let them know if you apply for a position with their company.

Visit the WGU Career & Professional Development website for more information on informational interviews or contact us for individual assistance.