Wednesday, January 11, 2017

6 Ways to Gain Experience

A common question from students and graduates transitioning to a new career is how to obtain to a new position in their field when the opportunities they are finding often require 2-3 years of experience. This can be a very frustrating conundrum indeed. However, don’t despair! Review the tips below to secure a position in your chosen career.

  1. Find an internship or volunteer opportunity. Securing an internship or volunteer position in your career area of interest is a great way to gain experience. An internship or volunteer position also provides you with the opportunity to build your network. It is not uncommon for an internship or volunteer position to turn into a paid position.
  2. Utilize LinkedIn. Networking with industry professionals is a great way to find out what employers are looking for and how to enter into a particular field. Connect with people at the organizations you are interested in and attempt to build relationships. You may also want to connect with people who hold positions you have targeted and pick their brains for advice regarding entering a particular field. Reach out to WGU Alumni in your desired field to conduct informational interviews. Conducting informational interviews with alumni is a great way to get advice on how to better align yourself with entry level employment in your field and to learn more about how they got started in the field.
  3. Search for keywords instead of job titles. Don’t give up on finding entry-level opportunities, just be creative in your approach. Instead of entering titles into job boards search specific skills. For example, if you are seeking an entry-level position in human resources, search for terms like ‘onboarding’ and ‘staffing’. Considering the fact that job titles rarely tell the complete story of a person’s duties, you may have to focus on the activities you would like to do at work as opposed to the title.
  4. Consider alternative options. You can always look into comparable industries for a smoother transition. Consider positions that will help gain experience with the end goal being to move to your field of choice later down the line. For example, staffing could be a good alternative to human resources. You can easily take your experience in staffing and move to a more human resources related opportunity down the road. If you are currently working, think about gaining industry experience from another department within your current company. Talk to people in your human resources department or your supervisor to see if there are any opportunities/help needed where you can gain experience. 
  5. Visit staffing agencies. Staffing agencies are yet another resource you can use to find entry-level opportunities. It is always good to have someone else working on your behalf to find openings for you. These companies have both long-term and short-term entry-level positions that can give your resume a much needed boost.
  6. Continue your professional development. There are many places where you can find free or cheap courses for continuous learning, including the WGU Career & Professional Development website. Some of the categories include communication, business acumen, strategic leadership, and conflict management. Not only will you gain knowledge, but completing additional coursework and trainings demonstrates your passion for your field and how you stay up to date on the latest changes in your field.

Be proactive in your job search and create opportunities by following the tips above. Don't wait around for a position to fall in your lap or solely depend your degree for entry. Get started today and contact your WGU Career & Professional Development specialist for individual assistance!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

When an Employer Asks for Your Salary History

When an employer requests a salary history, many job seekers find themselves at a loss. You don't want to price yourself out of a job, but you don't want the employer to offer less than the going rate for the position.

So what's the right answer?

  • Don't include salary history on your resume.
  • Handle the request at the end of your cover letter. First, highlight your skills, experience, and interest in the position—information that is far more important to your consideration as a candidate.
  • Respond to the question positively without giving a specific amount. (Example: "I'm earning in the mid-30s.")
  • Say "salary is negotiable."
  • If you know the market value for the position and for someone with your skills and background, give a $3,000-$5,000 range.
  • Be prepared to respond to this question in an interview. Carry a list of your positions in reverse chronological order, including the name of the company, your title, a synopsis of your duties, and, lastly, a general compensation amount (e.g. mid-30s).
  • Don't lie about your salary history. Employers may verify salary history through reference checks.

Salary requests are difficult for all job searchers to handle. The key is to shift the focus, politely but firmly, from what you made in the past to competitive compensation for the position you want.

Check out a host of additional salary resources including tips on how to negotiate a raise at WGU's Career & Professional Development Center.

Adapted from the National Association of Colleges and Employers.