Friday, July 25, 2014

9 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.
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!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What You Need to Know About Applicant Tracking Systems

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software application that enables the electronic handling of employer recruitment needs. Nearly all major corporations use some form of an applicant tracking system to handle job applications and to manage resume data. Applicant tracking systems are error-prone and if your resume isn't formatted a certain way or doesn't contain the right keywords and phrases, your resume can end up in a black hole, never to be seen by a human eye, despite your qualifications.

To increase the chances of your resume getting through an applicant tracking system,
consider the following tips:

Utilize Key Skills and Qualifications
  • An ATS runs on keywords. Start with the job description and make sure to incorporate key skills and qualifications directly from the job posting. 
  • Don’t stop with the job description. Check the Skills section of the LinkedIn profile builder for keyword skills that relate to your industry/profession. 
  • Research the industry and similar job descriptions from different companies to ensure you have a comprehensive set of key skills and qualifications included in your resume. 
  • Use unusual words at your own risk! ATS software is programmed with common words. If you choose to use unusual synonyms, they may not be caught by the ATS.
Focus on Formatting
  • A single column, Word document is best, as PDF’s are easily misinterpreted by an ATS.
  • Avoid tables and graphics. An ATS can’t read graphics and tables are typically misread.
  • Length does not matter to an ATS. A resume should be as long or as short as you need it to be without going over 2 pages. 
  • Avoid excessive creativity. ATS software is not creatively savvy. Consider having a couple versions of your resume – one for the ATS and one in a more creative, eye appealing format for humans.
Tap into the Power of Networking
  • Employee referrals from a well-respected employee are often given priority over the online-generated candidate pool. Look to your network to see if you know anyone within the company who can help get your resume in front of a recruiter or hiring manager. 
  • Schedule informational interviews at companies of interest with individuals in roles similar to those you in which you are interested.
  • Expand your network. Utilize social media like LinkedIn to connect with recruiters and hiring managers. Attend networking events and professional meetings, conferences, or conventions. Join professional associations. 
  • Networking is the best use of your time. Learn, engage, and follow up!
Contact WGU Career & Professional Development for a personalized resume review and career assistance. We're here to help!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Create a Public Profile in CareerBeam

CareerBeam is a full service career development portal designed to provide all the resources necessary to guide individuals through the strategic job search process and achieve their career goals.

Through CareerBeam, you have the ability to make your resume searchable and visible to employers. You can accomplish this by building a resume within the CareerBeam system using the Chronological Resume Builder or Custom Resume Builder. You can access the resume builders by logging in with your WGU portal credentials. You can access the resume builders from our resume page under Covering the Essentials on the WGU Career & Professional Development website.

Once you have completed your resume, from the resume edit page you can toggle between setting your resume to Private or Public. The default setting is Private. To change your profile to Public, click on the red Private button and you will be given options to create your Public Profile.

You can customize your Public Profile by adding a profile picture, recording a video introduction, selecting your account settings, adding profile skills and uploading additional documents that you’d like to share. To ensure your Public Profile is appealing to employers, contact WGU Career & Professional Development for feedback and suggestions.



If you would like to make your resume Private again, you can do so by going back into your resume from My Documents in CareerBeam, clicking Edit and then toggling to Private.

You also have the option of uploading a resume to CareerBeam. It will NOT be keyword searchable, but you can make it Public so that employers can view your resume.  To upload and make a resume Public, go to My Documents and you will see an option to upload your resume.  Once your resume in uploaded, click the “lock” icon beside the resume name and that will toggle the resume to Public.

We are here to help! Please do not hesitate in contacting WGU Career & Professional Development for individual assistance in creating a strong Public Profile or to answer any additional career questions you may have.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Career Options for Bachelor of Arts In Educational Studies (BAES) Degree

If you are student or graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Educational Studies (BAES) degree, you might be wondering what kinds of career options are available to you, since this is a non-licensure teaching program.  While it is easier to get a teaching job with a teaching license, it doesn't mean that a teaching license is out of the question for you.  You just might need to take a different route to get there.

If you haven’t already done so, you should research your state’s “alternative certification program” on your state’s Department of Education web site.  Every state has a procedure for non-traditional licensing.  Some states will give you a temporary teaching license with the understanding that you need to complete their alternative certification guidelines within a year or two’s time-frame.  Other states will want you to complete their alternative certification program first and then grant you a teaching certificate at the conclusion of the program.

If you aren't interested in obtaining a teaching license but would still like to work in the field of education, consider the following career options as alternatives:

  1. Educational Centers such as museums, zoos, theme parks, science centers, aquariums, renaissance fairs and summer camps all need directors and staff to handle their educational programming.
  2. Opportunities exist to teach English abroad through private organizations.  Some of these positions require you to move to the country and other opportunities allow you to work from home and tutor on-line to international students.  If you want to work for DODEA (Department of Defense Education Activity), you will need a teaching license.  In addition to teaching internationally, you could also consider the role of Foreign Exchange Program Coordinator and create exchange programs for schools in your community.
  3. Textbook Companies need curriculum developers, textbook writers, textbook editors and sales representatives to sell their product to local school districts for textbook adoption.  A quick Google search will give you a list of US Textbook companies to research for opportunities in your area.
  4. Business corporations need corporate trainers, educational consultants, professional development facilitators and motivational speakers to train their staff and keep their employees current on trends within their industry. Most businesses will post these positions on popular job search engines.
  5. Testing centers across the country also have a variety of positions to fill in education.  Positions such as test developers, proctors, assessors, quality assurance and security jobs are also available to those with education based backgrounds.  Many of these positions are located in a certain geographic region of the country, but if you’re willing to move, there is great opportunity in this industry.
  6. Support roles within a school are a natural way to land a full time teaching job.  Obtaining a job as a paraprofessional, coach, tutor, resource teacher, teacher’s aide, substitute teacher, daycare or preschool teacher are great ways to get your foot in the door at a school to network every day with the administration.  Finding a role in this area, while simultaneously pursuing your alternate certification program for your state, leads to a great opportunity for the following school year to get your first classroom.
  7. Consider returning to WGU for your Master’s degree in a specialized field.  There are a lot of educational opportunities available to you that don’t require a teaching license.  In K-12 education, you could assume roles as a media specialist, technology specialist, curriculum developer, learning specialist and reading coach.  In higher education, opportunities such as academic advisor, adjunct professor and mentor don’t require a teaching license, but usually will require an advanced degree.

If you have further questions about these types of roles, please visit WGU Career & Professional Development to take our career assessment and explore more career options.  Before applying for any position, remember to have your resume reviewed by one of our specialists.  You can e-mail it to careers@wgu.edu in a Word document and we’ll get you some feedback for improvement!