Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Target Employer List

Ready to engage in an active job search? One of the first places to start is to create a Target Employer List. Your Target Employer List has two functions:
  • Provides a path to follow as you begin your job search. You can continue adding new employers to your Target Employer List as your job search progresses, and you can also remove employers from the list as you learn more about each organization and about what you want and need in your next job. 
  • Allows you to track your job search progress. You can update your Target Employer List each time you send anything to an employer on your list.
To get started answer each of the questions below based on your current thinking.
  • What kind of work environment do you want?
  • What do you want to spend your time doing at work?
  • What kind of company culture do you prefer?
  • What kind of organization do you want to work for?
Once you have answered these questions consider the following activities to help create your Target Employer List.
  • Dream big – What comes to mind when you think of your dream companies? After you have come up with dream organizations, research related firms and add them to your list. 
  • Browse LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a fantastic resource for job seekers. To build your Target Employer List, on your LinkedIn homepage find the Search bar at the top. Click on the word Advanced next to the search bar. On the Advanced Search page, type in your zip code (at the bottom of the list of search options) and type in some keywords that appeal to you at the top of the search options. After you hit search, you will see LinkedIn profiles of people who are within your commuting range and who work at employers you may not have known about until now. 
  • Explore Alumni – Leverage the Find Alumni tool on LinkedIn to filter through more than 66,000 WGU students and alumni by Where they live, Where they work and What they do.  Find a title you want? What companies do they work for? Write them down on your list.  
  • Browse Job Postings – Search postings in your area to see who’s hiring. Write down companies with postings that are appealing to you. Read the employers’ own websites to decide whether they would make good additions to your Target Employer List. 
  • Ask Friends – Your friends know you and they may know of employers to consider. Ask your friends which employers to add to your list and where their other friends work. Use your informal network to gather information!
  • Read – Read the business section of your local newspaper to learn about new and up-and-coming organizations in addition to expansions or growth of established local businesses. In addition, read about topics related to your career field. Gather articles on topics you are interested in and add companies that are mentioned in the articles to your list.
  • Research – Conduct additional research on the employers on your list to confirm that the company may be a good fit for you. A company’s website is a great place to start your research – but don’t stop there. Leverage the Employer Research resources of the WGU Career & Professional Development website to gain additional insights into the organization. 
Organize the list by employer name, address, a short phrase to remind you of what the employer does, and URL for the employer’s website. Gather a list of 30 - 40 companies so you will have a large amount of people to target.  Once you have completed your list, conduct research to find out more about the companies listed and their culture. After research is conducted you can rank the companies in order of interest. Use a spread sheet to track changes.

For individual assistance in creating a Target Employer List or answers to additional career questions, please contact WGU Career & Professional Development.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

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.