Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Confidence: Your Most Compelling Qualification

You sent your resume and cover letter in for a review to WGU Career & Professional Development and your resume is now beautifully formatted, your credentials are front and center and you have crafted the perfect accomplishment statements. You’re all set for your interview, right? Well…almost. Before you go into that interview, you want to make sure you have your most compelling qualification in place: confidence. True confidence has an amazing way of bringing attention to you as an individual in a way that your qualifications, credentials and past experience on paper, simply cannot. Now don’t get me wrong – of course an employer needs to know that you can do the job and have the proper credentials to back it up – but those are the preliminaries. During the actual interview, it becomes more about the rapport that a hiring manager feels or doesn’t feel as you answer questions, and that rapport deepens when you share who you are and what you have to bring - with confidence. It’s true that some people have a natural confidence but confidence stems primarily from a sense of worth and overall preparedness and so it is a skill that can be developed.

So, if you struggle in the area of confidence, be encouraged! Here are some key strategies to help you engage more effectively with employers and make you a strong contender in the job market.

Do not focus on what you don’t know, what you don’t have or what you consider a weakness. There will always be something you don’t know or don’t have and dwelling on that is a confidence-stealer. Focus on what you do know, what you are proud of accomplishing and what stirs your heart. Write it down, look it over, and speak it out, over and over again. WGU Career & Professional Development has some great tools to help guide you in the process. Take advantage of our free self-assessment tools designed to help you in determining of your strengths.

Be prepared. The more prepared you are the more confident you will be. Preparation means that you have taken time to know who you are and what you value in addition to researching the specific industry, company or role. It means that you have selected popular interview questions, actually prepared answers for these questions and practiced those answers in front of the mirror, friends, family or a career advisor. You have contacted professionals in the field, you read articles, books or blogs daily – you have basically immersed yourself in the thing that you are preparing for. This constant focus and dedicated practice will give your confidence an incredible boost.  The Career Center has several resources that can help you prepare.  Check out the Interview Question Library for a sampling of questions to prepare and then utilize the Practice Interview Software to record an interview. It’s a great way to observe how you look and sound during an interview and identify areas for adjustment. For additional feedback, you can email your recorded interview to careers@wgu.edu. In addition to interview resources, WGU Career & Professional Development offers employer research resources to find relevant articles or company information and informational interview resources to use as a guide to setting up and having conversations with professionals in the field.

Learn from setbacks. An article by Fast Company on job search strategy confirms that how you view setbacks in your job search can impact your overall career success. If you choose to view a setback as a learning opportunity, you can go back over the process and identify areas for improvement. Some key lessons could include reviewing and refining your answers, having a friend or WGU Career Specialist do a practice interview with you using the new information you have acquired and doing a little more research on your selected company. Taking these positive, forward-thinking steps will ensure that you are even more prepared for the next round. So settle in your mind that you will continue to press forward, even after setbacks, and create your own future. This will make it easier to relax and just be yourself, which is a natural breeding ground for confidence and success!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

How to Be Successful at a Virtual Job Fair

We do most things online these days. We shop, we search for recipes, we even look for love through virtual dating services. Why not attend a job fair from the comfort of your own home? Virtual job fairs allow you, the applicant, and employers with open positions, to meet just like at a traditional job fair. Instead of booths or tables, you might meet in a chat room. These chat rooms are provided by online services specifically designed to manage these networking events.

So, let us help you get your career to where you want it to be. Here are some tips:

  1. Research: After registering for the job fair, you’ll probably have immediate access to the companies who will be attending. Take the time to research the company’s background and be knowledgeable about the jobs they’ll be featuring. This will help you to answer any specific questions the company representative may ask and allow you to show your qualifications. 
  2. Stay Connected: As part of your preparation, make sure that your electronics are working well. A day or two before the job fair, check that your internet is solid and strong, your webcam (if using) is up-to-date and works well. Give it a test. 
  3. Prepare Your Space: Make sure that your room or home-office is in order. Get rid of any “visible” clutter from in front of your webcam, just in case the company wants to conduct a meet and greet. Not every company will require camera time, but it’s best to be prepared. 
  4. Look the Part: Again, just in case you’re on-camera, dress professionally. No whites or pastel colors. No patterned tops or shirts or loud ties. Keep it conservative and simple by wearing black or navy, white or cream-colored tops. Accent colors are ok but avoid patterns and any bright, loud colors. They just don’t do well on webcams. Business casual is always a good rule of thumb. 
  5. Go with a Companion: Prepare your “companion documents”. Have your resume reviewed through the WGU Career & Professional Development Center so that you have all of the relevant information at your disposal. You will also want to have any research notes organized and easily accessible. 
  6. Work Your Network: Remember, this is a networking event. Don’t expect an on-the-spot interview. This type of event, like any other job fair, is more about gathering information and building rapport. 
  7. Practice an Attitude of Gratitude: Make sure that you send a thank-you to the company representatives that speak with you. Get their name and email address. In today’s techno-world, email thank-you notes are growing in acceptance. In a survey of more than 500 HR managers, 87 percent have said that an email thank-you is an appropriate method of reaching out to employers after networking events. 
  8. Follow-Up: One great way to stay connected and to follow-up with the companies is to connect with them on LinkedIn. This will allow you to interact with the companies after the job fair, and help grow your professional network. Remember, that the WGU Career & Professional Development Center staff can help you with your LinkedIn profile. Just request an appointment to get started! 

Good luck and happy job hunting!