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.

Friday, November 11, 2016

6 Ways for Employers to Honor Veterans

Today is Veterans Day and while we will never be able to provide enough thanks to a veteran for their service and sacrifice, it is important to find ways to honor and support those who have served our country. Below are a few ideas how employers can honor veterans on Veterans Day and throughout the year.

  1. Hire a Veteran. Veterans are highly skilled, disciplined, adaptable, dependable and loyal and it is not difficult to find the value in hiring veterans. Another perk for employers considering hiring veterans — tax credits via the Veteran’s Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, which provides two types of tax credits for employers. The Returning Heroes Tax Credit provides an incentive for businesses to hire unemployed veterans. The Wounded Warrior Tax Credit provides a tax credit for hiring long-term unemployed veterans with service-connected disabilities.
  2. Recognize current employers who are veterans. On Veterans Day, plan a way to honor employees who served and throughout the year strive to become a veteran-friendly employer. Offer support services for veterans and their families, increased workplace flexibility programs, and an employee resource group (ERG) for veterans. 
  3. Offer a special Veteran’s Day discount to veterans for services or products or offer a military discount throughout the year. Employers can also offer restaurant gift cards to veterans. 
  4. Encourage employees to donate to a veteran organization and offer an employer match.
  5. Set up internships and/or job shadowing opportunities for veterans and transitioning military members. On-the-job training and experience can give veterans the opportunity to apply and adapt military skills to civilian settings.
  6. Give employees the day off and promote Veterans Day volunteer opportunities.

The WGU Career & Professional Development Center is lucky and honored to have Cliff Garinn on our team. Cliff is a veteran and accomplished career specialist. We thank Cliff for his service and for the career assistance he provides to WGU students and graduates, including the WGU veteran population.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Tips for Networking as an Introvert

Being an introvert does NOT mean you don't have social skills. However, it does mean that being around lots of people at one time can be draining. In general, introverts actually have many advantages when it comes to networking. They enjoy real conversations (read: no small talk)—and can still make connections in a myriad of contexts. If you consider yourself an introvert who has resisted networking, try these top 10 networking tips:

Join the crowd. If people seem to be congregating in one area, join them and strike up a conversation.

Set reasonable expectations. When attending an event, prep yourself mentally for what you are there to do. Is your goal to meet more people? Is it to learn more about the organization's culture? Is it to meet one or two specific people? Make sure you set reasonable expectations beforehand, so that you have a goal in mind. It is a great way to keep you from getting overwhelmed, too.

Start a conversation with a loner. It's usually easier to start a conversation with someone who is standing alone, because they will most likely be happy to have someone to talk to—and as a result, are often more personable and easier to connect with.

Avoid barging into groups. A cluster of more than four people can be awkward—and tough to enter. Join the group on one side, but don't try to enter the conversation until you've made eye contact with each person at least one time. Usually, people will make room to add you to the "circle" of conversation, and you can introduce yourself then!

"Look mom, no hands!" Keep at least one hand free at all times! This means no eating and drinking at the same time if you are at a networking mixer or conference reception. This way, you can still shake hands with people without being awkward and fumbling around.

Be yourself. Networking events are meant as starting points for professional relationships. If you can't be yourself—and you aren't comfortable in your own skin, then the people you meet will be connecting with someone you're impersonating, and not the real you. Be genuine. Authenticity tends to attract much of the same.

Be present and engaged. Ever talked to someone that acts like you're the only person in the room? Someone who listens, and makes you feel like everything you are saying is important? I love those people! They really make you feel heard. Keep eye contact, and lean in or tilt your body towards people when you talk to them. Not in a creepy way, but in a, "I'm listening to you, and I'm fully present" kind of way.

Treat people like friends. Unless, of course, you are a terrible friend. Would you go to a friend and interrupt their conversation, hand over a business card, and walk away? No. Networking events are not transactions. Treat new people as you'd treat your friends—built rapport, be trustworthy, and then talk shop.

Follow the 72 hour rule. After a conference or networking event, you have about 72 hours to follow up with a person on LinkedIn or via e-mail. Reference something that you talked about and ask what the best way to stay connected might be. After 72 hours, they just might have forgotten you.

Practice makes perfect. Well, not really perfect. Progress is always better than perfection! The point here is that networking is a skill, like any other professional skill. It is a muscle that you have to develop and grow. While others may look like born networkers, they are more than likely just more experienced with it. Mistakes may happen, but the only way to learn is to get out there and do it!

For more helpful tips on networking check out WGU’s Career & Professional Development Center.

Adapted from The National Association of Colleges and Employers.

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:

  1. Can you do the job?
  2. Do you want the job?
  3. 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.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

6 Characteristics of Resumes That Get Results

There has been much written on resumes and what is needed to have an effective one. There are six basic characteristics of resumes that get results. Results include securing interviews, informational sessions, invites to visit an organization, lunch meetings, or any kind of direct contact with a prospective employer. Let’s review the 6 characteristics.

1. Well Written & Organized Strategically
Your document must have correct grammar, no spelling errors and organized in a way that will get the reader’s attention immediately. There must also be clear distinctions between the various areas on your resume. We all know that resumes are scanned quickly by employers and recruiters, so it’s imperative to strategically place information in a way that will grab their attention and encourage them to read further.

2. Targeted To Each Position
There is no such thing as a “general” resume that you send to each job that you apply for. With companies utilizing applicant tracking systems to scan resumes for key words and relevant information, you must target your resume for each position. You can accomplish this by first going to the “required qualifications” section within the job description and strategically adding the required information throughout your resume. Don’t just add the information so it can get around the applicant tracking system, but make sure you are qualified for the job. You should not apply for jobs where you don’t possess most of the required qualifications or chances are you won’t receive a call. Be sure to include relevant industry related skills you have as well, preferably at the top of your document under your professional profile, so it’s easy for the reader to spot. It can seem a lot easier to send out a “general” resume, but if you take the time to make sure that your document is targeted to each position, you will see more results.

3. Branded- What Do You Personally Bring To An Organization
Your resume must include your “brand”. When writing your resume, you must start with a clear idea of the skills that you want to highlight to prospective employers. The employer should get a really good understanding of what you will personally bring to their organization after reviewing your resume. Think about the skills you believe that you are really good at and highlight them throughout your resume. This “brand” should be clear everywhere: in person, on your resume, and social media. The goal is for people to associate you with the “brand” that you have created.

4. Include Practical Experience
It’s not enough to just have the required education to obtain employment. Employers want to see practical relevant experience on resumes. Students and alumni sometimes believe that since they have completed their education, they were somehow assured employment in their field of choice. Include internships, apprenticeship programs, personal and freelance experience, related projects, and organizations you are active in that are relevant to the particular job you are applying to. This will show the reader that you are passionate about your field of choice and that you are actively engaged. It also shows that you have real world experience that is valuable to any organization. Check out WGU Career & Professional Development’s resources for Internships & Volunteering.

5. Results Oriented
Resumes are often “task oriented” instead of "results oriented". Under each experience there are usually lists that outline general tasks that any person in that position would normally do. Using words like “responsible for” or “assisted”, don’t tell the reader that you can produce results. Instead choose to display results and accomplishments, this will display to the reader that you are a high achiever as opposed to an employee who does the bare minimum on the job. Bold your accomplishments and achievements so it’s easy for the employer to see it. Show that you can produce positive measurable results and you will be more marketable to an organization.  Use our Accomplishment Statement Worksheet today to create effective results oriented resumes.

6. Get In Front Of Hiring Managers
You can have a well written and organized resume that highlights your skills perfectly, but if it does not get in front of a hiring manager then it serves no purpose. Your resume works in concert with your actions. You must be visible and active in order to get your document reviewed by those responsible for hiring. Networking must become a regular part of your activities even when you are not looking for a job. Contact people in your personal network, join organizations, become active on LinkedIn and social media, and network as much as you can in order to get your document in the hands of the person responsible for hiring.  Build upon your networking skills with WGU Career & Professional Development’s networking resources.

For help with resume writing, be sure to review the resume resources on the WGU Career & Professional Development website. For personalized assistance or resume review, contact your WGU Career & Professional Development Specialist.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

5 Ways to Use LinkedIn for Your Job Search

According to Jobvite’s 2015 Recruiter Nation Survey, only 4% of recruiters DON’T use social media in the recruiting process and 87% of those surveyed use LinkedIn for recruiting.  Why?  LinkedIn is the largest professional network in the world with over 400 million users across the globe including executives from all fortune 500 companies. LinkedIn is an easy way to meet new people, network with others in your field, and promote yourself as a polished professional.

Here are 5 ways you can use LinkedIn to reach your career goals:

1. Create an effective profile: Thoroughly complete all of your profile, add a professional photo, include important skills, and get recommendations!  Check out the LinkedIn Profile Checklist on our website to create your strong and professional profile.

2. Find and connect with alumni: Use the LinkedIn Alumni tool to get information about where your fellow alums work, what they do, and where they live. Reach out to alums with jobs you’re interested in and get ideas on organizations to target.  Review the blog Networking: Leverage LinkedIn's Alumni Tool for more information.

3. Join Groups: LinkedIn Groups are virtual meeting rooms where people with similar interests can post and hold conversations around topics they want to share or learn more about.  Join groups related to your industry, show off your expertise around a subject, reach out to individuals within a group, and grow relationships with like-minded people. Don’t forget to join your alma maters’ groups and alumni groups like WGU’s Alumni & Students Group! Learn how to find and join groups here.

4. Research Companies, Employees, and Jobs: Search for a company on LinkedIn to conduct research, view job opportunities under the company’s Career tab, and see if you’re connected to anyone who works or has worked there.  Research the career paths of people at that organization, find related companies, and see what recent topic trends are in the company’s updates.  Also use the Jobs section of LinkedIn to keyword search jobs in any region.  Read LinkedIn in 30 Minutes’ tips on How to Use LinkedIn to Research Companies.

5. Stay Active: Frequently share status updates, upload photos, or publish a post from your home tab to keep your LinkedIn network engaged and your name fresh in their minds!  This strategy improves your LinkedIn profile’s visibility in search engine results and showcases your knowledge, passion, and goals related to your field of work.  Just remember to keep the content professional and carefully edit grammar and spelling.   Read LinkedIn’s helpful article on Sharing an Update vs. Publishing a Post.

For help with LinkedIn, be sure to review the LinkedIn Resources on the WGU Career & Professional Development website. For personalized assistance, contact your WGU Career & Professional Development Specialist.

Give it a try, make it a habit, and creatively expand your job search today with LinkedIn!  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

4 Important Things You Need to Know About Thank-You Notes

The job search is a blur of information exchange: e-mailed resumes, online applications, interviews via video conferences. Don’t let the fast pace fool you. Common sense and courtesy still apply, including taking the time to say thank you.

Could your thank-you letter make or break a job offer? Consider this: If your application and interview are equal to that of another candidate, the person sending the thank-you letter gets the recruiter’s attention one more time.

Like cover letters, thank-you letters are concise and personalized. The key is making a connection to the person and reiterating an idea discussed during the interview.

  1. Send a thank-you e-mail or letter within 24 hours of your interview. Consider the company culture. Because recruiters travel extensively, e-mail may be the best route. A follow-up business letter sent through the post office is a nice touch.
  2. Take time to take notes. Immediately following each interview, write down the information discussed while it’s still fresh in your mind. If you are meeting with multiple people, find time to note each specific conversation. When you write your thank-you note(s), use this information to remind the interviewer of an idea or discussion that came up during your interview.
  3. Who receives a thank-you note? Anyone who interviews you gets a note. The notes may only vary by a sentence or two—make sure you reference specific conversations.
  4. Ask each interviewer for his or her business card. You’ll walk away with important information. You’ll have the recruiter’s full name, spelled correctly, e-mail address, street address, and other contact information.

Sample Thank-You Letter

Ms. Nina McVay
Recruiter – XYZ Financial Services
500 5th Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28066

Dear Ms. McVay,

Thank you very much for speaking with me yesterday about the financial planner position currently available at MAR Financial. Our conversation confirmed my interest in this position.

As we discussed during the interview, a successful financial planner must possess a solid understanding of the industry as well as strong communication skills to discuss options with clients. The internship I completed with NMO Bank this past summer afforded me the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge I can bring to XYZ Financial Services. The insight you provided about XYZ Financial’s focus on customer service helped me understand your company’s commitment to its clients. This is the type of company I hope to work for.

Please let me know if I can provide further information. In the meantime, I look forward to hearing from you.


Ashley Ingalls

by Kelli Robinson
Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

For more interview tips or individual career assistance, contact WGU Career & Professional Development.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Networking: Leverage LinkedIn's Alumni Tool

You often hear about the importance of networking, but networking can seem vague and challenging to do. Luckily, you are part of an extensive network of WGU students and alumni and LinkedIn has created a great tool for you to use to tap into that network.

LinkedIn's Alumni Tool

LinkedIn's Alumni Tool helps you explore student and alumni career paths from colleges and universities worldwide and build relationships that can help you along the way. Review the steps below to connect with WGU Students and Alumni today.

Find: Navigate to to start. The school you will see will automatically default to Western Governors University if you have Western Governors University on your LinkedIn profile as your most recent education.

Explore: There are almost 60,000 WGU students and alumni on LinkedIn! You can narrow down the profile results in a variety of ways. At the top of the Alumni page you will see three subheads: "Where they live," "Where they work," and "What they do."  You can also click the arrow to the right to view additional categories, which include "What they studied," "What they're skilled at" and "How you are connected."

Research: Say you are a current information technology student living in Austin, TX and you would like to see where other WGU students and alumni in Austin are working and the positions they hold within IT. Click on the magnify glass by “Where they live” and type in Austin, Texas in the search bar. Select Austin, Texas Area. Next, click on the blue bar that says “Informational Technology” under “What they do” and you have a list of where students and alumni in the Austin area are working in IT. This is just one example, the search options are endless!

Connect: Most individuals want to help out fellow students and alumni and are happy to have a conversation and exchange information. If you find someone who is working at a company of interest and/or in a position of interest, request to connect. Keep the request simple, for example:

I am a fellow WGU IT student in the Austin area. Thanks for considering my request to connect.

If they accept your request to connect, consider reaching out to schedule an informational interview. You are not asking for a job but rather gathering information to explore career options and learn more about an organization, their needs and the requirements for a particular job.  Your initial outreach could be something like:

Thanks in advance for your time. It is great to connect with a fellow WGU student/alum. I am reaching out because I would like to learn a little more about your company and career path.

I am currently employed as a (position title) with (xyz company) while pursuing my Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. I am exploring options for the next stage of my career.  

If you could spare 15 minutes out of your busy schedule, I would welcome the opportunity to ask you a few questions on an informational basis.  

Follow-up: After conducting an informational interview, make sure to send a thank you note. You can also ask if they have other connections that they would recommend with whom you speak. Keep your new connection informed of any career updates and, if appropriate, let them know if you find a position within their company to which you would like to apply. They may be able to provide you with a name to address your application materials or offer to share your resume with the recruiter or hiring manager.

Before reaching out, make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and is focused on your career goals. WGU Career & Professional Development provides great resources for strengthening your profile. We are also available to provide one-on-one assistance to make sure all your LinkedIn questions are answered

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Good Questions to Ask at the Interview

You've probably heard it a million times: A job interview should be a two-way conversation. You may assume that means someone asks questions and you offer answers. But that's only half of the conversation. Interviewers expect you to ask questions, too—and asking thoughtful questions can polish your image as a job seeker.

Asking questions is one way to show that you are interested in the job. It shows you've researched the organization and you've heard what the interviewer has told you about the job. Your questions also will help you see how the job and the organization fit into your career goals.

When preparing questions before the interview, your first step should be the organization's website—you don't want to ask questions that are already covered online. Next, pay close attention to details that come to light during the interview—you'll want to include questions on information you hear.

Here are examples of questions you can ask (and why you should ask them):

  • What does a typical work day look like? What is a typical week like in this job? (You're showing interest in life on the job in the organization.)
  • With whom would I be working? Who would be my supervisor? (You're looking seriously at your potential place in the organization.) 
  • What are the challenges facing the person in this position? What are your expectations for this role? (You're asking about your fit within the company and your future with the organization.)
  • Why did you choose to work for this company? (Ask this question of anyone you meet during your interview. It gives the interviewer a chance to "sell" the company and gives you insight into what others think about working for the organization.)
  • How would you describe your company culture? (Are you and the company are well matched? Is this the environment you want to join?)
  • What is the natural career progression for employees with my skill set? (You're demonstrating that you're thinking about a long-term future with the company.)
  • Does this organization have a formal mentor or coaching program? How is it structured? (This illustrates that you are interested in being a good employee and improving on the job.)
  • What kind of internal and external training do you provide? (This question illustrates your desire to excel in the job.) 

After you've asked your questions, restate your interest in the organization.

Then, ask for the job—this reiterates your interest in joining the organization.

Finally, ask these few last questions:

  • What is the next step in the hiring process? 
  • When will you make your decision? 
  • May I call you? 
  • When is a good time? 

For additional assistance with interview preparation or any additional career questions, please contact WGU Career & Professional Development.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Emerging Trends in the Job Market – Are You Ready?

The world is changing rapidly and as a result, the way employers hire and the expectations of professionals are also changing. Members of NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) recently discussed emerging trends in the workplace and how these trends are impacting both new and seasoned professionals.

Overall the job outlook has improved since 2008. However, competition is still a major factor in the job market so taking steps to make sure that you are enhancing both your job skills and soft skills is a must. One key observation is that professionalism is still a critical career indicator. Research shows that while many graduates are well-educated, there is the perception that they are inadequately trained because of a lack of social skills. A study done by NACE revealed that 70% of employers felt that new graduates were inadequately trained. However, this question was asked to senior leadership – executives who did not actually have consistent direct contact with graduates, which means that this perception may have been formed in part by social interactions with new graduates. Professionalism cannot be neglected as part of the job search and so taking time to understand proper business etiquette can serve you well.

Additional insight was provided regarding employer trends including:

  • 53% of employers are concerned about competition for talent
  • 64% of employers prefer to hire people with relevant experience
  • 71% of employers are actively promoting diversity
  • 75% of professionals, typically in mid to high level jobs, identify as passive (not actively seeking a new position) and employers are looking for ways to tap into these candidates
  • Employers are focusing on engaging with talent via social media and technology
  • Employers are proactively managing their brand and want to be identified and recognized as employers of choice
  • One third of employers are now hiring international professionals
  • Employers are increasing salaries and offering signing bonuses for premium candidates
  • Employers are recruiting via branding and social media, and an increase in video interviewing is starting to emerge 

You have already made a step in the right direction by deciding to pursue your degree. Being aware of the latest career trends can be another helpful resource. We invite you to contact WGU Career & Professional Development to discuss your goals and to begin working on a plan that will help you to stay on top of your career.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

How Long Before You Get the Job? And What To Do While You Wait?

The National Associate of Colleges and Employers recently published information from employers on the average recruiting cycle from their 2015 Recruitment Benchmark Survey. As the infographic above reveals, the average length of time from the job posting to offer acceptance is 68.8 days. That is 1651.2 hours! If you are currently looking for a job it probably comes as no surprise that your job search is more of a marathon than a sprint.

Given that a job seeker has little control over the employer’s timeline, the real question is: Are you using your 68.8 days wisely? Here are 4 simple things you can do to make the most out of your job search hours:

  1. Do not stop applying for jobs. Just because you have interviewed for your dream job, it does not mean it is time to take a break. There are many variables involved in every job search so it is critical to keep applying. This is not the time to put all of your eggs in one basket. If the job you interviewed for does not work out then you will already have additional interviews lined up. If you get offered your dream job you can politely remove yourself from consideration for other positions. So pat yourself on the back for doing well at that interview and then continue your search for additional opportunities.
  2. Continue to network. The key to success lies in your network and therefore your network deserves your attention – all the time; not just when you need something.  What better time to reach out to your supporters and connect than while you are feeling confident about your prospects? If you need some help getting started, check out our networking tips.
  3. Follow up. Professionally following up with employers you have interviewed with is appropriate. Start by sending a thank you email to each person you interviewed with. Another good idea is to ask about the hiring timeline during the interview. But once you have followed up you need to know when to say when. Instead of risking becoming a nuisance or seeming desperate, see Steps 1 and 2.
  4. Focus on building relevant skills and competencies. Time spent building relevant skills will impress prospective employers and give you a boost of confidence.  To be at the top of your profession you need to be a life-long learner. If you are waiting to hear back from an employer spend some time making yourself even more valuable by seeking out professional development opportunities.

For more job search tips, please visit WGU Career & Professional Development. To talk with a Career Specialist about your job search or career, please fill out the career appointment form.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

What’s Next? 3 Simple Career Planning Tips for New Grads

Have you recently graduated with your degree? Congratulations! What a wonderful accomplishment!

Now that you are done and you have some "free time" on your hands, you might find yourself asking “What’s next?”  What new opportunities are on your horizon and how will you seize them? Whether you are a career changer seeking new employment or someone established in your field trying to decide whether it is time to seek new pastures, keep these 3 simple career planning tips in mind:

  • Learn about yourself – Many of us launch a job search without really knowing what we want. We just know that we want something else.  The CareerBeam self assessment tools available on the WGU Career & Professional Development website are a great place to start the process of career exploration. You can gain valuable information on your temperament, personality, interests, skills, and talents. CareerBeam also has assessments to help you define your industry, leadership, corporate culture, and networking preferences. By learning about yourself, you will gain greater clarity and be able to formulate stronger career goals.
  • Stay up-to-date – Staying current in your field will help keep you relevant and more competitive when you are looking for a new position or a promotion. The WGU Career & Professional Development Center offers two excellent resources:
    • The Riley Guide is a curated career management e-library that houses the latest information on career management resources for a wide variety of occupations. Simply use the alphabetical index to locate your area of interest and you’ll be directed to the best sites available. 
    • CareerBeam’s Industry Reports offers profiles covering more than 1000 industry segments. Profiles include in-depth national and international information, creating a comprehensive suite of data that is continuously updated. An added bonus: all reports include “call prep” questions which is helpful in preparation for networking and interviewing.
  • Get involved in your profession – Taking time to engage in your profession not only keeps you on the cutting-edge within your field, it also allows you to network with other professionals and develop your professional brand – all of which can advance your career!  A great place to start is LinkedIn where there are a plethora of groups that cover almost every occupation and industry imaginable. Try participating in groups by posting discussions or answering questions posed by other members. Be sure to check out additional professional development resources on the WGU Career & Professional Development Center website, including college specific links to professional associations, continuing education opportunities, and job boards.

WGU graduates have access to all the resources and services offered by the WGU Career & Professional Development Center. Make an appointment and a CPD Specialist can help you create your career plan, explore options, and assist in the design of your job search. We look forward to working with you!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Can We Talk? The Art of Conversation

Before people used social media, there was social engagement to build one’s network of friends and professional colleagues. Dale Carnegie, award-winning author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, said if you want people to be interested in you, you first must be interested in them. The art of conversation seems to be pushed to the back burner in today’s texting culture. Conversation is an important and necessary skill for today’s professional. The following are a few tips to start and engage conversations so that you can win friends and influence your professional networks:
  1. Flattery Will Get You Everywhere! Compliments are a great way to lead into a conversation. Starting on a positive note is always the perfect first step into a discussion, and it makes the person feel good about themselves. Be careful, however, to make sure that your compliments are sincere and genuine.
  2.  Small Talk Can Have Big Effects. Deep and meaningful conversations often start with small talk. Talking about the weather, your hometown, or the event you are attending is a great way to build rapport. Not only can this skill help pass the time but it is also beneficial in the workplace. 
  3.  Dance Through Your Conversations. Engaging in conversation with one other person or a group is much like dancing, there is a leader and a follower. These roles can easily change, the follower can quickly become the leader. To allow for an easy and fun experience, ask questions but keep it light. Pay attention to the conversation and listen for opportunities to ask questions. “Oh, I find that very interesting, can you tell me more about ____________________”.
  4.  Stay Engaged. Showing interest in the people with whom you are talking is the best way to show your professionalism.. Finding common ground is a good way to remain in the discussion. Keep your phone out of the conversation. Nothing kills a networking conversation quicker than checking your email or texting. If it is necessary to leave the group, politely remove yourself by saying, “Excuse me but I need to step away. It was nice chatting with you.” If you are able to return and re-engage in the conversation then simply approach the group but don’t interrupt a discussion already in progress.
Following these suggestions can help you feel more comfortable at professional and social gatherings. You can use these tips to start building your own conversation “rules” and starters. Remember to collect business cards and to have your own business or calling cards available to follow up with new friends.

For more information and tips on small talk and networking conversations, use our WGU Career & Professional Development resources and if you want to practice with some simple and light conversation starters, contact us for an appointment to chat! 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Create a Professional Portfolio Utilizing LinkedIn

Creating a professional portfolio is a great way to stand out from the crowd. A strong portfolio tells your unique professional story in a visually appealing way showcasing your work, accolades received, and professional and educational accomplishments.  LinkedIn is the perfect platform from which to showcase your online portfolio. You can create a profile that goes beyond you resume providing your network and potential employers with a compelling picture of who you are as a professional.  To turn your profile into a professional portfolio, consider the steps below.
  1. Edit your profile. Under Edit Profile, you will see that for each section and for each entry under experience and education, you can add media including documents, photos, links, videos, and presentations. You can select content living online or files stored on your device. For ideas on what to include, review this list of potential content.
  2. Market your content. Once you have added the content, you can edit the title and include a description. The title serves as a caption, visible on your profile, and the description will appear when the content is selected. You can include several types of content and media under each section, if applicable.
  3. Be creative. There are numerous ways to use content and media to tell your story. You can scan in thank you notes or accolades received, take screen shots, create infographics, link to blogs or websites, incorporate photos, showcase superior academic tasks, the list is endless. However, remember to keep all content professional and relevant to your career goals and aspirations. For creative inspiration, check out the LinkedIn Official Blog Don’t Just Say It, Display It: Visually Enhance Your Professional Story on your LinkedIn Profile
  4. Share your portfolio. Include a customized LinkedIn URL on your cover letter and resume. Consider referring to specific portfolio content in your cover letter, inviting employers to visit and review your work. Also, through LinkedIn, reach out to recruiters and hiring managers, inviting them to take a look at your new and improved profile that showcases your unique professional story and what you have to offer. 
For individualized assistance with your professional portfolio and any additional career questions you may have, please contact WGU Career & Professional Development

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

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 are here to help!