All posts by Carrie Harris

Currently a Career Counselor at Parkland College, I have also served as an Academic Advisor in the community college setting as well as in the Human Resources field. Follow the Career Center on twitter at @connectwithPCC. #GetConnected

Why Try a Job Fair? For More Reasons than One

You’ve seen the posters around campus, the emails, the notices on Parkland’s website.  But you still think: “Job fair? me?  Uh-uh. I’m already working” or “I’m going on for my bachelor’s” or “I still have a year until graduation” or “I get too nervous” or “I’m just not ready yet.”

But the answer should be “YES!” because there’s more than one way to utilize a job fair.  Think about it, wouldn’t it be great to make connections with employers you think you might want to work for?  They don’t know you’re out there unless you let them know. Are you working in the field you want to end up in?  There could be opportunity to find a “real” job (even part-time) or internship opportunity before you complete your bachelor’s degree in your field of study.

You know you want to go into business, but that’s so broad.  A job fair allows you to get out and talk with a variety of companies  in the industry to find out in what direction you want to focus when you’re done with school.  Not sure how to start conversations with employers? Go through the fair, observe, and make sure to approach just one or two employers, just to practice presenting yourself.

Need help with your resume? elevator pitch? LinkedIn account?  As a Parkland student, you can plan ahead and schedule a FREE  appointment with the Career Center so that you are ready to go on the day of the job fair.

***We will hold our final job fair of the 2016 spring semester Monday, April 11, from 10 am to 1:30 pm in the Student Union Atrium.  This fair will focus on careers in Computer Science, Information Technology, and Business.

Stop by the Career Center in U238, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, and check out our website. Call us at 217/351-2536. Our hours are Monday–Friday, 8 am–5 pm. ***

[Carrie Harris is a career counselor in Parkland’s Career Center.]

Gen Ed Classes: Busy Work or Career Boosters?

Spring has arrived—and with it, thoughts about next semester, summer employment, if you are ever going to graduate, and whether you can squeeze in time for your  group project, write a 5-page paper on the cultural diversity of Indonesia, and hold down your part-time job all before the end of the semester.

If you want to be hired in today’s job market, you will NEED to use all of the above to your advantage.  That’s right: Those projects, papers, and seemingly useless knowledge of world governments, religions, and societies may be some of the  most important skills you’ll gain from your college career.

In today’s job market, employers want more than technical skills from their employees.  We live in a global society, and more and more jobs are requiring us to interact with other humans in some form for at least part of the day.  To help your resume stand out, start documenting what you are doing in these general education courses now.  For example, have you:

  • Completed group projects?
  • Improved your writing skills?
  • Gained knowledge and perspective on global issues/other cultures?
  • Worked with a diverse group of people?
  • Identified a problem and developed a solution?

You don’t need a ton of work experience to gain all these attractive skills; you’ve been doing them all along in your college coursework! The situations above translate into examples of communication, problem solving, teamwork, understanding and relating to others, diversity sensitivity, and managing multiple priorities.

So the next time your advisor tells you that you need one more humanities gen ed to fulfill your degree requirements, don’t roll your eyes but instead, challenge yourself to broaden your horizons and select a course you know nothing about.  You’ll have one more experience to add to your list and keep track of, so that when job search time comes, you can verbalize these experiences and move more powerfully toward career success.

[Carrie Harris is a career counselor in Parkland’s Career Center.]

GO AHEAD, Work: 10 Phone Interview Tips

Phone interviews are often used to screen candidates in order to narrow the pool of applicants who will be invited for in-person interviews.  They are also used as a way to minimize the expenses involved in interviewing out-of-town candidates.

Most phone interviews are scheduled, but it is important to be prepared on a moment’s notice.  You never know when a recruiter might call and ask if you have a few minutes to talk.  Review the 10 tips below to make sure you are prepared.

  1.  Research the job and the company so you are prepared to discuss your role if you were to be hired.  Check their website to see what services or products they offer.  Why do you want to work for them?
  2. Tape papers on a  wall or countertop so you are not fumbling through them during the call.  Have in clear view:
    • A copy of your resume
    • A short list of your work-related strengths and accomplishments. Why should they hire you?
    • A short list of questions to ask the interviewers
    • A pen and notebook for notetaking
  3. Make sure your cell phone is fully charged and that you are in an area of full reception.
  4. Remove distractions: Turn off the TV and find a quiet place to talk.
  5. Answer with, “Hello, this is John.” If the time is not convenient, ask if you can call back and suggest a time.
  6. Avoid multitasking – Do not eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum.
  7. Write down names – Who are you talking to? Get a phone number in case you get disconnected.
  8. Avoid “um” and “like” fillers.  Use complete sentences, speak slowly, and enunciate clearly.
  9. Show enthusiasm, but do not interrupt!
  10. Remember, your goal is to set up a face-to-face interview.  After you thank the interviewer, ask if it would be possible to meet in person or ask what the next step in the process will be.

****Our targeted career fairs will be held on the following dates from 10am to 1:30pm in the Student Union Atrium:

  • March 2 – Health Professions
  • April 11 – Computer Science and Information Technology/
    Business

Stop by the Career Center in U238, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, and check out our website. Call us at 217/351-2536. Our hours are Monday–Friday, 8am–5pm.****

[Carrie Harris is a career counselor in Parkland’s Career Center.]

Go Ahead, Work: Boost Your Web Presence with LinkedIn

Think of LinkedIn as your professional Facebook account.  It is a great way to make connections, research companies, and find job openings.

LinkedIn Co. logo
LinkedIn Co. logo.

After creating your account at www.linkedin.com, follow these 10 tips to set up and maximize your online presence!

  1.  Add a professional-looking photo of only yourself (NO SELFIES). Profiles with photos are 14 times more likely to be found in searches.
  2. Stand out with a headline that describes how you want to be known on LinkedIn.  Use your area of study and/or your career ambitions. Check out profiles of people who hold the job you’d like to get and see which keywords they use.
  3. Choose the industry in which you intend to enter.  If seeking a specific location for work, choose that location for your profile.  This way, you will appear in searches for that area.
  4. Write a brief summary describing your professional background and aspirations.  Describe your skills and abilities in short bursts of keyword-rich text.  Use bullets to separate the information.
  5. List all the work experience you’ve had, along with brief descriptions of each role.  List all the schools and colleges you’ve attended.  LinkedIn helps you connect with former colleagues and networking contacts who may be able to help you find a job opportunity.
  6. Add at least five skills to your profile.  Check out profiles of people in the field you plan to work and use the key words they use, but only if they are true to you!
  7. Ask for recommendations and endorsements from colleagues, clients, managers, professors, and classmates, not family and friends!
  8. Customize your URL to include something recongnizable, like a name or shortened version of your name.  Put the URL on your website, resume, email signature, and business cards to drive traffic to your LinkedIn profile.
  9. Make sure your profile is error free.  Don’t include photos, comments, or information you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see!
  10. Don’t just establish a LinkedIn presence; stay connected.  Reach out. Interact. You will get out what you put in.  Update your status about major projects you’ve completed, professional books/articles you’re reading, and professional successes you’ve had.

The following targeted career fairs will be held on the following dates from 10am to 1:30pm in the Student Union Atrium:

  • March 2 – Health Professions
  • April 11 – Computer Science Information Technology/Business

Make sure to stop by room U238, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, and check out our website. Call us at 217/351-2536. Our hours are Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm.

[Carrie Harris is a career counselor in Parkland’s Career Center.]

GO AHEAD, Work: 10 Key Skills Employers Want

The Parkland Career Center is hosting career-specific job fairs this spring.  Keep these 10 key skills and qualities in mind as you approach today’s competitive job market:

  1.  Communication skills that demonstrate verbal, written, and listening abilities.
  2. Computer aptitude based on the level required for the position being filled.
  3. Team spirit, which involves working cooperatively with a variety of people and treating others with respect.
  4. Basic math and reading skills.
  5. Interpersonal skills, allowing you to relate to diverse coworkers and manage conflicts.
  6. Organizational skills, so that you can plan and complete multiple tasks in a timely fashion.
  7. Problem-solving skills, including the ability to think critically and identify and solve problems.
  8. Flexibility and adaptability, to handle change in the workplace.
  9. Personal traits such as a positive attitude, motivation, integrity, honesty, and leadership potential.
  10. Dependability and a strong work ethic!

The following targeted career fairs will be held on the following dates, from 10am to 1:30pm in the Student Union Atrium:

  • March 2 – Health Professions
  • April 11 – Computer Science Information Technology/Business

Make sure to stop by the Career Center in room U238, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, and check out our website.  Call us at 217/351-2536. Our hours are Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm.

[Carrie Harris is a career counselor in Parkland’s Career Center.]