Job Tips

If after reading the article, or if you're not a DIYer, and you want help with any of these items, Call us and make an appointment.  We are able to assist with any of these topics.

Interviewing

Resumes

Cover Letters

Other Tips

 

How to Interview

Necessary Qualifications

The good news is, once you get called in for an interview, you know that on paper, you have all the qualities that you need to do that job. If you didn’t, the employer would not bother to call you in.

So, how do you clinch the job?

 

Be Prepared!

The better prepared you are, the less anxious you will be, and the greater your chances for success.
 

Know Something About the Company You Are Applying to

Check out their website.  Look the place over before the interview to get an idea of how people dress and what the company culture is. It is also impressive, when they ask if you have any questions, if
you can ask a question that shows you know about the company.

 

Appearance Counts

The details of your appearance are as important as the overall effect. You should dress at least as well as someone working in the position you are applying for. All details of grooming are important. Do not over power a room with cologne or perfume. Too many people have sensitivities. This is not a date.  For more tips, check out this article.
 

Know What Questions to Expect

Google "common interview questions" and learn how to answer them. Ask a friend to practice with you. Our centers often offer interviewing skills workshops; sign up for one. We can also do mock interviews.
 

Make Eye Contact

Smile. Lean toward the person. All of these behaviors demonstrate interest, friendliness and trustworthiness. Don’t fidget, chew gum or bring food or drink into an interview. Your attention should be on one thing: the interviewer and what he or she is saying.
 

Be On Time

That means be a few minutes (10-15) early. Have copies of your resume and references with you.
 

Evaluate Your Skills, Abilities & Education

Evaluate your skills, abilities and education as they relate to the job you are interviewing for. Then, be able to sum up at the end of the interview why you believe you are the best candidate.
 

Send a Thank You Note After the Interview

Thank them for their time and interest. Remind them of why you are a good choice. Good manners are never out of place.

Remember that you are trying to impress your potential future employer. Everything counts. Employers know that if you do not try to impress them before they hire you, you will never try afterwards. Impress them!

 

Dressing for an Interview

How you dress for an interview can make all the difference.  You could have a star resume and ace the questions in your interview, but if you look sloppy, the interviewer might take that as a sign that you're also a sloppy worker.

Some of these tips seem obvious, but years of interviewing people have shown otherwise.

  • Practice good hygiene.  Take a shower, apply deodorant, brush/comb your hair, brush your teeth.

  • Dress appropriately.  You needn't go in wearing a three piece suit or a designer dress.  Men should at the very least wear slacks and a polo shirt.  Women can wear a pair of slacks and a blouse.  Make sure you iron your clothes.  Remember we are going for a professional best-foot-forward look. (Need interview clothes?  Call the Career Center; we can help).

  • Clean shoes; leave the sneakers at home.

  • Ball caps may be a part of your everyday wear, but they have no place at an interview!

  • Last, but not least:  never chew gum during your interview.

interview skills
 

Resume Writing

What is a resume?

Besides being an accurate record of your work history and skills and traits you possess, your resume is a marketing tool that will tell an employer why he or she would want to hire you. Think of it as an advertisement for you.
 

Concise & Easy to Read

You need to get across all your important skills and work history in a concise, attractive, easy to read format. Remember that prospective employers are sometimes scanning hundreds of resumes. You need to get your point across.
 

Resume Styles

Did you know that resumes go in and out of style?  It's true.  That resume you had five years ago probably looks dated.  Objectives are out; skills are in.  Your skills are, in fact, the highlight of your resume.  While items like your work history and education have their place, employers want to know what you can do.
 

Writing about your Skills

You have to put yourself in the mind of an employer.  What are they looking for?  The job description is a good place to start.  Look up jobs that are like the ones you want to apply for.  It doesn't matter whether you're going to apply or not, we're just going for ideas right now.  What's in the job description?  What skills are they asking for?  What are the job duties?  If you have those skills or done that particular job, write it down.  

 

Get specific

Words like dependable and customer service have their place (more on this in the next article).  However, what catches an employer eye is a bit of detail.  You may be dependable but tell them what makes you dependable.  Maybe you had perfect attendance at your last job.  Write that down.  Customer service is great, but saying 5 years customer service experience is better.

 

I haven't any skills

Of course you do!  Everyone has skills.  If you have work experience, you definitely have skills.  Again look at those job descriptions; you'll find you have lots of skills.  And don't forget volunteer work; you've used skills there, too.  Just graduated?  No problem.  Have good grades?  Then you're willing to learn.  President of the drama society?  You have leadership skills.


Customize
Remember that it pays to customize your resume for the job you are applying to. Some people have two or more resumes, one for applying for a job in retail, one for manufacturing and one for maybe office work. You need to focus your resume on what the prospective employer will need or want to know.
 

Cover Letters
The cover letter you send with your resume is important too. Use it to say the things that don’t fit into a resume. Check out our article on cover letters for more.
 

Last Words
Resume writing can be hard.  You have to sell yourself, and most people aren't very good at that.  If you're having trouble, we are here for you!  Our specialists can help build you a great resume.  Call Cayuga Works Career Center or Cortland Works Career Center for an appointment, and we'll create a beautiful modern resume and help you get that job!

Also whether you create your resume at home or in our center, we have quality resume paper and envelopes to assist you in your job hunt, and we will even stamp and mail them for you.

resume writing assistance
 

The Modern Resume

Below is what modern resume looks like with some information on what goes in section.  For more detailed information see below the document.

the modern resume picture.png

Contact Information

Make sure your contact information is complete and accurate.  An email is essential, by the way, as many employers now contact you through email.  Also most job sites and applications required an email so set one up if you don’t have one and check it frequently.

 

Summary of Qualifications

Think of this section as the headline to your personal newspaper.  This is where you want to grab the reader’s attention and make them want to keep reading.  Be as specific as possible (see the article Resume Writing).  State your years of experience, that unique skill, particular achievement, certification/license, or expressed education that they will be looking for.

 

Summary of Skills

Many companies are now using scanning software to look for keywords in a resume.  It helps them weed out dozens of resume that don’t fit the bill.  Don’t be one of those resumes.  This is the one area you definitely should customize for each job.  Don’t know the keywords to use?  Check the job description under skills (or qualifications or abilities or knowledge, etc.).  It will tell you exactly what words to use.  Words like organization or detail-oriented can be among them.  Note: Keywords should be only one or two words; no more.  Other keywords can be direct experience you have like QuickBooks, or CNA, or management skills.

 

Professional Qualifications

Here’s where you get into more detail.  Group your skills into skill groups, such as Production Skills, Office Skills, Clinical Skills, Interpersonal Skills, etc.  Be specific but use one sentence bullet points.  You want to be brief but not too short.  For example, don’t just say data entry.  What kind of data?  What kind of software maybe?  Instead of just “data entry”, say “entered patient information into medical record database with speed and accuracy”.  Sounds better, doesn’t it?  Also use action words wherever possible.  Words like performed, supervised, and assisted.  For example, instead of “able to do vital signs” write “performed vital signs”.

 

Work History

Yep, it’s at the bottom.  Why?  Employers today are much more interested in your skills and what you can do rather than where you did it.  On your work history go back about ten years even if you have a lengthy history.  Too much can either age you or make you look as if you can’t keep a job.  The only time you should go back more than ten years is if you had a very specific job that applies to the one you are trying to get.  Again a specific job title only if you haven’t had that title in the last ten years.  You can also go back more than ten years if you’ve worked at the same place for a long time.

 

Education

Again it’s at the bottom.  You may be proud of your education but you can showcase it without moving it up.  How?  Use the Summary of Qualifications to highlight it, but again only if it applies directly to the job you are trying to get.  For example, if you are looking to be a teacher’s assistant then that associate’s degree in child development will certainly help.  Have a degree in progress?  You certainly should list it and note that you are working on it.  Have some college education but didn’t finish?  You may want to add it if it applies to the job; just state how many semesters you attended and the degree program.

 

Add It or Don’t Add It?

A lot of people add extras to their resume such hobbies, volunteer work, etc., but does it belong on the resume?  Here the rule:  if it applies directly to the job you are applying for then it’s okay.  If not, it just looks like unnecessary filler to a potential employer.  The next question is where to put it.  Our recommendation is in the Summary of Qualifications.  Here’s an example:  You’re applying to a job as an events coordinator’s assistant and you have helped coordinated several fundraising events for an animal shelter, then mention how you helped coordinate them.

By the way, if you have a military history, always add it provided it was a good history (i.e. honorable discharge).  Add even if it doesn’t directly apply to the job.  You are the exception to the rule.  A lot of employers look to hire veterans.  Take advantage of that service.  Where to add it?  If there is a direct application of experience, in the Summary of Qualifications (just make sure you mentioned that you got that experience in your particular branch of service).  If there isn’t a direct application, add it to the bottom under its own heading of “Military” then cite your branch and years of services underneath.

 

How to Write a Cover Letter

A cover letter is a personal letter that you send with your resume or job application. It’s your first opportunity to introduce yourself to a potential employer. It’s your hello, your smile, your chance to create a rapport.

Q. Does everyone send a cover letter with their resume or job application?

A. No. Most people don’t include a cover letter, which is why you should send one. Including a cover letter shows that you’re serious about the job, and you care enough to write one. If the job posting states that a cover letter is required, you must send one to be considered for the position.

Q. Do I have to create a new letter each time I apply to a different company?

A. Yes and no. You certainly want all employers to feel that you are writing to them personally, so the letter should fit the employer and the job you are applying for. There may be paragraphs related to your goals and qualifications that you can reuse and include in most of your letters.

Q. To whom should I address my letter?

A. Your letter should be addressed to the hiring manager of the department where you want to work. If you want a job in human resources, send your letter to the human resource manager. If you want to work in maintenance, send your letter to the maintenance manager. At a small business, send your letter to the owner. Often, job postings will direct you to the person to whom your letter should be addressed.

Q. How do I get the manager’s name?

A. If the name of the person who should receive your letter is not provided, there are several ways to find out who that person is. Call the company and ask for it. The receptionist who answers should be able to provide the information. You may be able to find the name of the human resources or personnel manager on the company’s website.  If you know someone working at the company, ask for the hiring manager’s name.  If it is not possible to acquire a name, address your letter to “Hiring Manager.”

Q. How long should a cover letter be?

A. Keep your letter brief. One page is perfect.

 

The best cover letters get the reader’s attention, pique their interest, create a desire to know more, and take action.

Grab the reader’s attention: In the first paragraph of the letter, grab the hiring manager’s attention simply by telling her why you are writing. Below are several solid reasons for writing to a hiring manager. Adapt one that best reflects you and your personal style.

EX: I am eager to work as a  _____ advertised in the ____ because of my strong background/personal interest/skill in _____.
EX: I would like to pursue a career at _____ because of your company’s excellent reputation in the field of _______.
EX: I shop at your store and …

In the second paragraph of your cover letter, rouse the manager’s interest. Provide specific examples of the skills, accomplishments, and contributions that employers can expect from you.

EX: I have three years’ experience as a ______
EX: I just graduated from school with a specialty in _____
EX: I have three unique abilities I can bring to the job: _____
EX: I have an idea about _____ that I would like to discuss with you.

The third paragraph of your letter is the place to create a desire in the manager to interview you.  Connect your skills and experience to the job requirements posted in the advertisement. If you are not responding to an ad, provide the hiring manager with three solid accomplishments that will make her want to meet you.

EX: I have used ______ to accomplish _____
EX: I am skilled in using _____ for these purposes: ______________
EX: I was able to accomplish ______ by _____ and I’d like to do the same for you

Finally, take action. Ask for an interview. Adapt one of the following that works for you.

EX: I would like to interview for your _____ position. You can reach me any time at ______
EX: I am eager to discuss my qualifications with you. Please contact me at your convenience.

Remember, the cover letter is your opportunity to share relevant information that is not on your resume and to give the hiring manager an opportunity to get to know you a little better. Focus on skills and qualities that you can bring to the company. Provide a glimpse into your personality. Include information that is specific to the position you desire. Always have someone proofread your letter before sending it.

 

Filling out an Application

An application is an important document.  It is often the first impression you are giving the potential employer so you want to make a good one.  Check out the following tips.

  1. Read carefully.  You want to make sure you fill out the information correctly and check the right boxes.  Also make sure you read the job description including requirements and qualifications.  An employer can receive a lot of applications and will narrow the field by eliminating those who they think did not read the job description or requirements, skipped sections, or didn't follow instructions.

  2. Use a professional name and email.  Everyone may know you as Gator but use your real name on your application.  Also set up a professional email using simply your name, and some numbers if necessary.  Believe me, no hiring manager will be willing to take you seriously if you use a nickname or silly email on your application.

  3. Write neatly if it's on paper!  If they can't read it, it goes straight to the discard pile.

  4. Spelling.  Whether on paper or online make sure you spell correctly.  It shows that you took your time and cared enough to get it right.  Little things can make a difference!

  5. Don't skip sections.  Fill it out completely even if it's not required information or the information is on your resume.  Giving them more information than asked for shows that you are interested and that you're willing to go the extra step.  If a question truly does not apply to you then enter "N/A" for not applicable; it will shows that you at least read the information.

  6. Assessments.  Many companies have added assessments to applications.  It's another way for them to weed out undesirable candidates.  When you take an assessment, think from an employer point of view and the answers they are hoping to see.

  7. If they ask for you to attach a resume, cover letter, or any other information then include it.  They are asking for reason.

  8. Follow up.  You've submitted your application and put your best foot forward.  Make sure you check that professional email frequently and answer your phone.  If they can't reach you, the job goes to someone else.

If you need assistance filling out an application, a resume, cover letter, etc., contact your Career Center.  We can help!