How to Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market

standing out from the crowd

Hello Argos,

The current job market is very competitive. Due to the disconnect between available positions and number of applicants, active job seekers are looking for ways to “stand out from the crowd.” With this current economic structure, the job searching has now become an employer’s market as opposed to an applicant’s market. Thus, applicants have to take additional steps to get noticed.

Here are three tips in order to stand out in a sea of applicants:

  1. Have a perfect resume.

Employers usually spend about 5-7 seconds reviewing an applicant’s resume the first time. So, it is crucial to have an error free resume and to market yourself in the best way possible. Having an error free resume will ensure you will not lose out on a possible job offer. A quick visit to Career Services will help you get your resume up to par.

  1. Dress appropriately for an interview.

Appropriate interview attire could make or break the interviewing process. When applicants dress inappropriately, employers may pass judgement that would not be in the applicant’s favor. When dressing for an interview, always get a second and third opinion on your outfit. Also, refer to the career development guide for an entire section on interviewing.

  1. Treat every opportunity like obtaining your dream job depends on it.

Exhibiting your best performance and efforts at any job, interview, meet and greet and job fair could play a role in getting numerous job opportunities. Networking is crucial. If you have a good reputation amongst your employers in your field, they may recommend you to other employers.

Remember that achieving your goals regarding job opportunities will not just come to you. You have to put in the effort in order to gain success. Thus, following these tips will enhance your chances at finding your dream job.

-Kabria Shelley, Oracle Resource Coach

UWF Alumni Spotlight

careertips11

Today’s blog reviews an alumna’s experience at the University of West Florida. Mandy H., a former Public Relations major, provides tips and advice on how to gain employment after graduation, and also explains why it is so important to be involved on campus. Mandy’s first  taste of leadership was when she was selected to be an Orientation Leader. Mandy explained that the Orientation Leader position helped her develop into the leader that she is today. Mandy also found success in Greek life. She joined Alpha Chi Omega and  climbed the ranks on the Panhellenic executive board, eventually becoming the Panhellenic President. Mandy also worked for Undergraduate Admissions where she climbed the ranks of that organization as a Student Admissions Representative and became a Senior Star.

Mandy is now employed by the University of West Florida as the Coordinator of Orientation and Visit Experience. Her words of advice are as follows: “Step outside of your comfort zone. You can’t expect a job opportunity or involvement opportunity to be handed to you. You need to apply yourself and  don’t be afraid to say no. When you are developing yourself as a young professional, it is still an early learning experience. Don’t be afraid to learn more and become the best version of yourself that you can be.”

Hakeem, Oracle Resource Coach

Working on Campus

StudentEmploymentBlue_1

Research has shown that students who attend college are more likely to take on additional financial responsibilities. Therefore, finding employment is crucial for students who may not have a great amount of financial resources. Jobs provide students the opportunity to gain experience that will be beneficial for their future beyond their college career. One of the decisions that students will have to make is whether or not to work on campus. Below is an interview with a fellow ORC who shares her experience working on campus.

  1. What are the pros and cons of working an on-campus job?

There are both advantages and disadvantages to working on campus. Some pros of working on campus include: more flexibility with classes, no need for a car if living on campus, a chance to network and build relationships with both faculty and administration, and opportunities to work in a variety of areas. Some cons include: limited hours to work and limited exposure beyond students, faculty, and administration.

  1. How could an on campus job prepare you for the professional workplace?

I am currently an Oracle Resource Coach (ORC) who works for both UWF Housing and Residence Life and the UWF Career Services department. I currently live in a sophomore residence hall and my role is to assist residents with academics, act as a mentor to students for leadership development, and serve as a professional development coach. I am well-connected with resources and have established relationships with different departments on campus. Working with a diverse population of students, staff, and alumni has highlighted my ability to interact, appreciate, and respond to a variety of backgrounds and needs. I have further developed transferable skills such as interpersonal skills, organizational skills, leadership skills, and communication skills that will benefit me in the future.

  1. What advice would you give to current or prospective student workers who want to make the most out of their positions?
  • Take opportunities.
    • They may be doors to future opportunities.
  • Challenge yourself.
    • Get out of your comfort zone and take risks that will help you grow from your experience and gain transferable skills.
  • Be open-minded.
    • Try new things and be able to understand different perspectives.
  • Learn from your experiences.
    • In the process you will learn about yourself.
  • Connect with people.
    • Developing a network is beneficial. Relationships are valuable.
  • Take the initiative.
    • What you get out of your experience is what you put in to it.

 

Until next time,

Kabria, Oracle Resource Coach

What Employers are Looking For

Hey, Argos!

Have you ever wondered what employers are looking for in candidates? Here is an Informational Interview with Mr. Shane Countryman from New York Life. He discusses the skills and abilities he believes are important in the workplace.

Employers are looking for

  1. What skills and abilities do you consider most important to have for the Financial Professional position currently being advertised on Jason Quest?

“For skills, we are looking for the intangible skills that aren’t necessarily advertised on the resume. We are looking for the innate skills, such as, how somebody presents themselves, how they naturally communicate, and how they naturally hold themselves when they walk in the room. People with these communication skills tend to do well in both the interview setting and with our company. Other skills we can teach. And I would say that the biggest ability we are looking for is effort and the desire to be rewarded from one’s personal effort.”

  1. What are some examples of how can one develop the desired traits and skills necessary for this position?

“I would say being around people, growing your communication skills, and getting yourself out of your comfort zone. We all have an internal comfort zone. Being able to get uncomfortable and accept that is very, very important.”

  1. What particular skills or talents, in general, are most essential to be effective in your industry?

“Communication skills. Also humor always works. When you’re dealing with a client and you’re talking money, people tend to put up a brick wall. Being able to relate to someone else is essential and humor is a great way to do that.”

  1. When reviewing resumes, what is considered most appealing and most unappealing?

“I am a very detailed person. Most appealing… good structure. Resumes that are not organized well with bullet points all over the place lack good structure. It makes one feel that the person writing the resume didn’t put the time and effort into creating it. Most unappealing… having distractions that distract from the basic material should be left out. Some examples of this are: pictures, pretty font, and stuff in the margins. Don’t worry about a different colored paper or a unique layout. A resume is only to make the hiring manager curious to meet you in person. These other things are more distracting than anything else.”

  1. What abilities or personal qualities make a potential employee stand out from the crowd?

“Personal qualities… someone who is looking to grow their own business. A person who has an entrepreneur spirit. Somebody who is looking to work for themselves, grow their own business, and someone who wants direct reward for their direct output. Receiving guidance is a great factor and being your own boss is great; but making the rules and having someone guide you in the right direction is better. New York Life is a Fortune 100 company and we are number 80. Receiving guidance and experience from one of the top 80 companies in the nation is an opportunity. Those who want rewards from their efforts tend to be successful rather than those who just want to get a paycheck or those that only want the job because they have a certain education level or experience.”

  1. How diverse are the skill-sets and personal qualities of your employees at New York Life?

 “At New York Life, we are a front runner in diversity both in skills and in background. We have people that are experts in individual areas and people that are a ‘jack-of-all trades.’ We have people from multinational backgrounds and from the local area. We are looking to take care of every individual client, not just one particular area or sect of clients.”

  1. And, how does the company work with differing abilities to build effective teams?

“Diversity is a basic part of New York Life. We look for people with different natural skill-sets to work with different areas of clients. For example, when you have a client who speaks a specific language, they do better with someone who speaks that language. When someone does not speak that language things can get lost in translation or misunderstood and that doesn’t bring comfort to the client. We are looking to take care of everyone.”

Experience Skills Performance

Until next time!

-Hannah

 

How to: Reference Sheets

Hey Argos,

670px-Refer-to-a-Third-Party-in-ASL-Step-1
Though a simple part of your application, who you have as your references and how you display their information is serious business! Here are a few do’s and don’ts to help guide you through the process.
Do:
• Include between 3-5 professional references (professors, former bosses, mentors)
• Make a separate sheet for your references, using the same header and format as your resume
• Contact your references before placing them on your sheet, and also for each job you apply for, so they can better tailor their responses
• Give your references a copy of your resume
Don’t:
• Include any unprofessional references (family, friends, people who have not worked with you or above you in a direct capacity)
• Place your references on your actual resume!
• Have references on your sheet that are not aware they are your references
• Include your reference sheet with your application if the employer doesn’t ask for it. Some employers will throw out your application if you do this because they think you can’t follow directions

And there you have it! For an example and more information, please see page 21 in our Career Development Guide here:

Until next time,
Keriann

What are the “dos and don’ts” of interview attire?

Greetings, Argos!
It has been awhile since I last wrote to you. I hope your midterms went great and that you are now able to relax and spend time with your family and friends. We are already half way done with the semester! I cannot believe it’s already March! Since summer is just around the corner, I bet a lot of you are thinking and planning on where you will travel, what you will do, and where will you work. Since many of you are likely planning on working over the summer, I believe it is important to cover how to dress for success! Today, I want to share with you some tips for dressing the part. Here are some tips I have used to prepare for an interview as well as a picture of how to dress:

Womens Dress

Women’s Interview Attire
• Matching color suits (navy, black, kaki, dark grey)
• The suit skirt should be long enough so you can sit down comfortably
• Coordinated blouse
• Conservative shoes
• Limited jewelry (no dangling earrings or arms full of bracelets)
• No jewelry is better than cheap jewelry
• Professional hairstyle
• Neutral pantyhose
• Light make-up and perfume
• Neatly manicured clean nails
• Portfolio or briefcase
• A watch

 

Mens Dress

Men’s Interview Attire
• Suit (solid color – navy or dark grey)
• Long sleeve shirt (white or coordinated with the suit)
• Belt
• Tie
• Dark socks, conservative leather shoes
• Little or no jewelry (watch is good!)
• Neat, professional hairstyle
• Limit the aftershave
• Neatly trimmed nails
• Portfolio or briefcase

If you have any questions, feel free to call, email, or come to our office!
Sincerely,
Allee Millsap

Engagement Opportunities for Men at UWF

UWF MEN

Hello Argos,

This week’s topic is male engagement in college. At the university level, on average, men are not as prominent on college campuses as women. Women first surpassed men on college campuses in the 1980’s, and it has steadily risen over time. Here at the University of West Florida (UWF), there are 2,224 more females than males.

The University of West Florida has started initiatives to try and lessen the gap. They have created the UWF Men Empowerment Network, which is a program designed to offer academic and social support, as well as mentoring opportunities for male college students. All students who participate are required to uphold a standard of academic and professional excellence. The goal of the program is to increase recruitment, retention, and graduation rates of male college students from all backgrounds.

Until next time,

Hakeem Douglas, Oracle Resource Coach

Running to the Feds

Hey Argos,

It’s that time of year when many of you are applying to internships or professional, post-grad positions.  For those of you interested in government positions, the already stressful task of applying can seem overwhelming and daunting, so I’ve put together a short list that will help you navigate this process!

  1. The Federal Resume is completely different from a regular resume
    • Include as much detail as possible. This means adding your high school information, using paragraphs to describe your jobs, and even including the most random summer jobs (like that one time you worked at a snow cone shop). They want to know EVERYTHING.
  2. It has its similarities to a regular resume
    • Talking about your experiences by highlighting your skills is still essential. Although you use paragraph descriptions, these paragraphs should be broken up by skill header (e.g Communication:…, Organization:…, Technical:…) and you can have a section towards the end of these descriptions titled “Key Accomplishments,” where you can highlight some of your successes within the position.
    • Power verbs remain the name of the game! A full sentence structure is not used. Rather, each phrase begins with a power verb. Keywords are relied upon heavily to convey pertinent experience.
  3. Making it is super easy
    1. When you create your account on usajobs.gov, you have the option to upload your federal resume OR you can just use their resume builder. This is a fantastic tool where you simply input your information like your education information, language level, etc. At the end of the process, you have a perfectly formatted federal resume. The only thing that is not formatted is your sensationalized, paragraph descriptions. I would recommend creating these descriptions in Word and then simply copying and pasting into the text box provided for you.

And there you have it! It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3. For more info and examples, see the Career Development Guide (page 17) or the examples that can be found on JasonQuest-Resource Library-Resume Examples-Federal Resume.

Happy applying!

Keriann

The Importance of Informational Interviewing

Informational Interview

Hey Argos!

Looking for information and advice about working in a career that interests you? Try Informational Interviewing!

Why is Informational Interviewing Important? 

  • Obtain firsthand relevant information for a specific career field or position.
  • Learn what it’s like to work in a particular organization.
  • Get tips for how to prepare and enter into careers.
  • Develop professional relationships and expand your network.

How Can One Obtain an Informational Interview? 

  1. Research
    • Research the career field or the employer.
  1. Identify
    • Identify people to interview by reviewing your contacts and finding possible leads.
  1. Prepare
    • Create a short introduction about yourself including why you have contacted the person.
    • Plan to ask open-ended questions.
  1. Initiate
    • Initiate contact with the person by phone or email.
    • Mention how you got the person’s name.
    • Emphasize that you are looking for information, not a job.
    • Ask for a convenient time to make an appointment.

What Questions Should/Should Not Be Asked?

  • Select appropriate questions for your target career field and level of decision-making.
  • Ask questions related to the nature of a person’s work, how to get started in the field, or effective approaches for the job search.
  • Avoid asking for a job and do not ask questions to get answers that can be found through a basic internet search.

Examples:

  • How important are my GPA and extracurricular activities?
  • What kind of training did you find most effective for entering your career field?
  • Does your organization hire ___________ majors? If so, for what positions?

 

Learn more about the great resources we have to offer at Career Services! Come by and see us!

Until next time,

Hannah, Oracle Resource Coach

Professionalism in the Workplace: How to Work Well With Others/Diversity in the Workplace

hommes d'affaires et bagarre

Hello Argos,

It’s Allee Millsap here. I believe today’s topic is one of the most important for defining one’s future career: how to work well with others. Many of us have already experienced conflicts in our part time jobs during high school and now in college. During my time in college thus far, I have noticed that one can look at a conflict in a negative or positive way. As Dr. Harriet B. Braiker once said, “Conflict can and should be handled constructively; when it is, relationships benefit. Conflict avoidance is *not* the hallmark of a good relationship. On the contrary, it is a symptom of serious problems and of poor communication.” The roots of so many of today’s conflicts are not due to what was said, but what was not. The very essence of a relationship is built on communication. In order to work well with others, you need to get to know the different communication styles.

The Host
I bet you all have that one friend who throws great parties. Every time you go over to his or her house you have a blast. Instead of leaving the guests to fend for themselves, the host makes sure to introduce everyone and makes them feel at home. As a host, you want to identify with the guest’s interests, skills, and personality traits in order to engage with them. If you are in this mindset in your workspace, you will be able to identify and best facilitate their communication styles. In the process of identifying different communications styles, you will also be able to learn how to address conflicts.

Understanding different conflict handling styles
Many of times when a dispute arises, it is easier to point out how others respond than our own. Each of us has our own way of coping with difficult situations. Two behavioral scientists Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann developed the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument, which have identified five ways people generally handle conflicts – competition, collaboration, compromise, avoidance, and accommodation. There is no one right and wrong conflict style. Here is a nice compiled list from the University of Texas’ website that nicely defines each of the conflict styles:
1. Competing – A competitive style of managing conflict can be appropriate when you have to implement an unpopular decision, make a quick decision, the decision is vital in a crisis, or it is important to let others know how important an issue is to you – “standing up for your right.” The biggest disadvantage of using this style is that relationships can be harmed beyond repair and may encourage other parties to use covert methods to get their needs met because conflict with these people are reduced to – “if you are not with me, you are against me.”
2. Accommodating – You set aside your own personal needs because you want to please others in order to keep the peace. The emphasis is on preserving the relationship. Smoothing or harmonizing can result in a false solution to a problem and can create feelings in a person that range from anger to pleasure. Accommodators are unassertive and cooperative and may play the role of a martyr, complainer, or saboteur. However, accommodation can be useful when one is wrong or when you want to minimize losses when you are going to lose anyway because it preserves relationships. If you use it all the time it can become competitive – “I am nicer than you are” – and may result in reduced creativity in conflict situations and increased power imbalances.
3. Avoidance – characterized as deliberately ignoring or withdrawing from a conflict rather than facing it. This style maybe perceived as not caring about your own issue or the issues of others. People who avoid the situation hope the problem will go away, resolve itself without their involvement, or think that others are ready to take the responsibility. There are situations where avoidance is appropriate such as when you need more time to think of how to respond, time constraints demand a delay, confrontation will hurt a working relationship, or there is little chance of satisfying your needs. However, avoidance can be destructive if the other person perceives that you do not care enough to engage. By not dealing with the conflict, this style allows the conflict to simmer and heat up unnecessarily, resulting in anger or a negative outburst.
4. Compromising– demonstrates that you are willing to sacrifice some of your goals while persuading others to give up part of theirs – give a little, get a little. Compromising maintains the relationship and can take less time than collaboration and resolutions might mean splitting the difference or seeking a middle ground position. The downside to compromising is that it can be an easy way out and reduces new creative options. If you constantly split the difference or “straddle the fence,” game playing can result and the outcome could be less than ideal.
5. Collaborating – Views conflicts as problems to be solved and finding creative solutions that satisfy all the parties’ concerns. You do not give up your self-interest; you dig into the issue to identify the underlying concerns, test your own assumptions, and understand the views of others. Collaboration takes time and if the relationship among the parties is not important, then it may not be worth the time and energy to create a win-win solution. However, collaboration fosters respect, trust, and builds relationships. To make an environment more collaborative, address the conflict directly and in a way that expresses willingness for all parties to get what they need.

Tips of handling Conflicts in the Workplace
Now that you know the different styles for how people handle themselves in the workplace, it is important to see what principles you can use in addressing workplace conflict.

Ask open ended questions – If there is some confusion with how to handle a task or you just want to gain someone else’s perspective, make sure you take the time to ask the person for their ideas, needs, opinions, and concerns.
Listen Effectively – Problem solving requires effective listening skills. When you listen effectively, you help the person talking reduce their emotional level so they begin to think through their problem and how to resolve.
Look for their interests – Understanding people’s interests is not a simple task because we tend to communicate our positions – things that are likely to be concrete and explicit. It is helpful to learn to recognize the difference between person’s positions and interests to assist in creative problem solving.
I hope this can help you work well with others in your workplace. Feel free to email if this helps you! We’d love to hear!
Sincerely,
Allee Millsap