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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Job Workshops Bridge the Gap Between Class and Career

Finding and landing a job in today’s economy takes savvy and attention to detail. To give students and alumni every possible advantage, the Employment Services Center at WCC hosts a series of free how-to workshops on resume dos and don’ts, proper interviewing practices, and job search techniques.

The workshops are particularly timely because the Spring Job Fair and Nonprofit Showcase is fast approaching. The event is expected to attract dozens of employers to the Morris Lawrence building on Thursday, March 25, from 1:00pm-4:00pm. It’s free to WCC students, alumni, and the community.

But whether you’re looking for a job now, at the job fair, or later, the first step is to review your resume. “People often believe that they have a perfectly put together resume and some do, but most of them need a little tweaking or major overhaul,” said David Wildfong, an Employment Services advisor. “Job service centers and online sites have templates people can use, but they’re not really that great. We promote starting from scratch and building a fresh resume in (Microsoft) Word. It’s a testament to an individual’s ability to format a document and to put together a coherent sentence that describes what they’re looking for as an objective. That will help make a resume stand out so that an employer will hold it up at arm’s length and say, ‘This looks good.’”

In his Resume Development workshop, Wildfong goes over what to include and what to leave out of a resume, and when one page is better than two. He also points out that it’s the resume’s role to get the interview, and it’s the interview that gets the job.

“It’s the things you don’t consider that we bring to these workshops, details that will sometimes determine whether or not you get put in the yes pile or the no pile, especially now when the employers have the ability to be picky,” said Wildfong.

Making First Impressions Count

Creating a great impression in an interview falls under the expertise of Sandra Worrell, another Employment Services advisor. In her Interview Skills workshop, Worrell touches on the basics of proper attire and a checklist of details that, if not followed, will sabotage any interview, such as knowing where to go and who you will be talking with. She also provides great tips and insights to help build confidence for that critical conversation.

“I go over several things the job seeker should be prepared to answer,” said Worrell. “For example, they should be able to tell their potential employer what they know about the company and why they want to work there. And they should be able to tell them why they are the best one for the job. Preparing these comments ahead of time helps reduce the anxiety people often experience walking into an interview.

“Preparation is the key,” said Worrell. “You have to prepare what you’re going to say about yourself in an interview and you have to prepare what you know about the employer. What does the employer want to know about you? What should you bring up in an interview? You want to talk about your education, your work experience, your skills, and if they don’t ask you directly about them, you need to find a way to fit them into the conversation. So we go over all the major areas that they should prepare for, and then we go over some of the typical questions they’ll be asked, such as: Tell me about yourself. Why do you want to work for us? Why should we hire you?”

Completing the series is the Job Search Techniques workshop. In it, students review the proper way to conduct a job search. That’s changing every six months, according to Wildfong, thanks to technological tools such as LinkedIn. Participants are also encouraged to move away from relying solely on technology and to start building their contact network. Wildfong said most people would be surprised to learn that while 95 percent of job openings can be found online, only 5 percent are filled online. Most are still filled through networking, he said.

Transitioning From Job Lost to Job Found

Recently the Employment Services advisors have been talking with a new group of students. These are individuals who have been out of school for over 10 years, have been laid off or are facing job loss, and are overwhelmed by the sudden change in lifestyle and job outlook. Some of them may have taken an early retirement and are finding out that they need to supplement their income.

“We developed a series of workshops that are offered each Monday in February to meet the needs of workers in transition—those currently enrolled or alumni. This is one of several initiatives we’re promoting through Employment Services,” said Cindy Haeck, who works with Worrell and Wildfong. “We felt we needed to tweak our workshops for transitional workers because there are some nuances that are unique to this group.

“For example, people who are over 40 and competing with younger workers in the job market sometimes feel that there is a stigma or a stereotype regarding them,” she said, “when in fact that may not be the case but just something they feel; and then there are those times when that is exactly what they’re facing. These workshops needed to address that perception, and other concerns distinctive to experienced employees.”

Haeck said the Monday workshops, which meet from noon to 1:30pm, are designed to help workers familiarize themselves with the new employment landscape, which has changed dramatically since the last time they navigated it.

Employment Services also sponsors a support group for people facing the new employment frontier and other topic-specific events.

For dates and times of all Employment Services workshops, check the calendar.

Individual Counseling, Job Board Offered

In addition to group workshops, Employment Services provides one-on-one help to students and alumni with developing a job search, buffing up a resume, improving employability skills, assessing the labor market, and related topics. To make an appointment with an advisor, call 734-677-5155.

Another key resource that Employment Services offers is the College Central Network, a website where job seekers can review job postings from area employers in a variety of fields and can upload their resumes. The jobs range from part-time entry-level to full-time career-related positions. The site is free to students and alumni.

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