The 10 most important things you can do to stand out at a job fair

 

Get ready for job fair

Attending a job fair is a great way to have several mini-interviews and expose yourself and your capabilities to several companies in a few hours’ time. However, not properly preparing could result in wasting your day and networking opportunities, or even worse, making a bad impression on potential employers.

Here are 10 things you can do to ensure you are prepared for success:

  1. Make sure that your resume and cover letter are up to date.

You never want to get to a job fair and realize that you left off key information, like a volunteering experience or your last job. Take the time to sit down and go over your resume and cover letter thoroughly so that when it comes time to hand it to the recruiting manager, you feel confident. If you need assistance writing your resume and/or cover letter, all of our SC Works centers provide one-on-one assistance and many provide a free resume workshop. To find the nearest SC Works office and view their workshop calendar, click here.

  1. Find out what companies are going to be at the event.

You want to know who will be at the event for a couple of reasons. First, you should check out their mission statement and their values to see if they correspond with your own set of beliefs. Second, take a look at the company’s portfolio and figure out what kind of business they do. If it doesn’t interest you then don’t go to their table so that you can maximize your time with the companies that do interest you.

If there is a company in which you have a particular interest, take another look at your resume. Are there skills or experience that you might want to highlight or discuss in more detail which the company would find interesting? Think about ways that you resume might be customized to align with the company’s mission. Have these versions of your resume in a separate file and take a minute before you visit their booth to locate the personalized resume so you aren’t fumbling for it when are with the recruiter.

  1. Have a couple of questions ready for the recruiter.

Don’t ask the questions that are easily available to you online like when the company was founded, where the corporate office is or the name of the CEO. Instead ask about a project or initiative that the company is working on or ask the recruiting manager about the company climate and their favorite thing about working there. Being engaged with what is going on with the company is a great way to stand out.

  1. Dress to impress.

Did you know that dressing up improves your confidence according to a Forbes article written by clinical psychologist Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner? Take the ten extra minutes to iron your pants, find a great tie or pair of shoes; it’s a sure-fire way to impress the recruiter.

  1. Remember the key successes to a great interview.

Because a job fair is like a job interview on a speed date, the recruiter is probably going to meet more people than they can remember, so don’t forget your interview essentials so you can stay on the recruiter’s radar. A firm handshake, a friendly smile and being aware of your body language are a few helpful tips, but certainly not all of the things of which you should be mindful. For a list that details other tips, check out the Undercover Recruiter’s article Eight Essential Interview Tips by a Recruiter.

  1. Be prepared to answer questions about yourself.

Why do you want to work for our company? What is one of your major accomplishments? Tell me about a time where you had to work in a team setting? These generic questions could go on forever, and you should know the answers, but take the extra time to think a little bit more. Instead of just answering what you consider your biggest accomplishment, think about your second and third. Having more than one may shed some insight on your work ethic and your goals.

  1. Be enthusiastic.

Nothing is worse than a job candidate that is distracted and doesn’t seem as if they are excited to be speaking with the recruiter. Smile, and show the recruiter that the position really interests you and why you would be a great fit for the company. As long as you’ve done your research about the company this should be an easy answer.

  1. Remember that this is a networking opportunity.

When you meet with the different recruiters make sure to grab their business card. Ask for it if there are not cards available on the table – this shows interest. The card not only allows you to be able to reference your meeting in a cover letter, it also gives you the contact information you need to connect on LinkedIn, should you choose. (To read more about creating a LinkedIn page or making a current page more robust, check out our post How to Use LinkedIn. Additionally, if you don’t get a job with the company, you may still be able to use your connection to see if they know of anyone else hiring in the industry.

  1. Come with an elevator pitch.

What is an elevator pitch? It’s a brief thirty-second pitch about you and your skill sets. The name says it all – if you got on an elevator and someone asked you to tell them about yourself before they got off on their floor, what would you say? This statement should be unique to you because you are trying to sell yourself to a recruiter. If you want to learn more about the elevator pitch and need help trying to craft one, click here.

  1. Get your bearings.

Get to a job fair about 10 minutes early. When you get there, stop and take a couple minutes on a bench outside or in the restroom to compose yourself. Check the job fair map, if they provide one, to see where the companies you want visit are located, make sure you have everything that you need and practice your elevator speech one more time.

Job fairs and hiring events are a fantastic opportunity to make an impression on several businesses in a short amount of time and perhaps see the recruiters of companies that may be hard to get to with just a cold call, but they can be a waste of your time as well as the employers if you don’t prepare for it as thoroughly as you would a job interview. Remember – that just what it is – several job interviews in a short amount of time. Make the most of it!

A look into textiles in South Carolina

textiles in sc

Don’t tell Matt Shannon that the textile industry in South Carolina is dead or dying.

“We are here, we are strong,” said Shannon, head of Greenwood Mills weaving department. The mill is a private, family-owned textile plant that has been a fixture in the town of Greenwood for the past 127 years.

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While the industry doesn’t employ nearly the numbers it did even as recent as 2001, where the textile mills industry employed more than 52,000 people, there are still nearly 15,000 employed in mills around the state.

The textile industry is considered a legacy industry, meaning that the projected job growth of the industry is declining, but it still has a competitive advantage because of its location. Textiles place well above the national average in the Upstate region for their location quotient, the number that is determined by how influential an industry is in a certain region. You can find the report here.

However, Shannon and Greenwood Mills Human Resources Director Lisa McMillan agree that there won’t be any significant amount of change in the industry’s job growth, but it can be assumed that there will be a slight and steady increase over the coming years due to the number of companies coming back to the states coupled with the number of people expected to retire in the coming years.

“This isn’t just at our plant, but industry everywhere,” McMillan said.

As the textile industry evolved from labor intensive machinery, to water powered equipment and now to a more technology driven plant, the kinds of employees needed have evolved too. Both Shannon and McMillan said the types of people Greenwood Mills is looking to hire are people who want a career, and who are willing to start at the bottom.

“The biggest problem we face is finding qualified labor that is willing to work. A lot of people want a job, but when it comes down to actually working, they don’t want to do it,” Shannon said. “A lot of times it’s the simple things like showing up on time and doing what you’re supposed to.”

What you can expect as a new hire at Greenwood Mills are not desk jobs, but a place where everyone works on the floor in a fast-paced environment. Training for many of the positions is done in-house and the only qualifications you need are basic math and communication skills.

Shift work is a big part of the efficiency of the plant, and while everyone works on average 40 to 50 hours a week, new hires usually work the off-shift hours and gradually work up to the day shift. There are more technical positions that are needed.textile machinery

“Every new machine is more mechanized than the last, and if technology interests you, there is a job for you in the textile industry,” Shannon said.

Marketing YOU!

Marketing YOU

In today’s job market your resume and cover letter are often the first impression you make on a potential employer. Many people often wonder, “How can I stand out among others who have the same qualifications?”

The best way to approach this is to think about it from a marketing perspective. You are the brand – how do you best advertise yourself? A great guide is to use the four P’s of marketing: product, place, promotion and price. Primarily used to create a marketing plan for a product or service; they can be just as useful when trying to market yourself.

The first P is product. This particular P is recognizing that you are your own product in your job search. You must think about your skills, experiences and qualifications — they distinguish your abilities. Highlight these on your resume, and don’t be afraid to explain. For example, rather than just list a project you worked on, say what you learned or how you grew. Did you learn leadership skills, did the experience teach you how to listen to many opinions and help negotiate a compromise, did you use Excel? A brief two or three sentence explanation would suffice.

The next P is place. Do you want to work for a non-profit, in an office or maybe a retail store?  Knowing where you want to work and why you want to be there give you the vision to focus your job search, and if a potential employer asks, “Why do you see yourself working here?” you have already have a well thought out answer.

Promotion is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as, “something (such as advertising) that is done to make people aware of something and increase its sales or popularity.” This P is the most detailed and lengthy of any of the P’s because it has to be thought out and executed properly.

Margaret Buj, an interview and career acceleration coach, wrote an article called, How to Promote Yourself with Ease and Confidence, for the website Career Attraction that has five key tips to remember:

  1. Understand your audience: be mindful of who your audience is and whether or not what you have to share is relevant to them.
  2. Promote you value, not yourself: talk about specific projects you’ve worked on and the value you’ve delivered to an organization or in a team setting.
  3. Demonstrate confidence and passion: you need to show the hiring manager that you have confidence in yourself and that you know you’ll be successful in the job.
  4. Get recommendations: the people that you know are often times the best people to ask for recommendations. They also can connect you to other professionals or employers that they know are hiring.
  5. Reframe disapproval: there will always be people that disapprove of you or your work. Instead of focusing on those individuals, focus on the people that ensure your success in your career and know how talented and invaluable you are.

You should also consider social media when thinking about your own promotion. There are so many options to choose from: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, Snapchat, etc., but one to really consider is LinkedIn.  LinkedIn is a professional social media platform that can help connect you with employers, allow you to showcase your skills and certifications and view job postings in your area. If you are not sure how to use LinkedIn or know what its benefits are, check out our latest blog post here that details how to get your professional online presence started.

Beyond the types of social media that you have, you should also be aware of the kinds of things you post, especially if your platforms are public. According to careerbuilders annual social media recruitment survey, “60 percent of employers revealed they use social networking sites to research job candidates.”

The last P to consider is price. This particular P can be tricky because you may not be in a position to negotiate your salary. If you are, it’s an easy google search to find the average salary for similar positions in your area. If you are not in a position to negotiate your salary, a more appropriate question is to ask is if there is a possibility of a pay increase and when they are granted.

Make sure to use your resources around you. If you need help writing your resume or cover letter, your nearest SC Works center will assist you one-on-one. Click here to see the statewide locations. For more tips on how to stand out in your job search according to CEO’s and professionals read The Muse’s list here.

How to use LinkedIn

Linkedin how toWhen LinkedIn is brought up many of people say “I don’t understand what it does,” or “I don’t know how to use it.” Are you one of those people?

Consider this:  According to the Pew Research Center, LinkedIn subscribers are especially high among people that have bachelor’s degrees and make $75,000 or more a year. Aren’t these the people you want to connect with professionally?

No matter what kind of job you are looking for, having a strong, polished online presence can help professionals reach you.

So how do you use LinkedIn to its full potential?

When you initially set up a profile with LinkedIn, the social media site will walk you through the process of getting your professional network established.

The first thing that LinkedIn will ask you to do is upload a picture. Remember that this is a professional site, so you should choose a professional picture. If you don’t have one, put on a blazer or business casual outfit and recruit someone to take a few for you to choose from.

Next, LinkedIn will ask questions such as: What is your past job experience, what kind of skills you have, what is your educational experience, etc. If you don’t have an appropriate answer for some of the questions, that’s okay because you can skip them. However, if you do have an answer, be sure to fill it out completely and professionally

Now that you have your profile set up, the next step is to connect with people and build your network.

In order to connect with someone you must have a relationship with them in some way. It might be someone from work or someone you used to know in school. You might have their contact information, like an email to show you have connected with them before. Perhaps you have this information from a recently acquired business card. If you want to use this as your contact reference, and you have just met the person, do it very soon after meeting. This keeps you top-of-mind and gives you an opportunity to use LinkedIn as a way to continue that introductory conversation.

Another thing to consider when connecting with someone is the invitation message. This is the equivalent of the “Friend Request” in Facebook. You are essentially asking someone to be part of your professional network. LinkedIn offers generalized messages to help, such as “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn,” but if you are trying to impress someone or remind someone of a prior meetings (perhaps at a job fair or trade show), a helpful tip is to customize the message. A simple template to follow is:

“ Hello_____, we met yesterday at ___________and I enjoyed speaking with you.

 I would like to talk more about what you do; I am really interested in that industry.”

This template of course should be customized for your audience, but it allows you to stand out from the crowd that defaults to the template messages.

Linkedin profile strengthAs you build your connections and your profile, be sure to reference your profile strength that is located to the right of your profile page. There are 5 levels of LinkedIn Profile Strength: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert and All Star. If you don’t reach All Star on your first day using the site, don’t worry. Your strength will improve as you add information to your profile and that takes time and experience.

Aiken, Union counties receive work ready certification

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Gov. Nikki Haley announced today that Aiken and Union counties have received certification through the South Carolina Work Ready Communities (SCWRC) initiative. Aiken and Union join the 42 other counties that have met the specified workforce and education goals.

South Carolina leads the nation with the most certified work ready communities, and continues to attract international business development due to its commitment to economic growth and a robust workforce pipeline.

“With Aiken and Union counties being named Certified Work Ready, we are only two counties away from reaching our goal of being the first state in the country to be fully certified. This is a testament of Team South Carolina’s hard work in making sure we have the most competitive business environment in the world for companies looking for a place to call home,” Gov. Haley said.

“We celebrate what this means for these counties and our state” said Cheryl M. Stanton, Executive Director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. “With the Work Ready initiative, and a continuing commitment to skilled workforce development, it is not surprising that employment numbers have been at historic highs over the last year, and companies continue to expand and choose South Carolina as the place to do business.”

The South Carolina Work Ready Community initiative provides a framework to strengthen economic development using a community-based approach, grounded in certifying counties as work ready.

To become a South Carolina Work Ready Community, a county must reach or exceed goals in earning National Career Readiness Certificates (achieved through WorkKeys® testing), must meet or exceed the three-year graduation rate average or improvement percentage, and must engage business support.

A map of South Carolina’s 44 certified counties is available here.

For additional information, visit www.scworkready.org.

Pilot program helping the homeless find jobs

In December, DEW and Transitions, a Columbia-based organization that transitions people from homelessness into permanent housing, completed a pilot program to assist those who are homeless develop skills needed to land a job.

About 55 people started the six-week Back to Work program in October and 19 finished it. Another four people were offered jobs before the program ended. Of those 19, nine have found work, and the others are being assisted one on one by DEW staff with finding jobs and with development of soft skills that are needed for them to be successful on the job.

Craig Curry, Transition’s CEO, said a lot of the people he sees coming through Transitions have been “lost in the shuffle” and didn’t get the attention they needed earlier in life.

The Rev. Robert Walker, pastor of Main Street United Methodist Church, offered classroom for the program. The program was led by Patrick Thomas, DEW’s regional manager of the Midlands, and his staff.

The Back to Work program teaches participants practical skills, and it includes training for enhancing self-esteem and motivational skills. Lasting six weeks, the program begins with a “boot camp” designed to implement immediate positive change.

Session Highlights Include:

  • Assessment of skills, abilities and work potential as well as job coach assignments.
  • Resume templates to be sequentially completed section-by-section over the course of the program.
  • Basic or advanced computer skills course or depending on skill level.
  • Navigating employment websites and review of resources needed for employment, such as references and interview clothing.
  • Expectations, social skills and behavioral styles for the job search process as well as employment.
  • Exploration of careers and job types, as well as discussion of realistic expectations for employment.
  • Overview of Federal Bonding Program.

The program was capped with a graduation ceremony and a hiring event.

Curry said he was excited to have the hiring event following the program and feels that is the main reason people stuck with the program for the entire six weeks.

“If only a handful of people get jobs, this program will be a success,” Curry said.

Tax Season Tips for Job Seekers

April 15 is almost here. But before you push the button or drop your income tax paperwork in the mail, consider these tips if you’ve been unemployed or conducted a job search in the past year.

moneycalendarUnemployment compensation is taxable income, according to the Internal Revenue Service. If you received benefits through the SC Department of Employment and Workforce in 2014, you should have received a 1099-G via your MyBenefits portal account.

If you have trouble accessing or downloading your 1099-G, check out this step-by-step guide.

Don’t forget; you can also deduct certain expenses associated with your job search. The search must be for employment in your current field, and you cannot deduct if there was a substantial break in time from the end of your last job and the start of your search.

Below are some allowable deductions outlined in IRS Publication 529:

  • Employment and outplacement agency fees.
  • Expenses for preparing and mailing resumes to prospective employers.
  • Travel and transportation expenses associated with your job search.

Find Open Jobs in S.C.’s Fastest Growing Cities

You may have already heard that the Palmetto State is home to three of the nation’s fastest growing metropolitan areas, according to the U.S. Census.

Congratulations to Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach (second behind The Villages in Florida), Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort (13th overall) and Charleston-North Charleston (17th overall).

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Maybe it’s all that salt air attracting new arrivals to South Carolina’s breathtaking coast. If you’re thinking about following the crowd and relocating to one of these hot spots, check out jobs.scworks.org to find a job in the area. Just enter the zip code and a keyword to find available jobs.

To give you a jumpstart, we’ve pulled the top 25 companies posting the most job openings in each of these areas. Check them out below.

Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach:

MyrtleBeach4115

Hilton Head Island-Bluffon-Beaufort (Beaufort County) :

Beaufort415

Charleston-North Charleston:

Charleston_415

To get up-to-the minute details on hiring events in these and other areas throughout South Carolina, follow @scworksinfo on Twitter.

 

 

Georgetown SC Works Connects Woman With Supportive Work Environment

sandra Amann_successstorySandra Amann had a complicated medical history. With physical limitations and some impaired memory issues, she had not worked since 2010 and had difficulty looking for work.

She contacted the Georgetown SC Works office in search of services through the Ticket to Work Program. A product of the Social Security Administration (SSA), Ticket to Work provides people receiving Social Security benefits more choices for receiving employment services. SC Works serves as an employment network for the program, helping “ticket holders” find meaningful employment.

With her disabilities in mind, Georgetown SC Works helped her revamp her resume and began looking for jobs best suited to her needs.

When an opening came available at the local County Vocational Rehabilitation Services office, the center processed the referral on Amann’s behalf, recommending her for the position. With a new resume in hand, she applied for the position and was ultimately offered the job.

Less than 20 days after walking into the SC Works center, Amann was employed and making almost $12 an hour in a supportive environment, conducive to her health needs.

Who’s Hiring in the Upstate?

If you are looking for a job in South Carolina’s Upstate, look no further than SC Works Online Services. The state’s largest jobs database will tell you which employers are hiring in your area. Below you will find the top 10 employers currently posting the most jobs in the Greenville, Spartanburg, the Anderson and the Greenwood/Laurens areas.

Remember, to find the best matches near you, visit jobs.scworks.org and search by zip code and keyword.

The top 10 hiring employers in Greenville County are below.

Greenville

The Upstate workforce area includes Cherokee, Spartanburg and Union counties.

upstate

The Upper Savannah area includes Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, and Newberry counties.

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The Worklink area includes Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties.

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