Addressing Employment Gaps

April 2, 2013 by

A common question in our resume workshops is how to address a gap in employment, particularly for parents re-entering the workforce.  The good news is that by attending Amarillo College, you have already started the process to update your resume.  By listing recent or ongoing education, you are demonstrating that your skills are up to date, including new trends and technology in your field.  Here are some other suggestions for updating your resume with an employment gap:

  1. Use a functional format.  A functional resume format organizes your experience according to skill clusters (for example, administrative skills, customer service skills) rather than chronologically according to job.  A functional format may have the following order:
    1. Summary Statement – one to two sentence synopsis of who you are as a candidate and what you bring to the table
    2. Education – Amarillo College, anticipated graduation date, degree and major
    3. Skill clusters
    4. Chronological listing of experience
  2. Address the gap briefly in your resume in your cover letter. Use a title such as “full time homemaker” or “stay at home parent” as opposed to dressed up versions such as “family CEO” or “domestic engineer.”  If you go into more detail, focus on transferable skills such as budget management and stay away from cutesy terms like “mom taxi”
  3. Incorporate volunteer work and community involvement.  These experiences demonstrate ongoing professional development and transferable skills such as organization and leadership.  They are also great ways to network within our community and build relationships with potential employers or important contacts.
  4. Seek out internships.  These experiences will complement your education and provide hands-on experience in your field of study.  Even if an internship doesn’t develop into a full-time job (although some do!), you will gain professional references who can speak to your skills and performance.

We are happy to help you develop your resume – attend a resume workshop, submit your resume on College Central for an email resume review, or stop by the Career Center for an in-person resume review!  Good luck in your job search!

The Salary Question

March 22, 2013 by

In a recent interviewing workshop, the question was raised on how to answer the dreaded salary question.  This question can take many forms, including “What are your salary requirements?” or “What are you currently earning?”  In addition to throwing off your interviewing rhythm and rapport, these seemingly aggressive questions may have an impact on what you are paid, potentially for years to come. So, is there a magic answer?  Nope (sorry.)  However, researching pay ranges and practicing your answers can help you flow smoothly to the next question without sweating too much.

Experts suggest your answer be more of a deflection than a direct response.  This is a way of continuing the conversation and collecting more information from the employer on responsibilities, pay ranges, and expectations.  While deflecting the question may feel uncomfortable or awkward, it’s important to convey a sense of genuine interest and positivism about the position.  Practicing your answers will help you to avoid seeming defensive.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Can you tell me more about the responsibilities and expectations of this position first?
  • I am more interested in the job itself than the money.  I’m sure whatever salary you’re paying is consistent with the rest of the market.
  • That figure would depend on a number of factors, but I understand that fair compensation would fall in the range of ________.
  • I’m flexible on salary as finding a good fit is important to me. What is your range for this position?
  • I’m really open to your thoughts on this.  What is your budget for this role?

I referred to the following sources for the suggested responses above.  Check them out, and continue your research on this topic!

Penelopetrunk.com
Theundercoverrecruiter.com
Pongoresume.com

10 Best: Quick Reads for your Career Development

October 19, 2012 by

Have you ever considered the difference between a degree and an education?  After all, pursuing an education may result in a degree, but it doesn’t always work the other way.  Having a degree doesn’t guarantee someone is truly educated, especially if they blew off classes, procrastinated on assignments or cheated on tests.  Your career is very similar.  While there are many ways to get your foot in the door, putting forth an effort can play a key role in your long term success and career satisfaction.

As you think ahead to your job search, make the commitment to be an active and educated candidate.  To support you, we have compiled our 10 favorite career articles from the past month.  They are all quick reads and have valuable take-away points you can use now.

Job Search

Cover Letters

Resumes

Job Fairs

Interviewing

Apply for Graduation

October 16, 2012 by

Students planning to graduate in the 2012 Fall Semester must make formal application for graduation on WebAdvisor.
Apply Now through November 20th to appear in the Fall Commencement brochure.

Students can still apply through the end of the term, but will not be included in the Fall brochure after the November 20th deadline.

How to apply for graduation:

  • Visit WebAdvisor at https://econnect.actx.edu/
  • Select Log In.
  • After successfully logging in, Select “Current Student”.
  • Under Academic Profile, select “Application for Graduation”.
  • Follow the directions on the screen until you receive a confirmation that the application has been received.

Everything I Need to Know About Careers I Learned From Elmo

October 12, 2012 by

Have you noticed Sesame Street seems to be a hot topic right now?  Not surprisingly, lessons taught by our favorite Muppets extend beyond how to count to ten.  If you look closely, there are life lessons that easily translate to career development.   Consider the following about these furry pals:

Muppet: Grover  Lesson: Try out different careers.

On Sesame Street, Grover wears many hats –waiter, sales-monster and Super Grover.  Try out different career paths by job shadowing, interning, and simply asking questions.  Take on leadership roles, participate in volunteer programs, and join a student organization.  All of the above help you to develop transferable skills, such as time management, professionalism, and interpersonal strength.

Muppet: Elmo  Lesson:  Show your enthusiasm.

Performer Kevin Clash believes Elmo embodies love.  In your interactions with employers, demonstrate this positive energy by doing your research.  Your cover letter should echo elements of the job description, and your interview answers should reveal that you’ve spent time preparing for the interaction.  Being prepared for the interview shows you are dependable, thoughtful, and truly interested in the position.

Muppet: Big Bird  Lesson: Prepare questions for the employer

An interview traditionally ends with “what questions do you have for us?”  Some candidates may not realize that this final question is just as important – if not more – than every question that preceded it.  Not only does having prepared questions demonstrate your interest in the company, it helps you to be an educated candidate going into a second interview or job offer.  As ever-curious Big Bird says, “asking questions is a good way of finding things out!”

Muppet: Oscar the Grouch  Lesson: Be true to yourself

Okay –this one is a bit of a stretch; after all, no one wants to hire a grouch.  However, there are still lessons to be found.  Before your job search, consider the environments in which you feel most comfortable.  Assess the role you play within a group – both the strengths and weaknesses you bring to the table.  In groups, learn how to say no and advocate for your needs.  And at the very least, get to know your neighbors and their names – you never know when you might have to ask directions.  Do you know the way to Sesame Street?

Hired in Six Seconds

October 4, 2012 by

In 1968, Andy Warhol famously stated “in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”  Back in the 60s, Andy probably had no idea how accessible fame would become.  In today’s world of reality shows and YouTube, people seem willing to accept however many minutes of fame they can get.  Not surprisingly, our collective attention span seems shorter than ever.

One report, “Keeping an Eye on Recruiter Behavior” by career site The Ladders, really brings the point home.  In observing recruiter behavior, researchers concluded that recruiters only spend 6 seconds reviewing your resume.  Within those seconds, recruiters make their initial decision about whether you fit the basic job requirements and deserve more attention.  This begs the question: With such a short time to catch a recruiter’s eye, how readable is your resume?

Make the most of your 6 seconds.  Here are my suggestions:

  • Limit distractions: Help guide a recruiter’s eye to the most important information.  Use formatting to make your name stand out; clearly label your sections and make good use of your white space.  Don’t overwhelm the eye with too much ink.
  • Focus attention: The study reported that recruiters spend 80% of their review time on your name, education & experience.  Ensure these three elements of your resume are well organized.  Your titles, company names, start and end dates should be easy to find in your employment section,
  • Read the job description: Recruiters spend the rest of their six seconds scanning for keywords.  The employer tells you what they are looking for in the job description.  Tailor your resume to the position by using keywords from the job description.
  • Cut out irrelevant data: Did you know it’s illegal for interviewers to ask your age, birthplace, or family status?  Don’t waste your (or the recruiter’s) time on information that shouldn’t be part of the hiring decision anyway.

By streamlining your resume to catch a recruiter’s eye, you will earn additional time to make a good first impression.  You may have fifteen minutes of fame, but a lifetime with your career.  Make those first six seconds count.

Climb vs. Rhyme: Starting Your Career Development Now

September 28, 2012 by

Most of us are familiar with the schoolyard chant that starts with you (and a special someone) sitting in a tree.  For those of you who aren’t, spoiler alert: within one short verse, you are in love, married, and figuring out how to navigate a stroller.  And while some may miss the allure that comes with the scandal of k-i-s-s-i-n-g, we perpetuate other blueprints just like that one.  After dinner comes dessert.  After April showers come May flowers.  After college comes your career… right?

Hopefully you know that the climb is harder than the rhyme.  In other words, it’s easier said than done.  Reaching our goals takes work; in a similar vein, career development shouldn’t wait until after graduation.  Here are some things you can do from day one:

  1. Explore careers: AC has a wonderful tool called My Plan.  You can take assessments, discover career matches, and learn more about occupations.  Check out our website for step-by-step instructions and a handy license code making it free to you.
  2. Work on your resume: Did you know that just by uploading or building your resume in College Central, you automatically get a resume review from a staff member in Career & Employment Services?  Getting feedback now means you will be ready to apply when you find your dream job later.
  3. Find a job: As in, someone else’s job.  Job shadowing & internships are just two examples of learning outside the classroom.  Not only will you gain valuable insight into a career path, you will build your resume, develop transferable skills, and network with amazing professionals that can help you find a job after college.

There’s no reason to follow someone else’s blueprint, regardless of how catchy it may be.  As you plot your own path, take advantage of the great resources along the way, including (shameless plug!) our brand new Career & Employment Services office.  Visit us on the Washington Street Campus on the first floor of the Lynn Library, or call me directly at 371-5147 to learn more about our services.  We look forward to helping you build your blueprint.

Win a Kindle Fire!

July 2, 2012 by

Register and Pay for your Fall classes before August 1 for a chance to win 1 of 3 Kindle Fires.

Note: Full-time, appointed employees and their families are not eligible to win.

Beginning this Fall, Amarillo College will no longer accept late registrations.

Enroll Now:

www.actx.edu/enroll

(806) 371-5000

Qualified Students Can Self-Enroll in Expanded Honors Program

July 2, 2012 by

Top-notch students–and Amarillo College has an abundance of them–are now entitled to take advantage of an expanded Honors Program designed to enhance their collective pursuit of academic excellence.
AC is offering 13 Honors classes in core subjects this fall, and qualified students are not even required to apply for entry; they can simply self-enroll in Honors classes of their choosing via WebAdvisor.

Any intellectually curious student with a 3.0 college grade point average (GPA) or an incoming high-school average of at least 90 is eligible to participate. And if they do, whether they attend AC full time or part time, the Honors classes they choose will be limited to 20 students and include rsum-building, out-of-classroom experiences.

These offerings are not to be confused with those of the longstanding Presidential Scholar Honors Program, which annually serves 30 full-time students who must maintain a 3.5 GPA and survive a rigorous application process.

The expanded Honors Program is aimed at a broader audience of adroit undergraduates, even those who choose to attend AC part time.
We have so many qualified students at AC, Judy Carter, Honors Program coordinator, said. We expanded our Honors Program to include as many of them as we possibly can.

We want them to have the opportunity to experience courses that integrate experiential learning and that lead to an H that will appear on their transcripts, indicating they are strong transfer and scholarship candidates.

The classes are not more difficult than traditional core classes; they are designed to challenge students in a different way. Because high-achieving students are quick to grasp concepts presented in textbooks and lectures, they can cover necessary material swiftly. That leaves more time for outside, experiential activities.
Last fall, Claudie Biggers of the Honors faculty took her biology students to Lubbock to view a Leonardo da Vinci exhibit that expanded their understanding of anatomy. They next viewed surgeries in progress–robotic surgeries, neural operations and even an appendectomy–at our local hospitals. The students joined health professionals at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center for a grand round session on kidney function.

The Honors Program creates an environment that allows students to explore in a more creative way that satisfies their curiosity, Biggers said. Proven students come in with a set of skills that gives us more flexibility.

Traditional students are often taught by methods similar to paint by number, while Honors students can be given a blank canvas as a guide. They can explore without being confined to a classroom or textbook.

As a result, a whole new world of discovery is opened and students thrive.

The Honors Program first expanded beyond the Presidential Scholar level last fall, when 85 students took advantage of the first seven classes offered. The decision to offer those was based largely on a 2010 survey that showed AC had about 1,500 students with GPAs of 3.5 or higher, with only 30 slots available for prospective Honors students.

Now, by expanding the newest Honors Program to include 13 classes this fall, AC can accommodate up to 245 qualified students.

The Honors Program classes are entry-level, core courses that are readily transferable to all public universities in Texas, and they range from College Algebra and Public Speaking to English Composition and Psychology. (View essential core curriculum information here).

For those academically qualified students with a desire to excel, who want to learn more than the minimum requirements of a given core class, the time to enroll is now. Fall classes at AC begin Aug. 27 and registration is presently ongoing.

For those who wish to visit with Judy Carter and obtain even more information about the Honors Program, she can be reached at 806-371-5278 or jhcarter@actx.edu.

Bruce Moseley Garners AC’s Prestigious Mead Award

May 21, 2012 by

Based on an avalanche of evidence and torrents of testimony, a verdict has been rendered in the case of Bruce Moseley, director of the Paralegal Program at Amarillo College.

Moseley, also an attorney at law, has been selected to receive the 2012 John F. Mead Faculty Excellence Award.

AC’s highest faculty accolade was presented to Moseley during spring commencement exercises May 11 at the Amarillo Civic Center.

No fewer than two dozen nominations supported the selection of Moseley. They contained testimonials ranging from “Bruce Moseley has a passion for what he teaches” to “I have never seen such dedication in a teacher. It’s inspiring!”

The John F. Mead Faculty Excellence Award was created in 1988 and named after the second Amarillo College president, whose unique contributions to AC included leading the College during the challenging 1930s and returning as a full-time member of the faculty in the 1960s.

Moseley, who joined the AC faculty in 2009, is no stranger to prestigious awards of late. In 2011, for his numerous hours of volunteer legal service on behalf of indigent clients—and for the second time in as many years—he was named Attorney of the Year by the Amarillo-area Equal Justice Volunteer Program of Legal Aid of Northwest Texas.

A graduate of University of North Texas and St. Mary’s University School of Law, Moseley hit the ground running when he came to AC, taking the Paralegal Program from about 30 majors at the time of his arrival to more than 130 now.


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