Archive for November, 2011

How to Get a Job if You Have No Experience

You may have all the right buzz words on your resume
, and your GPA is stellar, but you still don’t have a job lined up after graduation. Getting your first “real” job is not always as simple as submitting your resume to a company online. You must frame your experience and goals in such a way so that employers will want to hire you, despite your inexperience.

1.) Draw on All of Your Experience.

Your resume and interview answers should emphasize all of the relevant experience you have for the job. Skills you think are useless from previous jobs can actually be very relevant for the job you want. Volunteer work, extracurricular activities, internships or other forms of unpaid experience are also valid sources of professional experience. For example, if you were a member of a student club committee and led one of its decision-making teams, you have developed leadership skills. In a volunteer stint in a food pantry, you demonstrated your passion for helping to relieve poverty by working there and learned organization skills.

2.) Get Experience.

Contact targeted companies within the industry in which you want to work to ask about internship opportunities. If the companies don’t offer an internship program, they may let you create your own internship if you come to them with a specific way you can benefit their bottom line. For example, you might say you will work unpaid for three months in marketing.

You can also get experience by volunteering. Pick a cause about which you are passionate or volunteer in a capacity that you like. Even if you’re not all about saving the whales, you may find a valuable volunteer opportunity in social media by handling that aspect of a save-the-whale nonprofit’s marketing strategy.

You might also consider temporary/project-based work. If you have a particular skill, such as social media marketing, you can capitalize on it and gain work experience by working on a short-term project that focuses on that skill. In the process, you will also meet many people and gain job-related references.

3.) Network.

When you intern, volunteer or serve as a member or officer in a particular club, you will meet people who can hire you or refer you to job openings. Meet as many people as possible as you gain experience, and ask for more responsibility in each position to gain introduction to more people. Remember to help others out as well in your job search. When you hear about a job you know someone might be interested in, pass the word along.

Proactive job searchingis more than just submitting resumes to a dozen online databases. Make opportunities for yourself to get experience and then include relevant skills you developed from them in your resume and job interview answers. Job offers may not come overnight, but with persistence and some creative thinking and action, they will come.

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Lessons for which You Must Pay as You Continue Your English Studies in the U.S.

In the last post, we discussed how you can continue your English lessons for free in the United States. Adult education, conversation partners and volunteering are good ways to get free feedback to help you improve your English. You might also get a job where you come into contact with English speakers on a regular basis. You can also pay for English classes, and the level of education you will receive will be more formal and intense.

Adult Education

Adult education English classes may be free in some states, but in others, students must pay for them. The fee is usually very low, however, perhaps less than $50 for an entire semester worth of English lessons with a highly-qualified teacher. Some nonprofit organizations also offer English lessons for which you must pay a small amount, usually for books and materials.

Community Colleges

Community colleges are located in small, medium and large communities across the United States. They are two-year college institutions that offer associate degrees and certificates to students who do not want to get a four-year degree. They also offer classes to students who want to finish college at a four-year college, but who do not want to pay the high tuition for four full years at a university. Community colleges usually offer inexpensive tuition compared to four-year colleges. They also offer adult education, GED and English as a second language classes.

If you choose to take classes for college credit at the community college, you will pay what other students at the college pay for their classes. If you take classes that are more basic in nature that are not for college credit, you may pay a small fee, or the classes may be free. Your four-year college also likely offers English courses. You can contact your international student center for more information on scheduling and prices. The tuition for these programs can be very expensive, depending on whether you take for-credit courses or non-credit courses.

Private Tutors and Language Schools

If you want more individualized attention, you might hire a tutor who specializes in helping students learn how to speak and write in English. You can hire one online, or you may be able to find one in your community to meet with in person. Contact your local college’s English language learning center to ask for references for tutors. You can also contact the local adult education English as a second language program for referrals. Private language schools are another option. The tuition will be much higher than the options previously mentioned, but the quality of instruction you receive can be very high, depending on the school. The teachers are often degreed and very experienced. To find a school with a good reputation, talk to other students who have taken language courses there.

Adult education, community colleges, your four-year college or a private language school or tutor do not usually offer free English courses. However, they provide you with the high-level lessons and attention you need to excel in English and gain fluency. They take your individual learning needs into account, and they help you overcome any obstacles specific to your situation.

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Free Options to Continue Your English Studies in the U.S.

You have several options to continue your English language education once you arrive in the United States as a college student. Take advantage of them to improve your English quickly. Some of them are free, and some of them are very inexpensive. Other options are more expensive, but they may serve your particular needs. Check out each option before you decide which one to pursue. This blog will look first at free options that many communities offer. Future blog posts will consider other options for which you must pay.

Conversation Partners

Many colleges and their affiliated student organizations offer a conversation partner program. Some religious organizations also offer this type of program. As a conversation partner, you work with one native English-speaking person to improve your language skills. You meet once a week usually to just talk and have a good time. During your discussions, your conversation partner can correct your grammar and vocabulary. This is an informal way to improve your English.

Adult Education

Although adult education centers in the United States typically cater to students of beginning to intermediate levels, more advanced students can also benefit from the English language instruction adult education centers offer. Adult education centers are usually run by a nonprofit organization or the local school district. They offer a range of classes from beginning to advanced. The more advanced classes may focus on good writing skills.


You might also consider volunteering in the adult education center in your town to improve your English informally through conversation with teachers and students. You can also volunteer in other places to improve your English. Schools, nonprofit organizations, libraries, your college, and city or county government offices are good places to ask about volunteering opportunities.

These are just a couple of the ways that you can improve your English for free once you arrive here. Other ways to speak more fluently include listening to the radio in English, joining student groups on campus that have American students, and just socializing with students who speak English. Try not to spend too much time with other students who speak your first language as this only encourages you to use that language more often than English.

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Presenting Yourself as a Great Job Candidate as an Older Worker on Your Resume

Not every college graduate and job candidate is under the age of 30. Many of them are older, and they have a wealth of experience and education that can benefit their employers. Many employers, however, look at older job candidates in a somewhat negative light, and they may be reluctant to hire them.


Employers may fear that an older worker older worker will not be able to keep up with fast pace of change in the industry. New technologies and methods come out all the time, and employers want employees who want to learn about them and apply them to their work. This makes for a more flexible, dynamic and efficient workforce. Older workers tend to not want to change how they do things. Employers may also fear that older employees will leave, retire, or get sick and have to miss work. Employers want employees who will stick with the company for more than five years and then move on.

Resume Format

As an older job applicant, you should emphasize your skills and experience on your resume, not the year you graduated from high school or college. Organize your resume in a more functional format that focuses on what specific skills you have gained over time, not on the specific years you held jobs. You can also combine the traditional functional resume with a chronological resume to satisfy employers’ desire to know when you worked where and whether you have any employment gaps.

Resume Dates

Leave the year you graduated from college and high school off of your resume. Only include employment history for the last ten years of your career. If you have relevant experience that is 15 years old, include it. However, do not include jobs or dates that go back further than that. Avoid bragging about the number of years of experience you have. Instead, emphasize your recent training and career accomplishments. Also include technology-related key words that show your ability to handle the latest technology.


Your resume should highlight your skills and abilities, but it should not make the employer think you are overqualified for any job. Emphasize only job-specific, relevant skills and experiences you have. If you were the CEO of a company ten years ago, but now you want to start a new career as a teacher, you should de-emphasize this particular position on your resume.

Present yourself as a knowledgeable, adaptable and tech-savvy employee on your resume. Employers will note that you take the initiative to stay current on what is going on in your field and in the world of technology. They will appreciate your years of experience and your willingness to learn new things.

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How to Handle an Invitation to Do an Impromptu Phone Interview

An employer calls to do a phone interview. Now what? When you answer the phone, how you handle the situation from the moment you open your mouth can determine whether you will be invited for an in-person interview.
The purpose of the phone interview is to further whittle down the number of candidates. The conversations typically do not last very long, and they consist of a set list of questions that the employer asks each candidate. When it is time to have in-person interviews, the list of possible job candidates consists only of the most highly-qualified candidates. Ensure you make that list by conducting yourself professionally from the beginning of the conversation.
What Interviewers Say
Interviewers will typically give candidates the opportunity to arrange another time to talk on the phone if the current time is not convenient for the candidate. An interviewer might say something like, “Hi, this is Mary Smith, the hiring director for ABC, Inc. We recently received your resume for the accountant position, and I was wondering if you might have a few minutes to answer some questions. It should take about 10 minutes. If this isn’t a good time, might we arrange another time?” Other interviewers, however, will want to talk right then, and some may even want to do an interview that takes up to about an hour. The latter type of interviewers wants to see how well you think on your feet.
When You Can’t Talk
If you’re about to leave or are in the middle of an activity that requires most of your attention, you might say, “I’m happy to hear from you. I have about 20 minutes before I need to leave. Will that be enough time, or can we arrange another time to talk?” This way, you’re telling the employer about your interest and being honest about the amount of time you have to talk. You also do well to suggest another time for the interview.
During the Interview
When you do the interview, write down notes, and have your resume in front of you. Talk in a quiet place, and smile. Smiles come through in the tone of your voice over the phone and create a positive impression. Write down the name and role of each person to whom you talk so you know who to send thank you letters to after the interview. Phrase each request nicely while you’re on the phone. For example, Maureen Crawford Hentz, an HR consultant who writes for writes that you should not say, “Can you speak up?” Instead say, “I’m having trouble hearing you. Can you hear me clearly?”
Crawford Hentz also suggests being prepared to ask questions when the interview ends. This lets the employers know you’re interested in working for the company.

Thank You Letters
Write a thank you note that says something like, “Thank you for talking with me on the phone about the accountant position. I am interested in the job, and I would welcome the opportunity to interview in person.”
When you are prepared to conduct a phone interview, your calm demeanor and confidence will come through to employers. Let them know you are interested by responding to their questions with an occasional, “Mmhmm” or “I see.” Since you can’t look them in the eye, this demonstrates that you are listening. Preparedness and attentiveness will help you win an in-person interview, and, ultimately, a job.

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Creating an Easy-to-Use Job Search Organizer

Job searching can quickly become confusing as you apply for dozens of jobs. When the phone rings, and the person on the other end of the line says, “You applied for the manager job with us,” you may have no idea which manager job he’s talking about. To avoid sounding ill-prepared and disorganized, it helps to have a quick reference with job application details on hand. That quick reference can come in a variety of forms, from online job application tracking tools to a spread sheet you create and update yourself.

Online Options

Several online job search organizers are available, including JobGizmo, Happy Job Search and Apply Mate. Many of these online organizers offer free subscriptions, and they may offer upgrades for a monthly or quarterly fee. If you want to keep your system more basic, however, and you aren’t a computer programmer with extra free time to create a personalized computer organizer, consider making your own simplified version.

Make One Yourself

If you make a job organizer yourself, you can print it off, update it manually and easily carry it around with you during the day. This prevents you from having to fire up your computer or tablet to look up the organizer document when you get invitations to interview over the phone. You can also quickly update your job search efforts, such as making follow-up phone calls to potential employers, when you are away from your personal computer. While the convenience of having a printed copy with you during the day can be nice, it also requires you to update your electronic version regularly.

What to Include

Customize your job search organizer to include items that are relevant for your particular job search. Some helpful items to include are: job title, date applied, website for the job posting, contact name, contact email address and contact phone number. Other items to include are the name of the company or organization; when the job’s closing date is; notes about follow-up phone calls or emails; date, location and time of an interview interview; the name of the person with whom you’re interviewing, whether you sent an interview thank you letter, whether you got the job and a comments section.

How to Arrange Your Organizer

Put each of the job search items in individual columns in your spread sheet or table. Each job to which you apply should be in individual rows. Leave enough room to type or write information in by hand.

Updating your organizer regularly is vital to having the most current information with you at all times. When you can’t remember the phone number of the job you need to follow up on during your lunch break, it is important to have entered that information into the organizer before you leave for work for the day. It is also important to note when you sent a interview thank you letter so that you know when to follow up on the interview.  Staying organized during your job search will help you not miss application and follow-up deadlines so you can get the job you want.

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