A reader asks us for advice in a hard choice: Should she take a part-time job offer, or wait to see if she gets a full-time offer from somewhere else. 

Dear HR,

I have been looking for a job for months! I just applied for a fulltime job at a local elementary school that has amazing benefits, and I’m hoping to hear from them soon. I’ve been networking with the other office workers, and while it’s not a sure thing, it’s definitely more promising than anything else I’ve tried.

Today I was offered a part-time job answering phones in a customer service center for a local company. Do you think I should take it? I really want the Full-time job at the school, and I worry that if I take this part-time job and I get the school job, it will look bad to my new employer to quit so soon. Do you think I should just wait to hear back from the full-time job? I need advice!!

Thank you,

Freaking Out

Dear Freaking Out,

I see your frustration. After a long job search, you may start to lose hope of finding the job you really want. It’s important to keep hope, but realistically, you have bills to pay.

Don’t Count Your Chickens Before they Hatch

When you tell me about the full-time job, you describe how great the job is, how great the benefits are, and that you’ve done a bit of networking with other people who work there. None of this guarantees you the job. None of this even guarantees you an interview.

The truth is, state jobs get more applicants than they can reasonably consider properly. Your application is in a stack with 50 or more other applications. If you’ve been looking for a job for awhile, your application materials and approach to job searching probably need a little work. No judgment, but it’s just a fact of life that most job seekers hit a point where they’re just plain tired of filling out applications, so they stop customizing their resumes and cover letters for each job. So, employers don’t contact them because it’s not obvious that they’re the right person for the job. It’s a slippery slope that feeds the “I suck” monster in your head.

If employers don't contact you, it's because your application materials don't make it obvious that you’re the right person for the job. It’s a slippery slope that feeds the “I suck” monster in your head. #resume #rejection… Click To Tweet

Pay Your Bills with the Part-Time Job

Unless you’re independently wealthy, your bills are probably piling up during your job search. You need cash. You also need opportunities to network and regain your money-making confidence. A part-time job can help with all of those things.

If the part-time job is absolutely awful, then quit. Employers know that not every job is for every person. It’s not as big of a deal as you think.

Part-Time Jobs Can be Fantastic

Taking a part-time job has many advantages. Sure, you might not receive full-time benefits like healthcare plans and 401Ks, but part-time jobs rarely expect you to have full-time loyalty to them, so you can start a side hustleto make up the monetary difference. Plus, some part-time jobs pay a little more than entry-level full-time jobs simply because they don’t offer benefit packages.

Investopedia.com lists other benefits of taking a part-time job, like reduced transportation costs and reduced stress. They also mention networking opportunities—an essential part of building any career.

If You Get the Full-Time Job Offer, Act Classy

You should still pursue finding a Full-time job that makes you happy, even if you take the part-time job. If the school job calls you for an interview, put on your pearls and your heels and rock it. If they offer you the job, do your happy dance.

When you put in your resignation for the part-time job, ask your boss for a private meeting and start the conversation with, “I hope you will be happy for me, but I’ve been offered a full-time job that suits my skill set completely.” Explain to your boss that you appreciate the opportunity he or she has given you. You never know—he might offer you an even better Full-time position.

Regardless, leave with class. Be grateful. Be graceful. Follow your coworkers on LinkedIN. Every contact is a good contact when you’re job hunting.

Related Posts that Might Help You:

Best of Luck,

HR

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Part-time jobs can be beneficial in the right circumstances. Find out how!

Don't embarrass yourself at a job fair by not knowing the companies there.

Job fairs are loud, crowded hiring blitzes where after awhile, most every applicant starts to look the same to employers. If you want to walk out of a job fair with a job—or at least an interview—you have to stand out from the crowd and show potential employers that you’re the perfect person for the job.

Here are 10 ways you can make the right impression and maximize your job offers:

1. Research the Companies You Know Will be at the Job Fair

Start preparing for a job fair by looking at the list of companies that will be at the fair. Google each company and look at what they do. Look at their LinkedIN pages and see who works there, and what their job titles are. Decide which companies best suit your career goals, and learn as much as you can about those companies.

If you’re looking at big, national or international corporations, spend some time learning about the company’s history and who their customers are. Larger companies usually have an online employee manual or benefits website so you can research what a potential offer package might look like. The more information you have, the better.

You want to know enough about a company to be able to speak intelligently with their representatives at the job fair. The last thing you want to do is show up to the job fair without any knowledge of the companies represented there, and then ask, “oh, what do you do?”

 

2. Make Sure Your Resume Isn’t Boring

If you’re still using the standard MS Word template to make your resumes, it’s time to make a change—right now. Job fairs are full of candidates that show up with a stack of black-and-white, text-only, boring resumes and hand them to every company they see. Be ready to stand out in that crowd.

You can buy resume templates inexpensively on Etsy. Look for a colorful template that has spaces to highlight your skills and professional profile.

Avoid the “objective” line on your resume because everyone at a job fair has the same objective: to get a job. Click To Tweet

If you are applying for jobs in two or more different industries, make sure you have separate resumes for each industry. Each industry has specific keywords, so make sure your resume addresses them.

3. Prepare Your Elevator Speech

You need a 30-second pitch, or “elevator speech” ready for the job fair. In such a crowded space, you have to make an impression quickly. You won’t have a lot of time to convince the company representatives that you’re the right person for the job, so your best bet is to have a speech prepared.

The best elevator speeches highlight your qualifications as well as your knowledge of the company. You are trying to show that you’re extremely talented, confident, and a perfect fit for the company’s needs.

Here’s a template to get you started. Fill in the blanks and make it your own. Note that you should really prepare a few of these so you can customize them based on the company and industry you are trying to impress:

Good morning! I’m ________ and I am excited to meet you. I’ve followed your work on _______ for years, and I find it inspiring/exciting/amazing. I’m a __________________ with _____ years of experience creating __________. Like you, my work _______________. I have achieved _______________. I would love to talk to you more about your work and how we might collaborate in the future when you have time. Here’s my resume/business card. Let’s connect on LinkedIN, too.

Make it your own, but the goal is to show that you rock, you’re knowledgeable about the company, and you see yourself as an asset. You’ve got this!

4. Dress to Impress, and Remember Your Pop of Color

One of the first things employers will notice about you is how you dress. This isn’t the time to choose comfort over fashion. Wear your favorite power suit or dress.

No matter what you choose to wear, make sure you have a pop of color. If you wear a grey or black suit, wear a colorful scarf or camisole. Draw attention to your face with color.

You want to be memorable. You’re more likely to be remembered if a person can associate you with something you wore. Colorful accessories help you stand out in the right way.

When we go to job fairs and conferences, I typically wear a royal blue or purple dress with nude pumps. These are colors that work for me, but you likely have your own color palette that works for you. The worst thing you can do is dress in all black or another neutral color. You’ll blend in too much with everyone around you.

5. Be Conscious of What You Carry

Don’t be the person who drops a bunch of papers everywhere when she goes to shake hands with a potential employer. Don’t be the person fidgeting with her car keys while talking with a recruiter. Think ahead about what you are going to take with you into the job fair.

You will need a place to put brochures and business cards as you receive them from your new contacts. You also need something to write on, and a place to keep your resumes flat.

I use a leather portfolio when we attend business meetings. Something like this will work:

It has a pocket on the right for keeping resumes straight, a notepad for taking notes, and a smaller pocket for stashing business cards and brochures.

On top of this, I usually carry a small purse for my wallet and car key. Look for a purse with a shoulder strap. You always want to have one hand free for shaking hands. It makes you seem approachable.

A simple, black folder from the dollar store works better than nothing, so if you’re short on cash, use that as your back up. Make sure it doesn’t say anything on it. Nothing is more unprofessional than folders that say “Trapper Keeper” or have psychedelic Lisa Frank unicorns on them.

6. Use Your Time Wisely: Target 5 Companies

Depending on the type of job fair, there could be as many as 200 companies ready to meet potential applicants. You should have five companies in mind when you walk in the door. Talk to those companies first before you turn your attention to other potential employers.

It’s better to make five excellent impressions than 100 half-hearted ones. Focus on your favorites, and then walk the fair with an open mind. You never know when you’ll see a potential employer you overlooked that might be a perfect fit.

7. Smile and Offer Your Hand for the Handshake First

When you approach a company’s table at the job fair, smile at the representatives and extend your hand for the handshake first. This shows that you’re confident and someone they definitely want to get to know.

After the handshake, you can lead the conversation with your elevator speech and see where it goes. Even if you’re nervous, smile and be engaged with the company’s representatives.

8. Ask the Right Questions

A job fair is a good time to “feel out” a company to see if they’re a good fit for you, so make sure you have a good list of questions to ask. The right questions are ones that are focused on how your goals and the company’s goals might align. This isn’t a time to ask about vacation time and medical benefits, but instead ask about what the company’s goals are for this year, and how they’re measuring success. Try questions like:

  1. I read about your XYZ project on your website. It sounds fascinating! How are working towards that goal?
  2. There seems to be a lot of potential to _______ in this field. How is your company approaching it?
  3. I would love to learn more about how your company is achieving __________ this year. What steps are you taking?

If you have time, you might also ask the representatives what their favorite thing about working for the company is. The answers to this question will tell you a lot about the company.

9. Always be Closing

Keep your eye on the prize. You are at the job fair to make connections, land interviews, and receive job offers. Keep that in mind with every conversation.

If the representative isn’t scheduling an interview or saying they’ll be in touch soon for one, you should approach the topic yourself. Ask, “Is there a good time we can connect in the next week or so to discuss the position?”

Try to nail down a time to chat, or at the very least, try to get the name of the hiring manager, if he’s not present at the job fair. You want to walk away with something firm, not just, “we’ll be in touch if we’re interested.”

10. Send Follow-up Emails the Following Day

When you leave the job fair, you will have a good idea which companies you want to work for and which you don’t. Even so, you should send follow up emails to the people who took the time to talk to you. Thank them for their time and tell them how great it was to meet them. Ask to connect with them on LinkedIN and to keep you in mind if they see a position that suits your skill set.

Make sure to ask for business cards or contact information if it’s not offered to you. Job fairs are excellent places to network, so even if you don’t walk out with a job, you should at least walk away with a dozen or more new contacts for your network.

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How to Rock and Job Fair and Walk Out with a Job  10 Ways to Rock a Job Fair


 

Employers are rejecting as many as 98% of all online job applications and resumes. It’s a shocking statistic, but it should also make you think a little harder about how you’re searching for jobs. You can’t just fill out a bunch of online job applications and think you’re going to find a job quickly.

Just filling out online job applications is like only betting on a single number in a game of roulette. Once in awhile, you will get lucky and land an interview, but most of the time, your application will be rejected in a blink of an eye. You must have a job search strategy.

Don't play roulette with your career

Online job applications are still vital, though, because it’s the only way most companies accept applications. Your online application has to shine, but you have to take a few strategic steps to ensure your application is seen by the person with the power to hire you.

Make Sure You Meet the Minimum Qualifications—and Your Application Shows It

In most cases, your application will be automatically rejected if you do not meet the minimum qualifications. Many application software systems are set to auto-reject applicants who do not meet minimum qualifications before human eyes ever see the application. The bottom line: If you don’t meet at least the minimum requirements, you’re wasting your time in applying for a job online.

Even more, your application materials need to show, very clearly, that you do meet the minimum qualifications. Here’s how:

  • Make a list of the minimum and recommended qualifications listed in the advertisement.
  • Draft a cover letter that explains how you meet the qualifications.
  • Go through your resume and make sure your professional profile or summary lists the qualifications listed in the ad. Echo the wording the employer uses in the ad.
  • When you’re filling out the application, make sure the descriptions of your previous jobs use the keywords the employer used in their qualifications list.

Remember that your goal is to show the employer that you’re the perfect person for the job. Take the time to make sure all of your application materials show you’re qualified and the right people will see your application.

Get an Internal Recommendation: Network Your Way to an Interview

One of the best ways to ensure the right people see your application is to get an internal recommendation from someone who already works in the company. Internal recommendations hold a lot of weight with employers because if a current employee does excellent work, the employer assumes that the people he or she respects enough to recommend with do excellent work, too.

Bigger corporations have special employee recruitment systems built specifically for internal recommendations. Some companies even guarantee an interview for applicants with internal recommendations!

Many companies offer referral bonuses when an employee makes a recommendation and the recommended applicant is hired. I made $500 when I recommended a fellow instructional designer for a contract job at a big corporation. It’s a win-win for everyone involved: The employer gets help weeding through applicants, the person making the recommendation gets a bonus and the satisfaction of helping a colleague, and the applicant gets a job.

There are a few ways to go about getting an internal recommendation. Start by asking people in your network if they know of any open positions at the places they work that would be suitable for you. Many positions are advertised internally before they are advertised publicly. Don’t be afraid to ask—that’s the purpose of building a network!

Next, as you’re looking through job advertisements, use LinkedIN to see who you know, or who in your network knows someone that works at the companies advertising jobs you want. Make connections and ask for internal recommendations.

Follow up with the Hiring Manager

If you are applying for a local company or retail store, you should find out who the hiring manager is and follow up with him or her within a couple days of filling out an online application. If it’s a retail job, you should go to the store in person, introduce yourself, hand your resume to the hiring manager, and tell them you’d love to work there and how you’re highly qualified for the job.

With a local business, you might start by finding the hiring manager’s email address and writing a kind email introducing yourself. Explain that you’ve already applied for the job, but you wanted to personally reach out and let the hiring manager know how excited you are by the opportunity to potential work with the local company. Give a short summary of your qualifications, attach your resume, and say thank you.

The point is, if you have the opportunity to make a personal connection, you should do it. 

Do whatever you can to stand out from the giant pile of other applicants. Meet people, make an impression, and let them know you’re kind and qualified. Click To Tweet

Keyword Optimization

Modern application software allows HR representatives and hiring managers to comb through applications for specific keywords. They may search your application for your previous job titles to see if you’ve worked similar jobs in the past. They may search for specific skills they need from applicants, like industry-specific software. Be aware that employers have the ability to search through applications this way and prepare for it.

If you’ve tooled your cover letter, resume, and application to show that you meet the minimum qualifications for the job, you already have a good jump on keyword optimization. The process is very similar:

  • Read through the job advertisement and make a list of specific skills, software, job duties, and other qualifications that stand out in the ad. These can all be keywords.
  • Go through your resume and retool the language in your previous job descriptions to match the keywords from the job duties listed in the advertisement.
  • Retool the language in your cover letter and resume’s personal profile or summary to make sure you’re hitting keywords for specific skills and qualifications.
  • When you list previous jobs and skills on the job application, be sure to use keywords from the ad.

The goal is to use as many keywords from the ad as possible. Sometimes keywords aren’t in the ad, and you will have to know your industry and the company to add them to your materials. If you don’t have a good list of keywords from the advertisement, you can always use LinkedIN to look at profiles of people who work at the company and use keywords from their qualifications.Visit our etsy shop for a resume makeover

Avoid Scoring System Pitfalls

Modern application software sometimes use a “scoring system” to rank applicants based on keywords, qualifications, and experience. If you’ve done everything we’ve talked about so far, you should be scoring quite well in these systems. However, employers can set other factors besides skills, qualifications, and experience as part of the scoring system.

For example, we’ve seen some government jobs where applicants are automatically rejected if they answer “yes” to the “do you use tobacco products” question. Some are rejecting applicants who have been arrested (without reading explanations). Still others are auto-rejecting applicants who have been fired from previous jobs.

Auto-rejection isn’t fair. If you are rejected for a job quickly, in so short a time frame that you’re pretty sure no one looked at your application, you can try emailing an explanation to the HR department and see if it makes a difference. The worst thing they can do is tell you that your application is still rejected, so you have nothing to lose.

Keep Trying and Don’t Take it Personally

Just because a company rejects your application once doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try applying there again. As you practice making lists of keywords specific to the job advertisement and retooling your materials to fit them, you will get a lot more interview calls. Keep practicing and honing your application skills!

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How to land a gig with an online job application 98 percent of job applications are rejected - don't let yours be one of them Stop getting rejected from online job applications