Summer Job Seeking

A reader writes:

“Dear, Anita,

I am a sophomore college student spending this summer in a beach town to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. I really need to find temporary employment but have little-to-no real work experience. I have been searching but seem to be having no luck. Do you have any advice for me that will help me land a great summer gig?Summer Job Seeker

Thanks for the question, Summer Job Seeker!

Many students come out of their first year of school needing to make some extra money for the fun-filled year ahead of them. Others crave some real world experience to apply the skills they have learned in school. The challenge that most students face is a lack of real professional work experience to bring to the hiring manager’s table. Sure, you may have had your own lawn-mowing business in highschool or a lemonade stand at your community pool, but although these are great experiences, they are not something that will pump up your résumé.

Even though your résumé may be slim on professional positions, volunteer experience can have a large impact as well. Most high schools require that all students complete a minimum number of hours of community service in order to graduate. Contact the organization that you worked with and request a written recommendation documenting their experiences working with you. This will provide the hiring company with some understanding of your work ethic, attendance record, and contribution potential.

BSummer Job Seekere driven. There is nothing more powerful than the eagerness to work and learn as much as possible. This alone can bring your name to the top of the interview list. If you come in prepared, with a confident attitude and a bright outlook, you will surely stand out in the mind of the hiring manager. Don’t forget to dress professionally from start to finish of the job-seeking process. For guidelines and tips for nailing your appearance and attire, check out my recent post, Dress for Success.

After you have filled out an application with the potential employer, don’t let them forget about you. No more than 3 days after submitting your application, résumé, and recommendations, call or email to respectfully inquire on the position you applied for. This will not only show them your interest in the opportunities they have available but your desire to work for them.

I wish you the best of luck, Summer Job Seeker, and all of you that are seeking employment during these sunny months.

Are you looking for summer employment or have some tips and tricks to share with your fellow readers? Post them in the comment box!

Thanks again for the question and if you have comments, leave them in the box below! Do you have a question that you need help answering, visit!


Dress For Success

A reader writes:

Hi Anita,

I have just recently graduated from college and have been on the hunt for employment since moving to back to my hometown. After sending out a slew of resumes and following up with prospective employers, I have been contacted by some and have several interviews scheduled for next week. What are some suggestions and guidelines that I should follow when choosing what to wear to the appointments?

Thanks for the great question. I am sure many of our readers have been plagued by the same question of “what do I wear?”

Remember, you only have one shot to make a GREAT first impression! Being dressed appropriately for an interview or job fair is a key component of landing your next position. Follow these simple guidelines to make sure you fit the part.

  • Be sure you look clean. Shower before your interview. For women, your hair, make-up, and overall appearance should be on the conservative side. For men, be sure you are clean shaven and hair is well groomed.
  • Cover all visible tattoos and remove excessive piercings. As a general rule, earrings are acceptable, but any oversized or loud jewelry could be off-putting.
  • Clean, iron, and press the clothing you will be interviewing in. Stains, wrinkles, and creases can deter employers from selecting you as their next candidate. If you look sloppy and careless, how much will you care about your work performance and professionalism in the workplace?
  • Stay away from see-through or low-cut blouses, jeans, sandals, and t-shirts during an interview. Men should wear long-sleeved, button-down shirts and preferably a tie. Women should not have bare shoulders or skin-tight clothing. You want to show your interviewer that you are taking this opportunity seriously and have dressed up for the occasion.
  • Make sure your clothing also fits you properly. Shirts are the right size (not too big or too small); pants and coat sleeves are hemmed to the appropriate length.
  • Skirts should be no shorter than 3 inches above the knee. Cropped pants for both men and women should be avoided.
  • Avoid or limit the use of perfume and cologne. You want them to remember you for your professional demeanor and ability to communicate, not your new fragrance. Some people may also be allergic or turned away by certain scents.
  • Wash and clean under your fingernails before the interview. Avoid brightly colored nail polish, chipped or distracting manicures, and dirty fingernails.
  • Both men and women should wear closed-toe shoes. Men: if you wear a black belt, wear black shoes. Same with a brown belt; wear brown shoes to match.
  • Women: Make sure your heel is an appropriate height, shoes are not worn or in bad shape, and that your footwear is not distracting. Choose simple conservative colors, patterns, shapes, and styles.
  • Remember what position you are applying or interviewing for. What you would wear to the neighborhood hangout or newest night spot is NOT okay for an interview. Stay away from brightly colored fabrics, shiny or sparkly materials, and embellished shirts.
  • Handbags and briefcases should be neutral in color and style. This is not an opportunity to flaunt or show off your eclectic taste.
  • Turn off your cell phones and other electronics. Even on vibrate, they can be distracting.

Check out this nifty video I found. It has some great pointers with a few laughs along the way. Enjoy!

Best Wishes,



Staffing Stardom

Dear Anita,

I have been on the hunt for employment opportunities and recently I have seen a number of people submitting video resumes to potential employers. I have a great resume and cover letter that I send when applying for open positions. While looking for a new position, should I invest the time and money to create a video resume?

Dear Camera Shy Colleague,

Great question! Many of you are probably looking for the next up-and-coming way to promote yourself in today’s job market. Nowadays, a plain old paper resume and cover letter may not be enough to WOW the technology-savvy and time-constricted employers looking to fill their positions.

So what is the big deal with video resumes? First, they are a great way to get one step ahead of the competition! In a very short amount of time, without having the employer even pick up the phone or read a page or two, they can get a clear view of how you communicate, your professional presence, and a plethora of other information…You know how they say a picture says a thousand words, imagine what your own personalized video short can be saying. My friends over at The Select Family of Staffing Companies were ahead of the curve by being the first national staffing firm to introduce video resumes to their candidates. Many Select locations offer this service for free! The possibilities are infinite! With that said, there is a right way and a very wrong and incorrect way to get this done.

A few quick tips:

• Dress professionally. That means: business attire. Dress shirts, sweaters, ties for men. No low-cut tops or plunging necklines (be remembered for your brains not your bust). All clothing must be clean and pressed.  You don’t want any wrinkles to slow you down on your path to employment. No excess piercings or visible body art.

• Make your interview short and sweet. Limit it to 3 minutes maximum. The employer isn’t looking for a 30-plus minute screening of your personal documentary. Get to the point – why you are the perfect candidate!

• Make sure you are in a quiet, businesslike environment when filming your video. That means: solid background, steady camera or web cam, and little-to-no background noise. Put away the pets and turn off all cell phones and unnecessary electronics.

• Rehearse what you’re going to say. Do not read right from your resume. Most employers can do that for themselves. Unless you are a master at editing and compiling video footage, you will not want there to be any awkward stops, rewinds, or re-records. It is ideal to have a smooth video with no re-takes. Knowing what you are going to say will make those 1-3 minutes fly by and glide smoother than glass.

• Right away, thank the potential employer for their time and introduce yourself. You want the employer to know exactly who you are. By stating your name clearly and with conviction, you demand the attention of your audience.

• Now that you have their attention, hold it tight…. with a death grip. Share your goals for the future, explain why you are the catch of the century, and show them why you are different and more interesting than the other people in the pack.

• Give them zero reasons why they should pass you up! Discuss why you are the perfect fit for said position and what you can do for the company that hires you. Show your enthusiasm and what drives you to succeed. Most importantly, share what you will do to drive success and productivity in the new position.

• Thank the employer again for viewing your resume. Restate your name clearly and confidently, and insert contact information at the end of the wicked cool video.

Have any of you made a video resume? If so, how were they accepted?

Thanks for reading,


Covering the Cover Letter

A reader writes…

Dear, Anita,

I have two questions that I hope you can address: What’s the secret to a good cover letter? And is a cover letter even necessary these days?

Dear, “C.L.,”

I have been asked to address the cover letter question by a few readers as I know it’s a hot topic when it comes to searching for a job. I can’t tell you how many cover letters I have seen over the years that look like a generic template and a game of plug-and-play (insert name here… insert date here…. etc.) I’ve even seen cover letters that have a different color font where the hiring manager’s name is supposed to go… a tell-tale sign that it is a standard form letter that has been forwarded or used countless times.

My advice is this…

  • If you’re writing a cover letter just because you think it’s the right “protocol”… Don’t bother.
  • If you plan to reiterate the content of your résumé in your cover letter… Don’t bother.
  • If your cover letter is not a quick, relevant read… Don’t bother.

I, personally, only think a cover letter is necessary if you’re changing careers or if you need to clarify certain things that your résumé can’t explain alone. A cover letter can also serve as a nice personal touch if you recently spoke to someone (say, a hiring manager) about a position. You can use the letter as a thank you for their time and consideration as well as to reiterate 4-5 key reasons why you would be a good fit.

I found the following article on CareerBuilder that I think “covers” the cover letter question very well. I encourage you to take a look:

Okay HR and Hiring Managers… we want to hear from you. Do YOU think cover letters are necessary? Do you even read them? Please post your comments here!


Online Application – No Calls

A reader writes…

Dear, Anita,

I applied with my local temp agency (completed the online application), but I have not received any calls. Am I doing something wrong?

Dear, “Applicant,”

I am so glad you brought up this question because I think it applies to several of my readers. Just because you filled out an application online, does not mean you’ve been “hired” by the agency. The fact is, you’re not even done with the hiring process!

  1. Call your local branch after submitting your application online.
  2. Confirm they received your information (they may ask for your social security number so they can look you up in their system).
  3. Schedule an appointment to come into the branch. During your in-person meeting, you will conduct an interview, complete a few more assessments, and finalize paperwork as part of the hiring process. Keep in mind, this may take at least a couple of hours… just warning you to plan accordingly and to leave the kids at home!

As you prepare for your meeting at the branch office, keep these additional tips in mind:

  • You will need to bring two forms of ID (showing your eligibility to work in the United States).
  • Bring a copy of your résumé if you have one.
  • Bring 2-3 employment references.
  • Dress professionally – you want to leave a good first impression with the recruiters.

Let the staff know your availability and the type of work you are seeking. Depending on your skills and the types of positions available… you may walk out of there with a job immediately! If not, don’t be discouraged. New openings pop up all the time. Recruiters will call you, but it’s up to YOU to remain in contact with them as well. Especially in a down economy, these recruiters can get hundreds of résumés a week, so you need to make sure your name stays top of mind by staying in touch with them.

Good Luck!

Loving LinkedIn

Whether you’re currently working, looking for a job, or managing staff, LinkedIn is a professional social networking site that I highly recommend to everyone.

Readers have asked me before if there is a fee to join LinkedIn, and I am happy to report that there is not. Sure, you may want to enhance your personal profile with some of the added bells and whistles that come with a cost – but that’s purely up to you. I’ve found, from my own experience, that LinkedIn is an amazing way to connect with key contacts at businesses, reunite with colleagues or alumni, and keep a pulse on what’s happening in your local business environment.

I’d like to share a few quick reminders on how you can make the most out of LinkedIn, then will direct you to an article recently released on The Select Family of Staffing Companies’ blog, TradePost, that includes additional key points.

  • Connect with people you don’t know – Now as you probably know, this is the complete opposite advice you would receive about sites like Facebook (where you’re sharing personal photos, etc.) In the case of LinkedIn, the more people you connect with… from all types of places and industries, the more you are expanding your professional connections. You never know who people know – so as job seekers, for example, you may find someone in your network who knows the hiring manager at a company you are interested in! You can then ask them to introduce you.
  • Make slight tweaks to your profile – Every time you update your profile (this even includes connecting with new people), it automatically gets shared with the people in your network… keeping you top of mind without overtly tugging on anyone’s sleeve to get noticed.
  • Join groups and discussions – Voice your opinion about things. Express your knowledge or area of expertise. Doing so may position you as an expert or valued resource in your field.
  • Keep an eye out for the “People you may know” section – When you first create a profile, a great way to immediately establish a “network” is to import any and all contacts you may have set up in your personal or professional email account (such as Yahoo, for example). Please make sure that they aren’t already on LinkedIn, however; you don’t want to annoy them by sending them an invitation to a site they already visit often! Once these people have been added, you will soon see a list of additional folks “you may know.” It’s like an automatic people finder based on friends of friends. Once you connect with someone, you are now suddenly a 2nd or 3rd connection to everyone THEY know! Truly spreads like wildfire!
  • Keyword Searches – By simply using the search function that appears at the top right of the page, you can look for specific people, companies, and more. You can extend your search using the “advanced search” menu that appears to the left of your screen. Before you know it, you will have reached hundreds of businesses and thousands of contacts.

For more great tips and details, check out the LinkedIn User Manual brought to you by TradePost. Click here:

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Why So Many Interviews?

A reader writes…

Hi, Anita,
Is it typical for companies to interview a candidate multiple times? They often end up asking the same questions! What’s the deal?

Dear, “Interview Insanity,”

Thanks for posting your question. I know that being asked to come in for an interview can be the most exciting news EVER, yet at the same time, it can create anxieties beyond belief.

To top it off, after finishing that first round, you may be asked to come back again, and again, and AGAIN! What a way to get your hopes up, right?

The deal is this… the larger the company, the more likely you WILL be asked to come back for multiple interviews. Many businesses have a policy that says, “It takes 3 to hire… and 3 to fire.” In the case of the hiring process, it is common for candidates to meet with their potential direct supervisor, then possibly with someone at the executive level, maybe a different department head, and even HR. Depending on the position and organizational structure, the list could go on and on.

The real bummer is that often you’ll find you are being asked the same questions by these different folks over and over again. To me, that’s just a big waste of everybody’s time!

Managers (this is for you): Please be sure to communicate with one another throughout the interview process. Find out what questions have already been asked and how they were answered. Share notes and feedback so that you are gathering new content each time and not sounding like a broken record to the poor candidate trying to impress you!

Now, where were we?

In some cases, this group of people may be joined together at the same interview – which reduces the number of return visits, but can be a little intimidating, to say the least. (As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, come prepared with multiple hardcopies of your résumé in case you need to pass them out to multiple attendees.)

So you may be asking yourself, “If I am asked to return several times, does it mean I have a good chance of being hired?” Well gosh darn it, you’d think so! The reality is, however, companies typically narrow down their selection throughout this process. For instance, in the initial interview, you may be up against 7 other candidates. By round two, it may be you against 3 others, then down to the top 2 for yet another round. It all depends. After meeting with so many people from the company, it is natural to get your hopes up. Just remember that if it turns out you are not selected, you need to maintain your composure, avoid burning bridges, and move on.

So tell me readers, how many times have you been asked to return for subsequent interviews? Did you get the job in the end?

Post away!

Other Ways to Find Jobs

A reader writes…

Dear Anita,

Could you please address ways for finding employment opportunities outside of job boards and “want ads,” such as networking and how to do that effectively?

Dear, “Opportunities,”

Believe it or not, employment opportunities are all around us – everyday… everywhere we go.  It’s just a matter of discovering them, getting the word out, and playing off the old saying, “it’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know!”

Here are a few places to search (outside of job boards and want ads):

  1. Social Networking sites:  The whole purpose of sites like Facebook is to make connections, stay in touch with friends, family, co-workers, etc., and share what’s going on in your life.  Just as cute or funny pictures tend to spread like wildfire online… the fact that you’re looking for a job is no different.  Get the word out to the people in your social network.  Who knows, they may have a relative, buddy, or colleague that is hiring or would be open to meeting with you!

    LinkedIn is another, highly respected social networking site that specifically caters to professionals.  Like Facebook, this is a free site but in the case of LinkedIn, the objective is to complete a professional profile about yourself – like a résumé.  You will have the opportunity to state your work history, areas of expertise, and interests.  Before you know it, you can get “linked” with other people who either share your interests, profession, or that even worked with you (or went to school with you) in the past.You can easily run searches for people and companies in your area (or anywhere for that matter).  From there, you’ll see how you may be connected (through somebody else) to potentially key contacts.  Again… it’s all about the people OTHER people may know that can get you hooked up with great opportunities.  Likewise, businesses often list job openings on LinkedIn (that may not appear on standard job boards).One more comment about LinkedIn – Another cool and effective feature is the fact that you can request “Introductions” and/or have people “Endorse” (recommend) you for your great work.  It’s like an instant referral system that potential employers can look at and see how wonderful you are!

    This leads me to my next reminder:

  2. Referrals from Family and Friends:  I know I basically covered this in point #1, but it’s worth stating on its own… particularly if you have not yet explored the social networking scene online.  Spread the word to friends and family that you are looking for work.  The people who care about you the most will put on their thinking caps and pass along any recommendations or suggestions.  I firmly believe “it’s a small world after all…!” (Sing it if you know it!)
  3. Volunteer Groups: Participating in volunteer groups or charity events is another great way to network with people.  I’ve said this in previous posts, and I’ll say it again…  People generally prefer working with people they like.  If you already share a common goal or interest, you’ve already broken the ice and accomplished a major step.  Befriend as many people as you can and get involved.  Who knows, the person running the race, planting a tree, or picking up trash by your side… may have a job opening that you can fill!
  4. Church Groups / Alumni Groups: These are just a couple of other resources that come to mind when it comes to networking opportunities and finding possible jobs.
  5. Toastmasters: This is a nonprofit, international leadership group that has been around since 1924 and helps people develop their public speaking and leadership skills.  Groups meet regularly to network and interact in a comfortable setting. Part of the problem many job seekers have is a lack of confidence in front of strangers.  Before convincing someone else that you should be hired… you need to convince yourself! It’s groups like these that help you build that much needed self-esteem.One quick tip… when attending a networking session, don’t feel like you need to own the room or be the center of attention.  Try to make meaningful connections and spend quality time with individuals… that’s what ignites long term relationships (not the quick handshakes in passing).
  6. Internships:  Sometimes you can get your foot in the door by doing paid (or unpaid) internships for businesses or organizations.  If anything, this is a great way to gain first-hand experience in a particular industry and again, it exposes you to a whole new set of people (and potential hiring managers).  I frequently encourage college students to do internships while in school (to help build an effective résumé).  Whether you’re interested in working in the medical field, a law office, a publishing company, or government agency (as examples)… this may be a good route to explore.  Pick up the phone and ask around, or stop by in person (professionally dressed!).  You never know… unless you ask! 
  7. Temporary Agencies:  Last, but certainly not least, I highly recommend going through a temporary agency.  Let a professional recruiter do the searching for you at no cost (it doesn’t get any better than that, right?)  Many companies do 100% of their hiring through services… in some cases; it’s the only way to get in. I highly recommend my old friends at Select Staffing (

Hey Readers… Please share some additional methods for finding job opportunities and/or networking (aside from standard job boards or help wanted ads).  Blogs like this are an excellent forum for networking and helping one another.  We’d all love to hear your thoughts, comments, and suggestions!


Employers Think I’m a Job Hopper!

A reader writes…

Dear Anita,

I know one of the things that stands out in a résumé (besides skills) is how long you have been with a company –  (working somewhere for 5 or 10 years, for example,  shows stability).  I also know it is professional to put all your jobs on the résumé, but when I do, I am often asked during interviews, “How come you have so many different jobs within a two year period?” I haven’t been able to find a stable job but have been getting calls from contract and temp jobs that last 4 months, 2 months, 6 months and I accept them (because when you need work, you accept it to pay the bills).

There are great employees out there that have skills that make them the perfect candidate but because of their job history, employers don’t trust them to stay with the company.  

So my question is this, how can you make your résumé look presentable even with a minimal stable job history?

Dear, “Stability,”

You have brought up an issue that probably impacts a good majority of my readers… and certainly warrants a full post!

How the heck do you “sell yourself” in a résumé as a dedicated employee, when your work history is full of short term temp assignments and/or contract work?  Jumping from job to job doesn’t exactly say, “I am a stable person who will stick with your company for years and years to come!”

It does say, however, that you have been working consistently and are versatile; yet reveals the fact that you just haven’t found that position or opportunity where you can commit long term.  For some people, temporary work is ideal for particular lifestyles.  Perhaps you’re a new parent wanting to earn extra income while tending to a child.  Maybe you’re a full-time student, just looking to make some extra cash.  Then there are those that have been laid off from a previous job and are simply exploring new industries and opportunities before deciding on their next career path.

All in all, I think hiring managers understand the reality and importance of temporary work, more than ever.  Rather than viewing it as “instability,” they know that people are simply trying to make ends meet during difficult times.  In fact, many employers have been faced with hiring freezes themselves. Their companies are either cutting full-time staff, or are battling budget cuts left and right!  Keep in mind; this also explains why job hunting is so competitive.  When companies are finally given the trigger to hire someone… they’re going to be ultra choosey and basically search for the pick of the litter. (This is why, as a job seeker, you need to be on top of your game, have a flawless résumé, and be ready to shine in that interview.)

Now back to your question, “How can you make your résumé look presentable even with a minimal stable job history?”

You don’t want a two page résumé that includes the days, weeks, or months, of each individual temp assignment you’ve ever had.  At a glance that will surely be a turn off to any hiring manager.

Here’s what I suggest:

Below your name and contact information that appears at the top, begin with a section called, “Summary of Qualifications.” There you will highlight 5 or 6 bullet points of key skills or experiences that directly pertain to the job you are seeking.  Maybe one sums up “’X’ number of years working in the ‘Y’ industry overseeing…. Or developing… Or assisting with….” <insert whatever applies>. Another bullet point may include specific computer skills, or industry/ trade specific knowledge.  Here is where you may list whether you’re bilingual (for example)… you get the idea?

Next comes the chronological list of “Employment” or “Work Experience.”  If you have been doing various temp jobs for the past two years, simply group all of that together as a single listing with the header, “Contract Work” (or something like that) – Then just list the years (NOT months or specific dates).  The key is, you’re still being completely honest… but you’re redirecting the focus from short intervals to a long period that included a variety of positions.

Now, within the section you’ve called “Contract Work,” use bullet points to outline each position in a single sentence (use present tense as what you’re really dong here is drawing attention to your various skills, responsibilities, and attributes).  For example:

Contract Work – (2010 – 2012)

  •  Accountant / Bookkeeper (insert company name) – Data entry, accounts receivable, and records management of a $X budget.  (NOTE: it’s always good to include quantitative figures wherever you can…  gives more substance to your résumé)
  • Customer Service Representative (insert company name) – Inbound / Outbound calls, up-sell to customers, demonstrate product features and benefits of over ‘X’ products and services.

Directly below the “Contract Work” section (that now gives the allusion it was a long term commitment… by bundling your short-term projects), you will list whatever you did before that.  If you were laid off from somewhere after working for 3 years (for example) you will list the date range in years. Then do the same for next job, etc. – No need to go back 40 years… keep it relevant.

End your résumé with your education, certifications, any awards, and/or accomplishments.

While your résumé must be honest and should include as much pertinent detail as possible to attract the attention of a hiring manager, it is in your cover letter or during the interview that you will have the opportunity to explain things further.  Try to keep the focus on your skills that will contribute to the job at hand more than concentrating on dates and time periods. Trust me…  listing a duration of temporary assignments in your résumé (whether it’s a period of 2 months or 2 years) looks much better than having  gaps in your work history.

Don’t hesitate to be honest about your situation.  The way you openly explained it to me in your question made perfect sense and shows your determination and work ethic.

I hope these tips help and wish you much success in landing that long-term position in 2012!

Sell Yourself… Quickly

A reader writes…

Dear, Anita,

In a world that has become so incredibly competitive… I know that every single word I say to a potential employer matters. I also know that there’s not a lot of time to make a good impression and “sum up myself” in a way that will be effective and convincing. What’s the secret?


Dear, “Sound Bite,”

It’s true, only the people that have a good handle on who they are, what they can offer, and how they’re unique will win in the game of job hunting. Regardless of the position, you need to know how to “position” yourself clearly and concisely. Easier said than done… but very possible and something we should all practice.

Imagine that you’re in an elevator and from the time the doors close to the moment they open again, you need to be able to pitch yourself to a perfect stranger. It’s called having an “elevator pitch.” People in marketing come up with elevator speeches all the time to sum up a product or service (sort of like a mini commercial). As an individual trying to “market” yourself into the workforce,  you, too, need an elevator pitch that you can dish out within a matter of seconds.

I found this great article on that addresses this specific issue and includes tips on how to make it happen. I encourage each and every one of you to take a stab at it.

Once you’re done reading the article and coming up with your OWN sound bite to sell yourself, I’d like you to test it on me. Post your elevator speech here, and let’s learn from one another and make comments!

Sound good?
Ready… Set… Go!



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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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