This issue of Seattle Goodwill’s Job Notes explores tips on how to tell your story to employers, interview advice from Goodwill employment specialists, our impact in the community, and a spotlight on student success.
Looking for work is a full time
job itself. While there is a lot of information about how to job search, many people do not know how to confidently speak about their achievements.
Some people are told from a young age not to “show off” or brag about accomplishments
and skills. Some are shy and just not comfortable presenting in front of people.
Some have an idea of what to say, but may not know when to express those
ideas in an interview.
Job searchers may have up to five points of contact with a potential employer. Candidates must demonstrate skills in:
Initial Writing such as: Rresume and cover letter;
Listening: Voicemail with callback numbers or other instructions, phone interviews and/or follow up conversations about interviewing;
Appearance and punctuality: Arriving for the interview dressed for success;
Discovery: What they learn about you and your skills during the interview,
and what you learn about the employer and the job); and
Follow-up Writing: Sending a handwritten thank you note, or an email
thanking interviewers for their time
In addition to the above, what catches a potential employer’s interest is your personal story. You are telling a story about who you are; what you have done and what you can do for that employer.
Below are strategies to help job candidates prepare to tell their stories and make a strong, positive impression:
- Get some 3x5 cards and write down three short sentences to introduce yourself. And practice?
- Change your phone messages so it sounds professional. Use simple and clear words (e.g., you have reached NAME. Please leave your name and number and I will return your call shortly).
- Match your accomplishments and skills to the words used in each job posting. When you use the same words on your resume and cover letter, you attract an employer’s attention.
- Think about times when you were proud of your accomplishments and how those may align with the skill set needed for the job you want. These can be work, volunteer, family or community accomplishments.
- Ask yourself: How was I innovative? How did I solve the problem? How did I use my skills and what was the result? Write these on cards before the interview to remind yourself during the interview what you did.
- Ask a friend if you can tell your story to them and ask for feedback on how you did.
- Practice, Practice, Practice! Speak to the mirror. Speak to your dog. Speak
to your Goodwill Instructor. Telling your story over and over until you feel comfortable with your narrative means you will present as a strong candidate
in the interview.
Writing a strong resume can be stressful. Here are tips on two of the most frequently asked questions that arise around common concerns on resumes:
I am worried that a gap in employment history will eliminate me from consideration for an interview. What can I do?
Cathie Haag, Bellingham Goodwill Employment Specialist
Job seekers with long term gaps in employment can land interviews when they have one thing: a powerful accomplishment based resume. The key is to build interest in the first half of the resume with “wow-factor” examples. By the time the employer gets to the gap in employment, they’ve already decided to interview you. “Wow-factor” examples:
- Ten years supervisory experience in the travel industry
- Six years customer service experience and demonstrated excellence in providing top service to customers
- Managed a project with 6 staff and met all assigned deadlines
- Completed 100 hours of advanced level retail and sales training
What if they don’t want me because I am too old?
Jennifer Alvarez, Bremerton Employment Specialist
Approach this concern by addressing a few things on the resume:
- Check your email address to make sure your birth year is not included.
- Don’t include your graduation year if it’s more than 10 years old.
- Make sure that if you are talking about states, you use an all caps in your abbreviation (e.g., Washington)
- Use language that is fresh and relevant to the job for which you are applying- no canned resumes!
Myriam Mampengu, Shoreline Employment Specialist adds:
This question has been the most common one amongst our
older job seeking students lately. I usually say it’s important to really prepare yourself for your interview to the best of your ability. Talk about your experience in past work places, how you learned and adapted to environments that you have been exposed to. I also encourage you to focus on talking more about your skills and qualifications related to the job that you are applying for. How you will make an impact for this company? This will set you apart from other candidates.
Wanda Minor worked for over 30 years
as a call center operator with CenturyLink
However, when its office relocated out of state, Wanda decided to retire earlly.
She came into the Burien Goodwill hoping to find a new job so she could begin the next chapter of her career. In a conversation with the employment specialist, Wanda said, “I feel like I still have a lot to offer.”
Wanda possessed strong interpersonal skills, but her lack of computer skills,
coupled with the fact that she had not looked for a job in over 30 years, were
barriers to employment.
In two sessions with Burien Goodwill, Wanda completed classes in Microsoft Word, and Internet & Email. She also worked consistently with the employment specialist
to find a part-time job in retail.
By working hard in computer classes and consistently meeting with the employment specialist Wanda was eventually able to complete online job applications on her
own. Plus, she fine-tuned her interview skills. Wanda worked hard at applying for jobs online and going into stores to talk with managers about potential job openings.
After about three months of focus on finding work, Wanda received a job offer to be
a part-time courtesy clerk with the Safeway close by her home. After only one week on the job, Wanda’s managers were already commending her. Clearly, Wanda
was right – she does have a lot left to offer. So do all other experienced employees looking to re-invent themselves in the workforce. And Goodwill is here to help.
The extent of Goodwill’s impact on our community is immeasurable. But we’ve attempted to provide a glimpse of how we are changing lives through jobs below.
The figures provided cover the year-long period from July 1, 2014 through
June 30, 2015.
At Seattle Goodwill, we offer a large selection of programs and classes free to the community. Specific classes and schedules vary by location, so be sure to contact one of our Job Training & Education centers for more information.
Class registration must be done in person at the Center. We are unable to accept online registrations at this time.
- Bellevue: Email us or call (425) 289-0040
- Bellingham: Email us or call (360) 738-0483
- Bremerton: Email us or call (360) 373-3692
- Burien: Email us or call (206) 957-1026
- South Everett: Email us or call (425) 267-9718
- Marysville: Email us or call (360) 657-4058
- Mt. Vernon: Email us or call (360) 848-6468
- Seattle: Email us or call (206) 860-5791
- Shoreline: Email us or call (206) 631-8457
- Silverdale: Email us or call (360) 698-6776