Austin Job Seeker Resources

Peak Performers is an active part of the recruiting and job seeking community and connected to many organizations and resources that may help job seekers find work. Here is our curated list of Austin job seeking resources:  

General Job Seeker Services

Workforce Solutions is the operational arm of Texas Workforce Commission in providing various job seeker services. Peak Performers does not provide job seeker services and will usually refer job seekers onto Workforce Solutions.

You can turn to Workforce Solutions for services such as:

  • Unemployment benefits
  • Free or discounted training and education opportunities
  • Workplace accommodation resources
  • Childcare assistance services
  • Resume and interview coaching 
  • Career coaching

http://www.wfscapitalarea.com/Job-Seekers

NEW! In response to the sudden rise in unemployment, Workforce Solutions has launched a “Jobs Now” website, which is a manually curated list of jobs that are still hiring despite current market conditions.

Additionally, they hold job fairs periodically throughout the year:

  • Bi-weekly general job fairs
  • Industry-specific job fairs
  • Public sector job fairs
  • Disability-focused job fairs
  • Second chance job fairs
  • Veterans job fairs

http://www.wfscapitalarea.com/CalendarEvents

There are multiple locations in the Austin area, and they’re open 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday. They accept walk-ins and appointments for job seekers with specific needs.

  • 9001 N Interstate Hwy 35 Ste 110, Austin, TX 78753 (North Austin)
  • 575 Round Rock W Dr Building H, Suite 240, Round Rock, TX 78681 (Round Rock)
  • 3401 Webberville Rd #1000, Austin, TX 78702 (East Austin)
  • 7701 Metropolis Dr, Austin, TX 78744 (South Austin)

Austin Job Clubs

Job seeking can be demoralizing, especially if you’re told “no” over and over. It can be valuable to join a community of other job seekers to keep you motivated and to offer guidance along the way. Fortunately, Austin metro area has three prominent job clubs which you can become involved in. They will often feature speakers, job fairs, and resume workshops. These are free to attend—they ask for donations from previous job seekers and from employer sponsorships.

Job Seekers Network – Meetings in Northwest Austin every Monday

HIRED Texas – Meetings in Round Rock every Tuesday

LaunchPad Job Club – Meetings in North Austin every Friday

Note: currently job clubs are suspended due to outbreaks in the COVID-19. This article will be updated when the job clubs are back in session.

Recommended Job Seeker Websites

There are a lot of websites out there to help job seekers find work and much of your time is going to be spent utilizing these resources. Gone are the days of walking into businesses and dropping off your resume at the front desk. “Help wanted” signs now hang in the digital window.

You should use all or many of these websites to aid your job search. Generally, these websites are free to job seekers and require minutes to start an account.

ZipRecruiter – this platform has taken the recruiting world by storm as it does a great job of proactively finding jobs that may be a fit and inviting you to apply. It is also pulls jobs from hundreds of other websites and centralizes them in one place.

Monster – this platform is used by many recruiters for its advanced search features. It also tends to attract many professional and information technology job seekers. From an employer side, the cost is rather daunting but that tends to attract larger employers looking for hard-to-find candidates.

Dice – this is widely used in the Austin information technology job search community. Dice tends to attract mid and senior -level professionals.

WorkInTexas – this is used in Texas by Workforce Solutions to post jobs. Jobseekers filing for unemployment will be required to build a profile….but take time to do it right—many job seekers don’t fill in all the information! Savvy recruiters use this website because it’s free and because it’s a snap shot of nearly all job seekers available, not just the ones who have their resume up on other platforms.

Glassdoor – jobs are posted to Glassdoor but perhaps more important are the tools to read company reviews and explore salaries. Glassdoor is an important part of your research toolkit so that you spend time engaging with reputable companies.

Austin Chamber of Commerce – in response to the COVID-19 unemployment crisis, the Austin Chamber of Commerce has launched a listing of businesses in Austin who are still hiring. Great for doing some research and discovering companies that you haven’t heard of before.

Additional Job Seeking Resources

Here is a list of other resources that I refer people onto who are looking for work:

AustinUp is a local nonprofit that connects older adults (ages 50+) with employers seeking experienced professionals. AustinUp also partners with AARP in order to connect older adults with a host of other services. AustinUp has periodic job fairs throughout the year as well as regular meetings.

Texas Veterans Commission supports Texas veterans and their spouses who are looking for work and other services. Texas Veterans Commission career advisors work out of Workforce Solutions offices.

Austin Community College Employment Readiness Training is a “boot camp” to help job seekers get ready to look for work. Perfect for those who have not looked for work for a little while and are feeling overwhelmed.

Other Community Resources

There can be other barriers getting in the way of finding a job. Here is a list of some of those local resources:

Austin Urban League is a local nonprofit that seeks to help African Americans and other under-served urban residents with job training, housing programs, and education.

Homeless Veteran Assistance the local VA helps homeless veterans get connected to housing and jobs. Local resources available to help veterans and their spouses.

Dress for Success helps disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support, and career development resources.

Workforce Education and Readiness Continuum is a branch Workforce Solutions here to connect job seekers to specific resources they will need prior to starting work.

Foundation Communities is a local nonprofit that assists central Texas residents with financial assistance, health insurance, and access to other services to help ensure they are able to start work.

So…What Do You Do?

Focus Your Job Search

“So…what do you do?”

Don’t you hate that question? You get it at parties, you get it at job fairs, you even get it at the dentist! I don’t know about you, but I’m a lot more than just my work. If I’m a job seeker, though, my resume is not the place to tell you who I am.

Employers get hundreds (sometimes thousands) of applications for every position that they post. This creates a mountain of reading that recruiters just cannot do. Often, computers read your resume first and rate it based on how relevant it is to what the recruiter wants. Or, if you’re an overworked recruiter, you read really fast (i.e. 6-10 seconds per resume).

“Who” is a complicated question that gets to the core of our humanity. “What” is a lot easier to communicate. In recruiting, it’s how we evaluate a candidate for further consideration. In this article, I want to get your resume from “Who” to “What.”

Questions to Ask Yourself When Looking for a Job

One of the hardest parts of the job search is knowing where to start. Full time work provides a location to work, equipment to work on, a community to support and direct you, and, in most cases, clear instructions on what to do on a day-to-day basis.

When you are seeking work, that can all go out the window very quickly. Job searchers must now turn inwards and answer a couple of deep questions.

  • What do I want to do?
  • What can I do?
  • What place (where) do I want to do it?
  • What do I expect from my work?

I have found these questions to be the most basic as well as the most troubling. I ask you to ask yourself, because every day that I’m at a job fair I ask job seekers, “what do you do?”

We’ll take a deeper dive into each, but first you need to gather a few tools:

  • A copy of your resume you can write on
  • A pen
  • A highlighter

1) What do you want to do?

For just a minute, I want you to imagine a perfect world where you don’t need to work but instead just want to work. What would you do? I want you to ignore the lightness of your wallet and the anxiety you feel about being around the house all day.

But I’m going to make this harder. You now need to answer this question in three words or less. Write them at the top of your resume where it’s so big you can’t ignore or forget what you wrote. 

2) What can you do?

Now, write down a list that ignores your list of what you want to do. This list is for the things you can do whether you want to do them or not. Here’s where I want to you get really specific and list all of the things you can do.

This is the most important part to recruiters and companies. Many will train you, but they want you to come in being able to meet the minimum job expectations.

Now I want you to condense this list down to just three words. Maybe you can do a lot! That’s great, but what are your key skill sets? What would jump out to me as a recruiter? Write these skills down on your resume.

3) What place (where) do I want to do it?

The easy answer to this is “within a X distance drive.” Let’s include this and then go beyond the physical location. You should also consider things like a welcoming environment, a company with a social mission, a younger/older workplace, a progressive/conservative workplace, etc. These are going to be different for each individual.

4) What do you expect?

Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty of the job details. Realize that expectations may have to be compromised, but it helps to write them down. Start with the most obvious expectation and the reason most of us go to work each day. Here are some things you might expect

  • I expect to make $XXXX
  • I expect XXXX kind of health insurance
  • I expect XXXX other benefits
  • I expect to have some level of autonomy in my day-to-day work
  • I expect to be valued for my creative contributions
  • I expect to work in a team-oriented environment
  • I expect to maintain a work-life balance

We expect a lot out of our work. As well we should. We spend a lot of time there! But get this down into three words.

Edit Your Resume

A common misconception is that resumes should be only one-two pages. A resume should be as long as it needs to be provided that:

  1. It accurately and concisely represents all of you
  2. Is long enough to thoroughly address everything that a job description asks for

We’re going to make a generic resume from which you can start. You will constantly be editing this resume for every single job for which you apply.

  • Highlight: I want you to highlight everything on your resume that points strongly to one of the words that is written above. It can (and usually should) be the word itself.
  • Circle: Anything that may be relevant for a job. Education is a good example; you may well need or should include it on your resume, but often the role you’re applying for does not explicitly require it. Often, these circled items will be listed on your resume but de-emphasized.
  • Cross Out: There’s probably a lot of stuff left on your resume. Cross it out. These are like hoarding shoe boxes or 1980s Christmas decorations or Beanie Babies. Channel your inner Marie Kondo and throw it out.

Want more resume tips? Be sure to check out this article.

Getting to “Who”

It’s not that recruiters and HR managers don’t care about who you are…it’s just that resumes are not the appropriate place for it. “What” is clear and objective. It’s also what catches our attention in a stack of resumes.

Once you get to the interview, show off “who” you are in order to stand out from the other applicants.

Are you looking for work? Check out our open jobs.

Applicant Tracking Systems

What is an Applicant Tracking System?

Modern-day recruiters are flooded with resumes from candidates applying for their jobs.  Additionally, recruiters have access to countless resumes online through places like Monster and Indeed.  For this reason, similar to how you use Google to find what you’re looking for online, HR departments are relying on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to find the candidates they are looking for (using keyword searches, mostly) and to “save” promising candidates for future opportunities.

In this article, let’s take a deeper dive into the world of recruiting and the tools that they use (Applicant Tracking Systems).

Why it Matters

Many larger organizations get an even higher volume of resumes and have fewer recruiters to sift through them.  Additionally, large companies or public sector departments often have tight deadlines and must rely on their recruiters to find the best candidates very quickly.  It is estimated that recruiters for larger organizations spend less than 6 seconds on each resume.

Imagine for a second that you are asked to find the best qualified candidate and you have a hundred resumes to review. How would you go about this task?

First, we start by using keywords from the job description and matching those to what’s found in the resume–very similar to how you might find something on Google.  The results are returned to us as a “relevancy score.” Basically this means that the computer is trying to figure out how relevant a candidate is to the job we’re trying to fill.  Many recruiters might only look at the first few results (the ones on the top of the page).

Ultimately, recruiters are there in order to go through the resumes and then recommend a few of the most promising candidates to their hiring managers. The recruiter may not make a hiring decision but is influential in choosing who gets invited to interview.

Resume Optimization in 5 Steps

Now that you know why it matters, I’m going to tell you how to prepare your resume in 5 steps to make you stand out.

1) Print the job description

What I recommend to job seekers is to print the job description and read it aloud. Next, ask yourself what the recruiter is looking for and how will they find it when they have a lot of resumes to go through. Now, take a highlighter and highlight those words and phrases.  Recruiters are generally asked to find candidates based off of hard skills (tangible skills such as experience with a particular software or a unique named skill set, such as accounting) and soft skills (things like being team-oriented or being organized).

2) Insert keywords into your resume (multiple times)

Now take those keywords and put them in your resume if they are not there already.  I recommend finding multiple places to insert them.  Typically, I find it helpful to put them in a breakaway skills section under the objective summary and build them into each work experience where you used them. Including keywords multiple times will help increase your “relevancy score” according to the computer, and it is also what the recruiter will first scan for. But remember, your goal is to optimize and present your experience as favorably as possible–not to trick the recruiter by misrepresenting your experience or stuffing your resume with keywords.

3) Update your objective summary

Many recruiters skip right past this bit on the first read through.  That’s because it often boils down to under-qualified job seekers trying to talk their way into a job or job seekers saying everything that they say in their resume again…except in paragraphs as opposed to bullets. Use the objective summary to specifically call out this job that you’re applying for and make it a true summary of why you are the best qualified candidate for this role.  Additionally, use this section to address any concerns that a recruiter may have that might get you screened out without your providing further explanation: for example, returning to the workforce after a long work hiatus or applying for a job from a different state (here at Peak we work predominately with local candidates or those who have already moved to the area).

4) Move pieces of your resume around

In my jobs, our clients are typically more focused on direct experience as opposed to education.  When a candidate sees that there is no education requirement and yet puts their education front and center, it simply slows down my eyeballs from getting to the part of their resume that’s relevant to the job.  Again, put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter and think what is important and then figure out how to put it on the first page or as close to it as possible.  Also, relevancy score is often affected by how close the desired keywords appear to the top of the page.

5) Remove/minimize extra content

Many, many job seekers have a notion that they have to have a resume that is one or two pages long.  (I work primarily in within the public sector within Information Technology staffing and resumes for positions we fill tend to be much longer than this.)  However, I think where this conventional wisdom comes from is recruiters who are used to sifting through hundreds or thousands of resumes for a particular job. This means (theoretically) that the recruiter has to read less content in order to get the gist of a candidate. Having a resume that’s short and sweet is great…if it gets to the recruiter at all. More important is making sure that the resume is specifically targeted to the job using keywords, includes an appropriate objective summary, and is arranged in an order that is relevant. Where you can cut or minimize content is by removing all that extra stuff the job doesn’t call for.  Are you applying for a java developer role but you spent the last 6 months in retail while you went back to school? I don’t need to know about your time working retail except to know what you’ve been doing for the last six months and why you were doing it.

Are you looking for work? Don’t forget to check out our jobs!

 

Best Job Hunting Websites in Austin

Top Job Hunting Websites for Austin Texas

There are a lot of job hunting websites out there.  We often get asked which are the best ones to use? Short answer: all of them.  It is so easy to get your resume multiple places that you might as well.  The bigger task then becomes managing all those resumes and the correspondence you may receive from recruiters.  

Here’s one recruiter’s take on the top job search websites for job seekers to get noticed in Austin, TX.  

ZipRecruiter

ZipRecruiter has taken the hiring market by storm. They aggregate many millions of resumes and are a great starting point for getting recruiters to call you. Also, since ZipRecruiter “scrapes” resumes from other online platforms, it’s possible your resume already has some visibility on this platform.

Indeed

There are a lot of other platforms recruiters use that tie into it. Many Applicant Tracking Systems can already search Indeed and many other commonly used recruiting tools like Ziprecruiter or Mightyrecruiter access it’s immense database effortlessly.  Indeed boasts 200 million unique visitors every month and is used in over 60 countries.

Google Jobs

Known for disrupting marketplaces and aggregating hoards of data, Google recently rolled out an updated job search platform that seeks to solve the problem of the same job being posted multiple places.  Does it work? Usually. This is a great place for discovering jobs posted on other platforms or directly on company websites.

LinkedIn

Increasingly, LinkedIn is being used by recruiters to search for living, breathing resumes.  In the recruiting community, some rely on it so strongly that they’re advocating the discontinuation of the resume  If you know someone — or know someone who knows someone — LinkedIn can be a valuable networking tool. You can draw extra attention to your resume when you connect with a contact and/or send them a personal message through the LinkedIn platform. A LinkedIn profile can direct the viewer to specific credentials and expertise, and often the most regular users of the site are those who are currently employed but entertaining other options.

Glassdoor

Glassdoor wins points for most insights into companies — but, you can find jobs on it too!  Employees past and present are encouraged to post anonymously about their employment experience: including wages, other benefits, work environment, and their personal experience.  As with all online review platforms (*cough* Yelp *cough*), the voices of those who had a bad experience can often drown out the silent majority who had a good or fine experience, but Glassdoor does seek to mitigate this by collecting as many reviews as possible.  Still, take what you read with a grain of salt and use Glassdoor to get an idea of what you’re walking into with a company.

Work in Texas

WorkInTexas.com may not be the most user-friendly interface but you will often be required to create a profile if you’re filing for unemployment benefits in Texas.  Don’t think this tool can’t be valuable, though. Your career advisors will use it to help match you up with potential jobs, and recruiters like me peruse it regularly for candidates that have recently joined the job market and may not be visible on other platforms yet.  Also, since many job seekers do not fill out complete profiles, WorkInTexas.com provides a unique opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

If you’re looking for work in Texas, don’t forget to send your resume to Peak Performers!

Master your elevator pitch

Tips for crafting an elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is a 30 second (or less) speech meant to pique the interest of a prospective employer.  30 seconds is not a lot of time but can be a great way to grab someone’s attention to learn more about you. Here are tips to have a killer elevator pitch:

Clarify your job target.

Describe your field and the type of job you’re pursuing.  The best job applicants know what they’re applying for and tailor their pitch to the position.

Tailor the pitch to them, not you.

It is important to remember that the people listening to your speech will be listening for “what’s in it for me,” so be sure to focus your message on their needs. Use benefit-focused terminology so that an interviewer can see you have the experience and skills to make an immediate positive impact on the business.

Put it on paper.

Write down everything you would like a prospective employer to know about your skills, accomplishments, and work experiences that are relevant to your target position. Next, remove extraneous details that detract from your core message. Continue to edit until you have just a few key bullet points or sentences. The goal is to interest the listener in learning more, not to tell your whole life story. A good rule of thumb is that a person can say about 150 words in one minute so try to keep your pitch to 75 words or less.

Format it.

A good pitch should answer three questions: Who are you? What do you do? What are you looking for?

Read your pitch out loud.

The best editing you can do is to hear how it sounds out loud.

Practice, practice, practice (then solicit feedback).

Rehearse your pitch in front of a mirror or use the recording capabilities of your mobile device, so you can see and hear how you sound. Continue to fine tune your pitch until it no longer sounds rehearsed. When you are satisfied with your pitch, try it out on a few friends and ask for honest and constructive feedback.

Nail it with confidence.

The best-worded elevator pitch in the world will fall flat unless it is conveyed well. When you give the speech, look the person in the eye, smile and deliver your message with a confident, upbeat tone.

Looking to get your foot into the elevator door?  Peak Performers offers a wide variety of temporary staffing opportunities.  Whether you’re an experienced professional looking to shift into a new role or a new job seeker seeking to start your career, temporary positions can be a great way to get started.

6 Tips for Resume Writing

Your resume gets you the interview . . .  you get the job!

Resume writing can be a long process with lots of conflicting advice.  As a recruiter for Peak, a staffing agency in Austin, I’d like to share some of our recommendations and then also share tips from other top websites. One thing that recruiters and hiring authorities agree on is that the purpose of your resume is to provide a snapshot of your experience and skills with an emphasis on how they relate to the job you want.

Tailor your resume.

This can be hard, especially if you are submitting your resume to a lot of different places. Making your resume specific to the job really does help it jump out to recruiters.  Are you applying for an Administrative job?  You need to say explicitly how you’ve worked in similar roles before or had experiences in different roles that exposed you to similar environments.  Your resume should include relevant experience like answering the phone, responding to customer questions, generating reports, coordinating schedules, etc.  Are you applying for a technical role?  Be detailed about the kind of technologies you know and experience you’ve had.

How long should it be?

This varies. On the Information Technology side of things, I look at a lot of highly technical candidates. An IT professional’s resume should reflect the technologies they’ve worked with and the environment—it’s not uncommon for me to see 5-10 page IT resumes. On the Office Professional side of our business, resumes are being reviewed for less technical roles and successful applicants will focus on experiences but also keep it briefer, around two pages in length.  Regardless, I recommend that job seekers build multiple versions of their resumes of varying length and details to submit depending on the job and the organization.

Make it readable but not ostentatious.

Remember tip #1? Tailor your resume.  We work with state agencies and many are more conservative in the kinds of resumes they’re looking for.  They’re screening for experience and hard skills first and will get to know you during the interview.  On the other hand, if you’re applying to work for an ad agency, your tailored resume should probably be flashy.  Know your audience and write to that audience.

Don’t date your experience or credentials.

It can be tempting to go all the way back in your work history, especially if you’re a late career job seeker. However, conventional wisdom holds that you do not need to date experience in your resume that is older than ten years. If you possess relevant but dated experience, include it in an ‘other relevant experience’ section omitting dates. Note: also remove graduation/completion dates from schools/training that you have attended.

Avoid unnecessary personalizing details.

We recommend not disclosing anything in the resume that is overly identifying in a personal, non-job relevant way.  No photos of you, your spouse/partner, your kids, your pets.  Avoid mentioning your political affiliation, your religion, your heritage, your favorite ice cream flavor…just ask yourself if it’s necessary for the hiring manager to see this side of me on paper?

Read it out loud.

Ready to hit the submit button?  Take an extra ten minutes to read your resume out loud.  You are your own best editor and reading your resume aloud will help you catch awkward phrasing, extra words, and sometimes even misspellings.

Was this helpful?  You can read our other two articles on resume writing (Professional email address resume tips) and (What’s in a name? resume advice).  Ready to send us your tailored, pitch-perfect resume?  You can do so online.

Don’t just take our word for it.  Many recruiters have different opinions on this subject.  Here are some tips from Monster and here’s what Glassdoor has to say.

Sneak Peak: Featuring Darwin Hamilton

Welcome to the inaugural post of Sneak Peak, an on-going series highlighting the career path of one of our former associates – how they got started, what they’re doing now and what advice they have for current job seekers in Austin.

 

Our Peak recruiters ran into Darwin Hamilton recently at a local community meeting. In a city becoming synonymous with gentrification and displacement, Mr. Hamilton is a 5th generation Austinite. He is also an active volunteer, community leader and board member for several local civic organizations. Darwin was gracious enough to share a glimpse of his journey in his own words.

 

How did you first hear about Peak Performers?

In March of 1998, I was referred to Peak Performers by a case worker with Project RIO of the Texas Workforce Commission. He mentioned that with my skills and resume, Peak Performers might be able to offer temporary job placement with the State of Texas.  

What was your first assignment?

My first assignment was with the Crime Victims’ Compensation Program at the Office of the Attorney General as a Data Entry Operator assisting their accounting department with filing records and mail merging address labels for benefit letters to claimants.  My contract was originally for 90 days, but it kept being renewed. I used my time on that assignment to teach myself 10-Key by touch, update my knowledge of Microsoft software applications, and gain viable office skills and on the job work experience to meet minimum qualifications for Admin Tech classification positions the state had available with the Attorney General’s Office.

What are you doing now?

Today I’m a Senior Accountant III and interim lead of Accounting & Finance – Internal Operations Division of the State Office of Risk Management.  I began working for this agency in May of 1999 as an Accounting Clerk.  It is where I made my career and this May will be 18 years that I’ve spent working for the same agency.

What advice would you give to current job seekers?

The advice I would give current job seekers is to never give up hope, and to be confident in your capabilities and potential. Use every assignment opportunity to do your very best and build a rapport and social capital with some of the people you work with because those very people may one day advocate for your permanent employment with a state agency.

Thank you, Mr. Hamilton, for sharing part of your journey with us. We’re grateful for your presence and service in the community, and we wish you all the best in your continued career with the State of Texas.

Peak Performers is Austin’s preferred staffing and recruiting firm for contract jobs with State of Texas government agencies. As a non-profit, we also give job placement priority to candidates with a disability. To learn more about our company, please visit our website.

Cover photo is used by permission from Texas Advocates for Justice and Grassroots Leadership.
[fbcomments]