Virtual Interviews: Tips for Jobseekers and Employers

11 Tips for Virtual Interviews

Virtual interviews have become increasingly common, including with state government agencies in Austin, TX. Before COVID-19, Peak Performers had been transitioning to conducting mostly virtual interviews because of their convenience for all parties. Now, living with the virus, you will find most employers, including Peak Performers, are conducting their interviews via phone or video chat or some combination of the two. Let’s look at some tips for both jobseekers and employers:

  1. Treat it like a normal interview. It’s important to take all interviews, regardless of how they are conducted, with the same level of seriousness. Preparation includes: studying before you interview (jobseekers should research the organization, employers should re-read the candidate’s resume), getting plenty of rest the night before, being well fed before the interview, and cleaning/dressing yourself professionally
  2. Mark your calendar. Prior to the event, make sure that you are prepared to do the interview. You should send out or respond to calendar invites to let the other party know it’s really happening. As an additional courtesy, you can send an email expressing your excitement and providing the other party with another means to contact you if there is connection trouble.
  3. Check technology. Test out the technology to make sure you are set-up and ready to go. If possible, make a test call to a friend or family member. In particular, you should make sure that your webcam and microphone work.
  4. Manage noise. Find yourself a quiet room in your home (not outside). Sounds like a dog barking, garbage disposal running, or someone playing music in the next room may not be something you notice but your interviewer probably will. If you’re concerned about background noise, wear a headset or earphones.
  5. Manage lighting. Find a room with good natural light when possible. Avoid sitting with your back to a window as this tends to turn you into a silhouette. Use overhead lights when natural light is unavailable or insufficient.
  6. Adjust your webcam. Adjust the angle of your webcam so that your head is centered in the frame and the camera clearly shows both your shoulders. Sit so you are directly facing the camera.
  7. Manage interruptions. Don’t forget to silence your phone and computer so it doesn’t interrupt you. Additionally, put a sign on your door and let household members know that you will be interviewing. If interruptions do happen during the interview, such as a child coming in to interrupt you, mute your microphone, deal with the situation patiently, thank the other party for their patience, and return to the interview. We’re all human and working under unusual circumstances—do what you need to do and then get back to it.
  8. Take notes. For employers this is really important, especially if you’re interviewing multiple candidates and need to recall who is who. Jobseekers should also have a pen and paper handy to take note of their interviewer’s name, email, and phone for follow up.
  9. Speak clearly. Remember to talk slower than you might do in person, especially if you are conducting a phone interview. Pause before answering a question to think about it and avoid, when possible, excessive filler words. You want to sound thoughtful and communicate clearly.
  10. Smile often. Remember to smile often, even if you are doing a phone interview. A smile brings a natural enthusiasm to your voice and is particularly important with a video interview.
  11. Look at the camera, not the screen. Finally, when doing a virtual interview, look into the camera as much as possible when talking. This gives the perception of eye contact during the interview.

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

Note: currently job fairs are suspended due to outbreaks in the COVID-19. The workforce centers are available via appointment only. This article will be updated when the job fairs are back in session. In the meantime, this link gives you a quick jumping off point to find services and get help.

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)

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.

NEW! 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.

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.

Additional Job Seeking Resources

Here is a list of common 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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Need Help?

Recruiter Open Office Hours: In an effort to continue to assist the job seeking community, Peak Performers is now offering digital open office hours once a week with recruiter Myles Wallace. Having trouble with your resume or want to know who is hiring in Austin right now? Thursdays 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. (subject to change due to scheduling). These sessions are completely free and open to the community so drop by for 10-15 minutes to ask your burning recruiter questions. Sign up online for next week’s session! https://forms.gle/zSCm2z1wgPLbMziR8

So…What Do You Do?

Focus Your Job Search

This article is Part 1 in a three-part series about focusing your job search. Stay tuned for our next installment, coming next month!

Part 1: 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. And 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.”

So Many Questions!

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?”

They say:

Entry-level job seeker: I can do anything!

Experienced job seeker: I can do everything!

Everyone Else: Whatever you want. I just need a job!

I get it…but I can’t help you know yourself. Before ever talking to a recruiter you should have an answer for these questions. 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

What do I 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.

You don’t need to get as granular as defining your job title, but you do need to narrow it down to a few things you want to do. For example, if I wasn’t working at Peak Performers I would enjoy:

  • B2B or technology sales
  • Digital marketing
  • Starting a board game company

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. Go ahead…I’ll wait.

Here’s what I wrote:

What I want: Business Development / Recruiting

What can I 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. Here are some of mine:

  • Email marketing
  • Search engine optimization
  • Pay per click marketing
  • Direct to consumer and retail sales
  • Sourcing government opportunities
  • Writing requests for proposals and/or business proposals
  • Technical recruiting
  • Writing fun content like this!

By the way, 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.

Guess what: 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.

What I can do: Sales / Marketing / Recruiting

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. Here’s mine:

  • A company where I can directly help other people
  • A company where I can make the world a better place
  • A company within a 30-minute drive
  • A company that has windows visible from my desk from which I can look out
  • A company that is open with communication and feedback

In. Three. Words. Just three. Write them at the top of that resume!

What place I want: Austin / Positive / Sunshine

What do I 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. Again, here’s my list:

  • 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.

What I expect: Autonomy / Compensation / Balance

Congratulations!

I’m sure up to this point you have followed my instructions very, very carefully. I have every confidence that your resume now has 12 words written on top. Right?

Here’s mine:

Business Development /Recruiting
Sales / Marketing / Recruiting
Austin / Positive / Sunshine
Autonomy / Compensation / Balance

This word list gives you a distilled look at what I’m looking for in a job, as well as a list of what I should present on my resume for best results. Now the real work begins.

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.

Respect Your Time

There’s an even more important reason you wrote down those 12 words. You need to make sure that all of your job searches focus on all or most of these words. You should not waste your time with “maybes.” In recruiting, when we look at your resume and think, “hmmm maybe,” that means no. That means we’ll put it off to the side and then forget about it because we’ll eventually find the resumes to which we say, “Yes, yes, YES!”

Getting to Who

You remember Who? Who remembers you and misses you dearly. It’s not that recruiters and HR managers don’t care about Who…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.

The interview is where you get a chance to show off your “Who.” I could tell you that I love to bike ride, I’ve traveled all over the world, I design board games, and I love to swing dance. You’ll get to know me as a funny, social guy who loves puns. Get to the interview by first answering “What.” If you answer correctly, the interviewers will love the “Who.”

Dude, where’s my job? Job seeking advice for recent grads!

Taking the next big leap: into the work world

So you’ve graduated—now what?  Maybe you’ve moved out on your own or maybe you’re looking to.  Maybe you’ve already got your foot in the door with an organization, or maybe you’re bussing tables to make ends meet.

Fear not—employers are looking for energetic and enthusiastic young people like you who are ready to change the world! And there are tons or opportunities out there for the eager recent grad.  

Here are 5 tips to help you get started:

  1. Start somewhere: it may not be your dream job right away, but it helps get you there.  Every job you get from making hamburgers to answering phones teaches you something about yourself and about your talents.  Don’t be afraid to try something new and make professional contacts along the way! (PS: Peak is a great place to start in entry-level professional positions.)
  2. Be flexible: chances are you’re young and mobile.  Take advantage of that. Your first or second job may be located on the other side of the country or maybe even in a different one—sounds like a fantastic adventure! Besides asking yourself when can you start…maybe ask yourself where you can start?
  3. More jobs offline:  You may spend most of your time online but your future employer may not.  Have you thoroughly researched a company before applying there? Have you looked for personal referrals and people who might know people?  Have you networked with anyone besides through Linkedin?
  4. Always follow up: even if you don’t end up taking a job after an interview, give the hiring manager the courtesy of a personal phone call or email to thank  them following an interview or offer. Be grateful for every opportunity whether it lands a job or not.  Always be positive, and leave the door open for future opportunities.
  5. Avoid job hopping: even if you don’t like your job, try to resist the urge to “job hop.”  A prospective employer may be less likely to consider you for a new position if they perceive that you are less committed and dedicated for the long-term.
  6. Pick yourself back up: it’s possible you will fall flat on your face or find yourself in a job that’s a terrible fit for your skillset.  Take note, learn from the experience, and move on. Your first job will likely not be your last—but you’re sure to learn a lot along the way!

Did you know we’re always hiring at Peak?  Have you read about what we do?  Start your career with Peak Performers by sending us your resume.

Best Job Hunting Websites in Austin

One Recruiter’s Opinion: Best Job Hunting Websites for Austin Texas

By Myles Wallace, Technical Recruiter for Peak Performers

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.  

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

#1 Monster – A long time industry standard, Monster continues to be on every recruiter’s bookmark bar.  This is often the first place I look given the robust search tools available and often a place that many professional job seekers will automatically put their resumes.  Monster allows you to upload your resume as a pdf, Word document, or from a Dropbox or Google Drive file. Monster will also help you create a job searching profile right on their website.  Monster is often compared with Indeed or Careerbuilder and is just one of those job hunting websites you will probably end up using.

#2 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.

#3 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 (I don’t think we’re there yet.)  Nevertheless, if you know someone — or know someone who knows someone — LinkedIn can be a valuable 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.

#4 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.

#5 Indeed – Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of Indeed in terms of their pricing structure and the way their resumes often appear to recruiters.  That said, 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. In this recruiter’s book: Monster wins quality, Indeed wins quantity.

#6 Google – 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? Sometimes…kinda sorta. What you may not realize is that you’re already using it in your normal searches in that it aggregates data from multiple other job search sites to help cut out a few steps for the job seeker.

This is just one recruiter’s opinion, but hopefully it helps those who are looking for a job. The good news is that there are many valuable tools out there to help you find a job!

Over 50? Looking for a job?

5 Tips for Job Seekers over 50

It’s hard finding a new job or transitioning careers, especially when you might be thinking more about retirement.  Things can be extra challenging these days competing with tech savvy millennials who will work for lower wages and can relocate easily—however your future is still bright!

Here are 5 tips to compete in the job market!  (By the way, we’re always hiring at Peak!)

  1. Stay positive, stay current: Employers can sense energy and enthusiasm—they appreciate perspective but don’t want someone stuck in the past.  Make sure to stay positive and in the present both on paper and in person.  Remember that you want to highlight your past and not live in it.
  2. Get techie: Realistically, most of your work will be done on a computer from now on.  Most likely you already use a computer on a daily basis but maybe it’s time to learn some new skills.  It’s likely in your new job you will be using Google Docs, Quickbooks, Salesforce, or another cloud-based, collaborative application–so maybe it’s time to do some research and familiarize yourself with the software currently prevalent in your career field.
  3. Update your resume: Have you been in one job for ten years?  Twenty?  Probably time to update your resume.  Did you know that your local library may have resume writing classes?  Have you looked at resume writing tips online?  Also, don’t forget to tailor your resume towards each job you apply for.
  4. Link up—Linkedin: Linkedin is not only a great way to look for jobs but also to reconnect with former colleagues and friends in the field.  Many of your best job leads will come from personal referrals.  So tighten up that resume and get online to connect.
  5. Leverage your experience: you’ve been there and done that.  Don’t forget to show it on your resume and talk about it in the interview.  Most employers value experience, perspective, and a long list of things you’ve done.  While ideal resumes should be tailored specifically to the job you’re looking to get, don’t be afraid to point out all the ways you’ve changed the world!

By the way, have you heard about our mission at Peak?  Do you think you might be a Peak Performer?  Send us your resume!

A recruiter’s review of 3 job clubs in Austin

Looking for work is hard. It’s even harder if you try to do it alone.

The job club model is designed to utilize the collective power of a group to help job seekers find and keep employment opportunities. Each group tends to have their own culture and flare, but they all typically include weekly meetings, networking, resource sharing and guest speakers who provide a wealth of information on the job search process.

Our recruitment team benefits from staying connected to various job clubs in Austin, and we thought we’d share some insider information on our three favorite groups in the area.


Background

According to the group’s official website, the Launch Pad Job Club (LPJC) was “created in 2001 and was facilitated by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The job club was formed to support the thousands of unemployed tech workers who were displaced by the Dot Com bust.” During the last recession, attendance grew upwards of 300 weekly attendees. These days there are typically 60-80 job seekers and volunteers.

Full disclosure: Peak Performers is a sponsor of LPJC, but they did not pay us to write nice things about them. We actually paid them.

Atmosphere

It’s impossible to talk about this group without mentioning Kathy Lansford Powell. She founded and has galvanized the group since its inception. Her energy and enthusiasm have trickled down throughout the volunteers and programming alike. We’ve found that this tends to be a more experienced crowd with a wide range of skills and backgrounds. While the membership is professional and serious about the job search, the meetings tend to be fairly casual and light-hearted. You’ll want to stay alert though — recruiters often visit the meetings and lurk in the crowds.

Highlights

While there are several other job clubs around Austin, the LPJC can proudly say they were the first in Central Texas. Their signature program is called Leap to Success, which offers the talents of members to area non-profit organizations for free, short-term projects. This is a great way for job seekers to keep their skills fresh, increase their network and feel good about giving back to some incredible organizations in our city.

How to get connected

Contact   Website  Facebook  LinkedIn  Twitter   YouTube

Meetings

LPJC meets every Friday, typically at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex in East Austin. Newcomers are encouraged to arrive by 9:30 for orientation, and the main agenda starts at 10:00 AM and usually lasts until noon.


Background

Like many groups across the country, the roots of what is now HiredTexas sprang up following the recession in 2008. It originally began as a career assistance group but has since grown into a full-service job club offering learning opportunities, job search assistance, peer support and a wealth of community connections. A full narrative of the group’s history can be found here.

Atmosphere

HiredTexas has a family-like and hospitable atmosphere, and new members are quickly welcomed and encouraged to get involved. The “5 pieces of inspiration” shared by the group facilitator help set the tone for a week of motivated job hunting. There is also a potluck networking lunch that occurs the second Tuesday of each month. HiredTexas meets in a church building, but there is no direct religious component to the programming.

Highlights

The group recently revamped their website, and we’re big fans of the clean look and updated content. They offer an abundance of resources, including unique forums designed to meet the needs of an evolving workforce. The personal marketing support forums include a Career Assessment, Marketing Plan, Resume, LinkedIn profile and picture, and Interviewing. Forums for Networking Effectively, Informational Interviewing, and Negotiating the Offer are in also development. They also offer free classes on Computer Fundamentals and the Microsoft Office Suite products. If you’re in need of motivation, you may benefit from joining a Career Action Team to keep your job search accountable.

How to get connected

Contact   Website  Facebook   LinkedIn  Twitter   YouTube

Meetings

HIREDTexas meets every Tuesday from 10 AM until 12:00 PM at Grace Presbyterian Church (Round Rock). The meeting is generally divided into three parts: guest presenter, networking, and various forums.


Background

The Austin Job Seekers Network (JSN) began as a ministry of the Hill Country Bible Church in 2009. Craig Foster is a dynamic and engaged leader, and he has grown the group to involve thousands of participants throughout the years. They are now an independent, non-profit organization offering a comprehensive approach to caring for the whole job seeker. JSN normally runs 90-100+ job seekers and volunteers each week.

Atmosphere

Prior to attending for the first time, our team heard many positive reviews about JSN from job seekers and recruiters alike. The weekly meetings are professional, interactive and full of positive, encouraging energy. Keep in mind that the meetings are hosted in a church building, and there is a clear religious component to the messaging. They are a faith-based group; however, people of all faiths are welcome to participate, and many do.

Highlights

According to a leading job search expert, JSN is considered one of the top 5 job clubs in the United States. The group offers compelling keynote speakers, small group training on a variety of job search topics and workshops on career direction and life calling. Our favorite thing about JSN is that they have a section of the running agenda dedicated to the “donut people.” When someone has good news to share (often in the form of a job offer), they bring a box of donuts to celebrate and offer their good news to the rest of the group.

How to get connected

Contact  Website  Facebook  LinkedIn  Twitter  YouTube

Meetings

JSN meets every Monday morning from 9:00 to 11:30 AM at the Hill Country Bible Church Lakeline on 620 near 183. Newcomers are encouraged to arrive twenty minutes early to sign-in and meet with a coach.


We can’t possibly list all of the resources associated with these groups, so you’ll have to check them out yourself. Each group is free to attend and all are welcome. We’d love to hear your own thoughts and experiences in the comments section below. Have you benefitted from the job club model?

 

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4 tips for job seekers with disabilities

Based on Census Bureau data from 2015, there were an estimated 1.6 million working-age Texans with one or more disabilities. In the same year, Austin was home to nearly 72,000 residents living with disabilities or roughly 8 percent of the city’s population. These are significant numbers, and they likely do not include many invisible disabilities as defined by the ADA Amendments Act (2008).

While the situation is improving, many challenges remain for job seekers with chronic medical conditions in the United States. Discrimination in the workplace, lack of accessibility and inaccurate perceptions are all contributing factors to a disability unemployment rate that is more than twice as high as the general population. Moreover, the unemployment rate is not an ideal metric to gauge the economic participation of people with disabilities, as it does not account for many people who would like to work but are not actively seeking employment.

However, more and more employers are realizing the benefits of hiring a diverse workforce, including people with disabilities. In this day and age, companies need employees who are able to solve problems in unique and creative ways. And candidates with disabilities are often well positioned to think outside the proverbial box.

With more than 22 years of experience putting people with disabilities to work in Austin, we’ve compiled some of our best advice for job seekers with chronic medical conditions.

Consider a public sector job

The Obama administration exceeded their goal of hiring 100,000 people with disabilities during the past several years. With many states and municipalities following, this act alone has undoubtedly contributed to a falling disability unemployment rate over the same time period.

If you’re unable to get a government job directly, you might consider working with a company that does business with the public sector (shameless self-promotion alert). At Peak Performers, we recognize that disabilities have little to no bearing on an individual’s skills and capabilities. Our mission is to find jobs for qualified individuals, especially those with a disability. In fact, at our company, your status as a person with a disability can actually put you at an advantage–when we fill jobs, we give priority to qualified people who have a chronic medical condition.

Expand your network

Shameless self-promotion aside, we’re not the only ones in Austin providing jobs for people with disabilities. We recommend utilizing a variety local and online resources in your job search. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • The Launch Pad Job Club is a networking, support, and job lead sharing organization that aids and supports job seekers in Austin. Looking for work is hard to do alone. The job club model offers free, weekly meetings to network and learn from local experts and job seekers.
  • Workforce Solutions is our regional workforce development system and a partner of the American Job Center network. With three locations in the Austin area, WFS is a one-stop resource for job search assistance and employment-related services in Travis County.
  • If you are new to the workforce or are recently disabled, you might benefit from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) – one of the leading sources of guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues.

Consider when to disclose

The key question for many disabled job seekers is when (or if) to disclose their medical condition to a potential employer. Depending on your individual circumstances, this decision will be different for everyone. However, it’s important to think ahead and be prepared to address any skepticism from a hiring manager.

For people with highly visible disabilities, it is generally recommended to address any accommodations at the outset, so that expectations are set early in the process. Those with invisible disabilities can typically choose whether or not to disclose at all. Many career advice articles suggest that if your disability is not easily noticeable, it’s best not to say anything. Despite legal protection, the sad truth is that workplace discrimination is still a significant reality for people with all types of disabilities.

Know your worth

If and when you do decide to disclose, keep in mind that it’s not necessary to outline your entire medical history. We recommend sharing any accommodations you might need and focusing on how you’re able to contribute to the company. As with any job search process, it’s important to highlight your skills, experience and professional accomplishments. Understanding your worth can go a long way to giving you the confidence to nail the interview. The system might be broken, but you certainly are not.

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5 tips to make the most of your next job fair

Job fairs can either be an incredible networking opportunity or an incredible waste of time. Like most aspects of the job search, thorough preparation and strategic follow-up are crucial to success. Here’s how to make the most of your next event:

Come prepared. Once you find out what companies will be present, do some additional research to help prioritize the ones you’d like to target. Don’t waste your time talking to companies that are obviously not a good fit. Check the company websites for specific job postings you find interesting and apply online ahead of time. It’s always important to update and bring printed copies of your resume or any other materials you might need.

Memorize your stump speech. Remember that you’re indirectly competing with everyone else who attends the event. Tell an honest, but unique story, and prepare to say it over and over again. You’ll want to quickly and clearly communicate who you are, what skills you can offer and some specifics regarding your ideal scenario.

Be a professional. Arrive early to ensure that you’re able to meet with each company you’re targeting. We recommend treating each interaction just as you would a traditional job interview. Dress to impress. Be enthusiastic. Stay engaged. Give a firm handshake. Even though job fairs tend to be more casual than interviews, be careful not to overshare information about your health, personal opinions or political affiliations. And try not to be that person who mulls around and takes all the tchotchkes without making eye contact with anyone.

Make your time count. As you interact with recruiters, try to collect as many business cards as possible. Ask good questions, and try to make small connections with people so you can reference it later when you follow up. If you’re standing in line waiting to talk to a representative, study the company literature or listen to the conversations going on in front of you to glean as much information as you can. It’s also important to be nice to everyone, including other job seekers or event staff. You never know what interaction might make (or break) your next opportunity.

Follow up and follow through. Taking copious notes during (or immediately after) the event will help you organize your next steps. You’ll want to remember names, titles, contact information and any additional instructions on how to follow up. It’s also helpful to jot down any personal connections you make with recruiters (i.e. shared hobbies, sports teams, alma maters) so you can be sure to include this in your follow up correspondence. Send a brief email to each person you met. Here’s a very simple template to get you started:

Subject: From [your full name]: Nice to meet you!

Hi [first name of recruiter],

My name is [your name], and we met today at [recruiting event]. I just wanted to thank you again for sharing your experience and for providing information about your open positions.

As discussed earlier, I’m very excited to explore further opportunities with [company name]. I really appreciated your time and helpful advice.

I’ve also attached my resume for reference, and a few of the projects I mentioned as well. Please let me know if there’s anything else you need on my end. I look forward to connecting again soon!

Best,

[Full Name]
[Phone Number]

And don’t forget to join us on Wednesday, February 1st, for our next internal job fair. For more information, check out our event page here.  If you’re interested in keeping an eye on our open positions, you can also subscribe to updates here.

Email Etiquette: 8 tips for job seekers

Happy Holidays from all of us at Peak Performers! We hope you enjoy a restful and fulfilling season with friends and family.

Don’t take too much time off from your job search, though. According to some career consultants, the holiday season might actually be the best time of the year to get your resume out there. With more people taking time off to relax, you could find yourself facing less competition. To help get you started, we’ve compiled some of our best email etiquette advice, so you can tackle the job hunt with confidence while sipping on your favorite holiday beverage.

  • Practice proper email etiquette. In general, your messages should include full sentences, short paragraphs and detailed information on who you are and the purpose of your correspondence. Avoid all caps, acronyms or slang, emoticons, and unprofessional signatures. Keep the message as concise and to the point as possible. This might all seem obvious, but you’d be surprised.
  • Be overly polite. Keep in mind that email communication can be easily misread, and it’s best to err on the side of formality. Many people try too hard to stand out from the crowd and end up coming across as unprofessional or condescending. It is possible to be both professional and personable.
  • Utilize the subject line effectively. The subject line is one of the most important components of any email message. Make it easy on the reader by clearly and directly reflecting the contents of the message (Jane Smith: Accountant Position is better than Hi!). 
  • Audit your online presence. It’s a good idea to update your LinkedIn profile before you get too far into your job search. For better or for worse, many recruiting software programs automatically identify your social media accounts and add them to your candidate profile. It’s never too late to delete your old Myspace account.
  • Use a professional email address. We recommend an email address that matches the name on your resume. Many companies also use Gmail as their email server, which means you should also make sure you have a professional-looking photo attached to your account.
  • Follow the application instructions. When submitting your application in response to a job posting, remember to read the job description thoroughly prior to jumping in and making a mistake. This can be hard to do, especially when you find that perfect job opportunity. Reading the instructions can save you time, and failing to follow directions is an easy way for decision makers to exclude your resume from consideration.
  • Pause and proofread before sending. Slow down, take a deep breath, read everything, and then read it again. If you’re still unsure about the wording or tone of your message, have someone else take a look at it. Have you ever wanted to un-send a message just after you’ve sent it? Now you can with Gmail’s Undo Send option.
  • Schedule your messages to be sent laterMost studies show that Tuesdays mornings are the optimal time to send emails based on message opening and response rates. Boomerang for Gmail is a simple extension that allows users to write a message and schedule it to be sent at a later time.

So before you send out a slew of networking emails at midnight, you might want to at least update your LinkedIn photo. Don’t end up on a list like this one.