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.
5 Tips to 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.
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!
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) Network and use 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!
For many of us, growing up is a time of exploring ideas and our relationship to life – to others around us and the universe in which we live. It’s a big and complex universe with an enormous number of choices to be made. Many of us spend the first 25+ plus years of life just figuring out which choices will aid our survival the most (and which ones are most harmful).
Most schools emphasize getting to college as soon as High School is done and that often means entering the full time workforce at the age of 22, 23 or later. And it can be a big parental (and personal) disappointment when you discover that you actually dislike the kind of work for which you have been trained – at enormous cost. And if you graduate with debt the shock and disappointment can be personally devastating.
How can you know what you love to do, until you do it?
So finding the job, the work you love, is a bit tricky. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem. How can you know what you love to do, until you do it? You may find that even the greatest job at the best company in the world can send you into your pillow crying if your boss is mean. Or you may find the menial tasks of your chosen profession drive you to a boredom not experienced since Middle school.
The days of going to work for one employer in one city, in one trade or profession are gone. The odds are very good that you will not work any one place for 30 years.
Job sampling, and temporary work, in today’s “gig” economy is the most beneficial way for you to find out:
Where you want to work
What kind of work you really enjoy
How your skills can be best deployed to help an employer
How and where you get the most personal job satisfaction.
Work is no longer just about the paycheck
For the first decade of working, I had no idea what kinds of jobs I loved, so I sampled multiple jobs, employers, and job types. From highly technical and precise map making, to highly imprecise and social sales jobs.
Prior to creating Peak Performers, I had jobs in…
A car wash, making dirty cars clean (until the next time it rained)
Mapping possible hydroelectric dam locations
Selling Persian, Turkish and other exotic rugs and expensive carpets
Selling electronic stereo equipment and home electronics
Mapping the back side of the moon
Analyzing the right level of staffing for large plywood manufacturing plants
Grinding steel plates in a machine shop (that lasted one day)
Selling insurance and annuity products to elderly people
Helping people with disabilities develop work skills
Helping minority and women owned small businesses get government contracts
Helping low income and minority workers get re-trained and placed into new careers
Helping older workers get trained to change occupations and helping minority youth access the workforce
I finally settled on helping people with disabilities develop work skills as my ideal type of work. That was after having 15 jobs! Some lasting years and some only months.
To give another example: our family dentist began his post-university career as an electrical engineer. He is a highly social person who likes talking to patients. Electrical engineering was not a good fit, to say the least.
Finding What you Love
No one really knows what they LOVE to do until they have done some various things.
No one really knows what they LOVE to do until they have done some various things. Employers are no longer expecting you to give them your whole life and they are no longer guaranteeing you a lifetime job. That’s a good thing for people seeking a well-balanced, happy and prosperous life because you don’t want to commit for the next 30 years either.
So, looking at the reality of today’s job market, all jobs are, in effect, temporary. And you as a candidate can make the best of this opportunity to look around and sample different jobs, in different sectors for different employers until you find the job you LOVE.
The whole box of chocolates might look inviting, but there will be one in the box that’s better than all the others. It’s up to you to find it.
-Charlie Graham, founder and CEO of Peak Performers
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.
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.
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.
Passed by Congress in 1990, and eventually signed by President George H.W. Bush, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the nation’s first comprehensive civil rights law addressing the needs of people with disabilities, prohibiting discrimination in employment, public services, transportation, telecommunications, and many other spheres of civil society.
The legislation provided many of the civil liberties and protections of the Civil Rights Act to people with chronic medical conditions. Prior to the ADA, job seekers with noticeable disabilities were very often dismissed for certain positions due to the erroneous perception that they could not perform the tasks at hand. It would be naive to say that workplace discrimination no longer exists, but it would also be remiss to discount the significance of the ADA.
Of all the obscure national days to celebrate, this is certainly one not to miss. And in honor of the landmark legislation, we created this infographic to highlight the impact it’s had on all of us.
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.
LaunchPad Job Club
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 do not pay us to write nice things about them.
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.
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.
LPJC meets every Friday and are transitioning back to in-person events with a virtual option. Newcomers are encouraged to arrive by 9:30 for orientation, and the main agenda starts at 10:00 AM.
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.
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. Many of the attendees are IT professionals.
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.
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.
Job Seekers Network
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.
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.
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.
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.
Welcome to Peak Performers! As a nonprofit, we’re also driven by the mission to create a new standard of employment for qualified applicants with a disability.
We’ve compiled some information to help you know what to expect at your interview. If you haven’t submitted your resume to be reviewed by our recruitment department, you can do so by clicking here or you can apply for one of our many openings.
After You Apply and Following Up
We follow up with candidates who align with a current opening or anticipated future opening. We typically follow up via some mixture of phone, email, and text messages. Candidates who are responsive to our recruiters tend to move through our process faster. And candidates who apply for positions that they’re qualified to do are more likely to get contacted.
We do not have a chance to talk to everyone who applies. However, you can always follow up on the status of your application by calling us at (512) 453-8833 and asking to speak with a recruiter or email email@example.com.
Since COVID-19, our interviews are done almost entirely via phone. Special accommodations, such as video chat or in-person interviews, may be requested on a case-by-case basis. After the initial interview with Peak Performers, you may be asked to interview with the client as well.
When appearing in person or on video chat, we recommend dressing to impress and being prepared for a professional interview. We are committed to using a fair and standard set of interview questions for each candidate. While we cannot guarantee job placement, our team works hard to create the best match for you and the agency clients we serve.
For all candidates, we recommend you thoroughly read the job description and reflect on your own past experiences and how they correlate with the position.
During our registration process, you’ll be asked if you have a disability or chronic medical condition. We understand that this can be sensitive information and many people are reluctant to discuss their disability or medical condition. The answer you provide is confidential. At our company, we recognize that disabilities have little to no bearing on an individual’s skills and capabilities. In fact, we give a job placement priority to qualified candidates with a chronic medical condition.
Skills Assessments and Application
Following your Peak interview, you may be asked to complete a set of computer-based skills assessments. These can be done on your own computer/technology and on your own time. These evaluations are important to help us find the right match for each position. If you’re not satisfied with your test results, we also offer free tutorials that can be completed at home. When you feel more confident, you can schedule to re-test and we’d be happy to use your best set of scores.
Our application can be completed completely online. You will be asked to complete an application prior to starting on an assignment.
We are conveniently located in a commercial and residential development known as The Triangle, just off of North Lamar Boulevard. If you come at lunchtime, we’re auspiciously situated next door to Hopdoddy. Our office is directly across the street from a five-story parking garage. There is free, accessible parking on the street and in the garage. We’re also conveniently located near stops for several major bus routes, including the 1, 801 and 803.
You will probably only be asked to come into our office if you are selected to start an assignment and are local to the area. In these circumstances you may be asked to come in to complete I-9 paperwork.
Welcome to Sneak Peak, our on-going series highlighting the career paths of our former associates – how they got started, what they’re doing now and what advice they have for current job seekers in the great city of Austin, Texas.
One of our staff recently reconnected with Tammy over lunch. She is a gifted coordinator and administrative professional with a knack for getting things done. Tammy has the energy to consistently take on new projects, and despite having had no prior office experience, she has built a successful career with the State of Texas. She was generous enough to share a glimpse of her career journey in her own words.
How did you first hear about Peak Performers?
After 16 years of work in the retail industry, I wanted to change my career path, but I wasn’t sure how to transition my skill set. A roommate suggested I connect with Peak Performers and try working as a temporary contract worker to see how I would enjoy office work.
What was your first assignment?
My first assignment was an Administrative Assistant II with the Texas Department of Human Services. The people were great, and I found out that I enjoyed the office environment. I made sure to exhibit good working habits and used every opportunity to learn all I could about the agency. That temporary placement was a strong foundation for my career in state government.
What are you doing now?
While the agency has experienced a few transformations, I have remained within Health and Human Services for the past 17 years. I am currently the Advisory Committee and Outreach Specialist for the Early Childhood Intervention program.
What advice would you give to current job seekers?
Each assignment is one step toward reaching your dream. Be committed to the work, be willing to accept new opportunities, be accountable, and be flexible to the changes that will appear on your path. Appreciate the opportunities, both big and small, and use them to develop and build skills to enhance your resume. Give your best to every assignment and never stop investing in yourself.
Thank you, Tammy, for sharing part of your story with us. We wish you all the best in your continued career with the State of Texas.
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. recently at a local community meeting. In a city becoming synonymous with gentrification and displacement, Darwin 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, Darwin, 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.
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. Also, many job fairs have moved online with Covid-19–that said, you should still prepare for them the same way you would with in-person networking events.
Here’s how to make the most of your next event:
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.
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 (even if it’s virtual). 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 people’s contact information 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!