What We Learned by Completing Hundreds of Online Job Applications, Part 1

Here in the Career Center, one of the services we offer is one-on-one assistance with filling out job applications on the computer. Over the years we’ve helped hundreds of people apply for jobs online, and more recently we’ve filmed step-by-step walkthroughs for many common applications. During the course of all this, we noticed certain common threads: confusing features that kept coming up on applications, tricky questions, common mistakes, etc. We decided to create a guide to assist jobseekers with this process. Here then, is the accumulation of our wisdom (Part 1):

Organization

  • Know your employment history, including dates. If the work history you provide is incomplete or incorrect, that will be a major strike against you. If you’re uncertain of your starting or ending dates, find out before you start applying — call the company or your state employment office.
  • Keep track of things with a Job Search Notebook. This will contain all the information you need to complete applications, such as your work history, references, supervisors’ contact info, etc. It will also contain the list of what jobs you’ve applied for where and when, your usernames and passwords, and the other details you’ll need to keep straight. It can be a physical notebook, or a computerized database such as MS Excel or Google Sheets.
  • Have all documents saved on a USB drive or in the cloud. Scan any documents you may need, such as transcripts, certifications, letters of recommendation, etc., and upload them onto a USB drive. Save your resumes and cover letters on this device as well. Alternately, you can upload all of these documents onto Google Drive, MS OneDrive, iCloud, etc.

Resume

  • Every jobseeker should have a resume. Some applications cannot be completed without a resume. Others will use your resume to auto-fill the application so that you don’t have to do everything manually. Take the extra time and effort to make a resume first, and it will save you time and effort down the road.
  • Keep your resume in both PDF and Word format. The MS Word version is for you, so that you can make changes to the document and update it as needed. The Adobe PDF version, which is much harder to make changes to, is the one that you will upload to job applications.
  • Keep the formatting pretty simple. Try to avoid using tables, text boxes, and graphics. They may make your resume look beautiful, but the online application may have trouble reading them, which means your application may not be completed properly.

Creating/Accessing Account

  • You need a functioning email address. Email is the primary method by which employers will contact you, so make sure yours is easily accessible. Make sure you know your password and can check your email anywhere, not just on your phone. (What if the phone breaks?) Do not use someone else’s email address.
  • You have to create a new account for every single company. The application will start by asking you to sign in, which can be confusing – because until you’ve registered with this company, you can’t sign in. If this is your first time applying for that company, look for something that says “Create Account,” “New User,”, etc.
  • Keep track of your login information. Different applications have different security requirements, so you may end up with lots of user ids and passwords. If you don’t remember which password you used for which application, you can’t sign back in, which means you can’t apply for more jobs with that company. So every time you create an account, write it down in your Job Search Notebook, or on your phone’s Notes section.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Written by Lynnette Lee

Book Review: 50 Plus! Critical Career Decisions for the Rest of Your Life

“Age is no barrier”, prolific author and successful CEO Robert Dilenschneider writes. He wants this book to be a guide for 50+ seekers, who are either seeking a new job out of necessity or who are seeking new challenges, because they feel unfulfilled.

how to stay relevant in a changing world

There is a stark contrast in yesteryear’s work force and today’s ever changing kaleidoscope of opportunities. The new landscape is that of frequently changing jobs, many times out of necessity. An employee is expected to add immediate and continued value to the organization.

To stay relevant, Dilenschneider recommends:

  • Develop a five-year (or ten-year) plan.
  • Be technologically able to utilize a computer, phone, tablet, social media, email and texting.
  • Intentionally bridge the age gap. Where applicable assist the younger person by sharing your knowledge and experiences in a casual and informal manner, if receptive.
  • Recognize the younger generation’s need for instant gratification. Young people are often in a hurry.
  • Listen. And listen without judgment. Never betray confidences.
  • Keep up with the latest media, ideology, movies and social movements. If you have been out of the game, get back into it.
  • Determine a focus or specific direction. Set goals and maintain a constant resolve.
  • Take action, then celebrate small and large accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

what to do if you’re being let go

If you see proverbial “hand writing on the wall” that change is imminent, you should, according to Dilenschneider:

  • Be honest at all times.
  • Know your own motives. Try to understand those of other people. And be suspicious.
  • Be respectful. Control your anger.
  • Be aware and protect yourself.
  • Contact supportive friends, family and colleagues, and seek advice from a therapist or job counselor.
  • Always keep your resume updated!
  • Take inventory of your strengths and recognize your weaknesses.

general job-seeking tips:

  • Have a plan A and a plan B.
  • If you lose your job, don’t get bitter, get busy. Rather than accepting defeat, you may launch out and start your own company, or become an independent contractor or consultant.
  • If you have a job but are dissatisfied, you should be developing options.
  • Don’t quit your present job unless you have to. It is easier to get a job if you already have one.
  • Pay attention to changes in your relationship with your supervisor or subordinates and respond in a proactive manner. This may include changing departments or changing companies.
  • Utilize the people in your network. Get them to assist in your job search – ask for their advice and strategize with them
  • When interviewing/networking, make the interviewer feel good about you and great about himself.

communication and interpersonal relations

Since Dilenschneider spent his entire career in communications and public relations, no book of his would be complete without some advice on the topic.

Develop your message: write down 3 major points you want to make. Put together two examples for each point. If you interact with the public, PR should be important to you. Take control of your own message. Building a network in the right way means being willing to go beyond yourself. Follow up. Respond to e-mails. Return your phone calls. Write thank-you notes. Reciprocate and do it quickly. Finally, remember: everyone judges a book by its cover, so make sure you make an excellent first impression as a professional.

This book may be placed on hold through the East Baton Rouge Parish Library website.

Written by Cynthia Payton

December YouTube Video Roundup

The holidays have ended, and a new year has dawned. . .with many people breathing a sigh of relief that 2021 is over. If the past year was a bit of a disappointment for you, think of this as a chance to start fresh and make this year better. And if your goals are to find a better job or improve your career, we can help. Check  out our latest YouTube tutorials:

common job application tutorials playlist

How to Apply for a Job at Jack-in-the-Box

Before you apply for a job, it’s always helpful to know what to expect from the application. In this video, Career Specialist Andre De La Fuente will walk you step-by-step through the process of completing an online job application for fast food chain Jack in the Box.

job interview questions playlist

Ending the Interview

Once you’ve answered all of the interviewer’s questions, you may be tempted to get out of that stressful situation as quickly as possible. But don’t just bolt – the interview isn’t quite finished yet. In this video, Career Specialist Lynnette Lee and Certified Career Coach Anne Nowak demonstrate how to close out an interview properly and make a graceful exit.
This is the final video we’ve planned for the Job Interview Questions playlist, so if you have an interview coming up, we’d recommend watching the whole playlist to be prepared for every type of question. (And if you have ideas for more interview questions you’d like us to cover, let us know at 225-231-3733.)

this month’s spotlight: the Resources for Teens playlist

We’ve recently re-organized our playlists to group certain topics together better and make everything easier to find. One of our new playlists, Resources for Teens, is a one-stop shop for all our teen-centric tutorials. These videos are aimed specifically at helping young adults as they enter the working world and/or transition to college. So far the playlist includes videos on paying for college, writing your first resume, and answering tricky interview questions. If you have ideas for more teen-focused videos, let us know at 225-231-3733.

Written by Lynnette Lee

It’s a Job-Seeker’s Market: Use Your Power Wisely!

For the first time in a very long time (probably for the first time ever for many people in the job market), the tide has turned and power now rests squarely in the hands of the job seeker. In September 2021, 4.4 million employees resigned from their jobs, one of the highest numbers ever. In October 2021, 11 million open jobs were reported. So, it’s no surprise that you see a “help wanted” sign everywhere you look. Supply and demand has shifted and gives you, the job seeker, a lot of power.

Now, don’t go wild, just walk out of your office and tell your boss what you really think of them. While conditions have changed, the old rules still apply.

DO:

  • Still be a good employee. Do not think “they won’t fire me, because they can’t find somebody else”.
  • Take inventory of your skills, values, and what you want out of a job. Now is a good time to switch careers.
  • Skim job ads and ask around your network to see if there are any good openings for you. But do it quietly without your current employer finding out. Make a change if it aligns with your priorities and values.
  • If you change jobs, absolutely negotiate salary, bonus and benefits. This is where you can really take advantage of the dearth of good candidates.
  • Re-negotiate salary and benefits in your current job. Ask for add-ons such as: education stipends, tuition reimbursement, future sabbaticals, etc.
  • Learn new skills. Employers might even be willing to pay for training right now.

DON’T

  • Burn bridges with your old job. So, don’t just quit from one day to the next. Instead, give them notice and let them know why you are leaving (who knows, maybe they will match a competitor’s salary, are willing to adjust your job duties or agree to flexible work hours in order to keep you).
  • Badmouth your employer and/or boss. That is always bad form (and will likely come back to hurt you at some point).
  • Job-hop. It is tempting to keep moving jobs for ever higher pay and might work for a while. But it will look bad on your resume eventually. And as tides will turn back into an employer’s market, this will make you look like an unreliable and unattractive hire in the future.
  • Ghost potential employers. If you schedule a job interview, either show up or cancel the appointment. Don’t just ghost the company. Online application tracking systems have a long memory. This kind of behavior will likely get you barred from being hired there for a while.

Times are great for employees and job seekers right now. But this will inevitably change again. So take advantage of what is possible but don’t burn bridges with bad behavior.

If you need help re-evaluating your career or searching for a new job, the Career Center is here to help. Contact us at 225-231-3733 or at www.careercenterbr.com or check out our YouTube channel at careercenterbr.com/youtube.

Written by Anne Nowak

November YouTube Video Roundup

With the holiday season in full swing, it can be tempting to take some time off from the job search. And no judgment here – everyone needs a break sometimes. But, on the other hand, if you’d like to use your extra time over the holidays to buckle down on your career progression, we’re here to help. Check out these latest videos from our YouTube channel:

Resumes and Cover letters playlist

Should You Put Your Vaccine Status on Your Resume?

Increasingly, many jobs are requiring that all workers be vaccinated. With that in mind, could being fully vaccinated – and advertising that fact on your resume – give you a leg up over other candidates? Or could it hurt your chances with some employers? The answer is. . .it depends. In this video, Certified Career Coach Anne Nowak discusses different job situations and whether including your vaccine status in those situations is a good idea or not.

common job application tutorials playlist

How to Apply for a Job at Chick-fil-A

Winner winner chicken dinner! In this video, Career Specialist Richard Wright looks at the application process for southern fast-food chain Chick-fil-A, showing you step-by-step how to complete their job application.

job search mastery playlist

how to negotiate salary for a new job

In today’s market, lots of people are finding new jobs. But before you accept that job offer, it’s usually in your best interest to negotiate. Negotiating for a better salary, benefits, or bonus could win you hundreds of thousands of dollars over your working life. In this video, Anne Nowak discusses the best salary negotiation strategies for several common situations.

job interview questions for teens playlist

How teens can answer “why do you want to work for us?”

Interviewers will usually ask you why you’re interested in the position – and the right answer isn’t “Because I need a job.” You need an answer that makes this employer feel that this job matters to you and that you will give it your best. Of course, that can be tough to do if this is your first interview. In this video, Career Specialist Lynnette Lee and guest presenter Jessica Budd discuss how you can answer this interview question in a way that demonstrates your passion and commitment.

Written by Lynnette Lee

Become a Skilled Trade Worker with the Industrial Training Initiative

Are you interested in learning a skilled trade that will prepare you to work for local industrial employers? This may be the program for you. 

The North Baton Rouge Industrial Training Initiative (NBRITI) is sponsored by ExxonMobile and Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC). This program provides training, credentials, and job placement for students in four in-demand fields. 

WHICH PROGRAMS ARE AVAILABLE?

  • Electrical – upon successful completion, receive NCCER certifications, Level 1 and Level 2
  • Millwright – upon successful completion, receive NCCER certifications, Level 1 and Level 2
  • Pipe Fitting – upon successful completion, receive NCCER certifications, Level 1 and Level 2
  • Welding -upon successful completion, receive  X-ray certification

HOW LONG ARE THE PROGRAMS?

Each program is 52-weeks long, and classes meet twice per week from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. The program also contains job placement assistance and career fair opportunities for its graduates. 

WHAT SKILLS DO I NEED?

While the program is designed to fully prepare you for a career in your chosen field, successful students will display timeliness, attention to detail, and strict adherence to safety protocols.  

HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE?

Written by Karla Stewart