All posts by Kellie Ziemak

How To Avoid Job Search Fatigue

Have you ever found yourself in job sBlogearch mode eagerly applying for ANY position that crosses your path?

Many of us approach the job search process in a rushed fashion for a variety of justifiable reasons. Financial needs, lack of work satisfaction, and instability, are among popular reasons why job seekers engage in the haphazard job search approach. While this approach may work for some, the statistics are against you. Job seekers who take this haphazard approach may be susceptible to job search fatigue.

Job search fatigue is the decrease in self-confidence caused by lack of employer responses and rejection. Sounds familiar? The good news is job search fatigue can be avoided by systematically tackling the process. The secret is to put more energy in the jobs you really want, and less energy into jobs you do not. Below is a method to job search that can help you avoid job search fatigue and help you gain more control of the process.

The Tier System to Job Search

Write down what you are looking for in your next job?

Reflect on your education, your experience and your skill set. What jobs do you qualify for? You must meet at least 70% of any job qualifications in order to be considered “qualified” for that position.

Do the positions you apply for match your education, experience and skill set?  If not what are you missing?

Mock Interview event draws crowd hungry for pizza—and interview tips!

Interview WorkshopOn June 2nd, the Downtown Campus hosted a Mock Interview event in collaboration with Professor Karen Cassidy’s reading class.

During the event students were split into pairs and given sample job postings, interview question flash cards, and interview evaluations.

After reviewing the job posting, the students would decide who would be interviewed first. The interviewer would then ask the interviewee three questions from the flash cards. If the student being interviewed got stuck, there were tips on the back of the card for assistance. The interviewer asked questions and assessed the interviewee based on a checklist. Once finished with the interview, the students switched places.

After both interviews were completed, each student would tally up their own score naming them “Interview Novice”, “Interview Middle-Man”, or “Interview Expert”.

Students mentioned that while they didn’t think they needed practice interviewing before doing the exercise, they noticed some things about themselves that they want to work on before their next real interview.

Students also said they were more aware of their own strengths after the mock interviews. Interviewing for jobs they may not have been qualified for gave them a chance to identify “transferable skills”, or skills that they gained in a previous experience that could be used in the present position.

If you are interested in brushing up on your interview skills, contact a member of Career Services on a campus close to you or through our online services. Also keep your eye on the Event Calendar for all of the activities happening college-wide:

Turning your passion into cash can takes work, but one current SPC student shares her story.

chbeach_editedChristina MacDonald has always had a passion for animals – in fact, she has three! After years of living in Cleveland working dead-end jobs and volunteer opportunities, she was unsatisfied with the responsibilities of her, while passionate, low-level jobs caring for dogs. She wanted to make a difference. She went back to school, took other odd-jobs to build new skills, and explored what she was meant for, her life’s purpose. After visiting St. Petersburg, Christina decided it’s where she was meant to be. She scrimped, saved, and in six months’ time she had moved to Florida.

In fact, as Christina told her story she recognized that it was that spirit of pushing herself for what she wanted that precipitated this success and will continue her on to more. She is not one that had a strong support system growing up, but she never let that keep her down. While Christina has always pushed herself, she also understands the need for a good network. She credits a lot of people for reaching their hands down to pull her up, but stresses she would have never seen those hands had she not been looking up. One of those hands belonged to her now business partner/investor.

After moving to Florida, Christina enrolled in St. Petersburg college and when a class assignment required that she volunteer, she had no idea where it would lead. Career Services staff member, Dee Mortellaro, saw her passion and drive for dogs – and entrepreneurship! After introducing her to a few community organizations, like The Greenhouse (a program with the City of St. Petersburg designed to help new and existing start-up businesses thrive locally), Christina created a business plan, received 11 certifications, constructed business cards and logo, reserved web space and has recently obtained an LLC for her start-up, Beach Pupps, LLC, a company specializing in dog walks with added perks like baths or runs on the beach. Excited about the new direction of her life, Christina challenges you to look beyond your current surroundings and push yourself to reach your own potential, to follow your own dreams, and to be the person you’ve always wanted to be. She guards against complacency saying that “Everything was impossible until someone did it, don’t settle”.

To read more about Christina’s business, Beach Pupps, LLC, visit their website:

To read more about The Greenhouse and how you can take steps to beginning your own business, please visit The Greenhouse’s website:

Can being an “out-of-the-box thinker” hurt your chances at employment? Employers say yes! Find out why.

shutterstock_82606063How could it be a problem to say that you can “always find solutions to problems” or that you’re an “out of the box thinker”? Everyone says it on their resumes and cover letters right? Well, that’s the problem. These cliché phrases can be a major red flag to employers. But, why?

Well, first off, let’s talk a little about the difference between resumes and cover letters. The Tampa Bay Times wrote an article and defined them as following:

Cover letters: These should be no longer than a few paragraphs. The first should highlight why you are applying and show a direct correlation between your skills and the hiring manager’s needs. Next give specifics as to why you’re a great fit for the job and end with the fact that you are looking forward to hearing from the hiring manager. If you are sending supplementary material with your letter and resume, also indicate that.

Resumes: A resume is a quick look (usually no longer than a page and a half) that “sells” you. It includes your contact information, education, your most recent experience and accomplishments that show how well you are suited for the job, including specifics like money saved for the company, additional customers, or additional revenues. Potential employers are looking for stories that tell who you are and how you can meet their needs.

So why would a clichéd phrase ruin your chances of getting your next job?

  • They show you’re dated.
  • You’re a leader, not a follower.
  • You’re not creative.

What can you do to avoid these clichés? The Tampa Bay Times stresses the art of story-telling. They say that telling a short story (1 – 2 sentences) where you can highlight a major accomplishment in a previous experience will highlight your creativity and leadership abilities in a personal way. Telling a story about saving your company a lot of money or retaining a big client account is something any employer wants to hear about!

To read more about the effects of trite sayings, please read this article by Marie R. Stempinski:

Study Abroad is a great way to see the world and can help you get the career you want after graduation!

image16-300x270Did you know that one in five U.S. jobs is linked to the international trade? Yet, it’s still estimated that these companies lose around $2 billion a year because of employees’ poor cross cultural skills. Establishing positive techniques for multicultural conflict resolution, strong foreign language skills, and effective collaboration skills will enable you to be the worldly candidate that employers are looking for. How do you gain this great experience while still progressing towards your degree?

Study Abroad! St. Petersburg College offers many study abroad programs each semester that are sure to fulfill a class requirement while providing you with an unforgettable international experience.

In addition to St. Petersburg College programs, the National Career Development Association (NCDA) also credits study abroad to establishing cross cultural skills in identifying and communicating your skills, showing employers an enhanced professionalism and work ethic, broadening your methods of problem solving and communication, and working closely with individuals of different backgrounds.

To read more about NCDA’s assessment of the long-term career benefits of study abroad, please check out this article. To learn more about SPC’s own student abroad offerings, please visit their website.

“Do you have any questions for me?” 5 questions employers WANT you to ask!

interviewWe’ve all been there. Throughout the whole interview you fielded questions like a pro – professionalism, intelligence, proper training. You’re the total package! Just as you get to the end, the interviewer asks the dreaded final question: “Do you have any questions for me?”. All of your calculated poise flies out the window and you’re a bumbling mess of “Um” and “Uh” as you try to fabricate a question that will not only show your interest in the company, but also prove your intellect.

Employers are asked all sorts of questions from interviewees; make sure you’re leaving the impression you want to leave. Jeff Haden, a ghost writer for Speaker, Inc., gives you 5 questions for employers sure to knock their socks off!

“What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?”

Great candidates want to hit the ground running. They don’t want to spend weeks or months “getting to know the organization.” They want to make a difference right away.

Plus they want to know how they’ll be evaluated – so they definitely want to understand objectives and expectations.

After this post was published, Roland Ruf emailed with a nice follow-up question. He said, “One of my favorite questions to potential employers is: ‘What are my KPI’s, what are my success criterion, and how will you measure my performance?’

“You wouldn’t believe how many companies haven’t thought about this and can’t provide an answer… and when that happens, I’m no longer interested in the position.”

“What are the one or two things that really drive results for the company?”

Employees are investments, and every employee should generate a positive return on his or her salary. (Otherwise why are they on the payroll?)

In every job some activities make a bigger difference than others. You want your HR staff to fill job openings… but what you really need is for HR to find the right candidates because that results in higher retention rates, lower training costs, and better overall productivity.

You want your service techs to perform effective repairs… but what you really need is for those techs to identify ways to solve problems and provide further benefits — in short, to generate additional sales.

Great candidates want to know what truly makes a difference for your company… because they know helping the company succeed means they will also succeed, on multiple levels.

“What are the common attributes of your top performers?”

Great candidates also want to be great long-term employees. Every organization is different, and so are the key qualities of top performers in those organizations.

Maybe your top performers work longer hours. Or maybe flexibility and creativity is more important than following rigid processes. Or maybe landing new customers in new markets is more important than building long-term customer relationships. Or maybe spending the same amount of time educating an entry-level customer is as important as helping an enthusiast who wants high-end solutions.

Whatever the answer may be, great candidates want to know because 1) they want to know if they fit, and 2) if they do, they definitely want to be a top performer.

“What do your employees like to do in their spare time?”

Happy employees 1) love the work they do, and 2) genuinely like the people they work with.

Granted this is a tough question to answer. Unless the company is really small, all any interviewer can do is speak in generalities.
Even so, great candidates want to make sure they have a reasonable chance of fitting in with the culture — because great job candidates almost always have options.

“How do you plan to deal with…?”

Every business faces a major challenge: technological changes, competitors entering the market, shifting economic trends… there’s rarely a moat protecting a small business.

So while a candidate may see your company as a stepping-stone, they still hope for growth and advancement… and if they do eventually leave, they want it to be on their terms and not because you were forced out of business.

Say I’m interviewing for a position at your bike shop. Another shop is opening less than a mile away. How do you plan to deal with the new competitor?
Or say you run a poultry farm (a major industry where I live): What will you do to deal with rising feed costs?

A great candidate doesn’t just want to know what you think; they want to know what you plan to do — and how they will fit into those plans.

To read more on this article or other posts from Mr. Haden, please visit the LinkedIn blog:

Employers will spend 6 seconds looking at your resume.

MH-CET-2015-preparation-tipsThese days, employers are inundated with resumes (think 200+ resumes PER position!). Usually employers give resumes a 6-15 second glance to see if a candidate is even worth a second look. Career Igniter came up with 5 things to consider when you’re hoping to make it past the skim read.

Make it easy for the online reader. Have you ever been to a website that looks perfect on your computer but when you look at it on a mobile device, it’s almost unusable? Don’t let your resume’s online layout format you out of the job. Your resume should be legible whether the employer wants to print it out or using an online reader.

Add a short branding paragraph at the top. Having a career title or branding paragraph at the top of your resume can serve like a headline on a newspaper. If the reader sees nothing but your branding paragraph (who you really are [in relation to the position]), it should make them want to continue reading.

Tell how you made a difference. Employers aren’t reading resumes to see what you DID in your last job, they want to know what made you GREAT at your job. Your highest achievement at each job should be highlighted early in the description of each previous position.

KEYWORDS. Skim readers (and the software programs they use!) looks for keywords and key phrases. Looking at the job posting, it should be fairly evident what the employer is looking for – THESE are your keywords!

Keep it timeless. Ensure the reader has no idea what your age is. Don’t include dates of any roles more than 15 years ago. Also, unless you are currently pursuing or have recently finished your degree, there is no reason to give a graduation year.

For more information on creating a resume that can make it past the skim read, check out Career Ignite’s article here.

Beginning with the end in mind: How to set career goals that work for you.

careersThroughout your childhood and entire school career, students frequently hear many questions and prompts to choose a career. This is one of the most important decisions you will ever make and with two thirds of working people in jobs they dislike, it’s one worth putting in some time and thought. Although there are no guarantees, About Careers offers the steps you need to take now to set your career goals.

Self-Assessment: Identify your interests, values, skills, and personality traits that will help you narrow your scope towards a desirable career. Think about the work you’ve done in the past – academic and otherwise – what was most satisfying for you? What did you like the best? What skills made you the most successful in doing those things?

Brainstorming Options: Use the Occupational Outlook Handbook ( to scan through different types of careers based on the values most important to you. Once you find an industry that may interest you, keep narrowing your search to define position titles you may be interested in.

Research Options: Once you have a list of careers worth looking into, look for information online. You can use the aforementioned Occupational Outlook Handbook or Google the position. Sites like eHow can provide you with a great step-by-step guide to becoming whatever career you choose. When conducting your research make sure you pay close attention to the growth potential, educational requirements, day-to-day demands of the position. These will all be very valuable in ultimately determining your path.

Job Shadowing: After you’ve narrowed your scope to your desired industry, it’s a good idea to see the industry in action. This is like a grown-up “Take your child to work day” where you schedule in advance with someone currently in the industry to follow them and see their work for a day/hour/week.

Internship: This will give you hands-on experience in the field. Broaden what you view as an internship – volunteer work will achieve the same experience goals.

The Decision: At this point, you should be very ready to make a career goal. If you’re still deciding, seek the guidance of a counselor or adviser at your school or a career counselor in the community.

Don’t forget! Deciding on your career is just the beginning! Now that you’ve chosen what you want to do, get out there and make it happen!

You can find more about setting career goals and other tips from about careers by following this link:

Social media has changed how we search for jobs. “Follow” these skills to get an employer to “like” you!

CommunicationSocial media has definitely changed the game. Through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, employers are sometimes finding employees without ever meeting them in person!

It’s great to make sure that your social media presence is representative of who you want employers to see, but make sure you’re not forgetting about your in-person presence. The National Career Development Association (NCDA) has discovered that employers want the best of both worlds, so they gave us four main points of communication (verbal and non-verbal) that employers are looking for when you meet for an interview.

Introduction. A handshake can say a lot about a person – make sure yours is saying what you want. Also, be sure to follow cues from your employer and use appropriate titles in greeting them.

Eye Contact. With people increasingly having their attention absorbed by whatever the nearest screen, eye contact is a skill employers are sure to notice.

Posture. You’ve probably heard your mom say it growing up: “Sit up straight!” “Keep your shoulders back and firmly planted on the floor!” There’s a reason for her nagging! Exhibiting correct posture shows your audience (in this case, your employer) that you are confident and competent (– without distracting him by a foot tapping).

Dress. You’ve heard the term “Dress for Success” and it’s true. What your wearing is often the very first in-person impression that another individual receives. Make sure your outfit conveys your positivity and professionalism.

To read more about tips on how to ditch the screen and land the job, check out NCDA’s article here.

New, starting this fall session, Weekend College, Clearwater Campus

SPC Weekend College FlyerSPC is proud to announce a new “Weekend College” program starting this August.  Working professionals will be able to earn their Associate of Arts or Associate in Science in Business Administration degree on weekends starting this fall.  Available at the Clearwater Campus, students attending Weekend College will have the opportunity to take courses in various disciplines that lead to the degree.

Students enrolled in Weekend College may have full-time status, earning their degree in two years. Courses are scheduled in various formats to provide students with flexible options for completing their program.  As part of the Weekend College experience, students will have access to a variety of student support services available on Saturdays.

  • Fees are the same as other SPC classes
  • Classes meet on Friday evenings, Saturdays, and Sunday afternoons so you can continue to work full-time and take classes on the weekends
  • Financial aid available to students who are eligible and/or students can use any tuition reimbursement opportunities if your company has them
  • Classes are open to all students

We look forward to providing these expanded learning opportunities for the working professionals of Pinellas County.  The college will offer Weekend College information session on Saturday, July 11th at the Clearwater Campus in ES 104.   For more information or to RSVP online or call 727-341-3400.