By: Pete Ramirez
As the 2021 spring semester comes to a close, Austin Community College is doing all it can to give its graduates the skills to snag the jobs they want. This often-overlooked work is driven by the Career Services Department, which offers free tools and career coaching to any current or former student in need of help navigating the current job market.
“Job postings have increased,” said Trish Welch, Career Resources Director at ACC. “The number of employers who are interested in hiring ACC students has dramatically increased.”
Welch believes the challenges students are currently facing revolve around preparing for employment. Through career coaching and innovative technology, Career Services may be able to help relieve some of the stress that comes along with looking for a job, while improving the chances of an applicant landing an interview.
In the current hiring market, artificial intelligence is heavily relied upon by companies to filter through the thousands of applications they receive. These technologies are programmed to search for keywords within resumes to find solid candidates for the position. Career services’ solution to this problem is Jobscan.
Jobscan is a way for students to optimize their resumes by comparing their resumes against a specific job posting. The platform then awards a score to the resume which indicates if the applicant is a good match for the position.
“We don’t consider that resume complete until it has a score of 85%,” said Skills for Today’s Jobs Director, Pam Fant-Saez. “[With that score], we know that the chances of it getting through to see human eyes escalate way up.”
Fant-Saez said that the platform can do the same with a student’s LinkedIn account to optimize their profile so that it doesn’t slip through the cracks either.
Career Services also offers assistance in preparing for interviews by utilizing another piece of technology: Big Interview. Big Interview allows a student to practice being interviewed by an avatar to alleviate some of the potential pressure of being put in the hot seat by another person.
With each recorded session, the student can continue practicing until they’re comfortable with what is being asked. The questions the avatar asks can also be changed depending on which industry the student is attempting to enter.
“Students don’t realize how amazingly powerful this is,” Fant-Saez said. “And then they get hired in 10 days as opposed to eight months.”
Students interested in improving their job-seeking skills can access these tools by applying to the free, monthly classes Career Services offers, Strategies for Today’s Jobs.
One student who completed these classes and credits them for her success is Gloria Walls. Walls recently started an Information Technologies (IT) apprenticeship at Saber Data, a local tech company in Austin.
These classes taught Walls the t-chart strategy, one used for writing a cover letter. To use the strategy, place the job description in a column on the left and on the right column, describe how your qualifications match what the employer is looking for.
Walls said, “I think it also helps to prepare you for your interview because it helps you think about what skills you have.”
Fant-Saez is also a fan of cover letters and encourages students who have something compelling to say to take the time to write a cover letter. She feels it can allow an application to shine brighter among the rest.
“When you don’t have a lot of experience, it might be good to express immense enthusiasm,” Fant-Saez said.
Walls said that any ACC student who is looking for a job should take advantage of this free career training course.
“I think it helps you organize your materials, think about what your skills are and helps you to really get that thing that is going to make you stand out from other candidates,” Walls said.