7 Things You Must Know About Getting Referred for a Job

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

There is one thing you can do that increases your chances of being hired: get referred for a job. Referred candidates are more likely to get hired, perform better and last longer in jobs. This is why companies, large and small, are investing in employee referral programs (ERPs). It makes good business sense for them and for you. Here are seven things you need to know about getting referred for job, based on a survey commissioned by iCIMS, a provider of talent acquisition solutions. 1. Referred Candidates Get Hired. When an employee refers someone, that candidate is hired about two-thirds of the time. Plain and simple: It's easier to get a job with a referral. Use your in-person network, LinkedIn, Twitter...... Read more

Find a path to a VA career through Technical Career Field trainee programs

By VA Careers | VAntage Point Contributor © 2022, Reprinted with permission

Editor's Note: This blog post was updated on April 14 to reflect changes to the initial hiring position and to terminology used by the program. The VA Technical Career Field (TCF) trainee program is a national workforce development program designed to replenish technical staff in positions where we face a critical need. For you, though, it can be the first step to securing an engaging, one-of-a-kind career with VA. TCF positions function more like apprenticeships. They're intensive, two-year training programs that are required for certain, specialized career paths — fields where VA-specific knowledge and experience is desirable for success...... Read more

How To Answer "Why Are You Looking For A New Job?"

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

"Why are you looking for a new job?" is an interview question that trips up plenty of job-seekers. It seems innocent enough, but there's no doubt that your interviewer will be scrutinizing your answer. This post will teach you how to answer this question when interviewing for a new position. Why Interviewers Ask It "Why are you looking for a new job?" is one of the trickier ones your interviewer may ask. It might seem straightforward. However, it's a multi-faceted and layered question that provides tons of information about you and your motivations. Hiring managers ask this question for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons is to understand what is...... Read more

Veterans, active duty can take advantage of Public Service Loan Forgiveness program

By VAntage Point Contributor | VAntage Point Contributor © 2022, Reprinted with permission

Veterans and active duty service members can get one step closer to student loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. You will need to submit your application by October 31, 2022. By cancelling loans after 10 years of public service, PSLF removes the burden of student debt on public servants, makes it possible for many borrowers to stay in their jobs, and entices others to work in high-need fields. Months on active duty count. The Department of Education will allow months spent on active duty to count toward PSLF, even if the service member's loans were on a deferment or forbearance rather than in active repayment. This change addresses one major challenge service members face in accessing PSLF. Service members on active duty can qualify for student loan deferments and forbearances... Read more

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7 Things You Must Know About Getting Referred for a Job

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

There is one thing you can do that increases your chances of being hired: get referred for a job.

Referred candidates are more likely to get hired, perform better and last longer in jobs.

This is why companies, large and small, are investing in employee referral programs (ERPs). It makes good business sense for them and for you.

Here are seven things you need to know about getting referred for job, based on a survey commissioned by iCIMS, a provider of talent acquisition solutions (you can see the full report here):

Referred Candidates Get Hired

When an employee refers someone, that candidate is hired about two-thirds of the time.

Plain and simple: It's easier to get a job with a referral. Use your in-person network, LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook to identify the names of people you already know.

Keep in mind, it doesn't matter what role your contact is in. What matters is that you let them know the types of roles you are interested in and that you stay on his or her radar, just in case something comes up.

STRATEGY: It is always best to reach out to people before a job is posted when there are no other applicants. The person hiring has more time. Learn how to Find Contacts Within Your Target Companies

Referrals are the Most Important Job Search Resource

76% of job seekers ranked employee referrals as being of high to extremely high importance. Employee referrals ranked higher than company career sites, job boards and even LinkedIn.

You may not believe all the experts who proclaim the power of networking, but you can't dismiss the advice when job seekers report how important referrals are as a resource.

STRATEGY: Invest more time and effort networking. Use a personal marketing plan and target list to stay focused. Learn more about Creating Your Personal Marketing Plan

Employees Do Refer Candidates

If you are skeptical, don't be. Employees embrace the concept of referring candidates. Here's the proof: 60% of employees have referred at least one person to an open position within the company, and 38% of employees have referred multiple candidates for open jobs.

STRATEGY: Ask an employee to refer you. By nature, people want to help, and it doesn't take much effort for an employee to refer you for a job. Learn How To Get Referred For A Job

Candidates Should Start at the Top

The more senior the person referring you, the better your chances of getting hired. In fact, almost all candidates (91%) referred by a director level or above were hired, versus 53% of hired referrals from an entry-level candidate.

STRATEGY: If you do know top-level executives, reach out to them first. However, don't hesitate to reach out to anyone you know inside the company, because being referred by any level employee increases your chances.

Referral Incentives Exist

While 63% of employers currently follow a documented employee referral process, the remaining companies accept referrals in a less formal way. Either formally or informally, companies realize that referrals make great employees and cost less to hire.

STRATEGY: When asking an employee to refer you, you're actually helping your contact reap rewards.

Referred Employees Love Their Jobs

You don't just want a paycheck — you want a job you will enjoy. 65% of referred employees were very satisfied with job fit or their ability to fulfill the requirements of the position, and 50% were very satisfied with how well they fit within the company.

STRATEGY: Leverage the power of past colleagues to help you identify a company and job where you are more likely to be happy.

Company Size Makes a Difference

If a company has more employees, it may make it easier to find someone inside the company to refer you. For example, larger companies might put more resources toward hiring referrals.

  • Small companies (99 or fewer employees) fill 14% of jobs through referrals
  • Medium companies (100 to 999 employees) fill 24% of jobs through referrals
  • Large companies (1,000 or more employees) fill 27% of jobs through referrals.

STRATEGY: No matter the size of the company, hiring happens through referrals. While it may be more difficult to find someone within a smaller company, but don't give up.

Bottom line:

The best way to get your resume to the top of the stack is by getting referred.

The tools exist today to identify people who work inside companies you are interested in.

Social media sites like LinkedIn make it easier to keep track of past colleagues. Plus, companies value the quality of employees who come from referrals.

Isn't it time you paid more attention to this job search resource?

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Find a path to a VA career through Technical Career Field trainee programs

By VA Careers | VAntage Point Contributor © 2022, Reprinted with permission

Editor's Note: This blog post was updated on April 14 to reflect changes to the initial hiring position and to terminology used by the program.

The VA Technical Career Field (TCF) trainee program is a national workforce development program designed to replenish technical staff in positions where we face a critical need.

For you, though, it can be the first step to securing an engaging, one-of-a-kind career with VA.

TCF positions function more like apprenticeships. They're intensive, two-year training programs that are required for certain, specialized career paths — fields where VA-specific knowledge and experience is desirable for success.

What you'll do

If you are selected to work as a TCF trainee, you'll work full-time at a VA facility and follow a formal training plan for two years. During that time, you will be trained, coached and supervised by one of our staff members who serves as what we call a preceptor, a mentor to help guide you while you work at VA.

Through this combination of coaching and on-the-job experience, you will perform assignments to broaden your skills and provide the practical experience you'll need to graduate to progressively more complex assignments.

As you take on these greater responsibilities, you'll work under progressively less and less supervision, though your preceptor will always be available to answer any questions and support your efforts.

When you begin your training, you'll work at VA in a GS-05 position, though over the course of your two-year development, you can acquire the skills and training necessary to qualify for a GS-11 position, (depending on satisfactory performance, availability of higher-level work and availability of funds).

Still, we view TCF training as an investment, and when your appointment is up, we hope to place you in the facility where you interned or in another VA facility that needs your skills.

Fields of focus

Engineering fields, both clinical and nonclinical, are popular choices for TCF trainees. Whether your focus is biomedical engineering, general engineering, or safety and protection specialization, you can find a path to a long-term career with VA through these positions.

However, it's not just engineering fields that can offer TCF training programs. In fact, you can work in a variety of fields that will provide you an opportunity to work with our nation's finest heroes, including (but not limited to):

  • Contracting
  • Environmental management
  • Finance
  • Health information management
  • Human resources management
  • Information technology
  • Public affairs
  • Supply chain management
  • Volunteer management

Start your search

VA offers a designated number of TCF trainee positions every year, and positions are posted at various times for various locations from March through August. You may start working as early as the last pay period in May, and no later than the last pay period in September.

There is not one set date for job announcements at all locations, and open positions change each year (and may not be offered at the VA facility of your choice) so it is important to search the available job postings.

You can review our website for instructions on how to apply online for individual positions and how to search by keyword, occupation or location.

Work at VA

As a TCF trainee, you can get critical, on-the-job experience in your career field and begin a meaningful career at VA at the same time.

  • LEARN more about the TCF trainee program.
  • EXPLORE the career fields that offer TCF trainee programs.
  • READ about the benefits of a VA career.
  • SEARCH for available TCF opportunities.

NOTE: Positions listed in this post were open at the time of publication. All current available positions are listed at USAJobs.gov.

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How To Answer "Why Are You Looking For A New Job?"

By Hannah Morgan | Career Sherpa - Reprinted with permission

"Why are you looking for a new job?" is an interview question that trips up plenty of job-seekers. It seems innocent enough, but there's no doubt that your interviewer will be scrutinizing your answer. This post will teach you how to answer this question when interviewing for a new position.

Why Interviewers Ask It

"Why are you looking for a new job?" is one of the trickier ones your interviewer may ask. It might seem straightforward. However, it's a multi-faceted and layered question that provides tons of information about you and your motivations.

Hiring managers ask this question for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons is to understand what is causing you to want to leave — relationship with your boss, your satisfaction with work, have you outgrown your work, or other issues. How you answer the question says more about you than it does the organization you're leaving.

Interviewers want to know what type of employee you will be. Do you run away from challenges or face them head-on? Are you a team player? Do you take constructive feedback well? It's a nuanced query, but how you frame your answer can give the interviewer plenty of insight into whether or not you're a good fit.

Providing a carefully thought-out answer is crucial. Hiring managers look for red flags and remember the details they don't like.

Another reason you'll hear this question is because companies want to know more about what motivates you. It's about learning why you're there and what brought you to this particular position. At the end of the day, hiring managers want motivated and eager people who want to excel at the work they do.

Having a genuine interest in the company or this line of work goes a long way. It indicates that you're in it to learn and grow. Engaged and motivated employees tend to perform better and stay with a company longer.

"Why are you looking for a new job?" provides all that information in one answer. Needless to say, thinking things through before you answer is very important!

How to Answer "Why Are You Looking For A New Job?"

Given the importance of this question, figuring out how to answer it can seem daunting. That's why it's so important to spend some time preparing for this question before you're asked it!

To help you answer in a way that benefits you, here are some crucial tips to keep in mind.

Be Truthful

Honesty is always the best policy. Lying gets you nowhere and could hurt your chances not only with the company you're talking to now but others you want to work with in the future. Word travels fast, and hiring managers can often determine if you're skirting the truth.

It's not always easy to talk about why you left an old job. That's especially true if you were terminated (here's a handy guide if you're not clear on the difference between being laid off and being terminated). But don't try to cover things up by creating a lie. Be truthful and plan your wording so you focus on how you have taken control of your situation.

All that said, you don't want to go into too much detail, either! Oversharing can turn off a future employer. For example, you don't want to say that the only reason you want a job is that it cuts down your commute or that you want to make more money. You have to strike a delicate balance.

A good answer to "Why are you looking for a new job?" will show you have thought through what you are looking for and why you are making a change. It's truthful, straightforward, and concise.

Talk About Your Skills and Capabilities

This question is a great chance to talk about your skills. How? It's all about linking your experience to why you left.

Maybe you're looking for opportunities to advance your career. Alternatively, you might have outgrown your old job and didn't have any way to get a promotion. Whatever the case is, use that moment to highlight your skills.

It's a good chance to mention what differentiates you from other candidates and shine a light on what makes you the perfect fit for the role.

Keep Things Positive

So how do you talk about terminations or conflicts with your past employer? The best approach is to provide a positive spin.

It's always a good idea to lead with one positive thing about your past employer. Start with that to establish a sense of professional decorum right off the bat. It might be hard but dig deep to find something good you're taking away.

For example, maybe you learned new skills, or your old position helped you hone existing ones. Whatever the case may be, lead with that.

When you talk about negative aspects of your old job or why you separated from a previous company, highlight the good that came with it. If you were terminated, show how you've grown and what that experience taught you.

Everyone makes mistakes, and hiring managers understand that. What's important is that you grew from that situation and took steps to improve. Focus on that, and you can easily come up with a great answer that bolsters your position.

Don't Point Fingers

Here's an important tip. It's easy to lay the blame on others and point fingers. If you're interviewing with a direct competitor of your previous company, that urge to "talk trash" can be even stronger.

But avoid doing that at all costs. Remember that word travels quickly, and you don't want to burn bridges. Talking negatively of your previous company, boss, managers, or colleagues can make you come off as petty.

What if you eventually leave the position you're applying for now? If all you did during your interview was trash your old company, you're essentially letting the new hiring manager know how you'll act if you depart in the future.

It's not a great way to start things off. When you're asked "Why are you looking for a new job?" it's best to focus on the positives instead and try to say at least one good thing about your old position.

Focus on the New Opportunity

Finally, always find a way to steer the discussion back to this new job opportunity. "Why are you looking for a new job?" is a question about what you are looking for so don't linger on the past for too long. Find a way to circle back around and guide the conversation toward the job opportunity you are discussing.

For example, you could say that the details in the job description you're interviewing for sound like a better fit for your skills. Or, you could mention the work culture and say that your capabilities seem like a perfect match for it. Either way, creating that link will leave a lasting impression.

How to Prepare for This Question

You shouldn't rely on coming up with a good answer in the moment when it comes to this question. Adequate preparation is a must.

The tricky thing about this question is that your interviewer can frame it in many different ways. Furthermore, it can come up at any time. You have to be well-prepared and capable of making little adjustments on the fly to be successful.

Use the tips above to get a general idea of how to answer this question. Choose your words carefully and go over different options. Then, say it out loud and in front of others your respect and ask for their feedback.

Prepare enough to know the basics of what you will say. You don't have to know your answer verbatim. In fact, rehearsing an answer and reciting it can potentially make you come off as inauthentic. Know your answer well enough to not stumble over your words and get caught off guard.

But during the interview, mold your answer to how it's asked. As long as you have the core points in mind, you should have no problem sounding genuine and providing a great answer.

Things You Should Avoid in Your Answer

Being candid and relaxed is always a plus. However, there are some things you should avoid saying no matter how well you think the interview is going. "Why are you looking for a new job?" is an interview question that can trip you up if you're not careful.

Here's some advice that should help.

Don't Name-Call or Badmouth

As we mentioned earlier, laying the blame and speaking poorly about your previous employer will never work in your favor. It doesn't matter if this new organization is a direct competitor or the interview starts talking negatively about your former employer.

Leave any negativity behind and focus on the positives instead.

Don't Get Into the Finer Details

When answering this question, one huge mistake is getting too deep into the details. Your interview might ask for clarification or want you to talk more about a part of your answer. That's alright, but you should keep things brief and steer the conversation back to your skills and this new opportunity.

When you start going "off script" and talking about things you didn't plan for, you might accidentally say something you regret. Be honest and talk about what the interviewer wants, but don't get too caught up in those finer details that could get you into trouble.

Avoid Talking About Salary

There are plenty of opportunities to talk about salary expectations. Answering this question isn't the time. Even if your most prominent reason for leaving the previous company is money-related, it's best to avoid salary talk at this stage. You don't want to give the impression that your only motivation is money.

Retool your answer and focus on other things. For example, you could say that your skills outgrew your old position instead of saying that your previous employer wasn't paying you enough.

The only exception is if the interview directly mentions your previous salary. That's the clear "go ahead" from the hiring manager.

Steer Clear of Lies

As always, never lie! Lying is unacceptable in a job interview, and one of the worst times to lie is when you're talking about your time at a previous company.

Be honest, even if the truth doesn't necessarily paint you in the best light. You can adjust your wording and focus on the positives instead.

Don't Be Overly Vague

Last but not least, don't even think about providing this answer:

"I just wanted change" or "it wasn't a fit."

These answers are too vague. They don't provide any of the information the interviewer is looking to learn. And even worse, it often sounds like you're trying to hide something. Another possible issue with these answers is that if taken at face value it could indicate that you're unpredictable and likely to move on whenever you get bored.

Sample Answers

Use our tips above to help you answer "Why are you looking for a new job?". This question is bound to come up when seeking a new position, so it's best to have something in mind for when it does.

To help you get some ideas, here are some great example answers.

Sample Answer 1: Looking for New Opportunities

"I've worked at my current position for several years and have had many successful experiences. In that time, I've refined my management skills through taking on new responsibilities and more intensive projects.

I feel that it's time to explore new challenges and take the next steps in my career. I've followed your company for many years and am a fan of the work you do. I believe that my skills are a great match, and I'd love the opportunity to be a part of your team."

Sample Answer 2: Ready for New Challenges

"My time at my previous job helped me grow my [specific skills]. For that, I'm forever grateful. However, I no longer feel challenged by my work.

I believe that I'm ready for new challenges. I'm ready to make a difference in another position while growing and developing new skills."

Sample Answer 3: Addressing Termination

"My goals and aspirations didn't align with the position. While I tried to make things work, I realized that I was not a suitable fit for my previous job. Being let go was a learning experience, and I've taken time to reflect on what is important to me and assess my strengths.

After learning more about your company's vision, I believe I'm better suited to have an impact here. I'd love to share what I've learned and how I can bring the lessons of my previous job to this position."

Conclusion

Now that you know how to answer "Why are you looking for a new job?" it's time for you to start practicing!

Devoting time to prepare will make answering this question a breeze and help you make a great impression. When other applicants stumble, you'll shine!

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Veterans, active duty can take advantage of Public Service Loan Forgiveness program

By VAntage Point Contributor | VAntage Point Contributor © 2022, Reprinted with permission

Veterans and active duty service members can get one step closer to student loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

You will need to submit your application by October 31, 2022.

By cancelling loans after 10 years of public service, PSLF removes the burden of student debt on public servants, makes it possible for many borrowers to stay in their jobs, and entices others to work in high-need fields.

Months on active duty count

The Department of Education will allow months spent on active duty to count toward PSLF, even if the service member's loans were on a deferment or forbearance rather than in active repayment. This change addresses one major challenge service members face in accessing PSLF.

Service members on active duty can qualify for student loan deferments and forbearances that help them through periods in which service inhibits their ability to make payments. But too often, members of the military find out that those same deferments or forbearances granted while they served our country did not count toward PSLF.

This change ensures that members of the military will not need to focus on their student loans while serving our country. Federal Student Aid will develop and implement a process to address periods of student loan deferments and forbearance for active-duty service members and will update affected borrowers to let them know what they need to do to take advantage of this change.

Giving federal employees credit

The Department of Education will begin automatically giving federal employees credit for PSLF by matching Department of Education data with information held by other federal agencies about service members and the federal workforce. These matches will help the Department of Education identify others who may also be eligible but cannot benefit automatically, like those with FFEL loans.

Qualifying employers

Any U.S. federal, state, local or tribal government agency is considered a government employer for the PSLF Program. This includes employers such as the U.S. military, public elementary and secondary schools, public colleges and universities, public child and family service agencies, and special governmental districts (including entities such as public transportation, water, bridge district, or housing authorities).

A government contractor isn't considered a government employer.

You can visit the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Help Tool, which will help you determine if an employer is considered a qualifying employer under the PSLF Program.

Income doesn't matter

There is no income requirement to qualify for PSLF. However, since your required monthly payment amount under most of the qualifying PSLF repayment plans is based on your income, your income level over the course of your public service employment might be a factor in determining whether you have a remaining loan balance to be forgiven after making 120 qualifying payments.

Know you have creditable service?

If you know that you have qualifying employment that you have not yet certified with the Department of Education, you can certify that employment now by using the PSLF Help Tool at www.StudentAid.gov/pslf.

Haven't applied yet?

You will need to submit a PSLF form so the Department of Education can review your loans under the simplified rules and determine whether your current or past employers qualify for PSLF. You can submit this form through the PSLF Help Tool at StudentAid.gov/PSLF. Because the Department of Education expects an influx of applicants due to this announcement, you may see some delays in having your application processed.

Learn more

Fact Sheet: Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program Overhaul | U.S. Department of Education

Public Service Loan Forgiveness FAQs | Federal Student Aid

U.S. Department of Education Announces Transformational Changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, Will Put Over 550,000 Public Service Workers Closer to Loan Forgiveness | U.S. Department of Education

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