Leave your cell phone at home when you go to a job interview, and check your social media sites for compromising photos and rants against co-workers or ex-bosses.

Leave your cell phone at home when you go to a job interview, and check your social media sites for compromising photos and rants against co-workers or ex-bosses.

Those and other job-seeking tips were shared Wednesday during Disability Mentoring Day, held at the Pittsburg Presbyterian Church. Started in 1999, DMD is a nationwide effort aimed at promoting career development for students with disabilities.

Students from several area high schools attended the session, which was facilitated by representatives from SKIL (Southeast Kansas Independent Living), Southeast Kansas Interlocal, Social Security, CLASS LTD, Kansas Works and several area businesses.
Chair was Lou Ann Colyer, SKIL independent living coordinator.

“So many people don’t have the information they need to have a successful job interview,” she said.

Students visited stations and heard presentations on preparing for job interviews, dress code and manners, getting started in a job search, mock interviews, assistive technology for those with disabilities, community service providers, vocational rehabilitation and others.
“We have two new stations this year, on the pitfalls of social media and on doing online job applications,” Colyer said. “We’ve tried going over online applications ourselves and they were a little difficult, so we thought it would be good to have someone walk the students through that process.”

She added that, because of privacy issues, the students did not complete actual online job applications, but worked with mock applications.

Online privacy was also stressed by Tiffany Sanders and Elly Fox, Pittsburg State University students who led the session on the pitfalls of social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
“Up to 75 percent of employers have checked up on job applicants online, and up to 75 percent report that they have disqualified people because of what they found online,” Fox said.

“Some corporations hire people to hack into people’s Facebook and Twitter so they can get to know them,” Sanders added. “When I started looking for a job  I checked all my online photos and deleted some of them.”

They advised the students to Google themselves to check and see just what photos and comments they have online that could make a bad impression on a prospective employer.

“Don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t want to see on a billboard,” Fox said. “Don’t make your life an open book.”

Loretta Audley, SEK Interlocal life and career skills instructor, discussed preparing for job interviews.  

“The most important thing at a job interview happens before the interview,” Audley said. “First, research the company that you’re going to be interviewing for. Go online, or talk to other people who work there or have worked there.”

She also advised the students to think of good answers to questions commonly during job interviews, then write those answers down and practice saying them.

“The more you practice, the better you get at it,” Audley said.

Sherri Stephens, marketing and community development coordinator with Elm Acres Youth and Family Services,  discussed searching for jobs.

“One of the first ways to find a job is by word of mouth, just talking to somebody,” she said. “You can also go on the Internet, look in the classified section of the newspaper or notice signs at businesses that are looking for employees.”

Nicky Hastings, Baxter Springs High School special education teacher, said she felt the sessions were very beneficial for her students.

“This was our first year to come here, and if they have it again, I’ll definitely bring students here again,” Hastings said. “I thought the information presented was good and the mock interviews were very helpful.”

“I’ve learned more about how to get to my career,” said Brittney Watson, Girard High School senior who plans to become a nurse.

“It helps all of us to learn more about how to get jobs, and I thought this was very helpful,” said Amanda Hartman, Baxter Springs junior.

“Finding out what’s out there in the community is very helpful,” said Derrick Florence, Baxter Springs junior. “Most helpful for me were the mock interview, social media session, getting started and the preparation for the interview. I would definitely want to come back to this next year.”