By: Becky Hurlbut, Staff Writer
At this point in the semester, seniors are preparing for life after college. They are writing cover letters, crafting resumes, practicing for interviews, and getting ready for graduation. Luckily, the Career Development Center is a great resource to help students get through each of these steps.
A cover letter is an important component of any job application. Use it to introduce yourself to the employer and explain why you would make a great addition to the company. It should be no longer than one page and be free of grammar and spelling errors. Although it is more time consuming, each cover letter should be tailored to the job to which you apply. Avoid using generic cover letters to mail to employers. Also, if possible, try to find the specific name of the person to which the cover letter is sent. For example, address it to “Mr. John Smith” rather than “To Whom it May Concern”.
When writing a resume, there are many things to keep in mind. First, write your resume in an easy to read font. The font size should be 11 or 12, except for your name which should be larger to make it stand out. Unless you are an education major, a recent college graduate’s resume should be no longer than one page. Use strong action verbs. For example, instead of saying “made bulletin boards”, consider writing “designed two interactive bulletin boards”. Use bullet points, rather than large paragraphs of text.
This next point cannot be stressed enough: remember to proofread your resume for grammar and spelling mistakes. Make an appointment at the Career Development Center for an expert to critique your resume and to offer suggestions for improvement. There is no fee for this service. Be sure to print your final copy on thick resume paper which can be purchased at office supply stores or at the University Book Store. List your name in a larger font to make it stand out. Just like a cover letter, a resume should be custom-made for each job.
List three to five references at the end of the resume. They should be professional, not personal references. Use a professor or supervisor who can attest to your character and work ethic rather than your great aunt Barbara. It is proper etiquette to ask the person’s permission before listing him or her as a reference, even if you are certain they would be glad to. List an appropriate email address on your resume. Consider using a combination of your first and last name rather than JuicyLipsXOXO@aol.com. Check to see that your voicemail greeting sounds professional. Look online for sample resumes to give you further formatting ideas. Use these suggestions to craft a well thought-out resume.
“I feel the interview process with resumes and cover letters takes a while to do, but can be rewarding once you get the job. I feel like my resume is always being rewritten to better show my strengths each time I update it,” senior Ashley Crossland revealed.
Now that your resume is carefully written, the next step is to prepare for the interview. Research the company for which you will interview. Think about the answers to common interview questions. Find the interview location a day or two in advance so you know exactly where to go and how to get there. The last thing you want is to discover that you are hopelessly lost the day of your interview and consequently arrive terribly late.
Dress professionally for the interview. Generally speaking, males should wear suits and females should wear matching two piece suits. It is best to wear dark, solid colored clothing. It is better to over dress than under dress. Interviewees should look groomed. Nails should be trimmed and hair should be neat.
When you meet the interviewer, offer a firm handshake. Bring an extra copy of your resume. Prepare two to three questions to ask at the end of the interview, but be sure these do not relate to salary or benefit information. Employers are more likely to hire someone who asks questions at the end than someone who asks no questions.
Keep your cell phone set on silent during the interview, or better yet, leave it in the car. Do not avoid eye contact with the interviewer and do not chew gum. Show some enthusiasm and excitement about the potential new job. If you are faced with a question to which you do not know the answer, admit it. Do not pretend you know something if you don’t, because the truth will eventually come out leaving you to look foolish.
Before leaving, ask for a business card of the person who conducted the interview. Now you will know how to spell his or her name when writing a thank you note. Whether they are emailed or hand written, thank you notes are a must. Thank the person for their time and consideration and remind them how you can benefit the company and add any other information you may have neglected to relay during the interview. End the note by saying that you look forward to hearing from them.
Many Bloomsburg students experience feelings of nervousness and confusion at this point in their college careers. “I’ve made a resume, but I don’t know if it’s acceptable. I don’t know that I can compose a proper resume,” admitted senior Mike Galamba, “I’ve never been that nervous going into an interview. Just answer the questions truthfully. That’s all you can do.”
Other students are more confident about their resumes. “I don't have a lot of experience yet in my field, but my resume is clean-cut and professional looking so I think that is good,” remarked Sara Huff. Other students realize the helpfulness of the available on campus resources. “I made a resume a while ago to apply for a clinical program and I received a good amount of help from a woman in the Career [Development] Center,” explained Caley Nevin. Other students feel differently about the Career Development Center. “I think it’s a good resource, but its presence on campus is not very known,” said senior Rachel Broome.
For students who need help with resume and cover letter writing, the Career Development Center may be of use to them. They offer a free Job Search Guide which contains sample resumes and cover letters. This book is also viewable on their website. In addition, the Career Development Center conducts mock interviews. Students can make appointments to meet with a worker who can help revise their resumes to make them more attractive to employers.
The Career Development Center is located on the second floor of the Warren Student Services Center, directly above Roongos. They are opened Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM, except for Wednesdays, when they close at 6:00.