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You just left the job interview. Here’s what you do next.
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Who better to give you advice on your job search than someone who looks at resumes and conducts interviews all day long? Julie Allison, an Irving-area Human Resources executive for a company that has hired many UD grads, shared some best practices for navigating the hiring process. Here are the highlights.
Job Fairs and on-campus events
- Networking doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or scripted. It’s just a matter of walking up to someone and saying something like, “Hi. I’m Chris and I’m a student at UD majoring in Business. What do you do?”
Resumes and cover letters
- If a resume comes across my desk with spelling or grammar mistakes, it goes in the trash.
- The applicant uses the wrong company name in about 50% of the resumes and cover letters I see.
- If your resume is short on work experience, highlight your campus and community involvement. This shows me that you are resourceful and adaptable. What I really want to know is what have you accomplished?
- Your cover letter should state why you are interested in my company and why you think your background is a good fit for the position you’re applying for. Tell me why I should call you in for an interview.
- During an interview, you should be able to articulate what’s on your resume. Be ready to talk about not only your accomplishments, but also how you went about achieving them.
- Always ask questions after an interview. Thoughtful questions not only show that you’ve prepared, they show that you really want to learn about the company. The right questions will help you figure out if the job is a good fit for you.
Once you land the job
- When starting a new job or internship, don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s OK that you don’t know everything. We don’t assume that you do–and neither should you.
It’s not every day that college students get the scoop from real recruiters on what it takes to get hired. But on August 31, the lucky students and alumni who attended OPCD’s panel event, “Getting From Resume to Interview to Offer,” heard about resumes, networking and even pet peeves from some of DFW’s largest and most distinguished employers.
Panelists in attendance were:
Mary Mackenzie (BA ‘14), Human Resources, 7-Eleven Corporation
Noelle Bleich, Vice President in Recruiting, Human Capital Management Division, Goldman Sachs
Mariana Zayas (BA ‘12), Corporate Human Resources Manager, Omni Hotels
Kayla Cermak, Recruiter, Campus Reach Team, Southwest Airlines
Sarah Jane Semrad (BS), Entrepreneur
Here are some of their take-aways.
Bleich: At Goldman Sachs, we want to read your story. We want to know how you got to this point. Don’t just check the boxes. We assume you have a high GPA and have been involved on campus, so show us what you’re passionate about. Did you have leadership positions at school? Did you work to put yourself through school? What drives and motivates you?
Mackenzie: You should make sure your bullet points represent how your experience matches the job description.
Cermak: We’re looking for people who “live the Southwest Way,” so we want to know what you’re passionate about and what kind of leadership you’ve shown. We’re not really looking for someone who has a 4.0 GPA but who hasn’t been involved in the community.
ON STANDING OUT:
Semrad: I don’t like looking at resumes that have the same super generic font on the same plain, white paper. Show me something interesting that will give me an idea of your personality.
Bleich: Make sure you know your audience, because at Goldman, we are actually looking for more traditional resumes that are 1-2 pages at most but still tell a story.
Cermak: Take the time to craft your bullet points using action verbs that link to the results you achieved during a job or project.
Mackenzie: Really think about the person who will be reading your resume and make sure that it matches the style they will want to see. And don’t be discouraged by online application forms. A well-crafted resume can still stand out.
Zayas: Having a profile statement–2-3 sentences on why you want to work for this company and why you want this particular job–will help you stand out against the more generic submissions.
Mackenzie: Don’t think of networking as a “dirty word.” Think of it as “who in my community can I seek advice from?” You’re not necessarily looking for a job, but talking with the people in your sphere to learn about different companies and careers.
Semrad: You always have to be open to the serendipity of who you’re meeting at a particular time. You never know who is going to be a church or who’s in front of you at Starbuck–it could be someone that could help your career now or in the future.
Zayas: If you’re nervous about going to a networking event alone, take a buddy. Set a goal to talk to at least five people you don’t know. It might seem scary but you have to be able to talk to people to get ahead in your career.
Cermak: Look all around your network or people that can help you, including your parents’ friends. They can be an invaluable resource. When you meet people, be sure to write their names and something interesting about them on the back of their card or flyer. If you can recall that information in a later in a follow up, you’re going to stand out. Set a reminder in your phone to follow up with them periodically.
ON COVER LETTERS:
Bleich: I skip the cover letter and go straight to the resume. If you include a cover letter, it better be perfect. It can sometimes hurt more than help.
Mackenzie: Organizations in Washington D.C. wanted to see cover letters as an example of your writing ability and to get a feel for your story.
Cermak: I say don’t bother with a cover letter unless it’s a writing job.
Zayas: I skip the cover letter unless the resume really intrigues me and I want to know more.
Cermak: If you haven’t had a lot of experience in the area you’re applying to, it’s OK to talk about projects you worked on in class and what role you played in any group work. You can also talk about obstacles you faced and how you overcame them as well as what kind of results you achieved.
Bleich: Don’t just say you are a problem solver, use examples to show how you approach problems. If you’re going to put something like “Excel skills” on your resume, talk about how you used Excel to solve a problem and what benefit that solution had.
ON PET PEEVES:
Semrad: When I ask someone for a resume, I look to see how long it takes them to get it to me and if there are any typos. And I look to see if they’ve put their best self forward.
Bleich: There is no need to have a resume more than 1-2 pages at most. Use your LinkedIn page to elaborate more if you need to.
Cermak: Make sure to proofread–check for typos and misspelled words. Make sure the company name is correct.
Mackenzie: Don’t put your GPA on your resume unless it was crazy good.
Zayas: Agreed! Don’t mention your GPA on your resume.
For more information on UD’s Office of Personal Career Development, click here.
Newly minted college graduates are beginning their job hunts; undergrads have already gone home for the summer and are now searching for the perfect summer internship or part-time work. This can only mean one thing—it’s interview season! Even if your resume is spot on and your cover letter could bring a hiring manager to tears, you need a solid interview to seal the deal. Janette Bell, staffing manager, and LaCoya Williams, training and performance management manager, from UD’s Department of Human Resources spoke to a Career Development class about how to prepare for an interview that will be memorable for all the RIGHT reasons. Here’s what they said:
Research the company.
“Always assemble relevant information about the company,” said Bell. “Be prepared to talk about why you’re interested in them and the work they do.”
But don’t go too far by trying to connect to your interviewer or recruiter via LinkedIn or Facebook before the interview. According to Williams, that’s inappropriate. But going through the company’s Twitter account is fine. And learning about their upcoming initiatives or marketing campaigns will demonstrate that you have a genuine interest in working there.
Prepare answers to the most common questions.
The most common type of interview consists of behavior-based questions in which the interviewer will ask you to describe a time when you were faced with a situation or encountered a problem.
“You don’t want to sound like a recorded message, but you do want to have practiced what you’ll say when the interviewer asks you something like, ‘What is your biggest weakness?’” said Williams.
For a list of other common interview questions, click here.
Practice telling stories.
“Review the information on your resume and cover letter, and craft a story about how you did what you did,” said Williams. “Focus on STAR: Situation you were in, Task you were given, Actions you took, and Results you achieved.”
Most importantly, be ready to relate your story to the job qualifications.
Have at least two questions ready.
When the interviewer asks if you have any questions, don’t respond with any version of “no.”
“By the end of the interview, you should have thought of a couple of questions. But if you haven’t, have a few prepared ahead of time,” said Bell.
Questions about the training program or the person who previously held the job are good examples. For more sample questions you could use, check out the OPCD website: http://udallas.edu/offices/opcd/jobseekers/resumes/intervieweequestions/
Dress up, and don’t be late.
Bell says your clothes should be cleaned, ironed and comfortable—nothing too casual and nothing too revealing. And always err on the side of being overdressed. “Even if you’re not sure that everyone in the office wears a suit, you would be safer wearing one than not,” she said.
Williams adds that you should carry a padfolio or a small notebook. “Don’t bring a research binder, just something that can hold copies of your resume and paper for notes.”
Check out the OPCD site for more info on proper interview attire (what to wear and what not to wear).
Finally, practice your route and prepare for traffic BEFORE the interview. Know exactly how long it will take you to make the drive, park and enter the building. Be prompt, but not too early. Bell advises to arrive about 10 minutes before your scheduled interview time.
Visit the OPCD website for more career planning information.