Getting the job you want

Olga Cronin

Each year the number of students making a trip to the Career Services Center just before the Career Expo and graduation increases, said Bob Somers, associate director of the center.

“People usually come in at panic time,” Somers said.

Walking in with a handful of papers, students hope the details can be transformed into a winning document, a resum?.

Sometimes students realize that they overlooked or forgot some important information, Somers said.

Computer abilities, technical skills, independent research and project studies are all of an educational value that students sometimes underestimate, he said.

Students should start preparing their resum?s as soon as possible, preferably during their freshman year, he said.

He encourages students to keep an account of all the skills they learned in class and what activities or clubs they were involved in.

“You can write down your four years of academics in two lines. But there’s more than that,” Somers said. “There’s a gold mine of employable information that can get looked over. It’s a shame to sum it up in two lines.”

He said that employers look for more than just a student1s educational history.

“They’re hiring a total package, not that degree,” Somers said.

He encourages students to talk to more than one source for help friends, faculty members, their teachers and coaches.

Harry Allen, associate professor of journalism, said that the resum? is even more important for some students because they don’t have examples of their skills or a portfolio to show as proof of their capabilities.

“In many of the sciences, the resum? is all you get,” he said. “The resum? is evidence of what you can do and what you have done.”

Some people write “references available upon request” at the end of their resum?.

Allen disagrees with the practice.

By including three references on your resum?, it saves time, said Allen.

“Anything you can do to save time and work a little faster for them, will work a little faster for you,” he said.

He encourages students to include a minimum of three, and no more than five references, unless more are needed for a special reason.

Although Scottsville junior Mark Brown isn’t looking for a job, he created a resume his sophomore year.

He created it with the help of a wizard template that was available on his computer.

“I don’t think it’s equal to some career expert’s help, but it does help you get the physical aspects down in the appropriate manner,” Brown said.

Brown said that a wizard template does not help with the actual content and sentence structure.

As a part time employee at Scottsville WVLE radio station, Brown has seen other people’s resumes.

He disagrees with people using personal friends as their references as opposed to their previous employees or superiors.

“If you want strong references, they have to come from the people in charge of you, not the people or co-workers that you are most friends with. Your superiors will testify to your best abilities,” Brown said.

Writing a cover letter is often deemed as a daunting task for students to tackle. This letter can either entice the employer to read on or it can cause them to disregard the application, without even reading the resum?.

Somers believes that cover letters should be tailored to the individual.

“You do have to be assertive and aggressive. That’s what it’s about, trying to get that interview,” Somers said. “But you must reflect yourself as much as you can.”

He said proper layout and cleanliness is vital to the cover letter.

“The first paragraph is very important. People read top to bottom. They might not make it to the second paragraph,” he said.

Having worked as a copy editor for newspapers, Allen has seen his fair share of disaster resumes and cover letters.

One cover letter he read included a letter of apology from a woman who applied for a job but forgot to mail her resum? with her application package. She blamed her forgetfulness on the passing away of her cat.

Allen says cover letters are extremely important because they are the first thing that a possible employer sees with regard to that person.

“They need to be clean, neat, perfect and have no misspellings,” he said.

Allen said cover letters should clearly show the student’s career goals. If this is done well, then there is no need for it to be rewritten in the resum? as it would be redundant, he said.

Career Services, located on the second floor of Cravens Library, helps students find job vacancy listings, employment and internship information, interviewing skills and help with resum? and cover letter writing.

Free magazines and other written leaflets from the National Association of Colleges and Employees are also available from the center.

Other than the center’s Web site, Somers suggests students use the site monstertrak.com, a job listing and resum? database.

The Career Services Web site includes major and career advising, information about career fairs, on-campus interviews, international careers, getting work experience, interviewing skills, sample resum?s and cover letters, survey of Western graduates and links to other career-orientated Web sites.

A Hilltopper Internet Resum? Service is also available on the Web site. As an Internet referral tool, it allows employers to review students posted resum?s. Employers, in turn, contact students directly or through the service center.

Monster.com, a career-orientated web site, offers advice about creating resum?s.

Their No. 1 tip is for students to customize their resum? for each employer and to avoid the “one size fits all” or vague approach. By creating the resum? to fit a particular position, students are increasing their chances of receiving a reply.

This is especially important when one is applying online, according to Monster.com.

When hiring, managers apply an electronic search. Buzzwords on students’ resum?s will help their resume to be found, the Web site said.

“Sales manager,” “project manager,” “financial analysis” and soft skills such as “self starter” are included in the list.

The Web site warns students not to be long winded and suggests students and recent grads put their education up top and to include relevant courses.

The Web site advises students without actual job experience to include a skills summary section about themselves and to use verb-phrases as opposed to sentences.

Monster.com also warns students to check and recheck for typos and spelling errors.

Other Web sites that help students to create resum?s and cover letters are careercity.com, resumeedge.com, collegegrad.com and collegerecruiter.com.

Somers said online posting of resum?s are a good idea.

“I’m in favor of getting out information any way you can,” he said.