Career Services offers drop-in Resume Review Wednesdays each block!
Each Wednesday of every block, Career Services is available to look over your resume, make suggestions and provide resources for resume writing. Check flyers on campus for the times we will be available each block.
The first step in career planning is to take some time to think about what you see yourself doing. Is there a friend or relative who has a job that really excites you? What do you like about what they are doing? Ask yourself what career requirements you can compromise on: Location? Salary? Work hours? Benefits? What are you unwilling to compromise on? Then, do some research on how your education aligns with a specific career focus. The tips and tools below can help you identify your interests and a possible career.
ACADEMIC AND CAREER ALIGNMENT
Using your knowledge and skills
What can you do with your major? Look at your major’s home page and click on the careers tab for possibilities. Your degree, however, does not necessarily limit you to specific careers. What is more important to an employer is the development of skill sets. Skills are what you learn from any job you have had in the past. Transferable skills are those skills you learn from one job that you can use in another, such as customer service skills. Soft skills are non-technical skills used in every job. Once you’ve assessed your skills, look at career clusters to further define your career goals.
Career Clusters are groups of occupations and career tracks organized around similar skill sets required for career success. There are 16 clusters, or occupation groups, that provide a starting point for understanding what knowledge and skills you will need in order to be prepared for specific industries and broader career paths.
The Montana Career Information System gives you access to the Soft Skills Checklist, Skills Assessment, Interest Profiler, and the Career Cluster Inventory to help you determine your future career. Create an account here by clicking on Guest Login. Use the drop down arrow to select Dillon, and enter the zip code 59725. You now have access to the assessments. To save your assessment results, click on Create My Portfolio, and create your personal account. Explore the Assessment tab and find additional information about careers on the Occupation tab.
A resume is a personal summary of your professional history and qualifications. It is a marketing tool that sells you to the employer. You should customize your resume to each job application. A customized document tells the employer how your experiences and skills fit the job you are applying for and can indicate how much you want the job. Many companies are using key-word recognition software, which scans your application materials for key words. Thus, use the same words to describe your skills as the employer does in a job posting. The most effective resume matches your skills and accomplishments to the needs of the employer. Before you start building and writing your resume, there are a few things you need to do:
- Gather previous employment details, to include:
- name, address, phone, dates worked, job title, and job responsibilities
- Gather details on your education:
- formal school name, address, phone, dates attended, and your GPA
- Gather details on awards, certificates, and volunteer work you have done
- Decide if you want an “Objective” statement, and if so, start thinking about what you want to say
Once you have gathered this information, it is time to write you resume! Your resume should include these categories:
- Your contact information
- An “Objective” statement or “Profile Highlights” section with bulleted hard and soft skills
- Work experience
- Honors and Awards
- Special skills
- Volunteer service
- Reference list on separate page (may or may not be requested by an employer)
In general, follow the three tenets of resume writing:
- Every resume has a purpose
- Everything on your resume should support that purpose
- The items that best support your purpose come first
UMW provides access to Optimal Resume software where you can create a resume from scratch, use templates, or choose section sets to personalize your resume. Click here to go to the UMW Optimal Resume Career & Talent Suite site, and click here for more information on Optimal Resume.
The purpose of a cover letter is to sell your resume to an employer and get you an interview. Cover letters give a future employer a first impression of who you are. Making sure these documents are professional, effective, and efficient will help set you apart from other candidates. A cover letter is placed in front of a resume and should be written with an intent to interest an employer and motivate them to read your resume. It should give a concise overview of your experience and how it relates to the job you are applying for.
Cover letter writing tips:
- Use the same heading that is on resume (your contact information), the same font and the same font size
- Address to a specific person if possible (the hiring manager), or the director of human resources, using the proper title
- Be sure to use the block letter style and a formal opening (such as To Whom It May Concern)
- Research the company you are applying with and use that knowledge within the content of your letter (e.g. quote a vision or mission statement) and tailor your letter to the employer and the job description
- Do not start the first paragraph with “I” instead try an opener like ‘The position of xxx is of great interest to me” (identify the position you are applying for)
- Using the present tense, focus on what you can do for the employer and sell your skills, knowledge and experience by giving examples
- Emphasize accomplishments and recognition
- Draw a connection to the employer, and express that there is a positive match between you, the job, and the company
- Thank the reader for considering you for the position and offer your availability for an interview in the last paragraph (this paragraph should have more than one sentence)
- PROOFREAD! Ask a friend to proofread it too, or bring it to the Learning Center and have an English tutor proofread it for you
An internship allows you to test out possible career choices. It’s a great way to see if you will like a job, or one similar. Internships are available at any point in your college career. If you have an idea for a possible career during your freshman year? See if you can set up an internship over the summer, or maybe even outside of class during the semester.
When looking for an internship, realize that not all internships are paid. So, make sure you ask when applying for an internship position.
See internship positions posted on the Career Services site.
Whether it is a grad school admission interview or a job interview, interviewing is a skill! Like any other skill-based activity, you must plan, prepare, practice and perfect your interviewing skills. Knowing about the company or agency you will be speaking with can help you be more responsive during the interview, so do not forget to do your research! Find out what their mission and vision statement says, look at their business structure and find out who their competitors are. And, before going to any interview, review your academic and work history to make sure what you say matches what’s on your resume, personal statement, or job description!
Here are some tips for improving your interviewing skills.
- Know the position/grad program
- How are previous experiences related to the position or admission requirements?
- Research the company/school
- What do you already know?
- What do you need to know?
- Know yourself
- Why do you want to work at that company, or go to that school?
- Prepare for commonly asked questions, including some success stories about achievements you have had in the workplace, and prepare questions to ask the employer.
- Practice interviewing. Go to a mock interviewing session on campus, practice with a friend, or practice in front of a mirror!
- Dress professionally. Be sure you have appropriate clothing to wear. Dark, “power” colors, such as black, gray, and navy are best and look the most professional.
- Show up in the best possible shape
- Go to bed early the day before the interview so that you look rested and healthy on the big day
- Always arrive 10 – 15 minutes early
- If you arrive more than 15 minutes early, wait outside
- Leave some extra time for any traffic, parking, or unpredictable events
- If you are running late, call right away and let someone know
- Be Polite!
- Smile and greet everyone from the reception staff to the interviewer (you never know who has input in the hiring process)
- Look everyone in the eye to show alertness
- Speak clearly and say “please” and “thank you”
- Don’t use slang or obscenities
- Use good manners to show you are considerate of other people
- Build a comfortable, profession rapport with the interviewer
- Read his/her body language
- Listen closely and attentively
- Listening closely to the questions asked will make it easier to form appropriate responses
- Don’t think so hard about how you’re going to answer that you forget what is being asked
- Pause and slow down
- Don’t interrupt the interviewer and pause before you answer
- Take your time to organize your thoughts
- Then take a breath and answer the question
- The answer should:
- Present your strengths, experiences, education, work style, skills, and goals
- Always consider the company’s point of view
- Turn your cell phone off or change it to silent. Do not use it while you are waiting. Better yet, leave it in the car.
- Do NOT bring backpacks, gum, iPods, coffee or soda into your interview. Only bring professional materials and possibly water.
- Do NOT bring anyone else with you to your interview. (If you received a ride from someone, have them wait outside)
- Be aware of body language. It’s just as important as verbal communication. Make sure to stand up straight, maintain eye-contact, use a firm handshake when greeting someone and SMILE!
- Get business cards if possible. You should send a thank-you note to the interviewers via email if possible, or send a hand-written note to the employer’s address.
- Ask when they think they will have a decision. Also, ask if there is anything else you can provide them, what is the next step, and when is the starting date?
- Stay positive-think positive-speak positively
- Attitude is EVERYTHING. A negative attitude is easily observed by employers and will deter them from considering you.
- Never point out negatives about past jobs, co-workers, employers etc. Speak truthfully, and avoid using judgmental or assumptive language when answering questions like “What did you like least about your previous position?” or “Describe a problem/conflict you resolved.” Minimize the negatives and accentuate the positives.
- Convey a can-do attitude. While having the skills necessary for a job is important, a positive, “can-do” attitude goes a long way.
- Smile! Even when you are not feeling happy, it can actually brighten your mood. So, walk into the office with a smile. It will put both you and your interviewer in a good mood.