Careers: Resumes, Cover Letters & More

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The resources included on this page to help you get the job are:

Resumes

Resumes are YOUR marketing brochure that tells the buyer about the product (you). They highlight the value that you bring to an organization.

Resume Components for Undergraduate Students

Resources to Get You Started

Use this Tips for Writing a Federal Resume from Homeland Security to craft your resume for government jobs

COMPONENTS

The Heading or Identifying Section: includes your name, address or geographic region, professional email address, phone number and website (if applicable)

Education: Include institution, city, state, (expected) graduation month and year, degree earned

Work Experience: Sometimes it may be necessary to have a section for Relevant Work Experience separated from a section entitled Other Experience if you have had one or two jobs / internships relevant to your career interests and other jobs that are not

Power Verbs/Transferable Skills: Use this list of Transferable Skills and Power Verbs to build a strong resume. CareerBuilder offers suggestions on results oriented words to use on your resume.

Cover Letters and Resumes is a free resource that offers suggestions on how to describe many common part-time jobs such as cashier and child care worker

Volunteer Experience: Demonstrates someone for whom giving back is a value.

Honors/Achievements/Awards: The further out from graduation you are, the less important these become

Activities/Athletics: Include positions in clubs, organizations or athletics

Skills/Certifications: Include specific computer and language skills

Livecareer.com has a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions for college seniors and recent graduates as well as a supplemental list of how to handle trickier questions like listing your degree when you haven’t graduated yet and whether you should list your high school.

 


Cover Letters

The cover letter is your “commercial” or your initial ad that’s going to get the attention of the buyer and make him (or her) want to read the marketing brochure (your resume).

Whereas your resume provides an overview of your work and education history, the cover letter, which accompanies your resume, relates specific experiences that are related to the position of interest to you. Each cover letter should be tailored to the job you are applying for.

Cover letters offer the opportunity to highlight your qualifications as they pertain to the specific job and in the case of career changers, address how you came to switch directions, noting your skills that are transferable to your new career. Use the following resources

to help you make sure your cover letter is the best it can be. Career Sherpa offers many job search resources including cover letter samples.

Cover letters have the following components (adapted from the Cleveland Institute of Art)

  • Salutation. Address your cover letter to a real person whenever possible. It may take a little sleuthing but it’s more personal than To Whom It May Concern or Dear Hiring Manager.
  • The First Paragraph: Why are you writing? State the name of the position you are applying for, how you learned about the opening, and why you are interested in being considered a candidate
  • The Middle Paragraph: Why should they consider you? Be sure to cite specific accomplishments relevant to the job description, highlight any special skills, experience and background which might not appear on your resume
  • The Last Paragraph: What do you want? Indicate your interest in an interview, provide your contact information and specify when YOU will follow up with a phone call (this demonstrates initiative and interest; be sure to follow through)
  • Your signature. “Sincerely” is always professional

Interviewing

StandOut provides feedback and tips of non-verbal behavior and communication missteps during a mock interview. This video interviewing practice platform is now live and accessible for all students and alumni. A computer with a camera and microphone are required.  The Global Communications Center has several computers that can be used by Greensboro College students.

  • Create a class interviewing assignment from pre-created interview questions or record your own
  • Platform allows students to record, review and re-record answers to a myriad of interview questions. StandOut checks for hesitations and enunciations in answers, and time responses to inform interviewing skills.

To access StandOut simply click on the logo above. Use these directions to help you get started!

Before the Interview

  • Research the company, its mission, products and/or services, company structure, any news items related to the organization, and the person(s) who will be interviewing you.
  • Practice your responses to possible interview questions (see Common Interview Questions below)
  • Select your attire for the interview. Conservative professional dress is always best if you are unsure. (See Dressing for the Interview below)
  • Organize materials to bring: resume, portfolio, notepad, pens or pencils
  • Show up 10 -15 minutes early. Any earlier and you may make the interviewer feel anxious about having you wait and make them feel rushed.

During the Interview

  • Refrain from smoking before the interview and never chew gum during an interview
  • Show up 10-15 minutes early. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the interview, especially if you’ve never been there before and run the risk of getting lost. If you arrive any earlier, wait in your car or somewhere other than the site, as being too early can place unnecessary pressure on your interviewer and start the meeting off on the wrong foot.
  • Greet the interviewer with a smile, a direct gaze, and a firm hand shake.
  • They say God gave us two ears and only one mouth. Listen! Refrain from talking over the interviewer or dominating the conversation.
  • Be positive and refrain from any negative talk about previous employers or colleagues.
  • Sit up straight and slightly forward in your seat. Maintain eye contact and look engaged and interested.
  • Be aware of any nervous ticks like bobbing your legs up and down or saying, “Um” and “Like” every other word.
  • Turn off the phone! Nothing is more rude or says, “I’m not very interested,” than someone who is constantly checking their phone every 30 seconds!

After the Interview

  • Ask for the business cards for everyone with whom you interviewed.
  • Follow up with a thank you within 24 hours of your interview. Email is fine but a personal hand written note card is even better, especially if you interviewed with one or a small handful of people. Emails addressed to a large group can be addressed to “Dear Selection Committee.”
  • Reiterate your interest in the position and briefly touch upon why you would be the perfect candidate.

How to Answer Some Common Interview Questions

  1. Tell me/us about yourself. Describe your background, skills and experiences as they relate to the position.
  2. How did you learn about this position? This is your opportunity to demonstrate your initiative if you learned about the organization through reading an article or to express what caught your eye if you found it on a job board. Be sure to note if you learned about it through a networking contact.
  3. Why are you interested in this position? Our organization? Be sure to impress by doing your research on the organization.
  4. Describe your strengths? Discuss the experience and skills that make you uniquely qualified for the position. Weaknesses? Discuss an area you recognize as a weakness and the steps you are taking to improve upon it.
  5. Why should we hire you? Discuss what value you bring to the organization over other candidates. The Daily Editor of The Muse offers this advice: show that you can not only do the work, you can deliver great results; that you’ll really fit in with the team and culture; and that you’d be a better hire than any of the other candidates.
  6. How would your boss and colleagues describe you? Interviewers are looking to know if you can play nicely with others. Be honest, especially if you have listed these people as references.
  7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Your response to this demonstrates your ambitions and vision for your career path.
  8. Do you have any questions for me/us? Having no questions shows a lack of preparedness and/or interest in the position/organization.
    • The Business Insider offers a brief video on 7 Smart Questions to ask at the end of your interview

The STAR interview requires you to give your answers in the form of a story.  When you do this right, your well-structured story proves that you have the experience to do the job.  Here is a breakdown of how to effectively navigate the STAR interview.

 

 


Soft Skills & Career Competencies

What are soft skills? Personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. Unlike hard skills, which describe a person’s technical skill set and ability to perform specific tasks, soft skills are broadly applicable across job titles and industries.

Career Competencies:

The National Association of Colleges and Employers has identified 8 Career Competencies that define career readiness:

  • Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
  • Oral/Written Communications
  • Teamwork/Collaboration
  • Digital Technology
  • Leadership
  • Professionalism/Work Ethic
  • Career Management
  • Global/Intercultural Fluency

Networking & Career Fairs

Career Fairs are an excellent networking opportunity for many students but recruiters say that their number one pet peeve is when job candidates have clearly not done their homework on the employer before the interview. In today’s information society, the opportunity is there to do your homework, communicate that to the employer with your answers to their questions, and to ask well informed questions of them. The better prepared you are, the more likely you will receive an offer!

Go to the interview unprepared and the odds are stacked against you. Start with the organization’s web site, but be sure to use LinkedIn.com, industry association web sites (The Occupational Outlook handbook online has these, as does onetonline.org) and other industry-related databases. GC’s librarians can also be of tremendous help in finding hard to locate information!!

The best prepared students research the following:

  1.  Company Purpose and Mission
  2. Description of Products and Services
  3. Review current job openings to get a sense of what the company looks for
  4. Company Structure/Culture/Values
  5. Office Locations
  6. Company Strengths and Weaknesses
  7. Who are their Customers and Markets?
  8. Industry Trends
  9. Competitors
  10. How this organization is different from its competitors
  11. Recent news from Google News, other sources

Professional Dress

The McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin put together an excellent guide to professional dress for men and women, including accessories do’s and dont’s and how to tie a simple half Windsor knot for gentlemen.

Pride Professional Clothing Closet

The Pride Professional Clothing Closet is located in 301 Main Building and offers professional clothing appropriate for interviews and the workplace to all Greensboro College students free of charge and may be kept. Donations are accepted throughout the year so be sure to check in regularly.


Social Media

LinkedIn

LinkedIn: A social networking site specifically for the business community. LinkedIn Higher Education provides a wealth of tips and videos to let students know the benefits of a LinkedIn profile and presence, and to help them get started.

Instagram

Following an organization’s Instagram feed can provide insights in company trends and culture and demonstrates your research skills if you learn something that can be used during an interview.

Unless your account is totally private, make sure everything you post is workplace appropriate.  Don’t post anything that would embarrass you in an interview or would embarrass anybody else.

Facebook

Don’t be surprised if potential networking contacts or employers look you up on Facebook. With that being said, take down any pictures that you wouldn’t want potential employers to see: inappropriate behaviors, comments and dress.

Use Facebook to follow organizations of interest to you or to find people locally who are working in a field you are interested in or a local organization where you could develop an internship opportunity. ie: physical therapy greensboro, nc will bring up both people and organizations working in physical therapy.

Twitter

The section that’s about you? Make it as specific and professional as possible and use Twitter to follow influencers and organizations of interest to you.

Use Twitter to

  • Share tips
  • Share industry news
  • Share valuable links
Resources
  • Personal Branding with Social Media from NACEweb
  • Use PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Personal Brand Workbook to help you determine how you want to be seen by the world, from figuring out your core strengths and weaknesses to defining your career passions and purpose to translating it all into your resume, elevator pitch, and more.