Get Ready for What Comes Next
Now that you know all about yourself and have identified some fields that interest you, you can think about ways to market your value to potential employers. The resources below will help you PREPARE great application materials that will help you articulate all the fantastic skills and experiences that you have accumulated in part-time jobs, internships, classrooms, and co-curricular activities in your application materials.
A résumé is a snapshot of the education, experience, and skills you have that are valuable to an employer. Its main purpose is to convince a potential employer to invite you for an interview – to make them want to learn more about you. Résumés are used to screen applicants and determine which candidates have the background most closely matching the employers’ needs. It answers the questions: have you, can you, and will you do the job.
Use the resources below to learn more about résumés and get started building your own.
You will usually need a cover letter to go with your résumé. The cover letter is a marketing tool – often one of the first things that a recruiter sees about you. Its purpose is to advertise you well enough to secure an interview. It should represent you – your passion, energy, accomplishments, individuality and professionalism within the context of the job to which you are applying. A good cover letter should not, however, simply restate the content of your résumé. Instead, it’s a chance for you to augment that content with some discussion of your work ethic, specific approaches you might take with the job you want, and to illustrate your writing (and thinking) skills.
Networking is the process of connecting with others in order to develop professional contacts. It can be a great way to learn more about an industry you are interested in, different routes to a career path, a specific employer, a location, graduate school, and more.
A good place to start is usually people with whom you already share something in common, like SOU alumni, faculty, and staff. Platforms like LinkedIn can allow you to connect to those people, search SOU alumni, and send messages to people whose journey, job, or employer you’d like to know more about. The alumni Raider Network is specific to the SOU community and lets you connect with SOU alumni who want to be more engaged with current SOU students and recent graduates as they start out on their career journeys.
When messaging someone, keep in mind the following guidelines:
- Be polite and courteous.
- Start the message by indicating how you are connected: “I saw that you majored in Communications at SOU, and that’s what I’m studying at SOU as well.”
- Be clear in your ask about why you would like to connect: “Would you be open to sharing more about your journey from Communications to Book Publishing?”
- Respect their time by promptly returning messages, and preparing thoughtful questions ahead of any meeting.
- Send a thank you or follow-up after any meeting.
Interviews and Recommendation Letters
Job interviews are a chance for the employer to learn more about you and for you to learn more about the job and the company or organization. Employers use the interview to determine if you are qualified for their open position and whether you would be a good fit for their organization or unit. You should use the interview to highlight your most relevant skills and experience as well as gather information about the job and the organization, so that you can decide whether or not to accept an offer if one is made.
In the entire interview process you play a major role in keeping the flow of communication interesting. You must make your résumé come alive and explain how your experiences relate to the employer’s specific needs. The resources below will help prepare you to do just that.
Prepare for a Career Fair
The Career Fair provides an opportunity to meet representatives who want to talk to you about their internship, employment, and graduate school opportunities. Use your time to gather information on career options, develop a network of contacts, identify openings, or secure an interview. Use these tips to network at the fair:
- Dress professionally: Employers will make decisions based on first impressions.
- Communicate your purpose: When looking for an internship or employment opportunity, state the type of position that interests you. If you are gathering information, tell employers you are exploring career options and are interested in learning about them.
- Make a strong first impression: When meeting employers, introduce yourself, offer a firm handshake, make eye contact, state your purpose, ask questions, listen and act professionally.
- Highlight your strengths: Be prepared to discuss your qualifications that are most related to the job. Include clear, concise examples to demonstrate your qualifications. Practice your verbal presentation (a 30 second “commercial” about you) so you can approach employers with confidence.
- Bring your résumé: Bring enough resumes to give to organizations you are targeting. Carry them in a portfolio. Omit the objective to expand your options.
- Ask questions: Use questions to increase your knowledge of industry trends, job options and career paths. Try these questions:
- What positions in (your career interest) are available in your organization?
- What kind of background do you look for when filling these positions?
- How do you see this field changing over the next five years?
- What advice would you give me if I wanted to break into this field?
- How did you get involved with this industry/organization? What keeps you involved?
- Follow-up: Request a business card for your records. If you want a job interview, follow up with a thank-you note or e-mail within 24 hours.
Requesting a Recommendation Letter