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Create/Update your Resume and Cover Letter
Check out our Resources page for sample resumes. Even if there is not a resume here for your particular major, those samples may help you get ideas for how you would like your resume to be formatted. Check out different samples to see new formatting ideas or how to arrange and describe your specific experiences.
How to Research Employers
A successful job search begins with researching employers. Research allows you to find out more about the organizations you are interested in and allows you to be better prepared when creating application materials or navigating the interview process.
Where do you find out which employers exist in your desired geographic region?
- Reference USA
- Chamber of Commerce Directories
- A general Google Search
The following questions can usually be answered by studying the company's website:
- How many employees does the employer have?
- What jobs does the company typically hire for?
- What is the employer's hiring policy?
- Where is the employer located? Does it have more than one location?
- What are the employer's mission and values?
- How long have they been in business?
- Is the employer involved in community service? If so, what?
In addition, researching business journals, local media outlets, and ReferenceUSA can provide information to the following questions:
- What is the employer's financial situation? Is the employer making money? Have they downsized in the last five years?
- Has there been any recent important news related to the company?
Glassdoor.com, LinkedIn and contacting current and former employees is a great way to find out more about working for the company:
- What do other think about the company?
- What's it really like to work for this employer?
While you are engaged in the research phase of the job search, is it very important to remain organized. Online resources like jobberjobber.com can be very helpful in organzing this research.
Employers and graduate/professional schools considering you for employment/admission may require you to provide a list of references and/or reference letters for them to review. References verify your experience and confirm your credibility. Additionally, employers and graduate/professional schools use references to increase their confidence that your skills, abilities, past job and school performance, and accomplishments make you a good fit for the position and/or program. Careful consideration should be given to whom you ask to serve as your reference.
Identifying Your References
Consider asking professors, advisors, supervisors/bosses, and co-workers to serve as a reference for you.
As a college student or recent alumnus, at least one should be a professor or faculty member.
Choose wisely. If an individual has minimal knowledge of your professional experience, do not ask him or her to serve as your reference. For example, you would be better represented if you selected an individual who knows you well and can speak of your skills than if you selected a well-respected professional in your field who knows you very little about you.
Personally contact each person to ask if he or she will serve as your reference.
If possible, schedule time to speak with each individual to share the types of positions you are interested in applying for and how you see your qualifications fitting with those positions.
Ask early and be respectful. Ask individuals to serve as a reference and/or write letters of recommendation for you well in advance of date they will be contacted and/or need to turn in their letters.
Build your recommendation portfolio by asking your employer or supervisor to write you a letter whenever you leave or complete your job if you left on good terms. If you have great interactions with a professor and did well in class, you may also ask the professor to write a letter for you at the end of the semester.
Providing Your References With Information
Provide your references with your current resume, summary of goals, and any other document (e.g., transcript) you feel is necessary for them to provide thorough and positive information for your candidacy.
Notify your references when you have included them in a job application.
If you are requesting the reference to write a letter of recommendation, you should provide a stamped and addressed envelope. Also, you may include a cover sheet with a list of the graduate schools or employers for which you are requesting letters to be sent.
Thanking Your References
Send a thank-you card to your reference after you know the letter has been sent out or that he or she has spoken with the employer/graduate school.
You may also consider contacting your references to update them of your outcome.
Formatting Your Reference Page
Be sure to use your same resume contact heading and information on your reference page in case both documents are separated.
Use the same font and font size that you used for your resume.
Citing Your References
While there are some exceptions, your reference page should be a separate page from your resume. The following is an example of how you may list your references' contact information.
John D. Doe, PhD
Assistant Professor of Management
University of Central Missouri
Ward Edwards 2000
Warrensburg, Missouri 64093
Accepting the Job
Congratulations! You have been offered your dream position, now what? At this point, you have an important decision to make. Please consider the following points:
- Evaluate the offer. Is the position aligned with your career goals and objectives? Can you picture yourself working in the company and with the team? Is your total compensation appropriate?
- Ask for time to review the offer and to get the offer in writing when possible. You have the right to ask the employer for a period of time to reflect on the job offer and do not have to accept a position immediately after it is offered. Communicate with the employer about how much time you need to make an informed decision, but remember that you do not want to keep the employer waiting. Once you have decided to accept the offer, ask the employer if you may have the offer in writing. This reduces the potential for future misunderstandings and allows for you to be clear about salary, benefits, start date, etc.
- Accept the job in good faith. After you have verbally accepted a position, you are committed to the employer and position even if a better offer comes along in a few days. Your honor, professionalism and reputation are valuable in the business and academic communities and are difficult to rebuild. Before you accept the position, be sure to spend the time to make a well-informed decision.
- Withdraw your candidacy from other positions once you accept the offer. Informing companies that you are out of the job market will demonstrate your professionalism. Also, it will help your friends who may be interested in the job(s) for which you were applying during your search.
- Provide additional information. Follow-up with the employer to make sure they have all of information they need to finalize the offer (i.e.: transcripts, reference letters, and other correspondence).
- Follow-up with your network. Don't forget to thank and notify your references and professional network of your new professional position.
Ethics and Expectations
Interview with employers who offer the type of work environment in which you are seeking and whose eligibility requirements you meet. Do not interview with an employer just for practice.
The Career Services Center offers practice interviews to assist with the development of your interviewing skills, confidence, etc.
Show up for each interview at the scheduled time and date. If an unforeseeable event prohibits you from attending a scheduled interview, notify the employer at the earliest possible opportunity.
Plan for on-sight visits and ensure that all the details relating to travel expenses are agreed upon before committing to such a visit.
Obtain a business card from the interviewer and send a personalized thank you note within 48 hours of the interview.
Make sure that you have a complete understanding of the job offer made, such as salary, job functions, benefits, etc. Communicate your acceptance or refusal of a job offer as promptly as possible. If you have questions regarding any of these areas, ask an employee representative to explain in greater detail.
Accept an offer promptly once a decision is made. Notify the employer to secure the position. Be sure to ask for a letter confirming the position, salary, and starting date in writing.
Notify the Career Services Center when you receive a job offer so we can deactivate your HireRed account. If you would like to reactivate your account in the future, notify the office and we will reactivate your account and once again provide your information to potential employers.
Provide any false or misleading information to an employer. Provide the employer with accurate information concerning your educational record, work history, group activities and honors/awards.
Show disrespect for any employer, regardless of your personal opinions about them and/or the organization they represent. Employers, especially those visiting the campus from within the same industry, do communicate (network) with each other about prospective candidates. Make sure that this networking between employers keeps you in a positive light.
Visit a potential employer unless you have a sincere interest in working for them.
Continue interviewing with other employers after you have accepted a position. Notify all other potential employers of your decision and withdraw your name from further consideration.
Accept more than one job offer.
Networking is one of the most, if not the most, important tools in your job search. Since most job and internship opportunities are never posted, job candidates often learn about job postings through their professional and personal networks.
Tips for Successful Networking
- Be ready to network any given moment. You can network at a conference, wedding, or even a sporting event. Therefore, you should prepare a 30-second oral resume or self introduction that will catch the person's interest and will allow you to confidently share your information and your career goals. To begin establishing your network, go where people are participating in groups, campus/community organizations or committees will help you get connected. Don't wait for networking to just happen.
- First impressions are key. Make sure you establish and maintain eye contact and listen more than you talk. When engaging with someone for the first time, break the ice by asking open-ended questions such as, 'how did you get started in your field, what do you enjoy most about this profession, or what advice would you give someone just starting in the field?'
- The best networkers are the best listeners. Individuals will speak with you if you are not only talking about yourself. Pay attention to nonverbal cues from the individual indicating he or she is ending the conversation.
- Value quality over quantity. If you are able to have 5-7 quality connections with individuals at a large event, consider it a success.
- Keep a record of the individuals you have met and what you discussed so you don't lose the connections. Ask for business cards and record important points from your conversation on the cards for future reference. If you offer to send information or make a promise to do something, always follow-up.
- Maintain your network; it is an on-going process. Be sure to share good news, information, resources and success stories with your network, do not only communicate with them when you need something.
Review Your Career Development Plan
The Career Development Plan Checklist is designed to assist you with your progression throughout your college experience. It is designed to be personally customized for you and to complement your UCM involvement portfolio. The purpose of the CDP Checklist is to provide you with guidance as you progress through your college experience. We will help you explore your academic options, decide on your academic focus, build your brand, refine your job search skills, and much more. When you are ready to graduate, you will not only be prepared academically, but professionally as well.
Click here to download your Career Development Plan Checklist
Understand the Online Job Search
The following are tips for successfully using the Internet in your job search process.
- Develop a Strategic Filter.With all of the career-related Web sites available, you will be more productive if you have identified what is important to you in your next position before you begin searching ( i.e.: is location important to you? a specific job title or functional area? ).
- Be specific.Your search will give you better leads if you have developed a list of the factors or key words related to your career direction/search.
- Avoid sites that ask for money.The majority of sites post free information for job seekers. Depending on your career goals and professional field; however, it may be worth paying the fee if the information is important to you and will be helpful in your search.
- Identify key sites and revisit often : a good policy is to check the sites twice per week.
- Keep good records :of the sites you visit and the information you have posted to avoid duplicate applications.
- Maintain a professional online presence : If an employer googled your name, what would he or she see? If you suspect it would be unflattering, you should remedy that situation before it is too late. 'Employer proof' your Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking pages.
- Make use of job search websites : In addition to our HireRed, utilize websites like USAJobs.gov, Missouri Division of Personnel, and search engines like Indeed.com.
Practice Your Interviewing Skills
A job interview is a two-way dialogue in which employers and perspective employees learn more about each other. It is important to realize that a “job interview” encompasses all interactions, not just spoken words. It is not just an interaction for the employer. The employee should use the interview to learn more about the company so they can make a better decision regarding a position.
Types of Interviews
A screening interview is a type of job interview that is conducted to determine if the applicant has the qualifications needed to do the job for which the company is hiring. A screening interview is typically the first interview in the hiring process.
A screening interview can be conducted over the phone or in-person. In both cases, the results of the screening interview will determine if the candidate moves to the next round of the interview process.
Phone interviews are often used to screen candidates in order to narrow the pool of applicants who will be invited for in-person interviews.
A typical job interview is one-on-one between a candidate for employment and a hiring manager. The interviewer will ask questions about the applicant's experience and skills, as well as about work history, availability, and the personal attributes the company is seeking in the person they will hire for the job.
Group of Applicants
Group interviews often involve a work-simulation exercise, such as a problem-solving activity, to test candidates' leadership and teamwork skills. The exercise is typically accompanied by questions about the exercise, as well as more traditional interview questions.
Board or Panel of Employers
This can be intimidating because several people can be asking you different questions.
In this interview the employer will ask you to recall a situation from your past to determine how you would react in the future. When responding to these questions you will want to use the STAR Method.The STAR method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioral-based interview question by discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of what you are describing to validate you anwer.
Case Study Interviews
In this interview you will be given a problem or situation and it is up to you to come up with a solution. The intention behind this style of interview is not for candidates to fail, but determine whether one is good at thinking on their feet.
A stress interview takes place when a job applicant is placed in a stressful situation to see how they react. The candidate may be asked repeated difficult or inappropriate interview questions, there may be multiple interviewers at once or sequential interviews, or the candidate may be kept waiting, treated rudely, or otherwise put in an intimidating position.
It's important to keep in mind that you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you. A question to ask yourself, if you have been subject to a stress interview, is whether you would want to work for a company that treated job applicants this way?
These are in-depth, qualitative interviews used in planning and evaluating candidates because they use an open-ended, discovery-oriented method, which allows the interviewer to deeply explore the respondent’s feelings and perspectives on a subject.
Site Interviews, Informational Interviews, or Conversations
This is an interview set up at your own request with a Human Resources Manager or a Departmental Supervisor in the career field you are interested in. The purpose of these interviews is for you to find out more information from these people in hopes that they might refer you to the someone else in their company or to somebody they may know outside their company who could utilize your skills.
What are the different stages of an interview?
An appropriate greeting and a firm handshake is a great start to any interview.
Employers will look for:
- Good body posture.
- Steady eye contact.
- Small talk on informal topics of discussion to gauge your personal interests.
Introduction and Ice Breaking
This stage usually deals with getting to know one another and comes before the largest part of the interview.
This is the most important part of the interview. How you answer these questions more than anything else will have the greatest impact on your overall performance at the interview. Be thorough and try to get your point across, but do not go on too long and lose their attention.The interviewer will ask you questions about yourself, your education, your past work history, other items on your resume, your interests and goals.
It is a good idea to have at least three questions prepared to ask the employer at the end of the interview. Some good topics are advancement opportunities, training, and the future of the company.
Before you leave, verify contact information for the interviewer and ask for a business card if you have not already received one. Also, verify the next step in the hiring process. When will they hire? Will they follow up with you or should you follow up with them? Express your appreciation for the opportunity to interview and leave with a smile and a handshake.
Effective Salary Negotiation
Many recent graduates have questions about the best approaches to negotiation. The following suggestions will help you in your professional negotiation approach.
- Do Your Research.You need to justify why you warrant an increase in your salary and tie that to the value you will bring to the company.
- Know your worth in the marketplace.Utilize salary Web sites to help you identify an appropriate salary range. Be prepared with this information early in your job search process because you may be asked by the employer for your salary history or expectations early in the interview process.
- Research average salaries for your major
- View where UCM graduates are getting employed
- See how UCM graduates have found employment
- Understand the negotiation process.The purpose of the negotiation process is to reach a mutual agreement with the employer. You do not want the negotiation process to be a confrontation. Remember, you will be working on the same team as the individual(s) with whom you are negotiating in a few weeks.ALWAYS REMAIN PROFESSIONAL!
- Avoid discussing salary until you have been offered the job or until the employer brings up the subject.The employer may have concerns regarding your genuine interest in the position or company if you ask about the salary before you ask about the position description.
- It is not always just about salary, benefits add up too.When individuals add the benefits the company is offering to the base salary, they are often surprised that they are making more than they would at another company offering a higher base salary. Benefits such as health insurance, retirement savings plan, vacation plans, opportunities to grow professionally, travel, overtime pay, and compensation time all quickly add up.
Remember, at some point you need to make some tough decisions.
If you take too much time or show too much hesitation, you may lose some offers.
Understanding Third Party Employers
As you conduct your job search you will find that some employers hire third-party organizations to assist them in identifying and hiring college students. An employer can hire a third-party organization to do on-campus recruiting, represent the company at a job fair, screen job candidates who apply through an Internet web site, or other hiring activities. The Career Services Office at the University of Central Missouri recommends that you be aware of issues that are pertinent to working with these organizations.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) defines third-party recruiters as "agencies, organizations, or individuals recruiting candidates for temporary, part-time, or full-time employment opportunities other than for their own needs." Categories of third-party recruiters include:
- Employment Agencies: Employment agencies list positions for a number of organizations and receive payment when a referred candidate is hired. The fee for listing a position is paid either by the firm listing the opening or by the candidate who is hired. If the job listing does not include the phrase "fee paid," be sure to ask who pays the fee before signing any papers.
- Search Firms: A search firm contracts with employers to find and screen qualified persons to fill specific positions. The fee is paid by the employer. Search firm representatives will identify the employer they represent.
- Contract Recruiters: Employers hire contract recruiters to represent them in the recruiting and employment function.
- Resume Referral Firms: A resume referral firm collects information on job seekers and forwards it to prospective employers. Data can be contained in resumes or on data forms (either paper or electronic). The employer, job seeker, or both may pay fees. You must give the firm written permission to pass your resume to employers. Your permission should include a statement that expressly states to whom and for what purpose the information can be used.
Questions to Ask
A third-party recruiter may be helpful to you in your job search, but be a wise consumer. Read all materials carefully. Ask questions. Ask your career services office staff for information. Ask a lawyer to read any contracts you are asked to sign. Here are some general questions you may want to ask:
- How many job openings are there for someone in my field? If you have the opportunity, inquire about the positions being filled or the number of openings related to your field. These are important questions because, in some instances, recruiters may not really have the type or number of openings they advertise. They may be more interested in adding your name to their candidate pool as a means of attracting more employers or clients to their services. Or they may be collecting resumes from students for potential job opportunities. (Name of your institution/career center) does not allow third-party recruiters to interview students unless they are trying to fill actual job openings.
- How is this information being used? A third-party recruiter is allowed legally to share your resume with the contract employer for positions that you are actually seeking. The recruiter must tell you, in clear terms, that your materials and information will not be shared outside the organization or used for any purpose other than with the company they represent at the time they interview you. The third-party recruiter cannot sell your information to anyone else. You may choose to authorize the recruiter to share your data elsewhere, but your authorization should be given to the recruiter in writing.
- Are candidates treated equally and fairly? If you are qualified for the job opportunity, the third-party recruiter must pass your information to employers without regard to your race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.
- Who pays the fee? Before you agree to anything or sign a contract, ask the recruiter who will pay the fee.
For assistance with these questions or other related topics, contact the UCM Office of Career Services located in Union 302 or email firstname.lastname@example.org