UB's Career Services provides tips for college graduates on getting a job

Preparing for the job hunt


Graduating from college is an exciting time – until the realization of how hard finding a job is sets in.

UB Career Services provides tips for students on how to build a résumé, how to do well in a job interview and start a career. Jenna Smith, coordinator of assessment and marketing for Career Services, takes a positive approach in educating students in ways to get a job.

Smith said Career Services tries to frame all of their advice in a positive way so students remember what to do during an interview, not what they shouldn’t be doing. She said students are prone to remembering the negative things and then will end up doing that in an interview, rather than what they should be doing.

The following tips are given by Career Services to help students in the job search.

Know your code

The Holland Code was made by psychologist John Holland on the premise that you could identify someone’s ideal career options based on six personality types, each represented by a letter. The codes are made up by choosing three of the personality types and using the combination of letters to identify personal strengths.

The personality types are realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising and conventional. Understanding a personality type can be key when choosing a career. According to the Holland Code, following one’s personal code can lead to happiness and fulfillment.

Make your résumé specific

An employer spends an average of 15 to 20 seconds reviewing a résumé so having a good one is important. The key to standing out is making sure the résumé isn’t bland. Focusing on extracurricular activities such as honors, studying abroad, leadership skills and technical skills help make applicants look well rounded – an attractive feature to any prospective employer.

Use specific accomplishments and results in each entry in experience can help quantify experience more than simply writing it down. Career Services also provides a list of words that make résumés stand out more, including “administered,” “excelled,” “rationalized” and “spearheaded.”

Consistent formatting is also crucial to giving a professional feel to the résumé.

Differentiate your cover letter from your résumé

A cover letter is a one-page letter that is essentially the first impression an employer will have of a candidate for a job. It shouldn’t be your résumé in paragraph form. The cover letter should be clear and to the point, highlighting specific examples of relevant experience to the job.

In addition to proofreading, customize each letter for the job you’re applying for.

Keep your feet on the floor

The interview is the most crucial part of landing a job and should be well prepared for. It’s important to have a good posture while speaking to a potential future employer so Career Services suggests keeping both feet firmly planted to the floor. This will help you to sit up straight and make a good first impression.

It’s also important to offer a firm handshake, make plenty of eye contact, smile, answer questions completely and ask thoughtful questions.

It’s also valuable to think about the potential questions you’ll be asked before the interview. Questions could include “Tell me about yourself,” “What are your strengths?” and “What are you weaknesses?” But whenever describing a weakness, be sure to include how you are working on it and what progress is being made.

Use the “STAR” method

In an interview, you’re sure to be asked a question that starts with “Tell me about a time when…” It’s important to be prepared to fully answer this question in entirety. Start with the situation (S), explain the task at hand (T), talk about the actions (A) you took to accomplish your goal and finally be sure to include the results (R) of the situation including what you learned or how the situation worked out.

Make a LinkedIn profile

Networking is one of the most important ways of finding jobs and LinkedIn is the Facebook for business professionals. Be sure to upload a professional picture of yourself and make your profile look similar to your résumé. Have friends, family and past employers add you and endorse your skills.

“You should only connect with people you know,” according to the Career Services Career Guide. “When sending an invitation to connect, always personalize your invitation. Indicate why you want to connect with this person or refer to the last conversation you had with them.”

Career Services provide services such as help writing a résumé and practice interviews to prepare students for entering the job market. Graduation can be an exciting and stressful time, but with the right preparation, getting a job can be just another step along the way.

Daniel McKeon is a features editor and can be reached at features@ubspectrum.com