Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Alumni Perspective: Looking for a Job

Preparing to look for a job after college can be a daunting task. Even more so for those who have not had much experience interviewing with potential employers. All anxieties and doubts can be subdued by simply preparing properly.

First, you need to produce a strong resume highlighting your experience, knowledge and successes thus far in your life. It is not a time to be modest. The job market right now is saturated with experienced workers and you need to set yourself apart in the stack of other resumes. If you need assistance on creating your resume, I recommended you check out your local campus career center. There are professionals who are willing to assist you. Also, they have the in depth knowledge of how a resume should be constructed. I would also recommend that you use other professional contacts in your life to review your resume, especially those who have hiring experience.

Once you have your resume together, you will want to start thinking about a cover letter and references. Cover letters are very important because it gives you a chance to showcase your writing skills. It also gives you a chance to really go in depth on your credentials and past experiences. I am sure you already know this but, it is important to tailor your cover letter to each position you apply for. Use key terms that the employer uses in the posting of the position. In regards to references, use your previous or current supervisors from work or internships. You may also want to use a former professor. Just remember to use someone who will truly advocate for you if they receive a call.

The next step is to actually start the job search.  There are many avenues you can take for looking for a job. Of course, number one being the internet.  There are many sites out there that are specifically tailored for employers to announce postings and for applicants to display their resumes. For instance, there is Career Builder, Monster Jobs, your university job posting site and many others. Then there is the option of going directly to the company’s website that you would like to apply to and search for potential jobs. I prefer the latter because that gets your material directly to them and you do not have to go through a middle man.

Last thing to do in preparation for the getting the job is preparing yourself for the interview. To be fully prepared it is important to review potential interview questions. This way if you get that question, or a similar version you will have an idea of what to say. This will reduce your chances of stumbling over your words, or drawing a blank to a question and no one wants to experience that during an interview. As everything else today, you will be able to find common interview questions on the internet. Google or Yahoo, depending on your preferences will be your best friend through this process.

Job hunting can be a stressful process, but one must always try to stay positive. It is important to know that most people do not get the first position they apply for. Many will make through a multiple interview process and then at the end never receive the job. Just remember this is just a growing experience and with more practice the easier it will become. The right job eventually comes to everyone. This is not usually the first job that you get out of college.
Good luck! You will do great!

Meagan Hertzog is the MSUSA Minnesota State University, Mankato Alumni Association Board member. She can be reached at

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