Job Search Resources
Choosing and attaining meaningful post graduation employment is an important challenge for college students. You and your fellow students are expected to be active participants; for this process to be successful, everyone involved must work together.
To succeed in today's job market, you must:
Start Early, Start with your Campus Career Center, Research Industries, Jobs and Employers, and Network!
Top Skills and Qualities of the Perfect Candidate:
- Communication Skills (verbal & written)
- Interpersonal Skills
- Teamwork Skills
- Leadership Skills
- Analytical Skills
- Computer Skills
- Detail Oriented
- Problem-solving Skills
- Technical Skills
- Organizational Skills
- Self Confidence
Source: Job Outlook 2009: National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)
Typically, a resume is an employer's first introduction to you. In the initial screening process, your resume may only have 15-30 seconds of consideration. With this in mind, it is important that you know how to effectively present your skills, experience and knowledge-- don't get passed over because of a poor resume.
WHAT'S IN A RESUME?
A resume is an individually designed summary of your personal, educational and experiential qualifications as they relate to the employment you are seeking. The primary purpose of a resume is to persuade an employer to interview you. It will also serve as an outline during the interview. It is not an autobiography! It should highlight carefully selected skills and accomplishments that would make you an ideal candidate for the job.
POINTS TO CONSIDER
- Writing a resume takes time. Plan to write several drafts before you are done.
- Never go over two pages.
- Be relevant. Use information that supports your qualifications.
- Your objective should be clear and focused--not too general--if you decide to use one.
- General rule for GPA: list if 3.0 or better (you could list your major GPA).
- If you have not yet graduated, state the "anticipated" or "expected" graduation date.
- Lead with your strongest suit--education, experience, etc.
- Avoid using "I" and phrases such as "duties included..." and "responsible for..."
- Use buzzwords and keywords.
- Make your resume "accomplishment focused." Think "scope and results."
- Use action verbs to emphasize your skills. Click here for suggested action verbs.
- Resumes should be visually appealing and error free (no grammatical or spelling errors).
- Ask several people to proof read it for you.
- Laser print on bond paper, preferably white, off-white or grey. Use a 9"x12" envelope. This keeps documents neat, easy to handle, read and scan. Do not tri-fold it and stuff it into an envelope that matches your resume stationery. This is now considered outdated!
OptimalResume.com is a web-based program that will help you create (in several formats including Word, Plain Text, PDF and HTML), style and manage your resume. This program prompts you at each step to enter the required information and provides helpful examples.
It is highly recommended that students have three types of resumes: traditional, scannable, and electronic (our OptimalResume software automatically converts to all three types). The links below will provide you with additional guidelines and samples:
Do not list references on your resume. Prepare a separate sheet entitled "References of (your name)" or PROFESSIONAL REFERENCES" and have it available upon request. You should never send your reference sheet unless it is requested.
References should be previous employers, faculty, supervisors, coaches, or college administrators who have knowledge of your abilities and skills. Always obtain permission before listing references.
Your reference page should be on the same paper as your resume and cover letter, be printed in the same font, and include the same heading as your resume (name, address, phone number, etc.). Information should include: reference name, title, organization, address, phone number, and e-mail address. Also include your relationship to the person if it is not clear.
The cover letter, also known as a letter of introduction or letter of application, is a professional business letter which accompanies your resume any time you mail or hand deliver your resume to a prospective employer. The only time a cover letter does not accompany a resume is when you attend a job fair or you are bringing it to an interview. A cover letter introduces you to the employer and highlights your qualifications for a position. The cover letter should be 3 to 4 paragraphs and no more than one page. Each cover letter should be tailored to the position for which you are applying. The paper and font should match your resume. Before you print your letter make certain your writing is as clear as possible (no flowery phrases) and error free. Read your draft aloud. Listen for any awkward transitions or vague thoughts. Ask an English professor and a professor from your academic program for feedback as well.
COVER LETTER FORMAT
Your street address
Your city, state and zip code
Name of person (always try to direct your letter to a specific person)
City, State and zip code
Dear (name of person):
First Paragraph: State the reason you are writing, name the specific position for which you are applying, and indicate how you learned about the opening. Emphasize what you can offer the employer related to the position you are seeking (not what they can do for you).
Second Paragraph: Explain how your academic and work experiences qualify you for the position. Point out specific achievements or unique qualifications and back them up with examples, but don't repeat your resume; instead, refer to the qualifications you possess which will entice the reader to want to look at your resume. Be specific, but concise.
Third Paragraph (optional): This paragraph is not necessary, but could be used if you need to include additional information about your experiences or characteristics that haven't already been mentioned in your resume.
Closing Paragraph: Give a plan of action. Try using an active ending; in other words, rather than asking to contact you, tell them you will contact them in a few days to set up on interview. If you are not comfortable requesting an interview, tell them you will call in a few days to ask if they require additional information. If you state that you will call, remember to follow up. Be sure to thank the employer for their time and consideration.
(Be sure to sign your letter!)
Your name typed
THANK YOU LETTER
The most effective way of communicating your interest AFTER an interview is to send each interviewer a short, professional thank you letter typed on professional stationery or sent in an email. In addition to expressing appreciation for the interviewer's time, you have a final chance to take advantage of the opportunity to reiterate your interest and offer supplemental information you did not have an opportunity to share.
Even if you have accepted a job over the phone, it is important that you confirm your acceptance in writing. The letter should be brief, but include the following: appreciation and acceptance of the offer, the terms and conditions of the offer (salary, benefits, etc.) and the start date.
It is important to write a brief letter expressing your appreciation of a job offer, and to politely decline. There is always a chance that you may want to work for this employer again, so it's important not to burn any bridges.
View the links below for additional cover letter tips and samples:
The purpose of the interview is to convince the employer to hire you. To do this, you must know what you have to offer and how your abilities match the employer's needs. You must learn to communicate this effectively to the interviewer. Successful interviewing requires preparation and practice.
Preparing for the Interview:
- Be prepared to discuss your educational background--not just the classes you've taken but what you've learned.
- Be prepared to discuss in detail any particular jobs or experiences you have had. What did you learn from them? Are they relevant to the job for which you are interviewing?
- Be prepared to describe yourself. What motivates you? How do you get a particular job done?
- Do you get involved? Are you a leader? How do you interact with co-workers, supervisors, and possible clients?
- Research the organization and position.
- Practice, Practice, Practice!
While you can never be sure what will be asked during an interview, you can be prepared for those questons that are likely to arise. You should rehearse your responses to common interview questions in advance. Practice with a friend, or better yet, participate in a "mock interview." Mock interviewing is when you sit down with a business professional and pretend you are in an actual interview situation. Arrangements for a mock interview may be made through Career Services.
Going to an interview unprepared is like taking a test without studying!
During the Interview:
- Arrive about 15 minutes early: If necessary, drive to the actual interview site prior to the interview to determine traffic patterns, parking, etc. If, for any reason, you cannot make the interview, notify the employer as far in advance as possible. Don't be a no-show!
- Make a good first impression: Dress appropriately, be well groomed, give a firm handshake and make eye contact.
- Conduct yourself professionally: You may meet your interviewer in the parking lot or in the hallway. Be courteous and pleasant to everyone you meet.
- Answer questions thoroughly and with examples: Give specific details. If an employer asks, "Did you like your last job?" Don't simply answer yes. Instead, state what parts of the job you enjoyed and why.
- Examine your body language: Maintain good posture. At times, leaning forward will demonstrate enthusiasm and interest. Watch for crossed arms. Maintain good eye contact.
- Demonstrate enthusiasm: A positive attitude goes a long way. Demonstrate that you are excited about the possibility of working for the company.
- Let them know you are interested: Sometimes employers truly don't know if the candidate is interested. Hopefully, you have demonstrated interest and enthusiasm throughout the interview, but don't be afraid to state in closing that you are very interested in the position.
- Before you leave, did you cover everything? Often, in closing, an employer might ask, "Is there anything else that you would like to mention that wasn't discussed?" Take this time to tell the interviewer about relevent skills, qualities, or accomplishments that were not covered.
- Thank the interviewer: Always thank the interviewer for his/her time whether or not you want that particular position.
Types of Questions:
- "Tell me about yourself." This is an open-ended question usually asked to help "break the ice." Remember to keep your response related to the job. Be specific and don't ramble. Your answer should be about two minutes in length. Watch this New Grad Life blogspot.
- "Questions about anything on your resume." An interviewer may probe for more information or just a general discussion of something you listed on your resume. Be prepared to elaborate on anything you list on your resume--give examples.
- "Give us an example of a time when _______." Based on the premise that an applicant's past behavior will predict how he or she will respond in similar situations in the future, behavior-based interviewing focuses on determining how you have actively applied your skills. Be prepared to give specifics using the S-A-R (situation-action-result) approach.
- "What is your major strength/weakness?" Your major strength should be easy, but be sure to relate it directly to the position. As for your major weakness, prepare to put a positive spin on it. For example, "I tend to be nervous around my supervisors, although I've gained more confidence in this area since my last job where my supervisors encouraged me to ask questions." One way to think of a weakness is to look for something that might be perceived as a gap in your resume. For instance, "You may notice that I haven't held a professional position in accounting, but through my involvement with the VITA program, I flawlessly processed over 50 income tax returns for low income citizens." Remember that your job in discussing weaknesses is to select something noteworthy and honest, but to put a positive light on the trait and to show how you are working on it. Avoid cliches such as "I'm too much of a perfectionist!"
- "If you could be an animal, which would it be and why?" This is not a trick question. You may be asked questions that seem ridiculous or out of place. The interviewer is trying to determine if you can think on your feet.
- "Do you have any questions for us?" Always have questions! Be sure not to ask questions that can easily be answered through research or questions that the employer has already answered for you during the interview. Doing so would signal that you did not do your homework or that you were not listening. Questions might include:
- Technology the company uses
- How your division interacts with other divisions of the organization
- Characteristics of a star performer
- Why the interviewers were drawn to the company themselves
- What will need immediate attention upon starting the position
- What the interviewers consider the most challenging aspects of this job
Don't ask: questions about salary, vacation, benefits, and retirement--they reflect misplaced priorities. These questions should be saved for "after" you have been offered the position, unless your interviewer brings up the topic. Some positions may require you to "state your salary requirement" in which case you must do your research and always leave room for negotiation.
After the Interview
- Send a thank you note: Send a short personal note to the interviewer within 48 hours. Keep the note brief, but reiterate your interest in the position (if you are, in fact, interested) and use the opportunity to mention a key point that you failed to mention in the interview.
- Evaluate your performance after the interview: Make notes on how you did overall, what were your strengths, what needs improving, is the job right for you, and would you enjoy working here. Your interviewing skills will improve as you learn from each interview.
Dressing for an Interview
Need advice on how to dress for an interview? Syms Dress to Achieve is specially designed for college students.
Visit the following sites to gain valuable information on starting salaries. As a new graduate, you should take the time to investigate salaries to ensure your expectations are in line with reality. Remember, salaries can vary greatly depending on many factors such as field of employment, location, supply and demand, etc. So...do your research!
DEVELOPING JOB LEADS
Today's successful job candidate must use a diversified approach to job searching . . .
- The INTERNET provides a wealth of job search information. In fact, with so much to choose from, you should develop a strategy before you begin. Our job search links are a great place to start, but if you can't find what you are looking for, trying a general search engine such as Yahoo, Google, or Altavista.
- Among career professionals, NETWORKING is often deemed the most effective and most widely prescribed method of job searching. Networking means making connections with people who can help you with your job search. Your network should include family members, friends, professors, advisors, alumni, current and past employers...anyone you come in contact with who can help you with your job search. Don't be reluctant to let others know you are looking for a job (create business/networking cards!), most people are happy to help. You should get LinkedIn and/or Twitter your way to a job!
- JOB PLACEMENT CENTERS offer a variety of employment services, which include job search workshops, referrals to jobs and computerized listings of local, state and national job openings through America's Job Bank.
- AMERICA'S ONE-STOP CAREER CENTER SYSTEM is another national employment service initiative. Again, resources are at the local, state, and federal level. Visit Career One Stop for a state list. Don't forget to visit our local MACHIAS CAREER CENTER, which serves UMM students.
- JOB FAIRS bring the job seeker face-to-face with many employers in one location--they provide a great opportunity to learn about careers and make initial contacts. Numerous job fairs are offered throughout the state each year. Visit MCCC for a complete list of consortium fairs.
- PRIVATE TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES are popular because they work on behalf of clients to find jobs. These agencies offer assistance with job search skills, and job assignments may lead to full-time permanent work. Working for a temp agency can help you gain valuable work experience too. Kelly Services provides staffing services and employment opportunities in all states across the U.S., and Manpower, Inc. is a world leader in the employment services industry.
- Local and regional employers don't always post on major job sites. Instead, they tend to advertise in their local newspapers through CLASSIFIED ADS. Most online newspapers offer a help wanted section. Check out the BANGOR DAILY NEWS or the ELLSWORTH AMERICAN. You can search directories of online newspapers, both national and international, at NEWSPAPERS.COM or ONLINE NEWSPAPERS.
- PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS are an excellent resource for career exploration, networking and keeping abreast of industry trends. Visit JOB WEB for a list of professional associations broken down by major. Don't forget to ask faculty for their recommendations too--they know which associations are best for their respective fields.
- Don't overlook jobs advrtised in industry TRADE MAGAZINES, which provide another great source for industry news, trends, and tips. FREE TRADE MAGAZINE SOURCE.COM offers free subscriptions.
- Most COMPANY WEB SITES tell you everything you need to know about them, including job opportunities. There are many such as HOOVERS that will point you to employers' web sites.
- CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE can provide you with information on specific geographic locations. You can request an employer listing or relocation packet.
- YELLOW PAGES also offers useful information. You can identify employers and organizations for possible places of employment.
- OTHER COLLEGE WEB SITES are excellent for learning about job fairs and viewing information on employers. Some schools allow access to their jobs database (most require passwords), and offer a wealth of job searching tools and resources.
- COOPERATIVE EDUCATION, INTERNSHIP, VOLUNTER WORK....all previous work can provide a link to future employment. Again, use your connections.
A SAVVY JOB SEEKER WILL USE MULTIPLE METHODS!
Job Search Sites
As you probably have discovered, the Internet provides a wealth of job search information. Employers are able to reach large numbers of potential job applicants by listing job openings online. The links below may be helpful as you start your job search.
Indeed: A search engine for jobs -- with a radically different approach to job search. In one simple search, Indeed gives job seekers free access to millions of employment opportunities from thousands of websites.
Cyber-Sierra'a Natural Resources Job Search: Helping you find employment in conservation occupations.
Green Jobs Network: Connecting people seeking jobs that focus on environmental and social responsibility with available opportunities and resources.
Green Jobs: Focus in on all aspects of employment in renewable energy worldwide.
GIS Links ~ Jobs in GIS: Links that contain GIS jobs and related information.
SimplyHired: Job search made simple. Nifty tools to find jobs, identify trends, research salaries, and more.
GettingHired: Online, national job portal providing career opportunities from employers who are committed to hiring people with disabilities.
College Recruiter: Featuring hundreds of thousands of internships for college students and entry-level jobs for recent graduates.
JobsInTheUS: Click on state specific to view various job boards ~ 19 states represented.
Maine Graduates: Sponsored by the Maine Recruiting Consortium, this site offers Maine employers the opportunity to post jobs, co-ops and internships for our students and alumni.
Career Builder: Search by keyword, city, state, field of interest, company, industry, or job type. Includes great career advice, articles, resources and a free semi-monthly newsletter.
America's Job Bank: Thousands of new jobs are posted daily. Search by job category or by state.
Quintessential Careers: One of the most comprehensive career development sites on the web for job search and resources.
Employment Times: A weekly publication dedicated to help wanted advertising in Maine and New Hampshire. Offers a wide range of articles on career development and job searching.
Flip Dog: Job listings are indexed directly from the employers' own web sites. Added features include career advice, articles, resources and a free semi-monthly newsletter.
Nation Jobs: Register to receive email notification of new jobs. Research companies and explore career tools and resources.
Vault: Searchable job postings and extensive job searching resources. Noted for their "insider" information on companies and industries.
Job Web: Sponsored by NACE. Career development and job search advice for recent or soon to be college graduates.
College Grad: Devoted to entry-level positions, this site is an excellent resource for new graduates. Sections include career planning, resumes, cover letter, interviewing, employer research and job postings.
Wet Feet: Forbes "Best of the Web" job hunting pick. Excellent site for researching companies and industry. Includes job searching tips, salary and location information, and job internship listings.
Riley Guide: Margaret Riley introduces you to the online job search. Topics include How and Where to Job Search. Links to additional sites.
Hot Jobs: Search listings by category, company, location or keywords. Career tools, networking opportunities and free e-newsletter.
Cool Jobs: Entry-level jobs, seasonal jobs, overseas jobs and much more.
Idealist: Job listings, volunteer opportunities, internships and more.
MonsterTRAK.com is the #1 website for students and alumni looking for full-time and part-time positions or internships.
Craigslist: A centralized network of online communities featuring free online classified advertisements for jobs and internships.
National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE): The leading source of information on the employment of the college educated.
Top Entry Level Employers for 2009 Includes company description and links to company home and career pages.
Program Specific Sites
Maine Conservation Corp
Maine Conservation School
Back Door Jobs
The Student Conservation Association
National Recreation & Park Association
Disney College Program
National Science Foundation
Association of Zoos and Aquariums
The Job Seeker
The Nature Conservancy
Environmental Jobs and Careers
Other Job Specific Sites
STATE OF MAINE: Job listings for the State of Maine. These sites also provide information on education and training, job searching resources and more. Check out National Classified Job Lisings for links to other Maine newspapers.
Maine Career Center
Department of Labor
Maine Job Hunter
Job Postings within the University of Maine System
For additional assistance with any of the above resources, please visit Career Services in Torrey Hall, Room 227B.