By Lauren Wannermeyer, Intern at Syracuse University Career Services
Did you miss Career Services’ first Senior Session on Resumes, Cover Letters, and preparing for a Career Fair? Here’s what you missed!
Tracy Tillapaugh and Shannon Feeney from Career Services presented on how to make our resume and cover letters stand out among the stack and how to make an impression at a Career Fair. The theme of the session was pretty obvious. To get a job (or even just get an interview), standing out is key.
Tracy kicked off the hour with a brief workshop on resumes, starting with the job description.
The job description
You’d be surprised to hear how many people do not even completely read through a job description before applying for a job. This is an imperative step. If you don’t completely survey the job description, it’s impossible to be strategic with your resume. The idea is to put the most applicable work experience at the top, where it is most likely to be read. It may sound tedious to tailor your resume to every job you apply for, but if you just have a few separate sections (specialized experience, leadership experience, etc.) you can organize them based on the requested skills and experience on the job description.
Recruiters say they pay most attention to the top half and the bottom three lines of a resume. Be strategic with how you place your work/internship experience and your special skills.
We have all heard that resumes shouldn’t be more than one page. With this in mind, don’t be afraid to weed out irrelevant information. You want the experience on your resume to be relevant to the job you are applying for. This might mean taking some things out. While all of your clubs and involvement in college might have been formative, it might not be applicable. Keep this in mind.
The next tip is to focus on action words. You should start every bullet point with a verb to kick off your description. Recruiters cannot get the full picture of your experience from a simple listing of the company you worked for and your position there. You should use verbs to explain your duties and responsibilities and try to relate them back to duties and responsibilities listed in the description of the job you’re applying for.
Tracy’s final tip had to do with listing an objective. Think of your objective as a headline. It’s a brief statement of what you want to do. It helps recruiters clarify why they have your resume. It’s especially helpful when you’re at a career fair. Company reps are often at fairs recruiting for a variety of positions and they will have a hard time remembering why you spoke with them if your resume does not make your objective clear. An objective statement is completely optional, but it’s something to consider if you’re set in what kind of position you aspire to receive after graduation.
As the workshop continued, Tracy spoke about cover letters. Cover letters are often even more frustrating than resumes. They need to be even more specific to the position you are applying to. If there is one key point when it comes to cover letters, it’s relevance. Examples also matter. You can use all the adjectives you want to describe yourself and what kind of worker you are but it will never have the same effect as an anecdote that displays why you possess all the qualities that they are looking for.
Next, Shannon offered excellent tips on how to make the most of career fairs. Her first tip was to do your research. Find out what companies are attending, figure out what tables you’d most like to visit, have your resumes set to go with those companies in mind. Look up the company’s website and social media accounts. Be prepared to have a conversation with the recruiter. You should never go up to a table and say “Tell me about your company.” If you’re serious about applying for a job, you should be able to tell them about their company and why you’d make a good fit. OrangeLink is a great resource. It allows you to look up the companies that are attending, their website and what positions they are recruiting for. Use it!
Next Shannon advised to have your elevator pitch ready to go. Most of us have had to come up with one at some point or another in class. Your elevator pitch should be brief and informative. It should have flavors of your personality and be memorable. These things are hard to achieve. If you have trouble coming up with your elevator pitch, Career Services can help!
If you’re nervous about talking to your dream company, practice. Start by going to a company you’re a little less interested in to warm up. You might find after working out the kinks with a less stressful company, you’re ready to go. Finally, don’t forget to apply. You can’t apply for jobs at Career Fairs, but you find out about a lot of opportunities. Maximize them by applying. You’d be surprised by how many people don’t!
Don’t miss the next Senior Session on Wednesday, February 15th at 3:30 p.m. in Hall of Languages room 207. Chuck Reutlinger will offer a workshop on Job Searching Secrets. Then, on Wednesday, February 22nd, same time, same place, Kim Brown and Dan Klamm will help you to understand how social media plays a role in your job search and why you MUST be on LinkedIn. RSVP on Orange Link!