Career Center Resources

"The future depends on what you do today."

- Mahatma Gandhi

The CBT Career Center offers the resources you need to achieve professional growth. Here you'll find a list of current job openings PLUS learn about all the steps you need to take to land your dream job!

Current Jobs


JobList

Visit Handshake for more information on available jobs or visit the CBT Career Center.

Nebraska Bankers Assocation Job Openings: www.nebankers.org/careers

CBT Career Center 
West Center 117E 
308.865.8066  |  308.865.8979  |  unkcbtcareercenter@unk.edu

Updated: October 30, 2017

How to Find a Job

Finding a job after graduation can be a daunting task so we've compiled different methods to help guide you. Follow the links to skip to desired section or scroll down for a comprehensive review.

Networking - Career Fairs - Search Tools


Networking

Identify Networks - Elevator Speech - Practice Networking - Promote Yourself

Networking is an important skill in a tight job market. Many people who take a new position did not respond to a posted opening and much of all hiring occurs through the hidden job market. The hidden job market includes all the jobs that are filled before they are posted anywhere. Networking helps you find those hidden jobs.

What is Networking?

Networking is …

  • Building relationships
  • Exchanging information
  • A key method of attaining life and career goals

Notice the focus on relationships and exchanging information. Effective networking is never a one-way street – it involves connecting with people for mutually beneficial purposes.

How Can I Begin Networking?

Chances are, you have already begun. For example, have you ever asked classmates for their opinions about classes or professors, asked friends where they get their cars worked on, or asked acquaintances if they knew of any part-time job openings? These are simple examples of networking in everyday situations. For a more professional twist – and for networking to aid in your search for a professional job – there are a few guidelines you’ll want to follow.

Identify Networks

Create a list of people who might be able to help you.

  • List people you know well (family members, close friends, classmates, advisors and professors, neighbors … anyone you know well and who knows you, too.) 
  • Record names of people with whom you are somewhat familiar (people in your neighborhood, former co-workers, former professors and/or bosses, people you know through hobbies or events you attend, etc.)
  • List people whom you might not know, but are connected to people you know (friends of your family, your sister or brother’s employer, the Chair and/or other professors in your department, the director of your school’s Alumni Association, and others.)

Can you see how your inventory of potential contacts might keep growing and growing? When you meet new people, be sure to add them to your list, too. If you find that your list is short, connect on LinkedIn, join an organization, volunteer, and get involved.

Elevator Speech

Develop your "Elevator Speech," a short message that describes who you are, what you are looking for, and how you can benefit an organization. It should be about 30 seconds long - the time it takes to ride from the top to the bottom of a building in an elevator.

Elements of Speech:
  • Short introduction
    • “Hi my name is _____________ and I’ll be graduating in ______ with a degree in _______________________.”
  • What is your immediate career goal?
    • “After graduation I’m hoping to ___________________________.”
  • Use your research
    • “I’m especially interested in your company because ___________.”
  • What can you contribute?
    • “Based on my experience in _________ I believe I can bring ________ to your organization.”
Sample Speech:

“Hi my name is Louie Loper and I’ll be graduating in May with a degree in Organizational Communication. After graduation I’m hoping to obtain a sales or marketing position with a Nebraska-based company. I’m especially interested in your company because of your broad base of clientele, as well as your commitment to the growth and development of small businesses. I believe I can bring my familiarity with this area of the state, as well as a creative approach to gaining new business to your organization.”

Practice

Contrary to popular belief, effective networking and building professional relationships does not come naturally to most people. Like any other skill, however, the more you work at it, the more proficient you will become.

  • Practice shaking hands with people who will give you honest feedback. You don’t want to use a vice-like handshake where you crush the other person’s hand, yet you certainly don’t want to be known for your ‘dead fish’ handshake, either.
  • Practice your Elevator Speech until you can give it smoothly and confidently.
  • Attend networking events so you can get experience meeting and greeting professionals. Be sure to adapt your Elevator Speech to each situation.

Promote Yourself

Think of yourself as a product you are selling. What features make you unique? What skills will help you achieve the goals you have set for yourself? What do you need to work on to make yourself more marketable? In short, develop your personal brand.

As you might know, your personal brand will include, among other things, your appearance and your communication style. Take action now to begin presenting yourself in a more professional way. For starters, review this checklist:

  • Listen to the voice message on your phone – what does it say about you? Do you need to update it to reflect a more professional image?
  • Check your email address - is it precise and professional? Will it give the “right” impression?
  • When you send an email, do you include a subject, address the person by name, write in complete sentences, and close with your name and contact information?
  • When you attend events, do you dress and groom to make a great impression?

Promote yourself by taking advantage of opportunities to meet professionals – especially in your career-interest area. Attend networking events, club meetings, seminars, workshops, career fairs . . . and more. Foster these relationships by staying in touch, occasionally e-mailing, etc.

Develop a professional resumé, making sure you highlight accomplishments most relevant to positions you are seeking. Have your resumé reviewed by several people who will give you honest feedback – your academic advisor, an instructor, a mentor, or an advisor at the Career Center.


Career Fairs

Before - During - After

Whether you’re looking for full-time employment, an internship, or would simply like to network with employers, Career Fairs are a vital part of any student’s job search so it’s important to prepare. Here you'll find what to do before, during, and after a career fair in order to have a successful experience.

Before the Fair

Follow these steps to prepare for the fair:

  1. Know yourself - What value can you offer an employer?
  2. Know the employers - Research the companies you are most interested in.
  3. Update your resumé - Carry in a folder or portfolio so they don't get wrinkled and bring enough to give to every employer you expect to meet with.
  4. Develop and practice your "elevator speech" - 30 second overview of yourself.
  5. Prepare for a mini interview - Review common questions, prepare answers, develop questions to ask employers.
  6. Plan your attire - Clean up and look your best. Wear conservative business clothes.

During the Fair

  1. Ditch your friends - Remember why you’re there. Cruising around in a pack (or even a pair) will not make a positive impression and will also make it difficult to focus.
  2. Target the businesses you are most interested in - Look at the map provided or survey the layout. Identify location of your target businesses. Meet with your top choices early while you and they are fresh, but not necessarily first. Be considerate of employer’s time.
  3. Build your network - Meeting recruiters can increase your personal connections and plug you in to the ‘hidden job market’. Maintain eye contact, be positive and show enthusiasm, attributes employers look for in potential new hires.
  4. Professional greeting - Use the SMILE technique
    • Shake hands and smile - Make eye contact - Introduce yourself - Learn and use names - Engage in small talk - transition to Elevator speech
  5. End the conversation with a purposeful statement - “Thank you for coming to our career fair, I really appreciated learning about your organization. It was great meeting you and I hope to speak to you again in the future.”
  6. Close with finesse - Ask for a business card. Thank employers for their time. Offer to follow-up after the career fair.
  7. Avoid these common mistakes - Coming straight from class, not dressed appropriately or prepared for the event. Wearing clothing that doesn’t fit properly. Not having a purpose for being there. Not knowing how to begin, or end, a conversation. Showing up 15 minutes before the Fair ends.

After the Fair

Your work isn’t over when you leave the fair. Follow these steps to succeed after the fair.

  1. Make notes about the contacts you made - Who did you talk to? Company name and name of their representative. This is where business cards come in handy. What positions are they hiring for? What did you think about the organization?
  2. Follow-up with thank you letters - Write a thank you to each employer you met with. Remind them that you met at the career fair and provide some kind of detail to help them remember you. Restate qualifications and interest. Express interest in a more formal interview. State that you will follow-up with a phone call.
  3. Evaluate your strategies - Did you meet who you really wanted to meet? Were you responsive and enthusiastic? Did you make a good impression? Was your appearance appropriate? Did you collect business cards? Think objectively about your experience. Make some notes about what you’ll do differently next time.


Online Job Search Tools

Job Site Reviews - site that reviews and ranks job search websites

InternNE.com - site connecting college students and employers across Nebraska

indeed.com - finds job listings from other major job sites, company sites and associations

aftercollege.com - search for entry level jobs and internships

beyond.com - niche site, find a career in a certain field or in a certain part of the country

careerbuilder.com - one of the biggest online job sites

careerbum.com - job site focused on Central Nebraska

careerlink.com - a leader in career development resources

careersinfood.com - the #1 employment site for the food and beverage manufacturing industry

collegerecruiter.com - a leading job board for internships and entry level positions

jobinformationcenter.com - find job applications for every major U.S. company

jobserve.com - claims to be the world’s first Internet recruitment service

linkedin.com/studentjobs - entry level jobs that are posted on LinkedIn

linkup.com - finds jobs from a database of 22,000 company websites

monster.com - enter your qualifications and the site searches for compatible jobs

onedayonejob.com - every day the site looks at one employer and their entry level jobs

simplyhired.com - finds job listings from major sites and company sites, free resume listing

towniejobs.com - search for jobs based on key words and location

tweetmyjobs.com - access to jobs that match your profile

us.jobs/ - ideal if you’re looking for corporate job listings

usajobs.gov - the official job site for the U.S. government

warriorgateway.org - non-profit whose mission is to connect individuals in the military, veterans, and their families with federal, state, and local government programs as well as non-profit organizations in their local communities

glassdoor.com - an inside look at jobs and companies posted anonymously by employees

Visit the CBT Career Center for assistance in researching organizations. Follow the links to skip to desired section or scroll down for a comprehensive review.


Why research companies?

  • Job search efforts are more effective if you target or match your goals with the needs of an organization. You must research organizations to find out what those needs and employment requirements are.
  • Job growth nationally is occurring in smaller organizations. It may take more effort to identify these organizations since they are not 'name brand' or may not have as great a recognition in the marketplace as larger, public organizations.
  • An interview is enhanced by the candidate's knowledge of the employer. Researching an organization will give you an edge compared to the next candidate, guaranteed!
  • Predict possible interview questions by being very familiar with information a company provides about itself on the Internet or in print form. For example, a company describes itself as a "high customer service organization which prizes relationships with clients on a first name basis." You may be asked the typical interview question, "What are your weaknesses?" If you cannot ever put a name with a face, you might reply, "I know the value of recognizing people by name and that's a goal of mine. I am reading a book on tips for remembering names and I want to see how well I can do."
  • Researching the organization will give you a ready answer for those companies which will clearly ask, "What do you know about our company?"
  • To show integrity and respect for everyone's time, it is wise to research a company even before you apply. If a company's mission is contrary to your values, why take the interviewer’s time, as well as yours, for a formal interview?

What do you need to know about an employer?

General
  • How did the organization get started?
  • What is the product or service it provides?
  • Who are the customers?
  • What kinds of positions does this firm offer?
Location / Operations
  • Where is it located?
  • Are there other offices?
  • How many employees and locations are represented?
  • Do they have international operations (or operate in international locations)?
  • What are the priorities in terms of long range organizational goals?
Competition
  • How is the company doing - is it competitive?
  • Is it growing? Who are its competitors?
  • How do they compete with their competitors (do you have something to offer to enhance their "edge")?
Culture
  • What is the hiring process?
  • Do they use an unusual type of interview?
  • What kind of company culture does it have?
  • Is it strictly a formal/ suit environment, or are flexible attire and schedules available?
  • How are employees supervised and managed?
  • Does it have a training program or career path information

Resumés and Cover Letters

The following information has been adapted from Academic & Career Services' "Creating Your Resumé and Cover Letter." Follow the links to skip to desired section or scroll down for a comprehensive review.

Resumés - Cover Letters - References

We can help you define your career objective or create your resumé!
Send your completed resumé to unkcbtcareercenter@unk.edu

Resumés

Resumé Tips - Types of Resumés - Parts of a Resumé - Transferable Skills

A resumé is a concise document - a snapshot - of your relevant education, experience, and skills. It is often the first item that a potential employer sees and is used to screen applicants competing for a position. Obviously, you want your resumé to screen you in, leading you to the next step in the process. With that in mind, construct your resumé so it presents evidence that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to perform the job.

Resumé Tips

  1. Your Resumé is Your Marketing Brochure – Too many resumés list basic employment history, focusing on tasks and duties rather than accomplishments and skills. An effective resumé entices employers to learn more about you … and to consider you as the next addition to their staff.
  2. Length - A resumé for a current college student or a recent graduate is generally 1 page; however 2 pages can be acceptable if you have a lot of work and/or leadership experience. If you are going into a research field or teaching in higher education, you will use a Curriculum Vitae (CV) rather than a resumé, and CVs are often longer than 2 pages.
  3. Keep Your Resumé Professional and Easy to Read – Employers typically scan a resumé in less than 10 seconds, and in that time, decide whether they want to read it more thoroughly. Do not give them a reason to reject yours before they even read the content. Organize efficiently and use consistent formatting so that your resumé is sleek and engaging. Use an easy-to-read font of 10-12 points, utilize bullets to highlight experience, bold text to bring attention to key words, and PROOFREAD CAREFULLY.
  4. Tailor Your Resumé for Each Position – Different jobs require different skills or experiences, so revise your resumé to reflect those needs. Information can be added, deleted, or rearranged according to the requirements of the position. The content categories you select should be determined by a number of factors, especially by your strongest “selling points” relative to the type of position you are seeking. You may end up with several versions of your resumé, especially if you are targeting different types of positions.

Types of Resumés

Chronological

An account of whom you've worked for and what you've accomplished in each position, listed in reverse chronological order. It is the style most commonly used by new college graduates and by individuals changing jobs within a given career field. See example.

Functional

Emphasizes what you've accomplished and de-emphasizes where you did it. This allows the candidate to organize experiences, gathered from a variety of arenas, according to specific functions or skills. See example.

Combination

Merges elements of the other two styles. It includes an overview or summary of qualifications at the beginning, stressing skills and characteristics appropriate for the position. The remainder of the document reverts to the reverse chronological style. See example.

Parts of a Resumé

There may be exceptions, but almost every resumé includes the following sections. Others are added as you analyze and select abilities and experiences that will present you in the best possible light.

Contact Information

You must include your name, address, phone number, email. You may also include a web page address if you have developed your own website or have an online portfolio of your work.

Education

Include your most recent educational information first, listed in reverse chronological order.

  • Name and location of institution, degree and graduation date (or anticipated graduation date), major/minor/endorsement/emphasis
  • GPA - if above 3.0; this could be cumulative GPA or major GPA, whichever is more impressive
  • Mention honors, awards, scholarships, elective offices, special training, special class projects, research, study abroad experience, etc. (Some of these could be separate sections, as well.)
Experience

Include not only full-time positions, but also part-time, seasonal, temporary, volunteer, field experience, observation, internship, etc. For each position, list your title, the organization for which you worked, the location (city and state), and dates (month/year). There is no single correct order for presenting this information as long as you are consistent throughout the resumé. List most recent and/or relevant experience first, and consider using different section headings to organize experiences (i.e., Relevant Experience, Teaching Experience, Additional Experience, Leadership Experience). Use the Experience Worksheet to begin cataloging your experience and accomplishments. Keep in mind:

  • Provide a bulleted description of experiences, with emphasis on skills and accomplishments
  • Avoid personal pronouns
  • Use the Winning Formula:
    • Action Verb + Subject + Outcome
      • Example: Tutored 5 fifth grade students in reading skills, resulting in an average 3-point improvement on district-wide standardized tests
      • Example: Coordinated fund-raising event for 3 rd floor of University North Residence Hall, raising $545 for the American Cancer Society
        • Click here for more action verb examples

Optional Sections

Include the sections/headings that best reflect achievements that don’t fit clearly into the sections above. Avoid simply filling space, and ensure that everything you include on your resumé is relevant to the position and strengthens your candidacy.

Objective

This section, if used, indicates your immediate career goal. Most people state their objective in the cover letter, so it is not necessary to repeat it on the resumé. If you choose to include an objective, state it immediately after your heading, tailor it specifically to each employer, and focus on skills you bring to the organization, rather than what you want from them.

Relevant Coursework / Experiential Learning

For college students or recent graduates, your education might be your biggest selling point. You may have completed a special project or learned a particular skill that you would like to highlight on your résumé for potential employers.

Leadership

If you’ve held leadership roles on campus or in other organizations, you have two options: include that information in your Experience section, or create a separate section to highlight your leadership experiences.

Qualifications Summary

Since it is more powerful than an Objective, you may lead off with a strong summary of specific skills or experiences directly related to the position you are applying for. Be sure to use key words and phrases that reflect those in the job description and company information.

  • Example: Summary of Qualifications
    • Three years’ experience in providing NetWare Operating Systems support, file server installations, troubleshooting and technical consulting
    • Proficient in Novell NetWare 4x, NDS, DOS and client tools; familiar with NetWare DHCP and DNS administration
    • Demonstrated skill in training and supporting end users as well as developing technical staff to achieve performance objectives
Special Skills

A section that highlights expertise you may have in foreign languages, computer operation / programming, equipment you can use, or other areas of excellence that have not been mentioned elsewhere. Avoid stating ordinary skills, such as knowledge of Power Point, MS Word, Outlook, etc.

Research / Presentations

If you have done extensive research in your chosen field, you may wish to state the title or thesis of the paper and a brief description of your findings. This gives the employer insight into your professional expertise (and is especially useful for graduate school applications). If you have published your research, or presented it at a conference, include the name, location, and date of the publication and / or the conference.

Honors / Awards

Honors such as Dean’s List, membership in an academic honorary, or scholarships can be included in the “Education” section, or they may be listed in a separate section.

Professional Affiliations

If you have joined a professional association related to your chosen field, list it here. The first time you refer to it, write out the name rather than abbreviating. If applicable, include information about your involvement in the association: leadership positions held, conferences or workshops attended, special programs, projects, etc.

Additional Training

You may list any significant seminars, workshops, or other training that has enhanced your knowledge or will be helpful in your chosen career field.

Campus Involvement / Student Organizations

Sometimes it’s appropriate to label this type of experience as “Leadership,” but you may include it in its own section, if you choose.

Shows a level of selflessness and a willingness to be a “team player.” It can potentially open a door if the reader shares a similar interest.

Military Experience

This could be listed under its own heading, or as work or leadership experience. Be sure to reflect promotions you received in addition to describing your responsibilities. (Veterans - click here for more advice).

Transferable Skills

When developing your resumé, you will, of course, highlight all ‘technical’ experience and skills relevant to the position you are seeking. In addition, employers look for other qualities and skills in their employees. These Transferable Skills (also known as Soft Skills or Employability Skills) can help employees succeed in almost any workplace. Review the list – with the sample bullet points – below. Consider how you might integrate these skills into your resumé and other application materials.

Communication Skills

By far, the one skill mentioned most often by employers is the ability to listen, write, and speak effectively. Successful communication is critical in any business. Demonstrate exceptional oral and written communication skills to convey pertinent information to co-workers and customers.

Analytical / Research Skills

Deals with your ability to assess a situation, seek multiple perspectives, gather more information if necessary, and identify key issues that need to be addressed. Apply analytical thinking skills to identify, improve, and streamline complex work processes.

Computer / Technical Literacy

Almost all jobs now require some basic understanding of computer hardware and software. It is usually assumed that job seekers have a basic proficiency in word processing, spreadsheets, and email, so highlight specialized technological experience. Utilize a wide variety of technical applications, including: Photoshop Elements, Dreamweaver, iMovie, and others.

Flexibility / Adaptability / Managing Multiple Priorities

Refers to your ability to manage multiple assignments and tasks, set priorities, and adapt to changing conditions and work assignments. Prioritize and juggle multiple concurrent projects, while communicating progress and next steps with team members.

Interpersonal Abilities

The ability to relate to your co-workers, inspire others to participate, and mitigate conflict with co-workers is essential given the amount of time spent at work each day. Display exceptional interpersonal skills, to support positive and productive relationships with coworkers.

Leadership / Management Skills

While there is some debate about whether leadership is something people are born with, these skills deal with your ability to take charge and manage your co-workers. Maintain a positive climate and confidently motivate co-workers to meet and maintain high performance standards.

Multicultural Sensitivity / Awareness

There is possibly no bigger issue in the workplace than diversity, and job-seekers must demonstrate a sensitivity and awareness to other people and cultures. Demonstrate cultural sensitivity and an ability to build rapport with a diverse workforce in inclusive settings.

Planning / Organizing

Includes your ability to design, plan, organize, and implement projects and tasks within an allotted timeframe. Also involves goal-setting. Coordinate and implement projects within prescribed timelines, using exemplary planning and organizational skills.

Problem-Solving / Reasoning / Creativity

Involves the ability to find solutions to problems using your creativity, reasoning, and past experiences, along with the available information and resources. Generate innovative solutions and resolve customer complaints using creative problem-solving abilities.

Teamwork

Because so many jobs involve working in one or more work-groups, you must have the ability to work with others in a professional manner while attempting to achieve a common goal. Build cooperative relationships with customers and colleagues to enhance team orientation and outcomes.

Additional Resources

UNK has partnered with Resumés for America, an online resumé builder that helps you to create an effective and professional resume by providing expert tips, writing examples, and helpful suggestions. The software also comes with a cover letter builder, thank you letter builder, and more. Students who are registering for the first time or returning students who are logging in, visit the free resume builder now and sign in with your UNK email address.

Purdue Online Writing Lab's Resumé Workshop also provides detailed explanations and step-by-step processes for creating an effective resumé.


Cover Letters

Format - Content

A cover letter is a one page written overview of your qualifications, addressed to the hiring agent, that should always accompany your resumé. It is the employer's first impression of you and if well written, will lead to reading your resumé. Employers use cover letters to screen applicants so taking time to write an impressive and effective cover letter is essential.

Before you write the cover letter, ask yourself these four questions:

  1. Who, specifically, should receive the cover letter? Target your recipients carefully.
  2. What is the best way to locate the right contacts? Research the industry/field/company.
  3. How can I motivate the reader to interview me? Address the employer's needs and your strengths.
  4. What points do I want to emphasize? Develop self-awareness and express confidence and enthusiasm.

The answers to these questions will focus your efforts and strengthen your case. You must next address the tone and presentation of the letter:

  • Use a positive and outgoing writing style
  • Project energy and confidence
  • Avoid negative and apologetic statements
  • Adopt a business-like, but cordial, tone

In general, picture the likely reader and adjust the style and tone of your letter accordingly. Become familiar with the prevalent style in your field. If the recipient is apt to be conservative, write a conservative cover letter. If your reader appreciates creativity, use a creative approach. Be cautious in making assumptions though.

Format

Your cover letter should follow standard business letter format. See sample cover letter.

  • One page, produced on word processor and laser printer
  • Use quality bond paper, 8 ½ x 11 inches, which matches your resumé
  • Use an easy-to-read font of 10-12 points, single space, left aligned
  • Write to the person who can hire you, with name, title, address correct and complete (call the company and find out who to address your letter to - if no name is available, choose a “non-sexist” term, i.e. “Dear Personnel Director” or “Dear Search Committee”)
  • Include four body paragraphs (see Content)
  • Include a formal sign-off (i.e. "Sincerely," "Regards," or "Respectfully") followed by your name signed and typed and the word, "Enclosure"
  • SIGN YOUR NAME with a blue or black pen (even for e-mail and online submission)
  • If mailing, avoid folding: mail in 9” x 12” envelope with resumé behind the letter
  • If mailing, choose a conservative stamp for your envelope

Content

Cover letters should be tailored to each position and/or employer to focus on the employer's needs, not your own. Its purpose is to encourage the reader to progress to your resumé so be sure to include content that is engaging and relevant to the hiring manager's needs. Express how you can benefit the employer by using key words from the job description and including examples of your accomplishments in those areas.

Write in your own words, demonstrating knowledge, enthusiasm, and focus. The words you use are important in conveying both message and tone. Accomplishments are best expressed through action verbs (communicated, clarified, facilitated). Select self-descriptive words to express personal characteristics (enthusiastic, creative, dependable). Use words sparingly, keep your message concise and to the point.

Remember, the letter also reveals how well you can communicate, so PROOFREAD! Ensure there are no spelling, typing, grammar, punctuation, or syntax errors - not even one.

The body of your cover letter should include the following four paragraphs:

  1. Why are you writing?
    • The beginning of your letter should capture the reader’s attention, while avoiding clichés and gimmicks. Also, tell why you are writing (name the specific position or type of work you are applying for) and mention the resource used in finding out about the opening. Briefly introduce your credentials, professional experiences and personality traits.
  2. Qualifications
    • Explain why you are interested in working for this specific employer or in this field of work, and most importantly, what your qualifications are (academic background/training, work experience, personal skills). Point out accomplishments and skills that relate to the position without duplicating exactly what is included on your résumé. Then, connect those things to the company’s needs to show you have done your research and are aware of how you could be of benefit. This paragraph should essentially answer the employer’s question, “Why should I hire you?”
  3. Take Action
    • Refer the reader to your enclosed (or attached) résumé and point out that it provides further details of your qualifications. Indicate your desire for an interview and let them know how they can contact you (phone and email). Many applicants take a more active approach and give a timeframe in which they will contact the company. If you do this, be sure to follow up when you say you will.
  4. Thank You
    • Thank the reader for his/her time and consideration.


References

References are not part of a resumé, so they should be listed on a separate page. Enclose a reference sheet with your resumé and cover letter only if the employer specifically requests references. It’s possible that references may never be requested, however, it is always a good idea to bring extra copies of your resumé and reference sheet to an interview. This simplifies the reference-checking process for the interviewer, and makes you look well-prepared and confident!

Select as references, individuals (typically 3) who have worked with you and are able to talk about your skills and abilities with employers, and say why you would be a successful employee. Do NOT use friends or family members. Current or previous supervisors, college professors, advisors, or instructors are appropriate. Always contact references to obtain their permission prior to listing them on your reference sheet. Ask them, “Do you feel you know me well enough to be a positive reference for me?”

Format your reference sheet heading (your name and contact information) to match your resumé. Include the following information for each individual:

  • First and Last Name
  • Job Title
  • Organization
  • Mailing Address
  • City, State, Zip
  • Phone Number
  • E-mail Address
  • Relationship (if unclear)

Are You Interview Ready?

Interviewing is perhaps the most important aspect of your job search. The candidate who does well in the interview is typically the one who gets the job offer. Within the first 5-8 minutes of the interview, 90% of employers make their selection. Nonverbal communication dictates 65-75% of hiring decisions. On this page we’ve outlined a 5-step process to successful interviewing with detailed information for each step, included tips for unconventional interviews, and listed the most common interview mistakes.

5-Step Process - Unconventional Interviews - Interview Mistakes

5 Steps to a Successful Job Interview

  1. Prepare for the interview
  2. Make a positive first impression
  3. Demonstrate your potential
  4. Close with finesse
  5. Follow up post-interview

Preparing For The Interview

Know Yourself - Research the Company - Review Questions - Know How to Answer - Develop Questions - Attire - Practice Preparing for the Interview

Know Yourself

What are your natural gifts or aptitudes? What do you have to offer to an employer?

Use your resumé as a guide:

  • Education/training
  • Experience
    • Paid and unpaid: full/part-time, seasonal, temporary, volunteer, internship, clinical, practicum, and field experience
    • Academic: special class projects, papers, research, presentations
  • Skills
    • What specific skills did you learn from each experience?
    • What did the team rely on you for?
    • Be able to discuss your strengths/weaknesses from the employer's view
  • Personal values/qualities
    • What do you value? (i.e. honesty, integrity, communication)
    • How do you describe yourself? (i.e. resourceful, analytical, creative)

Research the Company

Thoroughly research the company and be able to knowledgeably speak about it in the interview. Information can be found on the company's website, a library's reference department, at the Chamber of Commerce, and through various other resources. Most job hunters arrive at the interview with little knowledge of the company which dramatically decreases their hiring potential. Candidates who have done their homework are better able to discuss how their experiences and qualifications match the company's needs.

  • What does the company do? Produce?
  • Who are their customers?
  • Philosophy/mission/goals?
  • How do others in the industry compare?
  • How do YOU fit in?

Review Frequently Asked Interview Questions

Traditional

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • How did you choose this particular field?
  • What interests you about working for this organization?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What motivates you?
  • Tell me about your extracurricular activities and interests.
  • What have you learned from your participation in extracurricular activities?
  • What is one of your greatest accomplishments?
  • What have been your most satisfying and most disappointing school or work experiences?
  • Which part-time job (or internship) has been most interesting to you? How has that experience prepared you for this position?
  • What rewards do you expect from your career?
  • What are your short-term goals? What are your long-term goals?
  • What sets you apart from all of our other qualified candidates?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share?
  • Why should I hire you?

Behavioral

  • Give an example of a time when you demonstrated good leadership skills.
  • Describe a time you had to work under pressure. How did you respond? What was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a situation in the past year in which you had to deal with an upset customer or co-worker.
  • Give me an example of a problem at work or school and how you solved it.
  • Describe an experience in which you worked as part of a team.
  • Tell me about a difficult decision you have made in the last year.
  • Give me an example of a time when you went beyond the call of duty to get the job done.
  • Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.

Situational

  • What would you do if a subordinate or team member's work did not meet expectations?
  • A co-worker privately tells you that he/she plans to call in sick for a week but is actually going on vacation. What would you do and why?
  • What would you do if you have been working on a long-term project and the priorities suddenly change?
  • How would you handle it if most of your co-workers shot down a recommendation you made in a meeting and strongly believed in?
  • Your trainer has a thick accent and you can’t understand what’s being said in a training session. What would you do?
  • What would you do if you realized that a lengthy report you wrote was not up to par and the deadline is in one hour?
  • How would you deal with a colleague with whom you cannot build a successful working relationship?
  • What would you do if you disagreed with the way your supervisor told you to handle a problem?

Know How to Answer Questions

Utilize the STAR technique to answer questions completely.

  • Situation or Task: Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand.
    • Example Situation: My sorority decided to raise money for a homeless shelter
    • Example Task: I chaired the publicity committee
  • Action you took: Keep focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did.
    • Example Action: I chaired a committee of 8 students and alumni; Wrote press releases for local media; Oversaw development of theme posters and brochures; Presented program to student organizations
  • Results you achieved: What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish?
    • Example Result: Our group had a successful fundraiser and donated $1,500 to the homeless shelter

Common Questions

  • Tell me about yourself
    • Key sales points – not personal info
  • Strengths & Weaknesses
    • Weaknesses – things you have been working on
    • Finish with a positive after being asked a negative
  • Mistake? Conflict? Why left last job?
    • Remain positive, honest, and demonstrate initiative. Show what you’ve learned. Never speak negatively about former employer/co-workers.
  • What are your salary expectations?
    • Research market. Try not to be first to mention a number. If forced, give a range. Benefits are a huge piece of salary.

Develop Questions For The Interviewer

  • Would you please describe an average day on this job?
  • What are the key challenges/responsibilities in this position?
  • How would you describe the ideal candidate?
  • Is there room for professional growth and upward mobility?
  • What is the department’s environment/culture like?
  • What do you like most about working here?
  • With whom would I be working? Who would be my supervisor? Who would I supervise?
  • What kind of training will I receive? Who will train me?
  • When and how will I be evaluated? What are the performance standards?
  • What are the company’s short– and long–range objectives?
  • When will you make the hiring decision? If I have not heard from you by _____, may I contact you?

Know What To Wear

Determining the appropriate attire for your interview can be daunting. One of the most common reasons people lose out on job opportunities is inappropriate dress. Don’t let this happen to you. Use this benchmark to guide you - dress a step or two above the job you are applying for. Depending on the position, it is okay to show some of your personal style, but keep it conservative so you do not unintentionally disqualify yourself. If you do not know the dress code, it is okay to ask the person scheduling your interview.

>Professional Interview Attire

Professional interview attire is usually required and always the "safest" choice. Wear business formal attire (i.e. a suit) to interviews in professional offices - especially for finance, accounting, banking, and insurance positions. Your suit does not have to be expensive, but it does need to look nice and fit well!

Remember the smaller details. Set your clothes out the night before and makes sure they are neatly pressed and free of stains - no scuffs on shoes.

Women

  • Suit: Neutral colors, such as navy blue, charcoal gray, or black. Solid-colored vs. patterned. Long sleeved jacket with knee-length straight or pleated skirt that covers knees when sitting down. A suit consisting of a jacket and a skirt is considered more professional than a pant suit or a dress. Pantyhose should be worn with skirts; trouser socks or knee highs with pant suits.
    • NOTE: A business suit is not a pair of slacks and a sweater type jacket or cropped pants and a short jacket.
  • Blouse: White or pastel shades. Cotton or matte silks are a good choice. Neckline hits no lower than two finger widths from collar bone - absolutely NO cleavage. Collared or scoop neck are good choices.
  • Shoes: Close-toed leather pumps, in black or a complimentary color that works with your suit. No more than a one or two-inch heel. Don't wear shoes you cannot walk in for most of the day.
  • Jewelry and Perfume: Simple post earrings or pearls. No more than one earring per ear, one ring per hand, or one bracelet. No nose, tongue, eyebrow or any other rings worn in facial piercings. Very light perfume.
  • Makeup and Nails: Simple, clean, and conservative. Wear natural looking makeup - no heavy eyeliner or "loud" eye shadow / lipstick. Have clean, well maintained nails. Smooth out bitten down nails. Avoid use of bright nail polish - NO chipping polish.
  • Hair: Pull back if normally covers face. Don’t overdo scented hairspray.

Men

  • Suit: Neutral colors, such as charcoal gray, navy blue, or black. Look for suits made of 100% "worsted" wool.
  • Shirt: Solid color. White is best for first interview. Well ironed, long sleeved with a point collar.
  • Tie: Simple. Solid, stripe, or repeating pattern of good quality silk. No "story ties".
  • Shoes: Leather, polished, and matched to clothing and belt (black shoes can be worn with navy blue or charcoal gray suit). Sock should be dark and mid-calf length so no shin is visible when sitting. Wear a leather belt matched to shoes.
  • Jewelry and Cologne: No nose, tongue, eyebrow or any other rings worn in facial piercings. Use cologne in moderation.
  • Hair: Get a haircut a week (not a day) before the interview. Either shave or neatly trim facial hair - NO days old stubble or unkempt beards, etc.
Business Casual Interview Attire

Sometimes, a suit is not necessary for an interview. In less formal environments, business casual interview attire may be appropriate. Determining if you fit with the company's culture is part of the interview. To a company that takes pride in its casual culture, wearing a suit to the interview may convey the wrong message. But remember, you are still making a first impression so you need to be more "business" and less "casual".

Women

  • Khaki, corduroy, twill or cotton pants or skirts
  • Sweaters, twinsets, cardigans
  • Solid colors work better than bright patterns

Men

  • Khaki or cotton pants, neatly pressed
  • Cotton long-sleeved button down shirts, pressed.
  • Sweaters
  • Leather shoes and belt.
  • Either a tie or jacket.

Practice, Practice, Practice

  • Practice out loud– mirror, tape recorder, Career Center practice interviews
  • Anticipate questions – general and those specific to your field
  • Importance of body language – convey confidence and poise
  • Topics of conversation – local & national news
  • Remember that an interview involves give and take – avoid short “yes” or “no” answers

Make A Positive First Impression

Anticipate problems ahead of time

  • Bring any necessary grooming items
  • Will you need any money?
  • Write down the employer's phone number and driving directions
  • Take a nice padded portfolio with extra copies of your resumé, reference list, transcripts, and portfolio
  • If possible, travel to the location prior to the interview
  • Arrive 10 minutes early

Utilize the SMILE technique to open the interview

  • Shake hands and smile
  • Make eye contact
  • Introduce yourself
  • Learn and use names
  • Engage in small talk
    • Stick with positives; complaining about anything can be the “kiss of death” in an interview
    • Show you are sociable/likable. Employers hire people they like!

Be courteous to everyone, even the janitor

Be aware of your nonverbal communication; facial expressions, posture, etc.

Demonstrate Your Potential

Show employers that you are what they are looking for. Be honest and assertive. Speak slowly and pause to think.

  • Can you do the job? Employers want to see how your skills and experiences have prepared you for the position you are interviewing for. Use the STAR technique to back up your skills with experiences
  • Will you do the job? Employers want to see that you are motivated to work for them and contribute to their well-being. Have clear career goals that fit in with the company
  • Will you fit in? Employers want to know if you will accept the organization’s way of doing things and if you’ll get along with your co-workers. They might ask about your ideal work environment or how you deal with conflict

Have a typed list of 3-5 professional references.

Close With Finesse

  • Ask the interviewer appropriate questions, show you have researched the organization
  • Re-state why you feel you are the best candidate and your interest in the position
  • Offer your references if they haven’t asked for them
  • Ask for a business card if you haven't received one already
  • Thank the interviewer for his/her time - maintain eye contact and give a firm handshake
  • Ask who is going to follow up with you and the timeline for their decision making process

Follow up Post-Interview

  • Keep a record of the interview - detailed information about who you met with and your insights so that you can follow-up with them
  • Send a thank-you letter - within 24 hours, confirm your interest in the job, show appreciation, and highlight your skills – if interviewed by more than 1 person, make sure to personalize each note
  • Anticipate a second interview - plan ahead to demonstrate how you will fit within the organization
  • Prepare to respond to an offer - carefully review the job, company, and geographic location
  • Call if you have not heard anything and the deadline has passed


Tips for Unconventional Interviews

Phone - Mealtime - Case Study - Multiple Rounds

Phone Interview

Phone interviews serves as pre-screening interviews, prior to selection for an on-site visit. Treat the phone interview with as much preparation as you would an on-site interview.

  • Secure a private location to avoid interruptions or distractions
  • Wear your interview suit, as it will help you feel professional
  • Place your resume in full view, it will help you answer questions
  • Have a mirror handy & look into it while on the phone, this improves your telephone presence
  • Speak slowly as rapid speech is magnified over the phone
  • Do not use a cell phone unless necessary
  • Record the names of each interviewer for follow-up thank you

Mealtime Interview

Business dining is less about assessing your business acumen than about seeing how you are able to interact with others in collegial situations. In short, this is where the smallest of small details will separate those who receive an offer from those who don't.

Following are a few restaurant recommendations:

  • Do not wear your sunglasses, either on your face or on your head
  • Follow your host's lead regarding small talk vs business conversation
  • Don't drink alcohol, even if they do
  • Order food that's easy to manage – nothing messy and difficult to eat
  • Don't discuss your dietary habits or other personal issues
  • Do not check your cell phone/PDA until you exit the restaurant
  • Give your goodbyes the same attention you did your hellos

Case Study Interviews

Case Studies are designed to prove that you are the creative and logical thinker your résumé claims you are, or that you're the "people person" your references claim you can be. Remember that there is rarely a "right" answer to case study questions. They are behavioral tests that check mental agility.

Group Case Interview: In this situation, the employer has one goal - to find out which people work well with others. Are you sociable? Can you make an impact in a tactful way in a group setting? While you definitely want to demonstrate that you can contribute, you don't want to dominate the group's discussion or take charge in an aggressive way.

  • Example: A group was given 30 minutes to decide whether an American chain restaurant should expand into Asia. Of the eight group members, three failed: two because they didn't speak up at all, and one because he couldn't stop telling everyone why he was right.
  • If you are in this situation, here are some techniques to follow:
    • Be a quiet organizer. Suggest that you all take a few minutes to read the case; offer to keep time
    • Initiate discussion by sharing insights that you have
    • Help others share and clarify their ideas by asking questions
    • Be respectful of others’ contributions, no matter what you may think of their ideas
    • Follow the directions. Meaning, if they say, "Only use the information we’ve provided," don't offer to look something up on your phone
  • Bottom line: Be a team player who contributes respectfully to the group to achieve the goal

Individual Case Interview: In this case, you want to shine as an individual. It may not be because you got the right answer, but because you exhibited creative and logical thinking processes. The questions may be presented in written form or orally. Some are "big thinking" questions.

  • Example: A person was asked what he would do about the environment if he were president. His first clarifying question: "On Earth as a whole, or are we considering space exploration?" At that point, he knew he had them.
  • If the cases take the form of brain teasers or practical tasks, keep the following in mind:
    • Use all the time they give you. Make notes, especially if the information is delivered orally
    • If you can ask clarifying questions, do, but don't fish too much. Show that you can be effective working with the facts you have
    • Stay cool, even if you make a mistake in the arithmetic. They are looking at logic flow
    • Not all the information may be relevant, but avoid saying so, since you may be missing a connection. If you think some information is irrelevant, just don't draw on it in your answer.
  • Bottom line: The point of a case study interview is to see if you can think logically and clearly under pressure. Approach the question like a doctor trying to diagnose an illness - and you'll be fine

2nd and 3rd Round Interview

So, you've made it through your first round of interviews. Congratulations! Now you're on to the second and third round - the good stuff. Follow these steps to prepare:

  1. Evaluate Previous Interview(s)
    • Review your notes from the previous interview(s) with the organization
    • What questions did you struggle with?
    • Was there something you forgot to mention?
    • The next interview gives you an opportunity to answer any doubts the organization might have from your previous interview(s)
  2. Be Prepared for a Different Style
    • Your next interview may not be the same as the last interview. You might meet with:
      • A panel
      • Have a mix of one-on-one and panel interviews
      • Asked to complete a job related task
  3. Get the Agenda
    • Ask the person who scheduled the interview for an itinerary so you know up front what to expect
  4. Get Ready to Interview Them
    • Prepare a new list of questions that expand on dialogue from your previous interview(s)
    • Ask educated questions that show an increased knowledge of the organization
    • At this point, you are in serious contention for the position so it’s appropriate to ask about the organizational structure and how you will fit in
  5. Bring Extra Copies of Your Resume, Cover Letter, and References
    • Second or third interviews may include meetings with several different people
    • Most likely they will all have copies of your information, but if not, being prepared with extras will be helpful
  6. Think About and Research Salary Requirements
    • The organization will likely ask what you expect for a salary and other benefits
    • Do your homework!
    • Find out national and regional salary information for comparable positions in your field so you can answer appropriately


Interview Mistakes

  • Inappropriate Attire – most common reason for elimination before interview begins. Clothing plays a big role in your first impression. Don’t wear something that will distract interviewers from what you have to say. Dress conservatively, suits are preferable.
  • Nervous Ticks – be mindful of repetitive or distracting body language you may exhibit under pressure and take steps to avoid such distractions. Participating in a videotaped mock interview can help you recognize and correct these potential problems.
  • Cell Phone Etiquette – you obviously wouldn’t take a call during an interview but be aware that vibrating phones can be just as disruptive. LEAVE THE PHONE IN THE CAR.
  • No Questions Asked – job seekers should always prepare a list of questions for the interviewer. The more research you have done about the company, the more relevant your questions will be.
  • Poor Eye Contact – hold it too long and it becomes an awkward stare, not holding it long enough can make you appear nervous. Take your cue from the interviewer. If she meets your gaze while asking you a question, make sure you meet hers when answering.
  • Exaggerating Experience – be honest about your experience and try to highlight how your actual experience can contribute to the company’s needs. For students fresh out of school, mention the skills you acquired through your academic requirements. Exaggeration can lead to problems, but if you have the opportunity to promote skills you have, take it!
  • Leaving Things Out – make a list of 2 or 3 points you think are most important to convey to the interviewer. If you haven’t had an opportunity to mention them during the interview then bring them up at the end. Say something like, “Before I get to my questions there are a few things I wanted to mention…”
  • Listing Demands – making demands of an employer in the first interview is a huge mistake. Explaining what days you can’t work and why won’t improve your chances of getting a job.
  • Vocalized Pauses & Slang – when pausing to consider a question, be aware of the dreaded vocalized pauses, “umm…uhh…err.” Also make sure you’re aware of any inappropriate slang. Remember this is a professional communication exchange. Participating in a videotaped mock interview can help you recognize and correct these potential problems.
  • Arriving Late (or too early) – strolling in 10 minutes late will probably guarantee that you won’t get the job, but arriving too early can send that message that you’re desperate or have poor planning skills. Fifteen (15) minutes early is pretty safe.


Additional Resources

Academic & Career Services is excited to present The Big Interview, an interactive site to help you ace your next job interview. The site includes 7 core learning modules, tips on how to answer difficult questions, and as long as you have Internet access and a webcam you're able to record practice interviews! It's easy to sign up, easy to use...and it's free!

Networking

Identify Networks - Elevator Speech - Practice Networking - Promote Yourself

Networking is an important skill in a tight job market. Many people who take a new position did not respond to a posted opening and much of all hiring occurs through the hidden job market. The hidden job market includes all the jobs that are filled before they are posted anywhere. Networking helps you find those hidden jobs.

What is Networking?

Networking is …

  • Building relationships
  • Exchanging information
  • A key method of attaining life and career goals

Notice the focus on relationships and exchanging information. Effective networking is never a one-way street – it involves connecting with people for mutually beneficial purposes.

How Can I Begin Networking?

Chances are, you have already begun. For example, have you ever asked classmates for their opinions about classes or professors, asked friends where they get their cars worked on, or asked acquaintances if they knew of any part-time job openings? These are simple examples of networking in everyday situations. For a more professional twist – and for networking to aid in your search for a professional job – there are a few guidelines you’ll want to follow.

Identify Networks

Create a list of people who might be able to help you.

  • List people you know well (family members, close friends, classmates, advisors and professors, neighbors … anyone you know well and who knows you, too.) 
  • Record names of people with whom you are somewhat familiar (people in your neighborhood, former co-workers, former professors and/or bosses, people you know through hobbies or events you attend, etc.)
  • List people whom you might not know, but are connected to people you know (friends of your family, your sister or brother’s employer, the Chair and/or other professors in your department, the director of your school’s Alumni Association, and others.)

Can you see how your inventory of potential contacts might keep growing and growing? When you meet new people, be sure to add them to your list, too. If you find that your list is short, connect on LinkedIn, join an organization, volunteer, and get involved.

Elevator Speech

Develop your "Elevator Speech," a short message that describes who you are, what you are looking for, and how you can benefit an organization. It should be about 30 seconds long - the time it takes to ride from the top to the bottom of a building in an elevator.

Elements of Speech:
  • Short introduction
    • “Hi my name is _____________ and I’ll be graduating in ______ with a degree in _______________________.”
  • What is your immediate career goal?
    • “After graduation I’m hoping to ___________________________.”
  • Use your research
    • “I’m especially interested in your company because ___________.”
  • What can you contribute?
    • “Based on my experience in _________ I believe I can bring ________ to your organization.”
Sample Speech:

“Hi my name is Louie Loper and I’ll be graduating in May with a degree in Organizational Communication. After graduation I’m hoping to obtain a sales or marketing position with a Nebraska-based company. I’m especially interested in your company because of your broad base of clientele, as well as your commitment to the growth and development of small businesses. I believe I can bring my familiarity with this area of the state, as well as a creative approach to gaining new business to your organization.”

Practice

Contrary to popular belief, effective networking and building professional relationships does not come naturally to most people. Like any other skill, however, the more you work at it, the more proficient you will become.

  • Practice shaking hands with people who will give you honest feedback. You don’t want to use a vice-like handshake where you crush the other person’s hand, yet you certainly don’t want to be known for your ‘dead fish’ handshake, either.
  • Practice your Elevator Speech until you can give it smoothly and confidently.
  • Attend networking events so you can get experience meeting and greeting professionals. Be sure to adapt your Elevator Speech to each situation.

Promote Yourself

Think of yourself as a product you are selling. What features make you unique? What skills will help you achieve the goals you have set for yourself? What do you need to work on to make yourself more marketable? In short, develop your personal brand.

As you might know, your personal brand will include, among other things, your appearance and your communication style. Take action now to begin presenting yourself in a more professional way. For starters, review this checklist:

  • Listen to the voice message on your phone – what does it say about you? Do you need to update it to reflect a more professional image?
  • Check your email address - is it precise and professional? Will it give the “right” impression?
  • When you send an email, do you include a subject, address the person by name, write in complete sentences, and close with your name and contact information?
  • When you attend events, do you dress and groom to make a great impression?

Promote yourself by taking advantage of opportunities to meet professionals – especially in your career-interest area. Attend networking events, club meetings, seminars, workshops, career fairs . . . and more. Foster these relationships by staying in touch, occasionally e-mailing, etc.

Develop a professional resumé, making sure you highlight accomplishments most relevant to positions you are seeking. Have your resumé reviewed by several people who will give you honest feedback – your academic advisor, an instructor, a mentor, or an advisor at the Career Center.