UNBSJ was visited by three alumni to give students tips on job hunting and interviews. Deb Armstrong (BBA), Monica Teakles (BBA) and Trent Seely (BBA) are all UNBSJ alumni working in the human resources field. They were on campus for a presentation in preparation for the career fair that took place on campus on Feb. 27.
An important fact that many job hunters aren’t aware of is that it can cost an employer $55,000 to hire and train a new employee. “The most important decision we make is who we hire,” says Armstrong. “Looking for a job is a full time job.” To help students put their best foot forward in the job market, the alumni came armed with the dos and dont’s of job hunting, from resume writing to the actual interview process.
Among their tips: Present yourself professionally. According to Seely, each job posting will get 200 to 300 replies. Seely says during the initial screening he looks for spelling errors, the use of font (steer clear of comic sans) and a clear and concise list of relevant skills. “Make sure, when it comes to your resume, that everything looks pristine,” he says.
Also, be sure to personalize your cover letter and resume to the specific job you are applying for, rather than mass produce applications. They also recommend focusing on clarity in your resume. Start with your most recent qualifications and make sure your contact information is visible. Also include extra-curricular activities, “I like extra-curricular activities,” says Armstrong, “it tells me that you have social skills, you have a wide variety of interests, that I can put you in all different kinds of positions.”
Keep your resume professional. Do not include personal details like marital status, whether you have children, your religion, sexual orientation, photographs or anything else that may spark a prejudice against you, because this can be a liability for the employer. Also, be sure to have a work-appropriate email address and a clean social media presence. The alumni also suggest taking university as seriously as you would take a job. Remember that professors and fellow students may end up on interview panels, so act accordingly. “The best indicator of future behaviour is previous behaviour,” says Teakles
Seely recommends students start networking now, before graduation. He recommends going to networking events, using friends, family and neighbours and others you may know, “find out who knows who,” he says. Armstrong disagrees. She would like to see potential employees prove themselves first. “You sure better be doing something for someone else,” she says. “If I’m going to invest my time, effort and energy in you, I want to know you’re [doing the same] for someone else.”
“Volunteer work is the best way [to network] because a lot of those people in manager positions are volunteers themselves so they see your actions, your ability to organize and your work ethic and that’s a better representation to them of what you’re capable of than you explaining it to them,” says Teakles.
One final piece of advice from the alumni: Don’t get your hopes up too much and try to be flexible. The job market is saturated with recent graduates who are all fighting for the same few positions. Teakles’ advice is to “take what you can get to start because you have to build up your credibility and work experience,” and open doors from there.