Step 3: Putting It All Together

Preparing For Job Search/Graduate School During Your Senior Year

Things to consider:

  • Identify your marketable skills and the best ways to present these to employers.
  • Decide what types of jobs you’ll search for and where you’ll look.
  • Familiarize yourself with a variety of job-search techniques.
  • Identify and research potential employers.
  • Attend job fairs.
  • Participate in on-campus interviews.
  • Apply to graduate schools and take any required entrance exams.
  • Fine-tune your resume.

Resume Writing

Preparation

Resumes are individualized. They are a means to market oneself to an employer. Think about all your experiences when outlining your resume: work experience, courses, volunteer work, leadership roles, etc.

Market your experience & knowledge to employers

Employers are interested in your skills. These can fall into two main categories:

Knowledge-Based

 

Skills acquired through education and trainings that are specifically geared toward a particular position

Examples:

  • Technical
  • Proficient Language
  • Equipment-Related 

Transferable

 

Skills that are versatile and can be used in various career paths. Every job has them so they help us to link from one career to another and display our abilities. In your resume, cover letter, or interview, you'll want to emphasize the skills that are most relevant to the position.

Examples:

  • Verbal and Written Communication
  • Attention to Detail
  • Organizational
  • Research-Related
  • Rapport-Building
  • Empathetic Listening
  • Leadership Ability

Exercise: Identify Your Skills & Achievements

Think of a situation where you set a goal and then worked to successfully accomplish it. This could be work related but doesn't have to be. Write down all that was involved, from start to finish including any hurdles that you faced, what you did step by step, what you accomplished as a result of your efforts, and any measures which prove your achievements. Now analyze your story in order to identify the types of skills that you used to accomplish your goal.

Practice: Incorporate Your Skills Into Your Resume

  1. Start with an action word (List of suggested verbs)
  2. Include enough detail to convey your contribution
  3. Quantify your accomplishments where possible
  4. Aim for 3-5 key points for each position
  5. Use implied pronouns
  6. Be specific, avoiding generalization
  7. Think of each point as potentially leading to an interview question

 

 

What Do I Include In The Resume?

Below is a list of Essential Components that should be included on most, if not all, resumes, as well as a list of Potential Components that are based upon individual experience and the position for which you are applying.

Essential Components

Identifying Information

Name, Address, Phone Number, Email

Objective

What type of position are you applying for? 

(This may be optional if accompanied by a cover letter)

Education

Includes Degree, College/University, Minor, GPA (if 3.0 or above)
Work Experience This may be divided into sections. (e.g., Related Experience & Additional) Positions should be listed chronologically with the most recent first.

Detail duties using bulleted descriptions using the verb first with concise statements.  (For example: Provided for orderly operations of store.)

 Potential Components

Summary of Skills

List of demonstrated qualifications. 

This may include technical, language, communication skills, etc.

Related Course of Study

Courses related to your major and/or the position for which you are applying.

Professional Development

List of Trainings/Workshops attended, as well as advanced certifications. 

Detail dates and locations.

Organizations

Professional or Student Organizations.  List any leadership roles that you held.

Detail dates and locations.

Community Service

Any volunteer work that you have conducted.  Detail dates and locations.

Publications

Include any articles or books that may have been authored/co-authored.

Honors/Awards

Scholarships, sports, academic or related achievements.  This may also include leadership roles or honorary membership to academic organization.

Sample Resumes

Cover Letter

Tailor the cover letter toward the particular position and company.

PARAGRAPH

CONTENT

1st IP

Include the position for which you are applying and how you found out about the position. 

You may also want to mention interest in the company at this time.

 

2nd – 3rd IP

Discuss why you are a qualified candidate.  This may include education and experience. 

This discussion may be one paragraph or two, dependent upon your experience.  Do not reiterate your resume.  This discussion should enhance it as well as give the employer an example of your writing style.

3rd or 4th IP

Refer the employer to your resume.  Discuss meeting with the employer to further discuss

your skills and qualifications.  Include contact information, such as phone and email.

Final IP

Thank the employer for their time and consideration of your application.

This is usually completed in one sentence.

Salutation

The word “sincerely” is often used.

Signature

Written signature is written below salutation and above typed name.

Enclosure(s)

Denotes enclosed resume, transcripts, etc.

Sample Cover Letters

Interviewing Skills

Interview questions are often individualized and geared toward the particular position.  Just as resumes are personally tailored to your experience, interview questions may be tailored by the employer. It is often difficult to know what to expect, therefore it is best to be prepared for various types of questions. Below are some commonly asked questions to help you prepare.

  1. Tell me a little about yourself.
  2. What led you to choose your major?
  3. Tell me about a time when you had to handle a difficult situation and how you dealt with it.
  4. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a co-worker or supervisor and how you handled it.
  5. Discuss a time when you had to complete a project and what steps you took to complete it.
  6. What is your greatest strength and greatest weakness?
  7. What are 3 qualities that you believe are essential to the position?
  8. How do you typically handle stress?
  9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  In 10 years?
  10. Why do you feel you are qualified for the position?

How To Dress For An Interview 

Dress

Preferably, men and women should wear a conservative two-piece matching suit for an interview.  Colors should be conventional, including: black, gray, and navy blue.  Ties and tights should match or be a complementary color. 

Hair & Accessories

Hair (including facial hair) should be well groomed. Make-up and accessories should be minimal. Men and women should take notice of the trends of the industry.  

Additional Materials

A copy of your resume, portfolio & pen typically should be taken to an interview.  Additional materials may be suggested, dependent upon position or industry.

For more information, check out some recommended the following websites:

Interviews vary in format and type.  Oftentimes, as you go up the job ladder, interviews may be panel, day-long, and include lunch or an alternate meal, that will require the candidate to be well-versed in Dining Etiquette.  Below are helpful tips modified from Chartwell’s at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.    

Business and Dining Etiquette

Some Dining Etiquette Do’s and Don’ts

Etiquette Do’s

Etiquette Don’ts

  • Place napkin in your lap upon seating yourself.  Should you leave the table, place napkin on seat of chair. 
  • When selecting an entrée, always chose an item mid-range in price.
  • If seated with multiple pieces of flatware, use utensils from outside, working your way towards your plate.
  • Break your bread into bite size pieces and butter it, as you are ready to eat it.
  • Take one bite or drink of beverage at a time.
  • Cut your entrée one bite at a time.
  • If your silverware is soiled or spotted, quietly ask the wait staff for a replacement or if unnecessary, wipe the spot off using your napkin.
  • Wait until everyone is served before eating. Watch for cues from the host.
  • When finished, do place your fork upside down on your plate along with your dinner knife at 4:00
  • Sit straight, but not too stiff. Lean slightly against the back of the chair when not eating, Your hands may be in your lap. 
  • Place the napkin on the table until finished with your meal.
  • Select an item from the most or least expensive in price.
  • Use silverware closest to your plate first.
  • Butter your bread all at once and eat it before the first course is served.
  • Put liquid in your mouth when it’s already filled with food.
  • Cut your entrée all at once.
  • Draw attention or complain.  The main focus should be on your abilities and the interview.
  • Begin eating immediately upon being served.
  • When finished don’t push your plate away.
  • Slouch, put your elbows on the table, or arms of your chair.

After The Interview - The Thank You Letter 

Following an interview, it is customary to send a follow-up thank-you letter to the interviewers.  The letter/card can be typed or hand-written, but the letter should be written between 1-3 days after the interview.  Below is a suggested format and sample letter.

1st IP

Express your gratitude for the meeting and state the position you interviewed for.

2nd IP – 3rd IP

Reiterate your interest and why you would be an excellent candidate for the position.  At this time you can also state your contact information, should they have any questions or require additional information.

Closing & Signature

Thank you or Sincerely with a hand-written signature.

Sample Thank You Letter

1520 Kings Avenue
Ligonier, PA 15658

November 23, 2013

Thomas R. James
Director of Human Resources
Circle Communications
3324 Depot Street
Latrobe, PA 15650

Dear Mr. James,

Thank you for meeting with me yesterday to discuss the Marketing Assistant position within your office. It was a pleasure to meet with you and your staff to gain more insight into the position requirements, as well as the inner-workings of the office.

My interest and enthusiasm were enhanced throughout the tour and discussion.  I welcome the opportunity to work with such highly-motivated professionals and become part of the Circle Communications Team. 

Should you have any further questions or require additional information, I may be reached at (724) 866-2000 or via email at srs00@pitt.edu

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Steven Sayers   

Job & Career Fairs

Career fairs are a great opportunity to network with employers, learn about openings, and conduct career research.  Below is a list of the region’s larger fairs:

Job & Career Fair

Semester

Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Job & Internship Fair

WANT Job and Internship Expo

Opportunities (for Pitt Students and alumni only)

Penn State Career Days

Fall & Spring Semesters: October and March

Spring Semester: February

Fall & Spring Semesters: September & January

Fall & Spring Semesters – September & April

For a complete list of the area's career-related events, visit the calendar on WestPACS.org

How To Prepare For The Job & Internship Fair

  • Research Companies of Interest & Job Descriptions: What is the employer seeking in a candidate?
  • Preparation (Bring enough resumes for all those companies you are interested in & a few  extras)
  • Dress Appropriately – Dress the same as you would for an interview
  • Arrive at the Fair early to plan out your time – who do you plan to speak to first?
  • Speak with companies that might not be on your list to determine other opportunities available
  • 30-Second Commercial (see tips below)
  • Discuss your experience and points of interest in the company
  • Discuss any questions you have about the position or company

Making The Most Out of the Job Fair, WestPACS (pdf)

Tips For Your 30-Second Commercial

When you first approach an employer, what do you plan to say?  How do you make a good first impression?  Some tips to prepare for your 30-second commercial:

A firm handshake shows confidence and respect.

Think about the question: “Tell me a little about yourself” to give the employer an idea of your present situation and your future plans.  Points to include might be:

  • When are you graduating?
  • What is your major?
  • What area of their company particularly interests you?
  • How can you be an asset to their company?

Think about their company…

  • What do you know about their company?
  • What area of their company particularly interests you?
  • What questions do you have for the employer?

Resources

Job & Intership Search 

Searching for a job or internship can be time-consuming and frustrating at times. There isn’t just one single way to search for a position. On the contrary, it is often beneficial to utilize multiple search strategies.  Below are some tips for your search: 

Food For Thought…

DON’T LIMIT YOURSELF:

TRY ALL JOB-HUNTING STRATEGIES!

The more strategies you use the better your chances of finding job leads and getting the job.  

NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK!

Everyone you know & meet is a potential contact for job leads.  Gather names, phone numbers and addresses.

PLAN RESEARCH STRATEGIES

Research companies and agencies.  Gather lists and send resumes along with a cover letter.  Highlight your skills and qualifications. Follow up by phone.  Informational interviews can help to get your foot in the door. 

IT’S BEST TO BE ASSERTIVE

Go after the position you want.  Research, call, and follow up. 

REMAIN FOCUSED IN YOUR SEARCH

Set goals for yourself on a daily or weekly basis.  Stay positive.

BUILD SELF-CONFIDENCE

Keep yourself motivated and focus on your successes.

DEAL WITH STRESS

This can be a very stressful time.  Do something to deal with the stress.  This might include: exercise, listening to music, and deep breathing.

RESEARCH THE COMPANY

Look up the company on the Internet or in the library.  Request specific information from the company, such as: annual report, newsletter, or brochure.

KNOWING YOURSELF IS KEY

What are your accomplishments? What experience do you have?  What are your interests, goals, and values?  Practice interview questions and responses to become more familiar with interviewing.

Tips for the long-distance job search (pdf)

Networking 

Job or career leads can be found in a variety of ways.  Some of the more common ways are: research, websites, career information centers, family, friends, networking events, and professional organizations.  You may meet contacts in a variety of ways and if the opportunity doesn’t present itself, you may wish to inquire with a company of interest.  Below are some tips on what to say when you inquire about a position.

The Cold Call 

It is often helpful and shows interest to call a company of interest to inquire about potential opportunities.  See examples below:

SHADOWING INQUIRY

Hello.  My name is Dan Connor. I am a Sophomore at The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.  I have an interest in becoming a pharmacist and would like to learn more about the field.  Do you offer shadowing opportunities or informational interviews? 

INTERNSHIP INQUIRY

Hello. My name is Kara Myers.  I am a Junior at The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, majoring in Business Management.  After researching your company, I am very interested in learning more about your Marketing Department and would like to ask about internship opportunities within the office and how I might apply.   

JOB INQUIRY

Hello.  My name is Adam Matten.  I am a Senior at The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and will be graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in April.  I have had internships with Adelphoi Village and am currently a TSS for Family Behavioral Systems.  I am very interested in working with children in a clinical setting and would like to find out about any available opportunities you might have within your agency. 

You may not always think of it this way, but all the people you know & meet could be a potential contact for job leads.  They may know people or names of people who work at places you’d like to apply.  It is beneficial to gather contact information, such as: names, phone numbers, and addresses.  The contact might be someone you could reference in your cover letter, for instance.

NETWORKING EVENTS – The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg

The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg offers a variety of networking events for students throughout the year.  Opportunities and events are advertised in UPG JobNet, the Intercom, and campus emails and correspondence.   Some examples are included below:

Careers & Coffee Series

Opportunity to meet with University of Pittsburgh alumni who currently work in the field.  Learn from professions in a panel setting and then network over coffee and dessert!

Speed Interviewing

Get Ready! Get Set! Career Services and Alumni Affairs partner to bring you this exciting opportunity to find out more about the interview process by answering questions in a round-robin fashion.  Afterwards continue your conversation by networking with your interviewer over coffee and dessert.

On-Campus Speakers

Throughout the year, speakers are invited to campus to speak on differing career paths.  Watch for announcements.

 

PITT CAREER NETWORK – A Good Place To Start! Gain Information and Contacts!

The University of Pittsburgh’s Alumni Association is an excellent resource for research and networking.  Meet professionals in the field that are willing to take time and answer questions as well as provide some direction in your area of study.  

Applying To Graduate School 

Best Sources to Learn About Graduate Programs, Don Asher (pdf)
Questions To Ask Any Graduate Program, Don Asher (pdf)
Why You Need to Apply Early to Several Programs, Don Asher (pdf)
Statement of Purpose Pre-writing Exercise, Don Asher (pdf)
Writing Exercises for the Graduate Admissions Essay..., Don Asher (pdf)
Ten Things To Do If You Don’t Get In, Don Asher (pdf)

Adapted from Donald Asher's Graduate Admissions Essays, 3rd ed., Ten Speed Press, used with permission.

HOW TO GATHER INFORMATION

  • Speak to professionals in your area of interest.  It is helpful to get more than one opinion. Many people are willing to discuss their own history or career path and may have suggestions about degrees or further education & programs.  
  • Research school & departmental websites - a few great sites for locating programs help you to select criteria, such as location, degree, size of school, cost, etc. 
  • http://www.gradschools.com
  • http://www.princetonreview.com
  • http://www.petersons.com
  • Program Rankings - The Gourman Report (available in Millstein Library) - provides rankings of many types of graduate programs. 
  • Search web-based databases
  • Contact programs and request school catalogues
  • Visit the campus/department of interest

HOW TO APPLY TO GRADUATE SCHOOL - A SUGGESTED SEQUENCE

  1. Research your options
  2. Identify schools and request applications
  3. Develop a checklist for applying
  4. Register and prepare for entrance exam 
  1. Request letters of recommendation
  2. Take exam
  3. Request transcripts
  4. Prepare and submit application

Each Fall, Pitt-Greensburg hosts the Graduate & Professional School Fair.

Still want more information?  Check out Pitt-Greensburg's career newsletter, The Bridge - Connecting Pitt-Greensburg students with career advice & opportunities...