Tomorrow, we will graduate the Class of 2012 from the University of Minnesota Morris. I'd like to extend a warm congratulations to everyone! As you depart the university, some will be going on to graduate school, and many will enter the workforce.
I used to advise a fraternity and a sorority when I was with the Twin Cities campus, and would provide regular resume and interview coaching. At Morris, I perform the same service with our departing student workers, offering to help with resumes and do practice interviews. On the topic of resumes, Business Insider recently wrote about what interviewers focus on when they read your resumes. The article suggests interviewers may spend as little as 6 seconds on a resume - that seems a bit low, although it's generally true that a hiring manager gets lots of applicants for an open position, so will have many resumes to read.
It's up to you to make your resume stand out from the crowd. As simple as it seems, formatting means a lot. You need to make your resume easy to read, and easy to skim. My general advice:
Put your name at the top of the resume.
That should seem really obvious - but I have reviewed more than one resume where I asked "Whose resume is this?" If the hiring manager doesn't know your name, they can't hire you.
Include your contact information (phone and email) right next to your name.
Many resumes I've read over the years did not mention how to reach the candidate. I imagine these candidates included their preferred contact method in their cover letter (and you should do that, too) but it's not uncommon for the cover page to get separated or lost when sorting through the pile of applicants.
List your education and experience clearly.
From the article, the study showed recruiters will look at your name, current title and company, current position start and end dates, previous title and company, previous position start and end dates, and education. So make sure these are easy to find. Use clear formatting around section headings, such as borders that span the width of the page. The article shows two resumes, but one received much more attention. The one on the right was looked at more thoroughly than the one of the left because of its clear and concise formatting.
Finally, Business Insider also writes with 7 tips for your interview. To summarize:
Don't be late.
On the other hand, don't be too early. As a general rule, plan to be in their lobby 5-10 minutes before your interview. If you have to, arrive early, and wait in your car until it's time to walk in the door.
Don't show up unprepared.
Do your homework beforehand. You should know what the company does, something about its market, and what your job might entail. Take advantage of their web site, and ask family for advice and insights.
Don't ask about salary, benefits, and perks.
Actually, I believe it's okay to ask about these - but at the end of the interview when they ask "is there anything you'd like to ask us?" Otherwise, focus on the 3 things asked in every interview: do you want the job, can you do the job, will they want to work with you.
Don't focus on future roles.
In other words, if you give the impression that this job is just a "stepping stone" to some bigger & better position somewhere else, no one will want to hire you to do the job you are applying for.
"What is your greatest weakness?"
This question still gets asked in interviews, even though it's a b.s. question. So you still need to be able to answer it. Avoid "I work too hard" or some other lame response; actually talk about a weakness - just make it something that you can actually improve, and won't blow your opportunity for the position.
Yes, I have actually sat on interviews where the candidate was clearly making stuff up. The hiring manager isn't an idiot, they can spot a lie. This is the #1 way to get your resume tossed out.
End the interview on a positive.
Don't ask what might rule you out of consideration; that just starts the interviewer thinking about why you might not be a good fit for the position.
Good luck, graduates! You'll do well!