Resume, Cover Letters, References, & Interviews
Career Exploration is more than declaring a major. It also involves:
- learning more about yourself – your interests, skills, values and personality – and using that information to identify professional options and paths as you research careers
- exploring broad career fields and specific careers within those fields
To develop a purposeful plan to explore how your skills, interests, values and personality align with majors and careers of interest, call 931.363.9854 to schedule an appointment with career services.
Job Search Tips and Career Services Resources & Info
Four Year Career Plan
Career Fair Navigation Strategies
Career Fairs are an opportunity to network with representatives and potentially apply for jobs and internships. Business professional dress (sometimes business casual) is encouraged; bring copies of your resume.
You not only market your academic training but also your skills and personal traits to employers. Be prepared to introduce yourself to employers; communicate how you have demonstrated the following traits and inquire how you could be an asset to their organization:
Critical Thinking/Problem Solving
- Oral/Written Communications
- Professionalism/Work Ethic
Resource: What is Career Readiness
Dress the Part
Much like you would dress to attend an interview, arrive clean, pressed and well-groomed.
- Pressed, button down dress shirt (white or light blue preferred)
- Pressed, well-tailored suit (navy, gray, tan or black)
- Dark socks (not white athletic) that cover the calf
- Belt and shoes to compliment suit (black or brown leather)
- Earrings are not suggested
- Facial hair should be shaved or well-trimmed
- Pressed, tailored skirt/pants suit (navy, gray, tan or black)
- Pressed, button down shirt (should not be too snug)
- Skirt should come to knees (avoid extreme slit)
- Wear minimal jewelry
- Shoes should be closed toe with low to mid-height heel
- Don’t smell—no smoking, perfume, cologne
- Brush your teeth and bring mints (if needed) but no gum
- Eat a snack prior to avoid distractions caused by hunger
- Bring resumes in a portfolio; avoid carrying bulky bag(s)
- Know schedule as some recruiters plan next day interviews
Prepare to Talk to Employers
You do not want this to be you: “Hi, I’m Jane Doe. What does your company do?” You want to impress recruiters with your knowledge of their company, available positions and communicate your fit.
Prepare Your Resume
A resume should summarize your past experiences that demonstrate relevant skills, personal traits and successes that communicate your fit to companies and available position(s). It should fit on one page, have no grammatical or spelling errors and be printed on resume paper.
Prepare What You Will Say
Prepare an “Elevator Speech,” a 30-60 second introduction of yourself that you share with each recruiter. The plan is to…
- Introduce yourself, making eye contact with a smile
- Offer a firm hand shake and a resume
- Tell what sort of employment you seek
- Summarize your relevant education, experience and skills
- Close by reiterating your interest and asking questions
- Thank the recruiter, ask for business card and leave
Do not manipulate their time by talking about personal life. Stick to relevant details. Conduct personal research to develop your own questions, here are some examples to get you started:
- What career opportunities are available for individuals with my degree and skills?
- What activities will best prepare me for your positions?
- What qualities are you looking for in new hires?
- Do you hire students for full-time jobs, co-ops, internships or summer employment? How do I apply for these positions?
- What is the best way to apply for a position with your company?
- What type of opportunities do you currently have available?
- What type of training do you offer new hires?
- For what geographic locations do you hire?
- What makes your organization different from competitors?
- Describe the work environment at your organization.
- What characteristics describe successful people at your company?
- I’m very interested in a position. What is the next step?
Use Your Time Wisely
- Come early as some recruiters leave the event early
- Do not travel with friends, be an individual
- Know with whom you want to talk, and visit those tables first
- Wait your turn, not interrupting others engaged with recruiter
- Network with other recruiters, not missing opportunities
- Ask for a business card from each recruiter with whom you visit
- After the event, send personalized emails to thank recruiters for their time and ask any questions you may have
- Attach your resume to the message
- Mail a handwritten thank you as well
- Check to see if the company (not the individual) has a LinkedIn and/or Twitter profile and follow it
Career Fair Dos
- DO dress professionally—career fairs require the same attention to apparel as interviews
- DO greet the recruiter with a firm handshake and maintain eye contact
- DO prepare an elevator speech
- DO prepare informed questions to ask before the Fair
- DO stand alone and be independent—try not to constantly move in a “pack” with your friends
- DO keep an open mind. Approach lesser known companies—you might discover a lot of potential
- DO have a sense of humor and be personable
- DO bring a portfolio to hold your resumes, appointment book, business cards, etc. Keep it organized throughout the Fair
- DO ask about the best way to find out about upcoming opportunities with the company
- DO “close the deal” don’t be afraid to take the initiative and ask what the next step is
- DO ask for a business card so that you can follow-up
Career Fair Don’ts
- DON’T be afraid of the recruiters, they’re here to meet you
- DON’T pretend you’re interested in a company if you’re not
- DON’T schedule an appointment you don’t intend to keep
- DON’T overstate your abilities, present yourself and your abilities in a convincing, but honest manner
- DON’T monopolize the recruiter’s time, make a good impression, gather information and move on
- DON’T ask questions about salary
- DON’T complain about past jobs, bosses, classes, or professors
- DON’T just toss your resume on the table, take the time to market yourself
- DON’T insert yourself into a conversation a recruiter is having with another student, wait your turn
Frequently Asked Questions
Who may attend?
- UTS Career Services invites all students, regardless of classification (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior or graduate student), and alumni to attend every available and applicable career event. Career fairs are excellent opportunities to network for internships and future employment! Prior to entering a career event, students and alumni are required to scan the QR code. At the registration table, participants are provided name tags that identify classification and major.
Should freshmen, sophomores or juniors attend?
- Career fairs are a vital component to help people achieve their professional goals. They can provide valuable opportunities to explore different careers and seek employment, whether a full time position or internship. There are many reasons to attend a career fair:
- Access to recruiters from a wide array of companies and industries in one location
- Find out about available job openings and submit resumes in person
- Explore different, and even discover new, career options and possible future areas of employment
- Identify “what it takes” to land the job at various companies – what education, background, skills, and/or coursework is needed to succeed in a field or at a particular company
- Practice interview and networking skills
- Gain job searching advice from the recruiters who hire college graduates
- Develop a network of business contacts
- Learn about different industries
How do I make a good impression?
- Print your resume on quality paper and don’t staple to other documents
- Bring a portfolio to hold your resume, pen, paper and support documents; preferably one with slots for business cards
- Have your schedule available in case you have the chance to set up an interview
- Have a list of companies that interest you most as you may want to add notes from your research
- Keep breath mints on hand to help counteract dry mouth and bad breath
When greeting recruiters:
- Make eye contact, smile, introduce yourself and offer a firm handshake.
- Be personable; keep the conversation light and comfortable
- Be prepared to present your elevator speech
- Ask thoughtful questions specific to the company or industry
- Leave a copy of your resume and request a business card from the recruiter so you can follow up with him or her later
- Thank the recruiter for his or her time and for considering your resume, let recruiters know you enjoyed speaking with them and that you will be in touch
Business and Dining Etiquette
How you conduct yourself and treat others in a business or dining setting speaks strongly of who you are as a professional. Research worldwide tips and strategies before traveling as different cultures have different protocols.
- Use titles (Mr. Ms. Dr.), not first names until instructed to do so
- Be on time or 5-15 minutes early, earlier than that can be awkward and invasive
- Prepare for the meeting, developing an agenda if you are leading
- Do not interrupt meeting agendas, but in a timely manner, be confident in concisely sharing on-topic ideas/opinions
- Do not get intoxicated at work functions
- Do not use profanity or tell off-colored jokes
- Do not engage in office gossip
- Bring a positive attitude and leave personal drama at home
- Do not air work-related frustrations via social media (example: These people make me sick. #ISITFRIDAYYET)
How to Approach a Group
- Present yourself with confidence
- Smile and extend right hand
- State name (and company)
- Know how to introduce yourself (and company) in 15 to 30 seconds.
- Avoid “closed” triads: two people facing shoulder to shoulder are likely having a private conversation
- Do not fold your arms or put them in your pockets
- Hi, Hey, Yo, What’s up?, What’s going on? are not appropriate
- Hello is appropriate
- It is your duty to introduce yourself
- Look people in the eyes and smile in order to seem confident and approachable
- Name tags should be placed high on right shoulder
- When should you introduce yourself?
- When you realize someone does not recognize you
- When attending a business or social gathering
- When seated next to someone
- When person introducing you forgets your name
- When it is a friend of a friend
- Use proper titles when introducing others
- Omit titles when introducing people of same rank and position
- Never introduce a co-worker/superior by first name
- Introduce person lowest on the totem pole to the one highest
- The name of the person of greater authority is spoken first
- This means you look at the most “important person” and say, “Ms. Important, I would like to introduce you to Mr. Student, an intern in our IT department. Mr. Student, this is Mr. Important, the director of technical marketing.”
- When dealing with people outside the company, clients are more important than company employees, and hiring managers are more important than job seekers
- If you are seated while being introduced, stand to shake hands; have a firm handshake, but avoid death grips
- Tell something about the person whom you introduce
During the Conversation
- Learn how to make small talk
- Be current on domestic and international events
- Know what events impact your company or client’s
- Ask questions that focus on other person, not you
- Do not interrupt and/or finish people’s sentences
- Avoid conversations about health or diet habits, cost of things, personal life, gossip, off-color jokes and controversial issues
- Don’t gaze around room in a conversation—it’s rude and makes other person feel insignificant
- Do not touch others unless you know them well
- Do not just walk away if you see someone more interesting— ALWAYS make a closing statement before moving on:
- “Please excuse me, it was nice talking with you”
- “It was really a pleasure to meet you, I look forward to seeing you again soon”
- “I enjoyed talking with you, I hope to see you soon”
- Summarize, “Oh, it looks like you have a fascinating job and I wish you good luck on your project”
- If graceful disengagement doesn’t work, be more direct: “I see it is really getting late and I really must go,” then back up physically. As a last result, say a parting statement while you are shaking hands and saying good-bye.
- Always have enough and carry in a case
- Should not be wrinkled, written on, outdated or dirty
- Present the card with the print facing the recipient
- Your name should be the largest print on the card
- Don’t write on business cards in front of others
- Don’t exchange business cards while dining
- Never pass them out like you are dealing cards
- It is polite to comment on card before putting it away rather than immediately stashing it in a pocket without looking at it
- If someone asks for a business card, offer yours in return
- Before offering your business card , first say, “May I give you my card?”
- Do not force your card on anyone or offer it too early in a conversation
- Let senior executives ask for your card, do not offer to them
Meeting and Networking Events
- It is polite to offer to pay if asked to a lunch/dinner meeting; however, whoever extends the invitation typically pays
- Know why you are attending and who you want to meet
- Bring business cards; remember, you represent your company
- Do not carry a bag or notebook that fills your hands
- Step to the right when you enter room, pausing to first observe
- Greet hosts first, if possible but do not monopolize their time
- Introduce yourself to others, not just talking to people you know
- Do not immediately head for the bar or food; don’t go hungry
- Avoid foods that are messy or can’t be eaten in one bite
- Hold food or drink in left hand to leave right hand open
- Write a thank-you note within 24 hours
Work Relationships: Co-workers
- Cooperate and develop a relationship of mutual support
- Focus on positive qualities and potential of co-workers (strengths, not weaknesses)
- Be friendly, but do not join a clique
- Spend time observing how people act, who performs well and who takes a positive view toward the job and organization
- Beware of the gripers and avoid office gossip
- Do not talk about co-workers behind their backs
- Voice concerns, challenges and accomplishments
- Remember that a peer may someday be your boss or you his
- Be nice, polite and friendly to everyone, including individuals who work outside of your department
- Observe organization’s gift giving policy and be discreet when exchanging gifts if only exchanging with a few coworkers
Work Relationships: Supervisors
- Approach tasks with a willing attitude
- Enthusiastically complete “grunt” assignments
- Demonstrate poise and maturity in everything you do
- Ensure quality work is completed on-time
- Supervisors are your ally, not your enemy
- Supervisors train and develop; they aren’t best friends
- Do not ask supervisor for personal and financial advice
- Turn your phone off during meetings
- Invest in a watch so you don’t check phone for time
- Avoid answering in restaurants; if expecting important call, let those you are dining with know, and leave the table to answer
- In public, be aware of voice volume and move at least two arm lengths away from those around you (or out of the room)
- The people you are with should take precedence over calls
- If you expect a call that can’t be postponed, alert your companions ahead of time
- Public phone conversations are not private
- Craft a compelling subject line
- Treat email like a business letter; always be professional
- Keep it short and simple
- Use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation
- Never send an email when you’re angry
- Email is NOT confidential and can be forwarded
- Read it and check your spelling before sending it
- Confirm attachment you intended to attach is attached
- Answer an email within 24 hours
General Dining Etiquette
- Do not order foods that are eaten with your hands
- Pass food from left to right (counterclockwise)
- If asked for the salt or pepper, pass both
- Never season food before tasting it
- Food is served from the left, dishes removed from the right
- Butters, spreads or dips should be transferred to your serving dish before spreading or eating
- Do not ask for a “to-go box” unless it is an informal situation
- For hard to scoop items, use bread, not your finger, to push items onto fork
- If hot food is burning mouth, discretely drink something cool
- Napkins belong in your lap
- If you leave table, loosely fold your napkin (do NOT refold your napkin or wad it up) and place it beside your dinner plate
- Meeting materials or briefcases should be left under your chair until it is time to discuss business
- Do not ask to taste or offer to let others taste your food
- Do not blow nose at the table, politely excuse yourself
Casual Dining Exceptions
- You may order foods that are eaten with your hands
- When sharing chips and salsa, you don’t have to transfer salsa to your plate, but do not double dip.
Leaving a Tip
- Fifteen to 20 percent of the bill total is customary, but for exemplary service, a greater percentage is accepted
- For poor service, you may ask to speak to the manager; still tip
Place Setting Tips
- General rule: use silverware from outside – in as meal progresses
- When finished, do not push plate away, instead, place fork and knife across the center of the plate, handles to the right
- Between bites, your fork and knife are placed on the plate, handles to the right, not touching the table
Drinks are right of your plate, bread left. Tip: make “ok” sign with both hands; your left hand makes a “b” for bread, your right, a “d” for drinks.
Dress for Success Tips
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
You do not need a lot of clothes for interviews, but what you have should be of good quality, fit properly, and be clean, ironed, and reflective of current business styles.
Business Professional attire is highly encouraged and recommended at the UT Southern Career Fairs.
- Conservative tailored pant or skirt suit or suit dress with jacket
- Blouse: frill-less, evaluate appropriate color for career field
- Skirt: hits top of knee; avoid extreme slits
- Shoes: shined basic close-toed, medium/low-heeled pumps
- Jewelry: limit and select subtle options
- Nails: Conservative length and polish
- Portfolio or Handbag (small)
- Face: shaved or well-groomed facial hair
- Hair: well-groomed, professional-looking
- High quality, dark suit
- Jacket: button American-cut blazer/jacket when standing
- Shirt: solid white or blue button down
- Tie: subdued, traditional
- Belt and shoes: match
- Shoes: shined black or soft leather shoes
- Socks: dark, mid-calf socks
- Accessories: conservative watch, avoid earrings and other jewelry
CAREER FAIR TIPS FOR EVERYONE
- Bring a folder/portfolio to hold resume copies and a pen
- Have clean, manicured fingernails
- Don’t wear cologne/perfume and don’t smell of smoke
- Wear shoes that are well maintained
- Iron/press your clothing
- Select clothing that fits, not too tight or loose
- Limited chest should show
- Look at yourself: Is your hair neat? Is your shirt tucked? Is your tie knotted properly? Did you cut the slit tacking of your new coat and/or skirt?
Business Casual will vary greatly depending on the work environment. Remember to dress for the job you want, not the one you have, and that the goal is to be remembered for your contributions to the workplace, not your trendy wardrobe. However, if you work in fashion, for example, there are certainly exceptions. Also, there is a difference between business casual and just plain casual.
Women may wear a collared shirt or sweater with pants or skirt with dress shoes or boots. Some may also wear a conservative dress. Men may wear a polo shirt, collared shirt or sweater with khaki or dress pants and leather shoes. A tie is not necessary.
NOT APPROPRIATE FOR JOB SEARCH
- Shorts/jeans/short skirts
- Tight or baggy fits
- Excessive perfume or cologne
- Missing buttons, stains, tears or rips
How to Identify a Fraudulent Job
On Handshake, we strive to review employers and their full-time, part-time job and internship postings to confirm that they are legitimate. However, on occasion one slips through the cracks. It is imperative that you, the job searcher, know how to distinguish legitimate job postings from scam attempts.
- When in doubt, get the job description directly from the company’s official website. Much like phishing emails, scam job postings often capitalize on well-known companies’ names and images.
- Google the company’s employment page and read the job description directly from their site rather than click a link from a suspicious posting, which could take you to a cosmetically similar page. This will confirm the opening is legitimate.
- Call the company in question using publicly available contact information and ask questions about the job opening. If there is no phone number for the given company…do not pursue it.
Legitimate employers will not ask for personal information so do not provide the following:
- Financial or banking information
- Copy of your driver’s license card
- Copy of your Social Security card
- Copy of your Student ID
- Driver’s license, Social Security or Student ID numbers
- Note: Before hiring, some employers will request your SSN to conduct a background check – make sure you are comfortable with the company before supplying this information and do sign your Social Security Card, but do not carry it around; keep it in a secure location that you can access.
- If posting your resume online where it can be accessed by anyone, omit personal contact information.
- If a job sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is…don’t pursue it without diligent research.
Warning signs of fraudulent emails and websites include: bad grammar and spelling, requests for personal information and difficulty contacting or identifying the person posting.
These are all clear signs of trouble:
- You are asked to give credit card, bank account or PayPal account numbers.
- You are asked to send a payment by wire service or courier.
- You are offered a large payment or reward in exchange for allowing the use of your bank account—often for depositing checks or transferring money.
- You receive an unexpectedly large check.
- You are asked to transfer money, including via e-Bay, PayPal or Western Union.
- You are asked for personal information, such as your Social Security Number.
- You are requested to send a photocopy of your ID, i.e., driver’s license to “verify identity.”
- You are asked to complete a background check before you can be considered for a position.
- The posting appears to come from a legitimate company or organization, but the contact’s e-mail address doesn’t match the company’s website domain (email@example.com rather than firstname.lastname@example.org) or the company’s website domain is misspelled (email@example.com).
- The job posting doesn’t mention the responsibilities of the job; rather, it focuses on the amount of money you will make.
- Website includes information only about the job for which you are applying, rather than also including general company information.
- You receive a job offer in response to your application to a legitimate-appearing position description, but it is actually a marketing e-mail to sell you job search “help.”
What to do if Caught in Scam
- Immediately contact campus security
- Contact UTS Career Services so the posting can be removed and other students can be notified
- End all communication with the employer
- Get in touch with your bank or credit card company and dispute any fraudulent activity immediately
- Depending on what personal information was disclosed, monitor or close your accounts
- Depending on the situation, you may need to notify the three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and Transunion.
LinkedIn Profile Strategies
BUILD A GREAT LINKEDIN PROFILE
LinkedIn is one of the world’s largest professional networks with over 722 million members from over 200 countries. Profiles that are 100% complete are 40x more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn. You have space to include more than you can on a resume. Don’t forget summer jobs, paid and unpaid internships as well as volunteer and leadership roles.
- Customize LinkedIn URL. Set your LinkedIn profile to “public” and create a unique URL (e.g., linkedin.com/in/JohnSmith).
- Upload professional photo. High quality image should be of you alone and in attire that aligns you with field of interest. No selfies, cropped picture of you with others or pixilated images. Your profile is 7x more likely to be viewed with an image.
- Add the #OpenToWork profile photo frame to increase the likelihood of getting a recruiter message by 2x.
- Align headline with career goals. The default headline is your most recent title. Replace with statement or keywords relevant to your field of interest that are likely to be searched.
- Update contact information. Include a professional email address. Do not include physical address or phone number.
- Show off your education. Include major(s) and minor(s), courses, study abroad and summer programs. Share your GPA, test scores, honors and awards. Remove high school after sophomore year unless incredibly relevant.
- Develop a professional summary. Your summary statement describes your qualifications and goals in a bulleted format. It should be keyword rich to align yourself with your field of interest. You may even list specialties after the bullets.
- Fill “Skills & Expertise” with keywords. View job descriptions, O*Net and profiles of people who have the kinds of roles you seek to identify relevant keywords.
- Share your work. Attach writing samples, design work, presentations; unlike your resume, you get to tell AND show your successes on your LinkedIn profile.
- Update your status. Post regularly, mentioning projects, books/articles you’re reading or events you’re attending.
- Connect. Follow UT Southern and join industry groups, volunteer organizations and professional associations of interest.
- Collect diverse recommendations. Strive to have at least one recommendation for each position. Recommendations from people who have directly managed you are most significant.
- Edit. There should be NO grammatical or spelling errors.
NETWORKING THROUGH LINKEDIN
After your profile is complete, send personalized connection requests to your network: friends, family, neighbors, faculty members, advisors, classmates, supervisors; then, ask for job search help and ask questions like these:
- What advice do you have as I pursue a job in xyz industry?
- Do you know anyone in my field of interest and would you feel comfortable connecting us?
- Could I meet with you to talk about your day-to-day activities?
Join groups to learn industry lingo. Also, answering questions builds credibility. Follow industry channels as well.
LINKEDIN COMMUNICATION TIPS
- Be authentic. Communicate the same way you would in professional interactions. Do not be overly formal or change your style – be real, be you, but be professional. Avoid clichés.
- Customize your connection requests. Do not use the generic LinkedIn message. Remind them where you met/explain why you want to connect. They will be more likely to respond.
- Be responsive. Reply within a few days to connection requests, personal messages or comments on group discussions you post. This keeps you in people’s minds.
- Research before reaching out. Review profiles before contacting on LinkedIn. The connection is stronger if you highlight what you have in common and want to discuss.
- Target and personalize. People are more likely to respond to personalized messages. Use a status update for mass updates.
- Be careful with introductions. If you are asked to introduce someone, remember that your reputation is on the line. You should know the connection well; it’s okay to politely refuse.
- Keep it short and sweet. In today’s busy world, no one wants to read long, dense paragraphs. Keep summary, messages, discussion postings, and recommendations clear and to the point. Bulleted lists should include five or fewer bullets.
- Proofread. Everything you post on LinkedIn can be seen by a wide audience (even private messages could be forwarded or saved). Double-check spelling, grammar, style and tone.
- Give more than you take. In addition to updating your own status and asking for help or connections, comment on other people’s updates, send a job listing and help with requests.
- Always say thank you. When people answer a question you post, provide an introduction, suggest a job or otherwise help you, send them thank you messages.
Follow up online networking with phone calls, attending events and mailing notes to people with whom you interact.
Connect with employers who are actively recruiting for part and full-time jobs and internships.
Log in: joinhandshake.com – Handshake provides a centralized opportunity for students and alumni to view internship and job opportunities posted by recruiters. Additionally, students are able to apply and sign up for interviews through Handshake.
Internships & Info
An internship integrates practical experience with education in a structured, supervised work environment. Internships are available year-round and typically last one semester. They can be paid or unpaid; for class credit (consult faculty advisor for approval) or not. Contact Career Services with questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The benefits of participating in an internship are vast. When you intern, you have the opportunity to do the following:
- Enhance your resume and be more marketable for the full-time job search
- Build your professional network
- Expand understanding about your chosen industry or field
- Develop general work functions and workplace etiquette
- Gain exposure to organizational culture, latest trends, technologies and practices
- Develop transferable skills: communication, time management, report writing, customer service and so much more
Below is an example of the BBA Internship Guide. Your faculty will have a guide for your field of study.
Professional Attire & Info
With over 38 areas of study, UT Southern has the degree you need. Utilize the following resources to help you purposefully explore your career paths.
Achieving More Together
Your memories and experiences at Martin Methodist College will remain part of your history as well as ours. Those footprints you left behind have helped create a pathway for the next generation of students and alumni as UT Southern.
Log in: joinhandshake.com – Handshake provides a centralized opportunity for students and alumni to view internship and job opportunities posted by recruiters. Additionally, students are able to apply and sign up for interviews through Handshake.