Monday, March 26, 2012

What Recruiters Look For In Your Resume

Recruiters receive many resumes at once at a job fair, not to mention the amount they see every day from their websites and places where they have posted their job openings.  So, what do YOU have to do to make sure yours stands out?
The answers are not always clear cut, as some recruiters favor certain things over others. However, I can provide you with the basics.
What is a resume?
A resume is typically a one-page description of you and is built around three areas: Education, Experience & Skills.   Experience can mean extracurricular activities, work, internships, volunteer work, and/or academic projects.   A few examples of skills that need to be put on a resume include technical (e.g. Microsoft Office) and language skills. 
What is the purpose?
The main purpose of a resume is simple: to get an interview. 
Lesson 1 – Contact Information
Make sure that your contact information (address, phone number and email address) is up to date and is professional.  Email addresses such as will most likely be pushed off to the side—no matter how good a resume it could be.
Lesson 2 – Formatting
Templates—Recruiters tend to dislike templates because they do not exemplify all that a job seeker has to offer and they lack a personal touch.  The format that many templates use can cause your information to spill onto a second page or appear too flashy, distracting the recruiter from what’s really important—your experience.   Sometimes when you are filling out a template, it forgets to ask you for  crucial information, such as your email address.  If a recruiter usually schedules interviews by email, he/she would have to go out of his/her way to call you.  Keep it simple for the recruiter.  He/she should not have to work that hard to contact you.
Objective—This is useful when applying for a specific position at a company.  If you have a resume that you use for every position you apply for, be sure to update the objective each time.  It would be a big mistake to send out a resume to an employer with the wrong company and position title on it.  An example of an objective could be:  To utilize my communication and managerial skills for the XYZ position at YOUR Company.  This is something the recruiter will keep in mind while reading the rest of your resume.
When describing your experiences, USE BULLET POINTS!  Keep your bullets short and to the point.  A resume is also used to highlight your skills and to entice the recruiter to want to know more about you.   The only way he/she can do that is through an interview!
Most importantly, make sure your resume is clear and concise! 
**For more examples of formatting, see our Sample Resumes in the Resource Library of ZebraNet**
Lesson 3 –Job Description/Qualifications
Some recruiters use a screening process to determine which applicants will be considered for an interview.  The only way a resume will pass through the screening process is if the applicant meets all of the required qualifications listed on the job posting.  Therefore, it is imperative that the qualifications are found somewhere on your resume.  Be sure to read the job description and qualifications carefully and tailor your resume to that specific position.  Place “buzzwords” that you may find in the description into your resume so they jump out at recruiters.
For example, a post for an administrative assistant at a university may be asking for applicants to have experience working with Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint.  If you want to apply for the position, and you know how to use these programs, put them on your resume.  If they are not on there, the recruiter will assume you do not have those skills and will not consider you for an interview.  Most simply put, give the recruiters what they are asking for.
It is also not enough to say that you have technical and/or soft skills (organizational, teamwork, clerical, interpersonal, communication, etc.).  These skills should be highlighted in your experience on the resume.  For example, if you have used Excel in your internship or job, be sure that when you are writing your job duties, you include how you have used Excel.  If you want to exhibit your communication, organizational and other soft skills, be sure to note them in your job duties as well.
A helpful tip for any student who wants to tailor his/her resume to a particular field:  Read through multiple job descriptions and qualifications and note the similarities among the descriptions.  You will find that writing your resume just became easier because you have the gist of what recruiters in your field are looking for.
Lesson 4 – Getting Involved
Recruiters understand that as students, not all of us are able to balance school and work.  As a college student, there are numerous ways to get involved and obtain experience:
Community Service/Volunteering
Internships (paid, non-paid, credit-bearing)
Extracurricular Activities (on- and off-campus)
Relevant Coursework (including class projects and research)
Becoming a Teaching Assistant (T.A.)
Starting or becoming a leader in a student organization (on- or off-campus)
Recruiters are evaluating how you have made your experiences relevant to the position you are applying for.  A position that requires the ability to work with others could be related to being a member of the executive board in a student organization, or  working on a class project.  Leadership, helping, and communication skills could be developed through extracurricular activities, internships and/or volunteering.
Recruiters are always seeking the best candidate for the job.  Remember to read over the job descriptions and qualifications to determine if you can cater your experiences to what they are looking for.  Although you want your resume to be aesthetically pleasing, too many lines, colors and templates could distract the recruiter from what is really important: your experience and getting that interview! 
*For more resources on resumes, look for our Resume and Cover Letter Instruction Packets in your ZebraNet account in the Resource Library*
**The Career Center also provides Resume/Cover Letter Review Hours! Stop in today for one-on-one resume assistance:**
                Mondays, Tuesdays & Thursdays from 1-4pm (Walk-ins)
                Fridays from 1-4pm (By appointment only; call 631-632-6810 to schedule)
Shelly Punter
Career Counseling Intern
Spring 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Art of Thank You: The Secret of Success

During my senior year at Stony Brook University, I find myself in a position to give thanks to many people who are crucial to my success. The topic for this blog came from a little book I read by the same title, The Art of Thank You by William James, found in the Career Center’s Library (a great resource students tend to overlook). The Art of Thank You helped me to properly show my appreciation and gratitude to all of the people in my life that helped me further my career goals.

Why write a thank you note?
The purpose of a thank you note is to express your appreciation and gratitude. Some people may think that writing a thank you note is trivial; this could not be further from the truth. In The Art of Thank You, James writes, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” I am a psychology major so this quote really stood out to me; we want to feel like what we do is important and has had an impact on someone’s life. Showing how thankful you are to those who helped you along the way is one of the many ways to accomplish this goal.
When should you send a thank you note?
A thank you note should be sent ASAP. If the thank you note is meant for a professional occasion, like a job interview, it should be written within 24 hours while the interaction is still new.
What kind of thank you should you send?  
In this time and age, an email is a fast and realistic option when writing a thank you note. However, keep in mind that an employer will be expecting impeccable online etiquette. Make sure that the email is professional and that you are writing from the same email address that is on your resume.  To avoid your email being sent to spam, make sure that your subject line is short, but to the point.   
When writing a handwritten thank you note, what paper to use is something you need to consider. Thank you notes can be sent on informal stationary but that doesn't mean it is okay to use a piece of paper torn from your notebook. Find a note card that reflects your personality and that is professionally appropriate, and keep a ready supply on hand. Some stores where you can find thank you note paper are Target, Hallmark, and Wal-Mart. After reading this blog I am sure that you will find plenty of situations where a thank you note will be appropriate, for example, after receiving a gift, for help with an academic project, for offering a sympathetic ear, for being a good friend, for finding your Stony Brook ID, for buying you a meal, etc.
What if your handwriting mimics a doctor’s chicken scratch? A printed thank you note can be a suitable option, or just a thank you email.  
What is an appropriate occasion for a thank you note?
Interview- A thank you note after you have an interview sets you apart from other candidates for the same position. In your note, make sure to reiterate your interest in the position and in the organization. A thank you note can also remind the employer about your qualifications for the position; if you thought of something you forgot to mention in the interview, mention it in your thankyou letter. A hard copy note (not handwritten) is most formal and appropriate after an interview.

Job offer- A thank you note after you have been offered a position is a formal way to accept or decline a job offer. This thank you note will be different from the interview thank you note in that you are letting the recruiter know how grateful you are that they chose you for the position in the company.
Job rejections- Thank you letters should be sent to employers that have offered you a position, but that you have decided not to accept. In declining an offer, you want to express your appreciation for the offer and thank the employer for their consideration. Your objective is to reject the offer, but maintain a relationship with the employer. This continued relationship is important because if you reapply for another position the employer will acknowledge your determination and passion for the company. The world is a very small place, so it’s also a good idea because you never know how networking and making connections will come up!
Recommendations- Most graduate schools, awards applications, and job positions will require you to provide recommendations. The person you ask to recommend you should receive a thank you note. In this case, a personalized, handwritten note would be best.
Thank you samples:
Thank you email for an interview:
This can be found in the Career Center main website under the Students section. This website is a great place that has many resources aside from the thank you sample.
Thank you for an initial interview:
Thank you for an on-site interview:
Acknowledging a job offer, neither accepting nor declining:
Thank you for a recommendation  

Posted by Aline De Jesus
Career Counseling Intern
Spring 2012