We’ve got advice for some common issues you might be facing right now as you create (or update) your resume, negotiate that first job offer, and find a career you might even love.
How do I get started on a resume?
Take a deep breath and do some pre-writing. Using this advice adapted from the Purdue University Center for Career Opportunities & Pre-Professional Advising, start by:
- Brainstorming every position or experience you’ve had. Examples: organizations to which you’ve belonged, leadership positions, volunteer experiences, class projects, awards, languages you speak, computer skills, special interests or hobbies, travel/study abroad.
- Breaking those positions and experiences down into what the Purdue CCO calls “The Core 4”: company name, position held, month, year of start and finish dates, city, state and/or country.
- Looking for transferrable skills in every position or experience. List the task you did, then, next to it, list the transferrable skill. If you were a barista, for example, the task might be “listened to customer orders” and “made drinks to order” and the transferrable skills might be “customer service” and “accuracy.”
- Creating strong bullet points by incorporating those tasks and transferrable skills using power verbs: advanced, advised, applied, balanced, developed, exceeded, generated, updated, improved, are all examples. Do a Google search for more resume power words, or consult your campus career office for ideas.
How can I prepare for a job interview?
No two people are alike, so no two interviews will be the same. But there are some common questions you should be ready to answer during a job interview:
- Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? An open-ended question that can seem overwhelming, until you zero in on the fact that the interviewer really wants to hear about how your skills and experience relate to the job—in other words, give a pitch about your accomplishments and experiences, not a dissertation on your favorite color or hobbies.
- Why do you want this job? Focus on one or two factors that tell the interviewer why you are a great fit. For example, “I know that customer service is a high priority here, and I love the challenge and satisfaction that comes with that,” is a better answer than “I really like the insurance benefits you offer.”
- What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses? The first part of this is easy. Share a true strength or two that you can honestly say you possess and relate directly to the position. Weaknesses are harder—resist the urge to humble-brag with a response like, “I tend to work too hard”—and instead acknowledge a skill you are actively working on, such as public speaking or coding,
- for example.
How do I know I’m on the right career path?
No doubt you’ve been sucked into more than one BuzzFeed quiz promising to uncover the secret to your perfect life. But while online quizzes can be a way to indulge in a fun distraction, there are online tools that can help you find your footing on a truly meaningful career path.
Many of the best career and personality assessment tools can be found by visiting—either online or in person—your campus career center. Without a doubt, your college already offers the best place to start to get real and personalized career direction at no cost.
But if you’re online already, create an account at Indiana Career Explorer at IndianaCareerExplorer.com, or visit My Next Move at mynextmove.org, where you can take short inventories to better understand your personality and preferences, and how those assets can be channeled into a career that suits you best.