Missouri State University
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Suit Yourself

The Overwhelmed Student’s Quick Guide to Creating a Job Search Plan

Linda (not her real name) graduates at the end of the semester, and she’s feeling excited, stressed, anxious, hopeful, and scared. With papers to write, tests to study for, a presentation to give, and projects to complete, she has trouble concentrating on her job search.

Feeling overwhelmed is understandable, so the first thing that Linda needs to do is to create a plan. This will organize her job search and give her control over the tasks. Following are the five steps that Linda is taking to get her job search going in the right direction.

Step 1: Know yourself.

Know who you are and what you have to offer an employer. This may sound like common sense, but unfortunately, many job seekers struggle with communicating this to employers.

“Of course I know who I am,” Linda says. But when she’s asked to define herself and explain her interests and skills, she’s not sure where to start. She struggles when asked to describe what she values most in a career. Linda decides to make an appointment with a Career Resources Specialist to learn more about self-assessment and how to express herself to an employer.

Step 2: Know what you’re looking for.

Linda selected her major because it was broad and offered such a variety of possible careers. Unfortunately, she hasn’t explored the direction she’d like to start with. She had an internship with a non-profit organization, but isn’t sure if that’s the area she wants to pursue.

After looking at “What Can I Do with This Major?” on the Career Center’s website, Linda decides to begin with more business-oriented positions. She’s worked part-time in retail positions and has had the opportunity to do some training and supervising, so she lists management, human resources, and training and development as a few possible career directions.

In addition, Linda uses Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com to explore the kinds of positions employers are hiring for and the skills employers are seeking. As she researches positions, she also notes the companies, so she can research them in more detail.

Learning that the Career Center’s online access to search jobs (called JobTracks) is free to students and alumni, Linda logs in and notices that many employers are interested in all majors. Once she finds postings that appeal to her, she reads their descriptions and instructions for applying.

Step 3: Prepare your job search materials.

Linda soon realizes that her résumé may be too generic for the specific positions she wants to apply for. After consulting the Career Center’s website for résumé information, Linda visits the Career Center’s walk-in hours for a peer advisor to review her résumé and provide tips on tailoring it for specific positions. While there, she also gets advice on writing cover letters.

Step 4. Network and manage your brand.

Because she knows most people get their jobs by networking, Linda makes a list of contacts (such as friends, family, and fellow members in her organizations and associations). She then updates her LinkedIn profile and checks her privacy settings for Facebook (deciding to keep her education and work history public). She makes sure that everything in her social media accounts is acceptable and that nothing would embarrass her or be offensive to potential employers. Finally, she Googles herself to make sure her online presence is positive.

Step 5. Practice your interview techniques.

Realizing that many interviewers wouldn’t consider her Capri pants appropriate interview attire, Linda selects clothes that send a more professional message. To practice, she schedules a mock interview with the Career Center.

Linda knows she has other tasks to complete for an effective job search, but at least these five steps will give her more control as she begins the process of finding a career.

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Meet Professionals in Your Field

Want to learn more about careers that interest you? Want to meet professionals and possibly build a networking relationship with them? Then check out the Exploring Careers panels that are schedule for Thursday and Friday, November 7 & 8.P1030224

We have great panelists participating in these Exploring Careers panels. The professionals provide useful, insightful advice. Not only do these sessions provide audiences with helpful advice for getting started in their careers, but they also give an “insider’s perspective” on what it’s really like to work in the various professions. Additionally, at the end of each session, audience members will have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with the panelists.

Register for any—or all—of the sessions through JobTracks on the Career Center’s website: http://careercenter.missouristate.edu/ExploringCareersPanel.htm

Thursday, November 7

Careers in Agriculture (Event ID 620)

9:00 – 10:00 AM,  Karls Hall–236

Bulk Loads Now, MFA, Springfield Urban Agriculture Coalition, TQL, and Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

Careers in Education (Event ID 621)

10:45 – 11:45 AM, Traywick Room–PSU 313

Missouri State Teachers Association and Springfield Catholic Schools

Careers in Business: Topic: 10 Ways to Get a Job (Event ID 622)

1:15 – 2:15 PM, Traywick Room–PSU 313

Abacus, AG Financial, Buckle, DK Financial Group, Netchemia, Northwestern Mutual, and TQL

Careers in Healthcare (Event ID 623)

3:00 – 4:00 PM, Professional Building–279

Burrell Behavioral Health, Cleveland Chiropractic College, HealthMEDX, and Phoenix Home Care


Friday, November 8

Careers in Arts & Letters (Event ID 624)

9:00 – 10:00 AM, Traywick Room–PSU 313

Jack Henry & Associates Inc., Journal Broadcast Group, Ozarks Public Television & KSMU, and Springfield Music

Careers in Science (Event ID 625)

10:45 – 11:45 AM, Temple Hall– 345

NorthStar Battery Company and Brewer Science

Graduate School Planning (Event ID 626)

1:15 – 2:15 PM, Traywick Room–313

Chocolate Therapy, Missouri State University Res Life, Reece Family Law Firm, and University of Missouri/Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs

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JobTracks: Ever Heard of It?

Written by Josh Hammack, Career Center Peer Advisor, Management Major

JobTracks logo
JobTracks logo

JobTracks is a free site through the Career Center that any Missouri State student can use. However, I feel like it is unknown to so many students. Every time I do a Career Center presentation I try to emphasize how useful it can be. Are you looking for a job or an internship? JobTracks is the way to go.

As you’re using JobTracks, a simple search system makes it easy to find what you are looking for. Use the basic search to look for any full-time, part-time, or temporary position. Want to look for a paid internship? Use the advanced search to narrow down your search to an internship that fits your area of study.

Think this is all too good to be true? It’s not. I searched on JobTracks for about 20 minutes and found an internship I wanted to apply for. I sent in a résumé and within about a week heard back from the company. I had a couple phone interviews and was offered the internship. This is, of course, not guaranteed to happen all the time, but if you put the time into searching and give it a shot, chances are JobTracks can serve you in the same way it did me.

Happy hunting, and don’t forget to stop by or contact the Career Center if you are not registered for JobTracks!

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Interviewing: Tell Me About a Time….

Written by Benjamin Thomas, Employer Relations Graduate Assistant, Career Center

We all have heard those great stories, those motivational speeches, or hilarious anecdotes. Story-telling is a great way to relate an event or to communicate an idea. A job interview, however, is a very common, and sometimes unexpected, reason for telling a story.

Picture it:  You’re in a chair across a desk from an interviewer, or group of interviewers, and you’ve studied and prepared for all the classic questions: “Tell me about yourself.” “What are your strengths?” “What are your weaknesses?”

But how will you respond to, “Tell me about a time when you had to convince someone else to see things your way and how you did that”?

These are called behavioral based questions. Instead of asking for you to describe yourself, or giving descriptive answers like strengths or weaknesses, these questions require you to describe a behavior you displayed.

An Effective Technique for Answering Behavioral Based Questions

The Career Center has an easy strategy that equips you for success in these situations. Just remember SAR:

Situation: Start with the context or antecedent events, for example: “A coworker and I were assigned to work together to increase net sales by 10%. He believed that increased web advertising was the best method, while I felt the use of networking would improve sales.”

Action: Proceed with the story, being sure to address the question asked.  Be specific, concise, and remain positive: “I used research and statistics to demonstrate to my coworker that networking was more effective, and even suggested that we begin with social networking, which is similar to his idea of web advertising.”

Results: Conclude the story with a summary statement, and reaffirm how this supports your strengths: “Together we were able to increase net sales by 15%, a new high for the month of November. I was able to support my ideas, and logically change his mind, which helped our business grow.”

These questions are your chance to shine, to set yourself apart from other applicants. Telling a great story is not a matter of having a perfectly memorized script; instead you should focus on conveying meaning, and demonstrating your strengths as part of the narrative.  If you remember the framework, SAR, can be a great strategy in a pinch.

Examples of Behavioral Based Questions

It is also a good idea to look over lists of behavioral based questions, in order to know what types of answers you should be ready to generate. Below are just a few examples:



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Prepare for the Career Fair

Employers at career fair
Employers setting up display at Career Expo

If you’ve never been to a career fair, the first time you attend can feel overwhelming.

In front of the check-in tables you’ll probably see students forming lines to fill out name tags and pick up event literature. Some students may form clusters with people they know, while other individuals stand by themselves as they look at the literature and try to figure out what to do. You may overhear students asking as they pick up information on the participating companies and organizations, “How does this work? Do I just walk around? Where do I start?”

The Missouri State University Career Center will be hosting a campus-wide career fair on Wednesday, September 25, from noon until 4:00 p.m. in the JQH Arena. All students and alumni from all majors are invited to attend.

Here are some tips to help you navigate a career fair.

What Should I Do BEFORE the Career Fair?

Don’t wait until the last minute to get ready for the career fair. Instead, prepare several days in advance by readying your résumé, selecting your clothes, and researching employers.

Is Your Résumé Ready?

Make sure your résumé has been well developed and proofread. Print it on quality résumé paper, and bring plenty of copies to distribute to employers. If you run out of copies, you may not have easy access to a printer or copier to make more.

Have You Selected Appropriate Attire?

Before employers even speak to you, the first thing they notice is your look. If you’re dressed too casually, you may send the message that you also have a casual attitude about working. Select clothing that is appropriate. Does this mean you should wear a suit? You definitely will see many students wearing suits, but business casual is often acceptable at career fairs. Business casual for this purpose is typically trousers/khakis and shirt with collar (for men) and trousers/skirt and blouse/shirt with collar (for women); NO jeans, NO athletic wear.

The answer depends upon the companies/organizations you’re targeting. If the companies that you’re pursuing are more laid back, then business casual is fine, but if they’re more conservative, then your attire should match.

For female job seekers, don’t wear skirts that are too short or too tight. Avoid tops that are too revealing—exposing too much cleavage or showing your bra/bra straps. In her column, “TV Shows Send Mixed Messages on Workplace Fashion,” (http://goo.gl/xKEkoc) Megan Pearl expresses the importance of finding a balance between wearing the latest trend and dressing the role of a professional.

Career fairs typically demand a lot of walking and standing, so make sure your shoes are comfortable. Stilettos may be more appropriate for a date, and flip-flops are too casual. If your shoes are new, make sure you’ve worn them enough to break them in before you wear them to the career fair.

Do You Know Which Employers Are Attending?

Visit the Career Center’s website (http://careercenter.missouristate.edu/FallCareerFair.htm) to see the list of employers who are planning to attend. You can view their websites and learn about them ahead of time. That way, when you speak with the representatives, you will be knowledgeable of their organization and able to ask educated questions.

What Do I Do When I Arrive at the Career Fair?

The first thing to do when you arrive is to check in at the check-in table, where you can collect a nametag and information on the employers. Try to avoid lugging a backpack with you. Not only does it get in the way, but a backpack disrupts the professional impression you’re trying to make.

Because attending a career fair can be somewhat intimidating, often students want to cling to their friends and approach employers in a herd, but this should be an individual activity. You want to distinguish yourself with the employers you meet. You don’t want to seem fearful or unable to talk to them on your own without the support of your friends.

Although you should research the employers ahead of time to determine those you definitely want to target, also take the opportunity to explore opportunities with employers you may not have considered. You may discover organizations that are a good match for your interest and skills.

Introduce yourself to the employer and give your best handshake (firm but not bone crushing). Make eye contact, smile, and be polite. Be prepared to discuss your career objectives, strengths, skills, interests, and how you would benefit their company. Find out if they’re collecting résumés, what their application process is, and if there are other recruiters or hiring managers you should speak with. Be sure to thank the employers for their time and, if possible, collect their business cards. If they don’t have a business card, then take note of their contact information.

What Happens AFTER the Career Fair?

Follow up as soon as possible (within a week) with those employers that interest you. Send an email message in which you thank them again and express your qualifications and interest.

The career fair can be an opportunity to learn about companies and organizations, make contacts with employers, and potentially have an on-the-spot interview that could lead to a second interview. When you’re looking for an internship or full-time position, attending a career fair could provide you with the connections you need.

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Written by Marilee Teasley, Career Counseling Graduate Assistant, Career Center

I was recently at a conference for academic advisors, and one particular session that was packed was called #Advising@YourSchool. It focused on ways that academic advisors can better understand and communicate with their students.

A new idea surfaced that created a buzz in the room—advisors should not only set up social media accounts to communicate with students, but they should find ways to monitor these networks to see what students from their college are thinking.

Specifically, advisors were asked to consider finding their school’s #problems hashtag on Twitter.  Every college seems to have one—or even many. These hashtags are full of candid rants about the frustrations that students face at their institution. On the darker side of Twitter, there are even accounts dedicated to posting mug shots and pictures of drunken and passed out students at the latest party. Monitoring these hashtags can really burst someone’s bubble if they believe that everything is perfect and help promote growth and change, but they can also reveal a student’s unprofessionalism.

The battle over privacy in social media has been growing for awhile—should employers search for candidates’ social media profiles and include them in the hiring process, or is this crossing the line? Should students censor themselves on their public profiles?

Regardless of whether or not monitoring students’ profiles is ethical or fair, it happens. So be smart with your social media accounts, especially if they’re public. It took one simple Twitter search to find this tweet:

Tweet example
Tweet Example

Is this an image that you want to portray to employers?

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Public Affairs and Your Résumé

Citizen Scholar Statue
Public Affairs Citizen Scholar

Global Perspective: Why it Matters – This is the public affairs theme for Missouri State University in 2013-14. You’ll hear this theme frequently throughout the year, and we encourage you to get involved during Public Affairs Week Sept. 16-20 and Stomp Out Hunger: All Collegiate Shoe Drive Sept. 28-Oct. 19.

Public Affairs and Your Career

Because leadership is one of the main characteristics that employers seek in candidates, involving yourself in the public affairs mission is a great way to demonstrate your leadership. What leadership positions have you been involved in while in college? What more could you do? With the numerous community/volunteer projects available and the many student organizations, there’s no shortage of opportunities to build your leadership credentials. In addition, with increased globalization and diversity in the workplace, getting involved in activities that build your cultural awareness and knowledge will benefit you as you begin to establish your career in the present and future workplace environments.

Résumé Madness and Walk-In Hours

Learn how to incorporate your leadership and other skills and experiences into your resume by attending Résumé Madness in Glass Hall or the Blair-Shannon Grand Lounge.  Bring a copy of your résumé and receive feedback on the content, organization, and layout. If you miss Résumé Madness, you can bring your résumé to one of the Career Center’s peer advisers during walk-in hours:

Monday – Thursday
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Carrington 309

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QR Codes in Résumés and Business Cards

One of the recent trends in the job search is the use of QR codes in résumés and business cards. QR (which stands for Quick Response) codes are those small, square, barcode-looking images that you’ve probably seen in magazines, print ads, and product packaging. With a smart phone, users can scan the image, which will take them to the website of that product or service.

For job seekers who use QR codes on their résumés or business cards, an employer can scan the codes, which will then open the applicant’s website. TheLadders, a staffing and recruiting company, listed QR codes as one of the “7 Personal Branding Trends for Job Search in 2012.”

Pros and Cons

As with many trends, you’ll hear pros and cons. Career columnist and employment expert Joyce Lain Kennedy describes two benefits in her article for the Chicago Tribune: First, “a quick response code helps you to stand out from the crowd of job candidates who’ve never even heard of them.” Second, “Ageism-threatened seniors can project an image of being technologically vital by incorporating a QR code on their business cards and in their resumes.”

If you have examples of your work that you would like to show employers (e.g. a portfolio, a blog, video clips), then including a QR code on your résumé or business card may be an appropriate and effective decision.

As for negatives, if a recruiter isn’t familiar with QR codes, doesn’t have a mobile device (or a scanning app), or doesn’t have access to the Internet, then the space that the QR code took on the résumé might have been used more effectively. Although QR codes are becoming more commonly used, some people view their use in the job search as being too gimmicky.

Tips for Using QR Codes

If you’re considering incorporating a QR code on your résumé or business card where recruiters can view your work, here are some tips:

  • Consider your audience and the type of position you’re applying for. The more tech savvy, multimedia, or marketing oriented the position/employer, the more accepted the QR code will be.
  • Make sure that the site to which your QR code goes is easily accessible and viewable on a mobile device.
  • Include the website’s URL in addition to the QR code so recruiters know exactly where the code is taking them or so they can access the site without a QR code reader.
  • Make sure your website that the QR code links to is professional (such as your LinkedIn page or your portfolio) and not to a site that may contain information that is too personal (such as your personal Facebook page).
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The Business of Art

As most people know, breaking into a career in the arts is challenging, and the cliché of the “starving artist” is, unfortunately, accurate for many creatives trying to establish themselves. Networking and internships are crucial. Stubbornly sticking with your dreams also is beneficial. However, don’t wait until you graduate to start living your dreams.

As a student, do everything you can to practice your art—such as participating in local/regional opportunities or submitting your work to contests. Create vlogs, blogs, portfolios—whatever is relevant to your craft. Learn how to market yourself. Sometimes artists who are just getting their careers started are so focused upon their art that they may not understand or give adequate attention to the business side, so now is a great time for students who want to enter creative careers to learn marketing techniques.

Here are examples of resources that might interest you—
Artists Helping Artists [artistshelpingartistsblog.blogspot.com] is a weekly Art Show on Blogtalk Radio in which the host and guests explore marketing and selling your art and discuss aspects of the business of art.

Springboard for the Arts [www.springboardforthearts.org] focuses upon supporting artists by “connecting [them] with the skills, information, and services they need to make a living and a life.”

In addition, numerous arts foundations exist: Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, Missouri Arts Council, Arts Midwest, Texas Foundation for the Arts, and New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) are only a few examples. NYFA [www.nyfa.org] provides information for artists throughout the country, including podcasts, “Business of Art Articles,” job postings, a studio space directory, and many other resources.

Be proactive, be assertive, be involved, and be tenacious.

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What can the Career Center do for you?

Nervous about your future? Don’t know how to interview well? Need help with your résumé? The Career Center can help you! We provide a wide range of services that are meant to help the students and alumni of MSU with all of their career needs.

Trying to Decide on a Major or Career Direction?
We have plenty of advisors who can help you with career counseling. Make an appointment to do career assessments or to learn which careers would fit well with your major. The Career Center also offers classes such as IDS 120: “Exploring Majors and Careers” and IDS 320: “Job Search Preparation and Career/Life Planning.”

Needing Assistance with Your Job Search?
If you need help with a résumé or cover letter, come in during our walk-in hours: Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Career Center also can help you with interview tips and even give you a mock interview so you can gain experience before the real thing. If you are looking for a job or internship and don’t know where to start, the Career Center can help you look. We put on career fairs in both the fall and spring semesters to help you network with employers and find great opportunities. We can help you prepare for these career fairs and help you to write a quality résumé before you go.

We can help you so much in your career development, but unfortunately, many students don’t take advantage of our services. I urge you to check out our website at http://careercenter.missouristate.edu/. Our website has a lot of valuable information including a calendar of events, resources for career planning and job searching, and access to JobTracks. Don’t wait; take advantage of our services today!

Josh Hammack
Peer Advisor for the Career Center

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