Juniors, seniors and alumni are invited to the largest job fair of the year, the MN State University Job and Internship Fair in Brooklyn Center this Friday, Feb. 26.
The fair is at the Earle Brown Heritage Center, and Career Services is offering transportation for students who register before the Feb. 24 deadline. The fair runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features more than 150 employers.
The seven Minnesota state universities were invited, along with eight bordering state schools, according to the fair’s website.
But what should you do before you even step foot in the fair? Naturally, you’re going to want to double and triple check your resume and begin writing cover letters, but where do you start?
Peer Career Advisor Erin Cichanski explained that while you’re looking for entry-level positions, it’s best to keep your education at the top of your resume. It’s what employers are mainly looking for, she said.
From there, you’ll want to begin organizing the contents of your resume in a way that’s going to show employers the most relevant work experience, she said.
When employers find your resume, it’s likely that they’re looking at it for 20 seconds to about a minute if they’re being thorough, she said. Anything that doesn’t directly tie into the job you’re applying for, scrap it.
But don’t sell yourself short. Cichanski said volunteer experience, foreign languages and extracurricular activities stand out on the page, explaining that students will sometimes skip putting similar experiences or skills on their resumes because they don’t think they’re applicable.
Looking at your resume from top to bottom, it should look something like this, according to the Career Services model.
Start with a blank document. Put education at the top. Underneath it, you could list your minor if you declared one, your (expected) graduation date, long-term projects or specific classes, and your grade point average if it’s over a 3.0, she said.
Right below your education, list any relevant experience and employment history that you have, including part-time jobs, internships or high-ranking positions with student organizations.
Underneath each position, Cichanski recommends three to five strong bullet points that describe the work you did by explaining what you gained from the experience and quantifying it.
At the bottom, you can list specific skills and achievements. When listing your skills off, you should stick to what you’re proficient in, Cichanski said. Employers often see software like Microsoft Office listed on a resume, she explained, adding that employers expect that students know the basics to the program.
And then there’s one last step before proofreading your resume. Do you put an objective statement, or do you skip it?
It seems that everybody has a preference as to whether they list one on their resume or not. Cichanski said that if you’re looking at a specific position, it can be helpful to give an objective statement. But, if you’re planning to hand out resumes to various employers at the fair on Friday, it might be best to skip the objective statement to make your resume fit a broader spectrum.
Whether you put one at the top of your resume is up to you, but before you hand over your resume, check your resume again and again to make sure it’s free from grammar and spelling errors, the verb tenses are consistent and the overall design has an easy flow to it, Cichanski said.
As you finish up your resume, it’s time to work on your cover letter. Career Services has examples on how you can structure your cover letters. But basically, Cichanski said the concept is similar to a resume, only you’re selling your skills in paragraph format and going deeper into why you’re the right person for the job.
At the very start, put your information at the top. Then, when you’re addressing the letter, try to avoid generic phrases like, “to whom it may concern.” Seek out the human resources or recruiting manager and personalize it.
Based from the Career Services model, start your first paragraph off explaining what position you’re applying for and why. Cichanski said this is a good time to explain where you heard about the position—as in if somebody recommended you—and your interest in the employer.
This requires a bit of research beforehand. The company you’re applying at likely has an About Us or Mission page on their website. Read through all the information you can find and talk about things that stick out to you or that you agree with in your cover letter, she advised.
When you move onto the bulk of your cover letter, it’s time to expand on the experiences you listed on your resume. Go into detail and tell them what makes you qualified for the position, highlighting specific skills or experiences that would make you stand out.
Then, when you’re done tying your cover letter back to your resume, bring it to a close with a polite, “Thank you for your consideration.”
Now you’re ready for Friday’s job fair.