Transitioning into the Workplace

Keene State College offers students many resources and sponsored events. The Career Speaker Series offers students a preview into the world after college. One such presentation given on Feb. 25, 2020 at 6pm in the Cohen Center in the Mason Library offered students advice on resume building and getting careers after graduation. The presentor, David Westover, is a KSC alumni who graduated in 1972. Currently retired and making his very own, and delicious, maple syrup, Mr. Westover began his journey as a psychology major who ran for the track team.

He insisted that networking is what landed him his career with Peerless Insurance Company in Keene, NH (what is now Liberty Mutual) where he eventually became the CEO. His track coach had local friends and helped him get into the company prior to graduating. This was an important lesson he wanted us to know becuase it demonstrated the importance of networking and the value of the relationships formed throuhg extra-curricular activities.

After retiring from the firm he spent ten years teaching a course called “Transitioning into the Workforce” at Keene State College. The lecture he presented was a snapshot of this course and explained how to “sell yourself” when getting out into the working world.

Mr. Westover began by discussing the importance of letters of recomendation because they are more descriptive portrayals of a person than just their resume. He insisted that we should have 3-4 letters ready and available when applying to a new position. These can give you an extra edge in competitive job environments. These should be professional and can come from professors, mentors from internships, or employers. Always remember to give these people ample time to write the letter.

Sometimes, a cover letter is needed along with a resume. This is typically a few paragraphs explaining why the applicant is suited for the position. It is important to know who it will be sent to and address the letter to that person. The use of “To whom it may concern” is not an acceptable header.

Resume Building

Employers typically take 30-60 seconds to look over the resume the first time when sifting through the hundreds of applicants. It is a person’s one shot to impress a potential employer on paper. Always check spelling and do not rely completely on software to do it for you. Some simple tips to keep in mind:

  • Use quality paper and a quality printer
  • No colorful paper or fancy fonts
  • Print only on one side of the paper, do not staple multiple pages because if it is torn off, it looks unprofessional
  • Send it in an 8 1/2 by 11 envelope to avoid folding your resume. Also Mr. Westover mentioned that he always opens the larger envelopes first.
  • Spelling errors are not acceptable
  • Bold and center your name at the top
  • Font size 11-12; not too small because it is
  • Do not leave a lot of white space
  • Goal: easy to read and easy to find
  • No sentences

Include the most relevant information, keep it up to date with current information, and include internships, summer jobs, and soft skills. Always start with the most recent and then work backwards. Typcial headings that are common to see, and should be easily identifiable upon first glance include:

  • Career Objective-which include future goals
  • Employment-longevity within a position shows dedication, avoid large gaps between employment
  • Education
  • Internships
  • Core Classes- to flaunt relevant upper level courses that are applicable to the job position
  • Qualifications/Skills- which would include skills such as problem solving or soft skills like time management
  • Accomplishments and Awards
  • Activities
  • Volunteer Work

Preparing for the Interview

First impressions can make or break the interview and it is important to be prepared before heading in.

  • Dress for success! Plan the outfit ahead of time to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions
  • Review the company’s website, learn their mission statement, and write down informed, open-ended questions that you can ask during your interview. This demonstrates initiative.
  • Bring the letters of recommendation, have them ready and available
  • Bring extra copies of your resume, there could be more than one person interviewing you.
  • Be on time and know the person who is conducting the interview
  • Buy a local newspaper if there is time, local events can be used as an ice breaker

When the time for the interview comes:

  • Listen carefully to what is asked
  • Replies should answer the question without being too long
  • Talking too fast, clicking a pen, playing with hair are nervous habits that should be avoided
  • Maintain good eye contact
  • Show enthusiasm for the position
  • Strong last impression

Your last impression is just as important as the first.

  • Ask what the next step in the hiring process is
  • Ask any questions that came up during the interview
  • Ask the prepared questions from prior research on the company
  • Thank the interviewer for their time
  • Follow up with how you would be ideal for the position
  • Leave a personal, handwritten thank-you note

Standing out above all the other applicants by having a solid background, professional references, and a positive in person experience can be the push that lands you in the position of your dreams. Selling yourself includes knowing yourself, your resume, and the company. Show enthusiasm and confidence.

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