You can go anywhere from here, but …

Crystal Hohenthaner

Crystal Hohenthaner

For everyone who’s graduating in May, the upcoming deadline for graduation applications (Feb. 4) is a reminder that the real world awaits us after college. That means finding a job.

We’ve been told that we can go anywhere from here, but now that graduation is imminent we have to decide where to go and start trying to get there.

Planning for life after college can be a daunting task, especially when there are so many other immediately pressing matters like next Wednesday’s test and this Thursday’s homework.

The most important part of this job-finding process is not to panic and to remember that the worst case scenario usually isn’t that bad.

For example, the worst thing that could happen to me if I don’t get a job is that I might have to move into my parents’ basement.

But, the thing is they have cable, dad would love to have me walk the dogs and my mom would love to see me more often. Right now I don’t plan on using my Bachelor of Science to become a live in dog-walker, but I don’t quite know where I am gonna go from here.

Maybe you already know and maybe you already have your ideal job in mind.

No matter what you do or don’t know about your next job, there are some basic steps that can help you get there.

Resumes and Cover Letters

The best place to start the process is with your resume and cover letter. In fact, even if you aren’t graduating soon you might want to start working on this. Writing a resume can be a long, difficult process and it is the thing that will help you get your first interviews. Luckily there are a lot of resources out there to help.

You can pay for help at different sites online, for example, offers both sample help for free and more intensive care for your resume should you decide to pay them. And most web sites that will post your resume for you will also help you write it, like

I found a great tutorial web site hosted by the University of Minnesota called Resume Tutor. The site itself looks rather crude, but it has a lot of great information. The Resume Tutor can be found at

If a book is more your speed The New Perfect Resume by Tom and Ellen Jackson is a great resource and it is pretty easy to read. It offers great advice on cover letters and resumes.

You can even find help on campus at the CAP, or Career and Academic Planning, Center in the basement of Medary Commons.

Common sections in a resume include contact information, objective/summary statement, accomplishments/qualifications, employment history, education and interests/activities.

The contact information is the most straightforward portion of a resume. It just includes your name, address, phone number and e-mail address. Include all the places you can or want to be reached. That means don’t include your current work number unless it is okay for possible future employers to call you there.

The objective/summary statement is an important portion of your resume and it should be near the top of the resume right under the contact info.

On it says, “If you knew that a hiring authority would only read one section of your resume, this would be it!”

This statement tells an employer what position you are seeking. Rather than being a statement about your life goals, an objective refers just to the next immediate step you hope will be on your career path.

In this, as with all the sections, it is important to be as specific as possible and to avoid using repetitive language if you type out a bulleted list.

Sometimes it is hard to know what to include in an accomplishments and qualifications portion. All awards or accomplishments that are applicable to the type of employment you are seeking should be included. If you don’t have anything applicable, you can leave this section out. However, if you name it qualifications you can include some personality traits that you feel are marketable.

When you’re working on your employment history section keep in mind that you may leave things out. You only need to include employment that applies to the job or field you are going into. So if you don’t think McDonalds looks like good experience you can omit it.

The section titled education is where you get to include your degree from SDSU. It is just as straightforward as the contact information. The only thing you might want to consider is whether to list your degree or the institution you got the degree from first.

A section that includes information about your personal interests and activities can give potential employers an idea of what you are like before they even meet you. Interests, like gardening, are different from activities, like a gardening club.

Don’t forget this if you separate the interests and activities into two sections. suggests that you remember that any references to political or religious affiliations can be very polarizing, therefore, you may want to write ‘choir member’ rather than ‘First Baptist Church choir member.’

Many of the resources suggest being as specific as possible in all sections and to be certain to include information pertinent to the specific job sought at each company.

That might mean specially tailoring your resume for each application.

Even the most generic, static resume can be made more personal and dynamic with the addition of a great cover letter.

All of the sites and resources I’ve mentioned offer direction on cover letter writing as well as resume writing, but the biggest piece of advice I found is never address you letter in a generic way.

Find out the name of the person hiring for the job, ideally the person who would be your future boss, and address the letter to them. At the very least address it to the company’s personnel or human resources director.

Try to include information about why you are interested in the job or the company. And at the end of the letter ask for the interview.

Sending Your Resume

Once you’re done with your cover letter and your resume it’s time to send it out. A lot of places allow you to post the documents online, including,, and

Most of these sites will also offer to help you write your resume and allow you to look at job postings so that you can find out where to send your new resume.

If you know what job you want you can search online for that job. If you know where you want to go you can look at a specific city’s job postings.

Honestly, the more I look into this the more I wonder how people found jobs before the Internet.

It turns out they looked in the paper. That’s right, newspapers all over the country have help wanted sections.

There are also places like the CAP center all over the country. You can usually find out how to contact those places by speaking to the Chamber of Commerce in the area you are looking into.

Plus, if you know what company you want to work for it is a good idea to just call and ask to speak to their Personnel or Human Resources department.

The Interview

If you are after a great job, chances are a lot of people are after the same job. That means you can’t just send in your resume and wait for someone to call. You have to follow up and ask for the interview.

Of course you need to be polite at all times, but an employer wants to know if you want the job, so call and tell them you want it.

When you get the interview, be polite, be early (in case they need you to fill out paperwork when you get there) and be well dressed. Now the term ‘well dressed’ can mean different things in different lines of work, but as a general rule, a suit is never too much.

A bright red suit, however, may be too much. Play it safe and wear a dark color like chocolate brown, slate gray, navy or black. It may sound boring, but it looks serious – and it looks like you seriously want the job.

If you just have to do color, add a small flash of something bright, like a tie, pocket square, or jewelry.

How to act at the interview can be tricky. Be confident, but not cocky, relaxed, but not nonchalant, be eager but not annoying. That’s not too hard is it?

Of course it is. But there is help. Interview Skills Workshops as well as a Resume Writing and Job Skills Workshop will be held on campus in Feb., Mar. and Apr.

You must pre reigter for these workshops. Contact Linda Nelson at 688-4153 for more information.

At the interview be ready to ask any questions you have and don’t forget to be yourself.