The Search Begins

Ann Charron

Ann Charron

When it comes to money, most students could use a little extra, but finding the perfect job and making the right impression with the employer can be a difficult task.

Questions of how to dress, what skills and qualifications are needed and what the employer is looking for in an employee can make job hunting a stressful time.

But whether it’s a part-time job or a full-time career, employers are looking for the same basic skills.

“The same qualifications and skills can come up from part-time jobs. It’s important to recognize that,” said Susan Fredrikson, employment development director at the Career and Academic Planning Center.

Fredrikson works with South Dakota State University seniors preparing to enter the job market.

According to Fredrikson, employers are looking for good communication, teamwork, organization, computer and leadership skills.

“They don’t have the time and expertise to teach these skills. They like to know people can bring that to the position,” Fredrikson said.

Besides these basic qualifications to bring to the job, proper dress attire is also important.

“The first thing is that they need to look the part of interviewing for a job. First appearances are very important,” said Jerry Wheeler, executive director of the South Dakota Retailer’s Association. “You try to imagine them working for you and working with customers.”

After surveying member businesses throughout the state two years ago, the South Dakota Retailer’s Association compiled a list of what employers look for in an employee.

According to Wheeler the interview is one of the main aspects in the process.

“Once they get in to see the employer, the employer tries to imagine the person doing the job,” Wheeler said. “They have to take an equal interest in doing the job as much as getting paid.”

The applicant should not be totally concerned about vacation time, insurance and wages, Wheeler said.

“They’ve got to show an interest in the business,” Wheeler said.

Besides an interest in the business, employers also look for honest, dependable, efficient employees with good work habits and the ability to listen and solve problems.

“I think those are the most important things you can have,” Wheeler said. “A person helping you takes on the image of the company and represents the company.”

Fredrikson agrees.

“When an employer is doing Behavior Based Interviewing, they’ll ask, tell me about a time when you have had to use good communication skills to deal with a bad situation,” Fredrikson said. “Employers look for these skills across the board, no matter what major or field they are going into.”

Employers also look for a knowledge of the job or field in which the applicant is applying. Internships and experience can catch the employer’s eye.

“They have to have good knowledge of what they’re doing, knowledge of products and services. That’s real important,” Wheeler said.

Besides the interview, resume and first impression, some employers will check references, grade point averages and other involvements.

Both Wheeler and Fredrikson agree that it is never too late to start searching for jobs and building a good resume.

“It takes awhile to job hunt. Try to spend time on it every week. Get a plan of who you want to talk to, what positions or organizations you want to look at,” Fredrikson said.

Students can prepare for job hunting through the Career and Academic Planning Center. Practice interviews, resume writing courses and workshops are offered.

“Just try to start as early as possible and to draw on all of your resources,” Fredrikson said.