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job search tips

You may now have a clear career objective and an understanding of your own beliefs and values as they relate to your aspirations. You may also have completed research on your field of choice. If your self-assessment has resulted in your decision to begin a job search, there are more challenges ahead.

Common mistakes in the job search

When you begin your job search, it is important to avoid the following pitfalls frequently made by people seeking employment.

Not knowing what you want to do: You must be specific in your job search targets. Employers will not hire someone who will "take anything". They want someone who is qualified and wants the particular vacancy they are trying to fill, not someone lacking a clear career goal. Nonetheless, you need to be flexible during your job search.

Not taking initiative: Take the initiative to obtain your ideal job. Start early and begin with small steps. Your job search will take time.

Not viewing employment from the employer's perspective: Employers are most interested in how you can help them with their needs and problems. You should do enough research before meeting directly with interviewers to know what issues they face. Research may include informational interviews, World Wide Web resources, networking, and professional journals.

Not maintaining flexibility with regard to location of opportunities: You need to be realistic and flexible about where the opportunities are and be willing to take the necessary path to achieve your goals.


A resume is a written tool to market yourself to a prospective employer. Most employers ask for and expect job applicants to include a resume with an application for employment. Your resume is the first piece of information an employer receives from you and should tell the employer what makes you the best qualified candidate for the job. Always include a copy of your resume when applying for a vacancy on campus.

Assistance is available at MSU to help you write a winning resume. The MSU Career Services Network Website contains samples of resumes and cover letters and other helpful tips. You may also call Human Resources Solutions Center at 517-353-4434 to arrange an appointment with an Human Resources Analyst if you would like to have your resume reviewed and critiqued.

Resume styles differ depending on your work experience and employment objectives. Regardless of the style you choose, neatness and correct spelling are absolutely necessary. Review your document carefully before sending it to a potential employer.


Receiving an invitation to be interviewed is quite an accomplishment. Your achievements and experience have attracted a potential employer. Taking the time to prepare for the interview will make the experience more effective and enjoyable.

Dress is as important as a neat and thorough resume. The interviewer's first impression of you will last - make sure it is positive.

Questions asked during the interview process will vary depending on the industry and the vacancy available. It is impossible to anticipate every question a potential employer will ask during an interview, but preparing for the most common questions is helpful.

The following are suggested strategies for dealing with difficult interview questions.

The three-step process

Step 1: Understand what is really being asked. Some interview questions are intended to uncover your credentials, adaptive skills, or personality. Are you dependable? Are you a good worker? The real question that underlies practically every other question is: Why should I hire you?

Step 2: Answer questions briefly and in a constructive manner. Acknowledge the facts, but present them positively and as an advantage, not a disadvantage.

Step 3: Answer the real, underlying question by presenting your related skills. Once you understand the employer's real concern, only then can you answer the hidden question by presenting your skills and experiences relating to the job. This is usually where most job-seekers fail during their interviews.

The prove-it principle

It is not enough to state what you are capable of during an interview. You must prove your abilities through solid examples and tangible figures. To do so, it is important to structure your responses to include the following elements:

Present a concrete example: Simply saying that you have a skill is not as powerful as describing a situation when you used the skill. Use examples from your past experience and include enough details to clearly highlight your abilities.

Quantify your example: As with resumes, using specific numbers will provide credibility to your example. Specify the number of customers served or amount of cash handled.

Give results: It is important to provide information regarding the positive results you obtained.

Link it up: While the connection between your example and your ability to do the new job may seem obvious to you, it may not be clear to the interviewer. Link your example to the new position with a simple statement, such as: "My attention to detail will help me excel as an analyst within your corporation." At this point, a well-planned, professional portfolio will help market your skills and abilities.

In preparation for your interview, conduct a mock interview with a colleague or an HR Representative. You may be surprised at the valuable feedback you receive regarding clarity of response, mannerisms, and other behaviors.

Closing the interview

You must ensure that you close the interview as effectively as possible. Take a few minutes to highlight the key points of the interview. If any problems or weak areas came up, state why they will not keep you from doing a good job. Reiterate the strengths you will bring to the position and why you will do well.

It is also recommended that you be prepared to ask questions of your own. If you have researched the organization, you will be familiar with recent initiatives. Questions referring to organization-specific issues will highlight your interest in the position, the employer, and help you determine whether the job is right for you in terms of your career goals.