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Exploration & Development


Essential Tools for Your Career 306 Burton D. Morgan Center Granville, Ohio 43023 740.587.6656 740-587-6357 (fax)


Part I: Career Development Plan First Year: Self Assessment..................................... 5 Second Year: Career Exploration..........................6 Third Year: Gaining Experience............................. 7 Fourth Year: Making Decisions.............................. 8 Five Myths About Liberal Arts Education........9 Qualities & Skills Employers Want.......................11 Liberal Arts Skills........................................................12

Part II: Marketing Tools The Resume................................................................. 14 The Cover Letter....................................................... 30 The Reference Page.................................................33 Interviewing.................................................................35 The Thank You Letter............................................. 46 Negotiating the Job Offer.................................... 49

Part III: Networking and Informational Interviews Networking..................................................................52 The Informational Interview..................................55

Part IV: Job Search Resources Denison-Specific Resources................................60 Partner Resources....................................................60 Suggested Job Search Timeline........................ 62

Welcome from Career Exploration & Development! D i r e c t o r ’ s S tat e m e n t

Career Exploration & Development (CE&D) is here to support you throughout different stages of your career planning at Denison. Our goal is to help you understand how your skills, abilities, and interests will shape your life after Denison. From your first day on campus, you are encouraged to participate in externships, internships, research, leadership, activities, and service learning. We provide you the support to help you achieve your career goals through mock interviews, resume and cover letter assistance, graduate and professional school preparation, alumni networking, and world of work skills (such as etiquette and networking skills). Career Exploration & Development is where you share your dreams and develop a strategy for career success. M i s s i o n S tat e m e n t

Career Exploration & Development’s mission is to empower students to integrate their liberal arts education in achieving a lifetime of personal and professional fulfillment. We provide programs, partnerships, and resources that encourage career exploration and promote students’ ability to live, work, and lead in a complex world. C E & D Se r v i c e O v e r v i e w

The following services are available for all students: Advising On and Off-Campus Career Fairs On-Campus Recruiting Internships Externships Resume/Cover Letter Development


Mock Interviews Networking Graduate School Preparation FOCUS 2 Library and Printed Publications Workshops



Part One

Career Development PlanLife after Denison begins here



First Year


Start identifying your interests, abilities, and values

• Identify campus resources and get to know the Denison Community; establish relationships with faculty members, academic advisors, peers, deans, staff, and administrators • Visit Career Exploration & Development to learn about our services

• Consider an ExternsEverywhere Externship – a job shadowing experience hosted by alumni • Identify and join student organizations or volunteer activities that will provide leadership opportunities

• Pick up a Guide to Writing Resumes and Cover Letters; write a resume

• Obtain relevant work experiences through the Denison Internship Program, volunteering, part-time jobs, and summer jobs

• Assess your interests, abilities, personality, and values; utilize FOCUS

• Attend Career Exploration & Development workshops; they’re for all students!

• Identify possible majors, career fields, and professional associations

• Explore off-campus study programs

• Take a variety of classes in areas that interest you to explore majors

• Develop good time management, goal setting, and study habits; establish a strong GPA

• Meet individually with a career advisor to learn how to find out more about careers, make decisions, and set goals

• Attend the fall Big Red Weekend Networking Reception to meet alumni in various fields

• Utilize the CE&D library and website to aid in your career research




Se c o n d Y e a r

Career Exploration: Narrow your choices of major

• Continue first year activities • Conduct research and solicit information from professionals and upper-class students to finalize a decision on your major • Meet individually with a career advisor to develop short- and long-term goals; learn what recent graduates are doing • Think about the skills needed, growth rate, expected salary range, and possible locations for your desired career • Make contact and develop relationships with faculty and professionals in your field of study; use these contacts to build your network and develop references • Attend Career Exploration & Development workshops to learn more about resume and cover letter writing, interviewing, and internships • Attend the fall Big Red Weekend Networking Reception to meet alumni in various fields


• Use the CE&D library and website to aide in your career research • Develop and enhance your skills through student organizations, volunteer opportunities, part-time employment, and the Denison Internship Program • Consider an ExternsEverywhere Externship – a job shadowing experience hosted by an alumnus/a or friend of the college • Build skills in areas of importance to employers, including oral and written communication, teamwork, leadership, problem solving, and computer skills • Update your resume and upload to DULink • Explore study abroad options and opportunities • Begin to develop a list of professional and academic letters of recommendation (providing a two- to three-week advance notice is typical)


Third Year

Gaining Experience:

Relate interests, abilities, and values to possible career choices and gain experience

• Continue second year activities • Upload an updated resume to DULink • Use Alumni Relations and CE&D resources to thoroughly research the employers or graduate programs you are considering • Select elective courses that will broaden your academic foundation and expand your employment/graduate school opportunities • Attend professional meetings and conferences; explore informational interviewing and networking opportunities • Seek an internship that will enable you to gain experience in your field • Seek research opportunities that will broaden your scope of skills • Obtain information on graduate programs and admission requirements; prepare for and take required exams for graduate school


• Attend the Big Red Graduate/Professional School Fair, Big Red Career Fair, and CareerFest • Continue building your network of faculty and professional contacts and requesting professional and academic letters of recommendation • Hold a leadership position in a campus organization and serve on committees • Polish your resume, cover letter, and interview skills • Focus on classes within your major • Investigate fellowships; apply for fellowship or scholarship; plan ahead for applications due early in your fourth year • Explore community service activities and leadership opportunities



Fourth Year

Making Decisions:

Research your possibilities and hone your job search skills • Continue third year activities • Think about references and plan ahead. Don’t ask for a reference at the last minute – most people appreciate a two- to threeweek notice • Attend job search and graduate school workshops

• Purchase an interview suit and leather padfolio; practice interviewing through a mock interview • Prepare for interviews by researching companies and opportunities • Apply to jobs through DULink

• Attend Big Red Graduate/Professional School Fair, Big Red Career Fair, and CareerFest

• Meet with a career advisor on a regular basis to assess your job search strategies and have your resume and cover letter critiqued

• Evaluate your lifestyle, interests, and values to determine your post-graduate plans

• Write letters of inquiry to alumni and prospective employers, send follow-up letters, and make phone calls

• Meet individually with a career advisor to help identify skills you have to offer employers, plan for your job search, and wrap up graduate/professional school search

• Use school breaks to conduct prospective company and graduate school visits • Invest a little time each day in your search; a productive search will take as much time as a 3-credit hour course

• Investigate and apply for fellowships



T h e Va l u e o f a L i b e r a l A r t s E d u c a t i o n

Five Myths About Liberal Arts Education

As a liberal arts student, you are likely to hear one (or more) of the following myths:

Myth #1:

A major equals a career, and more majors equals better careers. Fac t :

The urge to gather credentials, whether they be professional degrees or college majors, is endemic on college campuses. Most employers, if you press them, will tell you they don’t care how many undergraduate majors you have. Moreover, if they’re seeking liberal arts graduates, they also don’t worry about the subject in which you specialized. Employers of liberal arts grads look for interests and skill sets much more than majors.

Myth #2:

A liberal arts education occurs only in the classroom. Fac t :

Education happens both inside and outside the classroom. Valuable learning and skill development occurs through internships, externships, extra-curricular activities, volunteering, study abroad, and research. (continued)




Myth #3:

A liberal arts education is a solitary affair. Fac t :

There’s one secret advantage to virtually all residential liberal arts institutions, and that’s people. If you start to truly engage these on-site resources, along with the alumni, you will reap untold rewards. We encourage you to work each semester to build strong connections.

Myth #4:

Liberal arts majors cannot compete with business majors because business majors have an edge based on their academic coursework and background. Fac t :

If an employer is willing to interview arts and sciences students, the employer is indicating their acknowledgement that a liberal arts education provides the background they are seeking. A liberal arts major is as equally qualified for the job as the business major. The key is to effectively articulate the skills the employer desires.

Myth #5:

You must go to graduate school rather than begin a career right out of undergraduate school. Fac t :

Although a liberal arts education is a strong background for students seeking professional training in law, medicine, business, or other specialized fields, you should not feel like further education is your only option. There are many fields that require well-rounded graduates at the entry-level. Some examples are writing, editing, communication, advertising, mass media, public relations, retailing, insurance, fundraising, publishing, and government work.

Taken in part from Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads, by Sheila J. Curran & Suzanne Greenwald



Qualities and Skills Employers Want Attending a liberal arts institution such as Denison University allows for the development of valuable, transferable skills sought after by employers. It is important that you are able to identify and articulate these skills with concrete examples, whether on your resume, in an interview, or when networking. Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveys its employer members about their hiring plans and other employment-related issues. According to Job Outlook 2012, when employers were asked what qualities they want most from the college students they consider as candidates for employment, the focus was on specific skills:

Top Qualities/Skills Employers Seek • • • •

Ability to work in a team structure Verbal communication Decision-making/problem solving Ability to obtain and process information • Organization

• • • • •

Analytical Skills Technical Skills Computer Skills Ability to create/edit written reports Ability to sell or influence others

Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook – 2012 Student Version. Denison University is a current NACE member.



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Liberal Arts Skills So, does a liberal arts education prepare you for a career by developing any of the above skills? The answer is a resounding YES! Below are a number of skills cultivated through your education at Denison University.

Just a few are: • Information management • Synthesize facts, concepts, and principles • Evaluate information against standards • Design and plan • Identify alternative courses of action • Predict future trends and patterns • Communicate • Speak effectively to individuals and groups

• Use various forms and styles of written communication • Manage and administer • Motivate and lead people • Organize people and tasks to achieve specific goals • Think critically • Identify quickly and accurately the critical issues when making a decision or solving a problem • Analyze the interrelationships of events and ideas from several perspectives

Having identified these skills, how can you effectively market them to potential employers and graduate/professional schools? You must be able to articulate your skills and abilities as they relate to the position you are seeking. To do so effectively, you must have an understanding of the job or graduate program. This is where conducting research on the job and knowing about the organization become extremely important.

Taken in part from 76 Career-Related Liberal Arts Skills by Paul Breen, American Association for Higher Education



Part Two:

Marketing ToolsSell Your Skills & Experience



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Marketing tools

The Resume A resume is an important marketing tool that provides a summary of your education, skills, experience, achievements, and leadership. A well written resume should highlight experiences that are relevant to the job, internship, or program for which you are applying. The primary purpose of a resume is to get an interview. You must develop a document that will move the employer to contact you!

Getting Started There is NO one “right” way to construct a resume. No matter how you do it, there is bound to be someone who would suggest doing parts differently. You likely have had many different experiences throughout your college career. You won’t want to include all of these, but it can be beneficial to go ahead and write down everything that you can remember. This is a rough draft, which you can easily edit later. The information that you highlight and include may be different, depending on the position or program for which you are applying. We encourage you to consider these general guidelines, but please tailor them to your needs and create a resume that represents you in the best possible way.

Contact Information • Your name as you want to be referred to professionally • Current address and phone number with area code (where you can be reached now!) • Permanent address and phone number with area code (If you will be in different locations during your search, include an address of someone who will always be able to reach you. This could be your parents’ address). • Email address E X AM P L E S

Denise Watts Slayter Box 5555 Denison University • Granville, OH 43023 • 740.777.7777 833 Palm Court • Hendersonville, TN 37655 • 615.222.2222

Jack O. Lantern

79 Smith Road • Pullman, WA 99813 • 509.999.9999 •



Objective (optional) If you decide to use an objective, it should answer the question, “What do I want to do?” Is the purpose of your resume for acceptance into a graduate program, a part-time job, an internship, a scholarship, or a professional position after graduation? Although you may want to make your objective broad, do not make it so broad that it fails to answer any questions. Examples:

• Internship position to explore career options in the health field • Acceptance into a doctorate of physical therapy program • Position teaching mathematics at the high school level • Public relations position in a nonprofit organization • To obtain a summer internship in the financial industry with Bank of America

Education For current students and recent graduates, a large portion of your experience comes from your educational background. When completing your education section, list your most current institution first, followed by other schools you have attended. If you did not complete at least two semesters at a different school prior to Denison, you can choose whether or not you would like to include any information about a former institution.

Off-Campus Study (optional) If you decide to list a study abroad experience, the extent to which you describe the experience is an individual decision. If you are limited on space and do not feel that your time abroad would make you more sought after by employers, you may choose to simply list, ‘Semester Abroad in London’ in the education section. If the skills and experience from your time abroad are applicable to what you are applying for, you may want to expand upon your experience in the education or skills section of your resume. For example, you could indicate that you are comfortable working with diverse populations and different cultures. Another option is to add a whole section dedicated to your study abroad experience titled “International Experience,” which will give you the space to explain your experience and the knowledge and skills you gained. If you decide to elaborate on your experience, make sure it is worth the space on your resume. Information taken from



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Include the following information in your education section: • Institution • Major • City, State • Concentration • Dates attended • Minor/emphasis area • Relevant coursework (if at a previous institution) • Expected graduation date • Specialized training/instruction • Degree or certification obtained • GPA (typically if 3.0 or higher) Examples:

Denison University Bachelor of Arts in Sociology/Anthropology, GPA 3.45/4.00 Semester Abroad in London Bachelor of Arts, Psychology Denison University, Granville, Ohio

Granville, Ohio May 2014 Summer 2012

Expected Graduation: May 2015

Related Coursework (optional) Education is a major source of experience for current students and new graduates. The particular classes you completed throughout your education can be very important. You may want to consider including coursework on your resume if: 1. You are entering an occupation that has strict requirements regarding employees’ skill sets and experiences. For example, graduates with a technical background may want to detail the courses they completed. 2. Classes taken are of a special nature. For example, if the coursework was groundbreaking, exclusive, or innovative, it may be worth mentioning to generate the employer’s interest. 3. If you are applying to a job that is “not an exact fit” to your major. For example, an English major who is seeking a career in sales may have taken communication courses to prepare for this field, but an employer reviewing your resume would not know this based on your education section. If you decide to add a coursework section to your resume, be selective and choose to include only a few courses which are related to your career goals. Also, remember to remove course/section numbers which have no meaning to an employer. Example:

Related Coursework

Software Engineering Operating Systems Programming Languages


Data Structures Robotics Computer Organization


Experience This part of your resume may include several sections. Experience does not always have to be paid work experience. Many valuable skills and experiences are gained through community service, student organizations, athletics, etc. Some sample headings for your resume could include: Student Teaching Relevant Experience Research Experience Leadership & Involvement Coaching Experience Volunteer Work Employment Community Service Additional Experience Extracurricular Activities Some additional tips: • For each entry within your experience section(s), include: ››Job title, name of company/organization, dates (month/year) ››Responsibilities/Accomplishments/Job Duties • Use action verbs to describe achievements and job functions (See Action Verbs list beginning on page 20) • Unless necessary, avoid little words, such as ‘a’, ‘an’, ‘the’ • Quantify information when possible to show scope of responsibility or achievement. Example: Trained eight new student workers. • Outline outstanding results and indicate software/technology competencies, such as: Developed effective marketing materials using Adobe InDesign and Photoshop. • Be aware of tense. Use present tense with current positions and past tense with positions that have ended. (see following page for examples)



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Relevant Experience Personal Trainer September 2011-Present Mitchel Athletic Center, Granville, Ohio • Conduct initial evaluation and assessment to identify abilities, needs, and physical condition for clients of varying fitness levels • Develop exercise and strength training programs to meet specific requirements and reach personal fitness goals • Provide information and resources regarding nutrition, weight control, and lifestyle issues Personal Trainer/Sales Representative Summers 2008-2011 World Gym, Pullman, West Virginia • Instructed clients on how to maintain exertion levels to maximize benefits from exercise • Explained and enforced safety rules and regulations regarding the use of exercise equipment • Increased clientele-base by 40 percent with utilization of exceptional customer service techniques and effective marketing

EXPERIENCE Credit Analyst Intern, Wells Fargo – Columbus, Ohio 6/11-8/11 • Analyzed Fortune 500 companies and produced detailed reports covering industry structure and financial positions used by target companies in decision-making; gained a basic knowledge of credit facility structure and treasury management products used by corporation Intern, Think-Tank – Berlin, Germany 5/10-7/10 • Participated in the research and evaluation of European Union on a team; researched and published papers under supervision on the International Monetary Fund (all work done in German)



Honors/Activities/Leadership/Special Skills Highlight what is most pertinent to your career goal. You may want to use specific headings, such as Professional Organizations, Computer Skills, or Leadership Positions. Include any honors, scholarships, recognition, or awards that you have received. If you are/were actively involved in any clubs, teams, and/or committees while in college, those may also be included. The key to this section is to keep it brief. If you feel you need more detail, use the guidelines for Experience and make it a complete section. Examples:


Microsoft Office Word Perfect Adobe InDesign Adobe Photoshop SPSS Claris Works

Language Skills French – Fluent, Spanish – Conversational

Leadership and Involvement Recruitment Chair, Delta Gamma 2011-Present • Increased chapter recruitment by 50 percent for two consecutive academic years Team Captain, Varsity Track & Field 2010-Present Participant, Relay for Life 2010-Present Volunteer, Red Cross Blood Drive 2009-Present Member, Ultimate Frisbee Club 2009-2011



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Action Words to Describe Your Skills accelerate accentuate accomplish achieve act acquire activate adapt address adhere to administer adopt advance advise advocate allocate analyze anticipate apply appoint appraise apprehend approve arrange assess assimilate assist assume attain audit augment authorize avert avoid broaden budget build calculate carry out catalog

cause centralize change chart check circulate clarify classify coach collaborate collect combine command commission communicate compile complete compose conceive conclude condense conduct confront consolidate construct consult continue contract contribute control convert convey cooperate coordinate correct correlate correspond counsel create cultivate


decentralize decide decrease define delegate deliver demonstrate derive designate design detail determine develop devise diagnose direct disapprove discharge discover dispatch display disseminate distribute document double draft earn edit effect eliminate emphasize employ empower encourage enforce engineer enlarge establish estimate evaluate

examine exceed excel execute exercise exert exhibit expand expedite experience extend extract facilitate familiarize feature finance focus forecast formalize form formulate foster found frame fulfill gain gather generate govern group guide halve handle harmonize head help hire identify implement improve

improvise incorporate increase index indicate influence inform initiate innovate inspect inspire install instigate institute instruct integrate interpret interview introduce invent invest investigate justify launch lead lecture lighten link liquidate locate maintain make manage map market master match measure mediate mentor PART 2 MARKETING TOOLS

merit minimize mobilize model moderate modernize modify monitor motivate negotiate nurture observe obtain operate order organize orient originate outline overcome overhaul oversee participate perform persist persuade pinpoint pioneer plan point out pool practice predict prepare present preside prevail prevent print process

procure produce program progress project promote propose prove provide publish purchase pursue qualify question re-establish raise realize receive recognize recommend reconcile record recruit rectify redesign reduce regulate refer refine reinforce reject relate remain renegotiate reorganize report represent research reshape resolve


respond restore restructure resume revamp reveal revise review revise revitalize revive route save schedule secure seize select sell serve set up settle share show simplify sketch solicit solve sort speak specialize specify sponsor staff standardize start stimulate straighten streamline strengthen stress

stretch structure study submit succeed summarize supervise supplement supply support surpass survey sustain synchronize synthesize tailor talk target teach terminate test testify tighten trade train transact transfer transform translate trim triple uncover understand undertake unify update upgrade use utilize venture

verify vitalize volunteer widen win withstand work write Management Skills

administer analyze assign attain chair consolidate contract coordinate delegate develop direct evaluate execute improve increase organize oversee plan prioritize produce recommend review schedule strengthen supervise (continued)


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Communication Skills

address arbitrate arrange author collaborate convince correspond develop direct draft edit enlist formulate influence interpret lecture mediate moderate negotiate persuade promote publicize reconcile recruit spoke translate Research Skills

clarify collect critique diagnose evaluate examine extract identify inspect interpret interview investigate

organize review summarize survey systematize Technical Skills

assemble build calculate compute configure design devise engineer fabricate install maintain operate overhaul program remodel repair retrieve solve upgrade Teaching Skills

adapt advise clarify coach communicate coordinate demystify develop enable encourage evaluate facilitate guide inform


instruct persuade stimulate train Detail-Oriented Skills

approve arrange catalogue classify collect compile execute generate implement inspect monitor operate organize prepare process purchase record retrieve screen specify systematize tabulate validate

motivate refer rehabilitate represent Creative Skills

conceptualize create customize design develop direct establish fashion found illustrate initiate institute integrate introduce invent originate perform plan revitalize shape

Helping Skills

assess assist clarify coach counsel demonstrate diagnose educate expedite facilitate guide PART 2 MARKETING TOOLS




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Marketing Tools

The Cover Letter The key to a successful job or graduate school search is to effectively communicate with the person who has the ability to hire or admit. Therefore, your cover letter is extremely important. Effective cover letters convey a sense of purpose, project enthusiasm for the position or program, and demonstrate your knowledge of the employer or graduate program’s goals and needs. Many times, individuals will spend hours writing a “perfect” resume and very little time writing a quality cover letter. Your cover letter ALWAYS accompanies your resume. A positive first impression requires that your letter be neat, contain no errors in spelling or grammar, and be concise. Each cover letter should be customized to fit the position or program for which you are applying.

Quick Tips for Effective Cover Letter Writing • Research the organization and use what you learn to address why you want to work with this employer or be admitted into this program. • If you are applying for an opening with a job description, minimum and/or preferred qualifications, use your cover letter to show how you meet the requirements. • Use concrete skills and examples: ›› Instead of, “I’m a people person and I like technology,” say “During my internship in the Career Exploration & Development office, I developed and used strong customer service skills. ›› “At the Granville Library, I used my strong technology skills to revamp the inventory system and redesign the website.” • Do not start every sentence with “I”. Use some variety in your sentence structure. • Employers use cover letters as evidence of your written communication skills. Errors in spelling and grammar are unacceptable. • Keep your letters short and simple. Your letter should be no more than one page. • Be sure to sign your letter.



suggested cover letter content Contact Information (should look like your resume contact information) Your Address City, State Zip Your phone number Date of Writing Name of person to whom you are writing Title Organization or company name Street Address City, State Zip Dear Mr./Ms. Black: (Address your letter to a specific person, whenever possible.) Opening Paragraph – Tell why you are writing. Name the position, field, or general area about which you are inquiring. Tell how you learned of the opening or organization. Middle Paragraph(s) – Refer to your major, Denison University, and graduation date. Using the job posting as a guide, mention one or two of your qualifications that you think would be of interest to the employer. Tell why you are interested in the organization, location, or type of work. If you have had related experience or specialized training, be sure to point it out. If possible, show the employer how your skills match those in the job posting. This is the place to sell your skills and abilities to the potential employer. Document your claims with statements that show evidence of your skills. Describe how your skills/experience fit the position description. Match your previous duties and accomplishments with those listed in the job description you are applying to. SHOW, rather than tell! Closing Paragraph – Refer to the enclosed application or resume. Indicate that references and/or credentials are available upon request. List a phone number or email address where you can be reached. Make sure your closing ends on a positive note. Let the employer know that you look forward to hearing from him/her soon. Sincerely, Your handwritten signature in blue or black ink Type your name Enclosure:



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marketing tools

The Reference Page Carefully choose your references. Do not ask just anyone who knows you or your work habits to be a reference. Find someone with whom you have made a connection – someone who can write an accurate and positive recommendation for you. Try to select references who know you from different perspectives. A good mix might include: a professor, who can attest to your knowledge base and study habits; a supervisor, who knows your work habits, level of responsibility, and your ability to work with people; and someone who knows you well, such as a mentor who understands your values and integrity. When you ask these people to be your references, be sure to let them know your career goals. Give them a copy of your resume so that they know your accomplishments. Also, throughout your job or graduate school search, be sure to keep your references informed about which positions/programs you are applying for. They may know someone in that company, field, or graduate program who could help you out. Plus, they will be better informed when a potential employer or program chair calls for a reference check. These extra steps can only help them write or speak more specifically about what a great employee or student you would be. A reference page consists of the following information for each person: • • • • • • • •

Full professional name of individual Title Organization Work address City, State, Zip Telephone number (include area code) Email address Optionally, the person’s association to you (i.e. colleague, supervisor, professor, etc.)

Be sure to title your reference page and include your name in case the page is separated from your resume. You can either center all the information on the reference page or align it to the left. Whatever format you end up choosing, make sure the information is easy to read. Also, be sure that your contact information at the top is formatted exactly like the contact information on your resume and cover letter!



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marketing tools


Interview Preparation and What to Expect

The Interview

Interviews allow you to: • State your qualifications • Display your strong communication skills • Indicate your knowledge of the organization • Match your skills to the employer’s needs • End your job search with an excellent offer Interviews result from: • Excellent letters addressed to persons capable of hiring you, highlighting your skills and achievements, and directing the readers to your resume • Perfect resumes which create strong interest in you as a candidate

Before the Interview

Research the organization to find out: • Function and size of the organization • Duties and responsibilities of the position for which you are applying • Products or services provided

• Geographical locations • Latest news on growth/direction • Stability of the financial condition • Career advancement possibilities

• Opportunities for training/further education

• Typical entry-level positions

• Typical salary ranges for desired position

• Competing organizations

Analyze the type of positions for which you are applying: • What skills are required by employers? Examine your own background: • What skills do you have that relate to your job objective? • Identify examples from your past experiences where you demonstrated those skills. • Concentrate on developing complete answers. • Wherever possible, quantify your results. Numbers illustrate your level of responsibility and achievement. • Be prepared to provide examples of when results did not turn out as you planned. PART 2 MARKETING TOOLS


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• Before starting the interview process, identify two or three of your top selling points and determine how you will convey these points during the interview. Develop strong interviewing skills: • Interviews demand communication skills. • Practice! Schedule a mock interview in Career Exploration & Development! • Include experience and education in your answers. • Prepare questions you will ask the interviewer. Attend to details: • Learn correct name and manner of address (i.e., Dr., Mr., Ms., etc.) of interviewer. • Plan transportation and know how to get to the interview location beforehand. Arrive 10 to 15 minutes before scheduled interview time.

During the Interview

First few minutes: • Create a strong first impression. Be polite and assured. • Display positive body language. • Listen to all the interviewer is, and is not, saying. • Relax! Smile! Enjoy the opportunity to meet and talk with someone in your field of interest.

Main portion of the interview: • Listen to interviewer’s description of the position; match your presentation skills to the interviewer’s needs. • Prepare to carefully state your career goals and plans. • Answer questions with complete answers and concrete examples that demonstrate your skills. • Relate answers to information you researched on the organization. • Avoid questions on salary and benefits; discuss these issues after you are offered the position. • Contribute information that is important about your experiences. • Show enthusiasm and interest for the position. Closing: • Listen for an indication that the interview is over. • Ask when the decision is to be made. • Thank the interviewer for his/her courtesy and time. • Ask the interviewer for a business card.



Questions You Can Ask at the Interview • What is the career path for this position? • Does the organization support ongoing training and education for employees to stay current in their fields? • How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured? And by whom? How often? • Can you describe the company’s (or division’s or department’s) management style? Taken in part from Quintessential Careers: Questions You Can Ask at the Job Interview. See full list of questions at

Follow-Up to the Interview:

• Always write a thank-you to all those who interviewed you; restate your interest in the position and your appreciation for them taking the time to meet with you. • The best (and most successful) job-seekers send a thank-you letter right after a job interview—a quick email thank-you, followed by a more detailed thank-you by postal mail. At the very latest, send thank-you or follow-up letters by mail within 24 hours of an interview. (

• Make sure to have the correct spellings of names and address of those with whom you interviewed, and their titles in the organization.

How to Answer the Frequently Asked Questions: Ten questions that employers typically ask, with hints on how to answer: 1. Tell me about yourself. Answer in about two minutes. Avoid details; do not ramble. Touch on these areas: • Education/activities • Work experiences • Career interests 2. Can you work under pressure? Do not just give a yes or no answer; elaborate with specific examples. 3. What college did you attend and why? This question tries to examine your reasoning processes. Focus on the practical. 4. What is your greatest strength? Isolate high points in your background and back your answer with an example. 5. What is your greatest weakness? • If there is a minor part of the job that you lack knowledge, but will gain it quickly, use that. • Put the weakness in the past. You had it once, but you came up with a way to overcome or improve this deficit. Always end on a positive! PART 2 MARKETING TOOLS


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• Design the answer so that your weakness is actually a positive. (Be careful when using this type of response, as it may sound insincere.) 6. Where do you want to be in 5 years? • Employers want to see that you are thinking about the future. • A good way to answer is to identify yourself with the profession you want to get into. Consider incorporating the company that you are interviewing with into your future. 7. What do you know about our company? • You cannot answer this without researching the company. • Tell them what you have read about their company and mission. 8. Why do you want to work here? • This is another research question. A way to answer this one is to reply with the company’s attributes as you see them. • You can also add the advantage of working with them rather than a competitor. 9. What qualifications do you have that will make you successful? • In addition to your academics, add relevant experiences that you have obtained outside of the classroom that demonstrate your strong points. 10. Why should I hire you? • This is where you should really sell yourself. • Highlight areas of your background that relate to the company’s needs. • Recap the interviewer’s description of the job, matching it with your skills.

Employers Ask These Questions

Traditional Employment Interview Questions • Tell me about yourself. • What are you short- and long-term goals and objectives? • What do you see yourself doing five years from now? Ten years from now? • What specific goals, other than those related to your occupation, have you established for yourself for the next ten years? • When and why did you establish these goals? • How are you preparing yourself to achieve your goals? • What are the most important rewards you expect in your career? • What do you expect to be earning in five years? • Which is more important to you, the money or the type of job? • What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort? • Why should I hire you? • Why did you choose the career for which you are preparing? • What do you consider to be your greatest strengths? • What do you consider to be your greatest weakness? • What do you really want to do in life? • What do you enjoy doing? • How would you describe yourself? • How do you think a friend or professor who knows you well would describe you?



• How have your college experiences prepared you for a career? • What qualifications do you have that make you think you will be successful? • How do you determine or evaluate success? • What do you think it takes to be successful in an organization like ours? • In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our organization? • What qualities should a successful manager possess? • What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why? • What led you to choose your major field of study? • Do you think your grades are a good indication of your academic capabilities? • What have you learned from participation in extracurricular activities? • Describe your most rewarding college experience. • If you were hiring a graduate for this position, what qualities would you look for? • Why did you select your college or university? • What college subject did you like the best? Why? • What college subject did you like the least? Why? • If you could do so, how would you plan your study differently? Why? • What changes would you make in your college or university? Why? • Do you have plans for continued study? Advanced degree? • In what kind of work environment are you most comfortable? • How do you work under pressure? • What part-time jobs (summer) have you been most interested in? Why? • What do you want to know about our organization? • What two or three things are most important to you in your job? • What criteria will you use to evaluate the organization in which you hope to work? • Why did you seek a position with this organization? • What do you know about our organization? • Will you relocate? Does location bother you? • Are you willing to travel? • Are you willing to spend at least six months as a trainee? • Why do you think you might like to live in the community where our organization is located? • What major problems have you encountered and how did you resolve them? • What have you learned from your mistakes? Source: Quintessential Career: Traditional Employment Interviewing Questions (

Additional Types of Questions Role-Play Questions

Some interviewers like to ask you to role-play, posing a question such as “Imagine that you were the Director of Marketing and the CEO presented the following problem to you, how would you handle it?” The variations are endless. It is okay to think for a moment or two before you begin to answer.



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Industry-Specific Questions

Even for entry-level positions, some interviewers will want to get a sense of how much you know about the industry. For example, they might ask you a question like, “Can you explain the difference between an investment bank and a commercial bank?” Questions like this will be much easier to answer if you have done your research and kept up-to-date on industry-related trends. Sample Finance Interview Questions

Finance is a career field that commonly asks industry-specific questions. Below are a few examples:

• What are the three main financial statements and how are they related? • What are some methods used to value companies? • Would you rather have a dollar today or a dollar tomorrow? • What factors should you consider when evaluating a loan? • Walk me through a DCF. • Describe the concept on an LBO and walk me through how an LBO works. • If you were willing to invest $5 million in a company, what company would you choose? Why?

For more information on finance-related or other industry-specific questions, schedule an appointment with a CE&D staff member. Current Events Questions

Sometimes in an effort to be conversational or to actually gain information about your political views, an interviewer will ask for your opinion on an upcoming election or current event of political interest. Be wary of expressing strong political opinions when you do not know about the political culture of the organization or the orientation of the person interviewing you. It is best to be brief and say something nonpartisan. Of course, if you are interviewing

for a political position, for example with the Democratic or Republican National Committees, they will certainly want to confirm that your views are in line with those of their party. Case Questions

These are generally asked by consulting companies. It is important to remember that the interviewer often does not know the answer to these case questions, nor is there a right or wrong answer. They are mostly interested in the way your mind works and how logically you approach the problem. When an interviewer asks you a case question, you are encouraged to ask your own questions. This accomplishes several objectives: 1. Allows you to obtain more information that will make answering the case question much easier. 2. Even if you do not receive additional information, you have shown the interviewer that you are not shy about asking questions in difficult situations. 3. It helps turn the question into a conversation. The best interviews are conversations, not Q&A sessions.

There are three types of case questions: “Guess the Number,” “Brain Teaser,” and Business Prob40 | ESSENTIAL TOOLS FOR YOUR CAREER 


lems.” The two most common are the “Guess the Number” and “Brain Teaser.” • Example: “You and I are sitting in an empty room with no telephone, reference books, or computers. Can you tell me how many disposable diapers were sold in the United States last year?”

For more information on case interviews, visit these sites:

• • • •

Behavioral-Based Questions

The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior or performance. Behavioral-based questions are used as an indicator of how you work under pressure or in difficult situations. Sample Behavioral-based questions: • Give me an example of a time when you motivated others. • Describe the most challenging part of your job/internship and how you approach it. • Describe a time when you had to share unpopular information / when you had to deliver bad news. How did you approach the task? • Give me an example of a time a teammate wasn’t pulling their weight. What did you do? (teamwork, goal oriented) • Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills. (stress management) • Describe a situation where you had to prioritize your time to get your work done. (time management, organization)

Utilize the STAR technique to answer these types of questions effectively: Situation or Task

Describe the situation you were in or the task you needed to accomplish. Be specific and give detail so that the interviewer understands.

Action you took

Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did -- not the efforts of the team. Don’t tell what you might do, tell what you did.

Results you achieved

What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn?

STAR Interviewing Response Technique for Success in Behavioral Job Interviews, Quintessential Careers (



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Other Types of Interviews Te l ep h o n e I n t e r v i e w s

Employers use telephone interviews as a method of identifying and recruiting candidates for employment. Telephone interviews are often used as a way to minimize the expenses involved in interviewing out-of-town candidates. While actively job or internship searching, it is important to be prepared for a telephone interview at a moment’s notice. You never know when a recruiter or a networking contact might call and ask if you have a few minutes to talk. It is also a good idea to keep an interview log. This way if you are contacted by a recruiter, you have an idea of which job or internship they are calling about. Never ask the interviewer what job they are calling about, because this will make you look disorganized. Voicemail Outgoing Message

Because employers may be contacting you by phone, be sure to have a professional voicemail message on your phone. For example: “Hi, this is Your Name. Please leave your message at the tone and I will return your call as soon as possible. Thank you.” S c h ed u l i n g t h e Te l ep h o n e I n t e r v i e w

When You Are There to Take the Call

The phone rings and you are there to answer! The recruiter may ask if it is a good time to talk. Some recruiters are calling to ask only a few preliminary questions and others are calling to schedule the full telephone interview. In either situation, respond by saying that you are in the middle of a class (or a meeting) and then schedule a convenient time for them to call you or for you to call them. Ask for their name and phone number. The reason for this is so that you can do your research on the employer, feel composed, settled, and have a quiet place to talk and think. When You Miss the Call

If the recruiter leaves a message for you, return the call as soon as you can! As you are returning the call, keep in mind that the recruiter may have called 10 other people that day about the same job. When you return the call, give them your full name and indicate that you are returning the recruiter’s call for XXXXX position. If the message was left for you during business hours, but you did not get the message until you returned home at 7:30 p.m., then call and leave a voice message that evening. Make sure to speak slowly and clearly. Leave your contact information for the next business day. Preparing for the Telephone Interview

Prepare for the telephone interview as you would any other interview! Read the job description, research the company, review your resume, and practice your response to typical interview questions. Consider dressing as you would for a face-to-face interview. It may help you to project yourself more professionally and confidently if you dress the part. While you are talking on the phone, make sure that your phone battery is fully charged. Make sure that your roommate is not going to run the vacuum or cause any other distraction. It may help to have your notes, the job description, and your resume in front of you for quick reference. Make certain you have a pen and 42 | ESSENTIAL TOOLS FOR YOUR CAREER 


paper ready if you need to take notes. If the entire hiring committee is on the other end of the conference call, you may want to write down each person’s name so you can refer to it later. Add i t i o n a l He l pf u l T i p s :

• Don’t smoke, chew gum, or eat.

• Keep a glass of water handy in case you need to wet your mouth. • Smile. Smiling will project a positive image to the listener and will change the tone of your voice. • Speak slowly and enunciate clearly. Your voice is all you have to form an impression at this point! • Use the person’s title (Mr. or Ms. and their last name). Only use a first name if they ask you to. • Don’t interrupt the interviewer. • Take your time—it’s perfectly acceptable to take a moment or two to collect your thoughts. • Give complete yet concise answers. • Remember that your goal for this interview is to have a successful interview (convince them that you are a good fit for the position and the company) so that the recruiter will want to then setup a face-to-face interview. • Reserve an interview room in CE&D if you are concerned about finding your own quiet space. Skype Interviews

Skype interviews are another way in which employers are minimizing the cost of the interview process. Just like any other type of interview, it is important to be prepared and do your research. Dress just as you would for a face-to-face interview, and have pen and paper handy in case you need to take notes. Skype interviews are becoming more popular, therefore it is important to understand how to be successful during this type of interview. He l pf u l T i p s :

• Ensure that your account username is simple and professional (i.e. first name and last name). • Make sure your Skype account profile picture is appropriate and professional. • Be aware of different time zones: If you are in a different time zone than the interviewer, be sure to clarify which time zone he/she was referring to when the interview time was set. • Before the interview, practice in front of a mirror in order to get used to your facial expressions. If you have never watched yourself talk before, it can be a bit startling. Practicing in a mirror will eliminate this surprise and diminish camera shyness. • Plan out where you will conduct your interview beforehand. Make sure that you get quality internet connection and that there will be no interruptions from family, roommates, etc. Remember that you can always reserve a CE&D interview room to ensure a quiet interview environment.



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• Make sure your computer is fully charged. • Turn your phone completely off to avoid any interruptions. Even if your phone is on silent, you may be distracted by incoming text messages during the interview. • Be sure to look at the camera, not at the screen. If you look at the screen, it will seem like you are avoiding eye contact. • Prepare your surroundings: make sure the background consists of a simple, blank wall. Clean off your desk if necessary. • Avoid bright patterns (such as a floral design or stripes) as they may distract the interviewer. • Conduct a mock Skype interview with a trusted friend or family member in order to become accustomed to the technology and ensure a quality internet connection as well as capable audio and video features. Taken in part from Alina Dizik’s article, “8 Important Tips for Skype Interviews.” read the full article at

After the Interview

At the end of the interview, thank the interviewers for their time. It is important to follow-up promptly with a thank-you letter or email. Take some time immediately after the interview to reflect upon your responses, as this will help you to prepare for your next interview.



Legal and Illegal Questions

What’s Legal and What You Don’t Have to Answer Le g a l

• Where have you worked before? • What duties have you performed on past jobs? • Why are you interested in this organization? • Tell me about yourself. • What education have you completed? (If a certain level is required for the job.) • How did you learn about this job? • Who are people prepared to write or to give a reference for you? • What is your Social Security number? What is your address and phone number? • What special qualifications do you have for this job? • May I answer any questions about the job or organization? • What are your greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses? • Why does this job interest you? • Why did you select this particular career? Are you willing to travel or relocate? Note that questions of this type focus on the job, your specific qualifications for it, and your career goals.

Y o u D o n ’ t H av e t o A n s w e r . . .

• With whom do you live? • If married, are you expecting to have children soon? What does your spouse do? • Were your parents born in this country? • How old are you? (May ask if you are legally old enough to work.) • Have you ever filed for bankruptcy? • Where do you bank? • Have you ever been arrested? (You may be asked to provide information on criminal convictions.) • How tall are you? • How much do you weigh? (But may be asked about height and weight if they are necessary for the performance of the job.) • How many children do you have? • If you have children, what kinds of daycare arrangements have you made? • What memberships do you hold in social, religious, and community groups? • What is your military service status? • If a veteran, what kind of discharge did you receive? • Are you physically handicapped? Note that these questions delve into your personal life and are not legitimate occupational qualifications.



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The Thank You Letter The thank you letter is key to effective interview follow-up! Typically sent within 24 hours of the interview, this letter is used to express your appreciation as well as strengthen your candidacy for the position. If it is not feasible to send a thank you to everyone you met during the interview process, then send a thank you to your interview ‘host’ or to the highest ranking manager you met with, and include a request to extend your thanks to the entire group. Your letters can be handwritten (neatly on professional stationery) or computer-generated. Also, do not forget to send a thank you to those with whom you have had informational interviews as well as those individuals who serve as your references. The next two pages offer a suggested format and example of the thank you letter.



s u g g E s t E D t h a n k Yo u l E t t E r F o r m at

Your Street Address City, State Zip Date Name of person you are writing to Title Organization or company name Street address City, State Zip

Dear Mr./Ms. Smith: First Paragraph – Express appreciation for being granted the interview and for the courtesies extended to you by the interviewer. Indicate the job for which you were interviewed, where the interview was conducted, and the date. Perhaps you will want to recall some pleasant incident that took place during the interview. Second Paragraph – Reaffirm your interest in the job or position for which you were interviewed. Briefly cover your reasons for wanting this type of work. Indicate that you are available for further interviewing at their convenience.

Sincerely, Your handwritten signature – blue or black ink Type your name



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Negotiating the Job Offer Handling the Salary Issue The topic of salary will probably come up in your selection interviews. Do not bring up the issue of salary and benefits unless the interviewer has already talked to you about the subject or if you are in the negotiating phase. It is a good idea to have a salary range in mind based on your research prior to the interview. Current salaries for a variety of occupations can be found at: • Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Department of Labor — •

Accepting the Offer

• Make certain you understand, in detail, all the terms of the offer and subsequent employment. • Do not accept an offer knowing that you have no intention of taking the position. • Notify Career Exploration & Development of your acceptance. • Get any final questions answered that might make a difference in your decision.

Postponing the Acceptance or Rejection of an Offer

• The purpose of the postponement is to give you more time to examine the opportunities with other employers. • If you have other interviews that were scheduled prior to receiving the offer, it is appropriate to keep those appointments regardless of your decision to accept or reject the offer you already have. • Most employers place time limits on their offers but usually grant extra time for you to make your decision. • An employer may withdraw an offer any time prior to your acceptance.

Rejecting an Offer

• You do not have to accept an offer, but do not reject one before carefully considering the assignment, growth potential, and salary. • If you have decided not to accept the offer, notify the employer of your decision immediately. • Try to be constructive in stating your reasons for declining the offer.



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Why You Didn’t Get the Job We hope to assure you that many factors can prevent you from getting a job. Some of them you have control over, while others you don’t. By controlling those you can, and thinking reasonably about those you can’t, your chances of taking a healthy perspective toward the whole job-search issue are better. Rejections are part of the process; however, by keeping your self-esteem and not rejecting yourself, your opportunity for success in the next interview is that much greater. Remember, the employer is making a business decision. If you were prepared properly it probably has nothing to do with you personally. Why do you as an applicant sometimes only receive a thundering silence from prospective employers after your interview has been completed? A Northwestern University survey of 405 well-known firms found these reasons: • Lack of preparation for the interview - failure to get information about the company and therefore unable to ask intelligent questions. • Poor personality and manner, lack of poise, poor presentation of self, lack of self-confidence, timidity, hesitant approach, arrogance, and conceit. • Lack of goals and ambition, uncertain and indecisive about the job in question. • Lack of enthusiasm and interest, no evidence of initiative. • Poor personal appearance and careless dress. • Poor scholastic record without responsible explanation for low grades. • Inability to express yourself well, poor speech habits. • Lack of maturity, no leadership potential. • Lack of interest in the company and type of job offered. • Lack of extracurricular activities without good reason. • Attitude of what can you do for me, and so forth. • Objection to travel, unwilling to relocate to branch offices or plants.



Part Three:

Networking and Informational Interviews



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Ne t w o r k i n g a n d i n f o r m a t i o n a l i n t e r v i e w s


Perhaps the largest challenge facing you today is finding that one position that can be labeled as the best fit for you at this stage in your life. Job openings do exist; the challenge is finding the one that is right for you and many available jobs are not clearly advertised. The key to tapping into the hidden job market is to network. As a college student, you are at an advantage when it comes to networking. Many professionals are happy to answer thoughtful, career-related questions from you, because they can relate to the process you are going through as a student or young professional. We know three things about people: they love to talk about themselves; they are proud of their accomplishments; and they enjoy helping other people if they have the time. Networking comes easier for some than others depending on personal or professional connections; however, YOU must be the one to display initiative no matter how widespread your network may be to date. Start strengthening your network by taking advantage of the many resources available through DenisonEverywhere, LinkedIn, family, friends, neighbors, professionals, and other resources that surround you.

Networking Defined The old adage, “It’s not what you know but who you know” that lands you a job is almost true. It is actually “how many” you know that makes the biggest impact on your search. Initiating a connection is much easier when you have an organized approach. Remember: asking someone outright for an internship or job is not networking! You need to build relationships before others will feel inclined to support your quest. The skill of expanding a personal referral network is connecting with people so that you reach the largest possible group in any given field. If the idea of networking makes you uncomfortable or fearful, talk to someone in CE&D about developing an action plan.

Do Your Homework One element related to effective networking is conducting adequate research in support of your career goals. Proper research grants job seekers a competitive edge when it is evident to a recruiter that a candidate completed his or her homework before an interview. It can be frustrating for a recruiter when a candidate doesn’t have a grasp on the organization and its unique culture. A typical interview question asked is, “Why are you interested in our organization?” If you don’t know enough about the employer in question, you will sound unprepared.



Re s o u r c e s t o E xp l o r e

• Occupational Outlook Handbook ( • O*NET (

Polishing Your Elevator Speech One of the first aspects of networking to master is the creation of your very own elevator speech – a versatile speech that can be utilized when connecting with an alumnus via phone or meeting a complete stranger at a networking event. Create a 20-second statement about yourself that gives your audience an understanding as to who you are, what you intend to become, and what motivates you to excel in a given field. It may help to consider the following questions: • • • •

What skills do you want to use? What do you really care about? Which environmental factors give you energy? What types of people do you enjoy spending time with?

Once you have successfully created an elevator speech that coincides with your aspirations, you should be ready to take on the art of informational interviewing!

Preparing and Mailing a Letter of Introduction A letter or email is not required before an informational interview, but is recommended before your initial visit with a contact. The main purpose of this type of message is to obtain an interview. Do not send the same letter to each contact; each letter should be tailored specifically to the person of interest. Open each letter with a warm personal statement about why you are writing to this particular person. State the person who referred you to him or her for advice, when appropriate. Clearly explain that you would like career-related advice and information. Continue the letter with an explanation of your current situation and what you’re attempting to accomplish. Inform your contact where you are in the process. For example, if you are writing to an alumnus in France to gather information about international internships, inform him that you are fluent in French. Explain that you would like to set up an interview to get his reaction to your resume and discuss your plans for marketing yourself in his area of business or professional interest. Remember: you will be talking to professionals with busy schedules. Request a brief meeting and be flexible. Also, proofread all your correspondence and save copies.

Tips • Incorporate Denison University into the e-mail subject line when contacting alumni • Standard mail can often avoid gatekeepers and spam filters • Use keywords like advice, counsel, guide, and mentor to clarify your intentions



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s u g g E s t E D l E t t E r o F i n t r o D u c t i o n F o r i n F o r m at i o n a l i n t E r v i E w



n E t w o r k i n g a n D i n F o r m at i o n a l i n t E r v i E w s

The Informational Interview getting started

before arranging an informational interview • Elevator Message - A short, scripted declaration to describe yourself to a stranger in the short space of an elevator ride. Speak succinctly about your talents, skills, and goals. Avoid personal information and focus only on relevant information related to your education, interests, skills, values, and career goals. This makes a strong impression on your contacts and lets them know you’re serious about your future. • Market Research • key Resources: Occupational Outlook Handbook, O*NET

arranging an informational interview Now it is time to arrange the informational interview by telephone or by email, if that is how you have been corresponding. If you call, avoid Monday morning and Friday afternoon. Time your call so the contact has had time to receive your letter and organize information applicable to you, but not enough time to forget it or you. Speak directly to the person and explain the reason you would like to get together or have a phone interview. Make sure when setting up a time that you account for possible time zone differences. Remember, people want to help. You should not be intimidated by the thought of calling someone for help. If they are human, and they are, then we can predict three things that are in your favor: 1. They love to talk about themselves. 2. They are proud of their work and love to talk about it. 3. They feel good when they help other people. Your job is simply to allow them to do these three things. Here is how you make your call... Hi, this is Debby Denison and I’m calling to follow up on a letter I sent to Ms. Meyers. Is she available? Please hold while I check her schedule. Yes, Ms. Denison, I’m putting you through to Ms. Meyers. Hi, Ms. Meyers. This is Debbie Denison calling to follow up on my letter. Is this a good time for you to talk for a few minutes or may I call you back? (continued on next page)



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This is fine. What can I do for you? As I wrote in my letter, I’m calling to see if I can arrange a time to speak with you about your career path, your current work, and any advice you might have for me about finding a job or internship. Is this something that you would be willing to do? Yes, I would enjoy speaking with you. Thank you! Is there a time that works well for you? I have a half-hour open next Friday at 10:00 a.m. Will that work for you? Yes, that is perfect. Is this the best number to call you next Friday on May 15th? Let me give you my direct number. It’s (614) 222-3333. Thank you for your time. I look forward to speaking with you next Friday.

Preparation for the informational interview You should always remember that while this meeting is for informational purposes, you are still on display. You will be scrutinized; therefore, you are in a position to make an important and positive impression. Informational interviews can be very relaxed affairs, and can be used to find out about certain industries and organizations, the future of certain types of businesses, degrees or training required to do various kinds of work, and information about certain environments - in short, almost anything you wish to learn. Of course, you need to know what information you are searching for, and you must be brief. The following are the kinds of questions you might ask in the interview. Brainstorm others appropriate to your field of interest and prepare ahead of time. occupational Environment • How would you outline or describe a typical day at work? • How much flexibility are you allowed on your job in terms of dress, hours, vacation, etc.? • What portion of your job involves interacting with others, such as co-workers or the public? • What do you like or dislike about your job and the industry in general? • How has your job affected your lifestyle? • From your perspective, what problems do you see this field? occupational requirements and Experience • What courses (requirements, electives) were most helpful to you in your college career? • How can I get experience in this field while I’m still in college? • What do I need to explain to an employer about coming from a liberal arts college? • What graduate school connections are important before and after having a job like yours?



• What are some specific skills I should be trying to obtain to succeed in this field? • Is special certification, licensing, or an advanced degree required for your job? Personal Background and Experience • What was your undergraduate major field of study? Have you always been interested in this area of study? • What educational program is recommended as preparation? • Are any co-curricular activities recommended? • Did you have any practical experience or training (other than college) prior to your current job? • What is the highest degree you’ve attained? • How did you get your current job? If you had to do it over again, would you take the same route? • How is your company different from others in the field? • If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be? Outlook • What are the opportunities for advancement in this field? • What sorts of changes are occurring in your occupation? • What is the current and future demand for people in this occupation? • Is it easier to do a nationwide search or a regional search for this field? Advice • Are there any professional groups that I, as an undergraduate, can join that would be beneficial to me? • Do you know of any other people in this field that may be willing to talk with me about their experience? • How can I get experience in this field while I’m still in college? • Do you know of any specific websites, publications, or other sources that would post internships or entry-level positions in this field? • What is a good starting point for this career path? Is any specific entry point more advantageous? • What are the important keywords or buzzwords to include in a resume or application letter when job hunting in the field? Geographic Areas • Is mass transportation available in your city? • What is the best way to find apartments to rent? • What are the costs of living in your city?



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The Informational Interview You should approach an informational interview dressed as you would for a regular job interview. That is, dress appropriately. Find out as much as you can about the company beforehand, just as you would for a regular interview. Know what you’re going to ask. If you wish, carry notes with you and feel comfortable about taking notes during an informational interview. Goals for an Informational Interview • Establish rapport with the interviewer. Let him/her know who you are. • Be genuinely interested in the interviewer. Get to know him/her. • Get advice on your job search. Ask about improving both your approach and your presentation. Be prepared for honest, blunt advice. Don’t argue if you disagree on a point; make a mental note to research the tip more later. • Obtain information about the job market of interest to you. Ask about latest developments in the field, articles and publications you should read, professional associations you should be familiar with, or websites you might investigate. • Get referrals of other people. If you have not received any names by the end of the interview, it’s appropriate to ask for other people with whom you might speak. • Be remembered favorably by the interviewer. Just before you leave, tell the interviewer that you’ll be on a very active job-search campaign and would appreciate being kept in mind in case he/she hears of anything. • Ask yourself if you have any specific questions not answered above. • ALWAYS thank the interviewer and follow up with an e-mail or handwritten thank you note!!! Track What You’ve Learned

Immediately after the informational interview, record any facts acquired during the interview. Go back over your notes to make sure the information is clear. Also, make note of any impressions you have from the conversation. Ask yourself: • What did I learn from this interview? • How does what I learned fit with my own interests, abilities, goals, values, etc.? • What more would be helpful to know? • What plan of action can I make?



Part Four:

Job Search Resources



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Components of an Effective Job Search • Have a Plan - Decide what you want to do and create a strategy to achieve your goal • Build a Network - It really is all about WHO you know! Get to know as many relevant alumni and professionals as possible. Networking effectively will make it much easier for you to obtain the job you want. • Develop Your Marketing Material - Your resume and cover letter is the most common way to communicate the value you will bring to an organization. How will your resume compare to those of the millions of other college students looking for jobs this year? • Sell Yourself During Interviews - Employers are looking for very specific things from you during the interview. Nail the interview by being prepared to handle any interview question they ask you. • Leverage Your Resources - CE&D is here to help! Don’t hesitate to visit our website or stop by our office.

Denison-Specific Resources These on-campus resources are designed specifically for Denison students: • DULink - The new and improved web portal for you to find and apply for externships, internships and full-time jobs. If you want to learn more about the “real world” during short job-shadow experiences, browse the many externship opportunities in cities like Chicago, New York, Boston, D.C., and many more. If you want to gain practical experience during the summer, search through the available internships. If you are ready to begin the job search, the Fall Semester of your senior year is the ideal time to start applying DULink is where employers and alumni are going to look for you, so make it easy for them to find you by updating your profile and uploading your resume.

• Career Library - The CE&D office has a Career Library specifically meant to help

with the job search. In addition to the many job search related books and magazines, the library has several computer stations you can use to research and apply for jobs.

• On-Campus Recruiting - Every year, many organizations come to campus to spe-

cifically interview Denison students. Check in DULink and/or the CE&D website for an updated list of the organizations visiting campus this year.

Denison Partner Resources Visit our website ( to gain access to these helpful online resources:

• ArtSearch – For jobs in the Art field, click on “Find Jobs” under “ArtSEARCH” on the middle upper right of the screen. For Denison’s password, please contact Career Exploration & Development at



• CareerShift - CareerShift offers comprehensive online resources designed to

support the number one request of job seekers: an easy-to-use website to conduct and organize your job search. Get inside contact information immediately, including email addresses, for millions of companies, even alumni, then save and manage your lists. Search, store, and record job listings at all publicly posted websites and newspapers. Upload as many targeted resumes and cover letters needed. Students must register through the CE&D web site using their Denison email address.

• Current Jobs for Graduates - This site lists updated, entry-level positions in the

following career fields: Writing, Editing Communications, Management & Business, International, Art, Performing Arts, Education, Liberal Arts. For Denison’s password, please contact Career Exploration & Development at

• Going Global - USA City Guides contain career and employment resources for the

40 largest metropolitan areas in the USA. Included in this database are: job search resources, employment outlook, professional networking groups, cost of living, major employer listings by industry sector, non-profits and volunteer opportunities. HIB employer listings are also listed for all 50 states! Going Global career and employment resources include worldwide job openings, internship listings, industry profiles and country-specific career information. More than 30,000 pages of constantly updated content is included on topics such as: work permit/visa regulations, resume writing guidelines and examples, employment trends, salary ranges, networking groups, cultural/interviewing advice, corporate profiles and worldwide job listings... plus much more!

• Idealist - While all of the organizations on this site are non-profit, don’t pass up the

chance to learn about great entry-level jobs doing PR, marketing, writing & editing, research, teaching, traveling, etc., by signing up for their free email alerts for jobs/ internships that match your career & geographic interests. Click on the “My Idealist” link at the top of the page to register for the email alerts.

• - Search internships by metro area in 7 geographic regions—

Midwest, Middle Atlantic, New England, Rockies-Plains, Southeast, Southwest, and West. Hundreds of U.S. Census Bureau metropolitan areas!

• - For the most complete, up-to-the-minute information on

available positions throughout the sports industry. For Denison’s password please contact Career Exploration & Development at

• Wetfeet - Their mission is to equip job seekers like you with the advice, research, and inspiration you need to plan and achieve a successful career.

Other Online Resources

• Company Websites – If you already know the specific organization you want to

work for, a good place to start is their career webpage. Most organizations have websites specifically designed to help you apply for their opportunities.

• Websites by Career Field – CE&D lists 100 job search websites according to 33 different career fields at

• Miscellaneous Job Search & Career Resource Websites – In addition, that same page lists more than 40 other sites that may also help you find and apply to jobs.



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Suggested Job Search Timeline when

w h at

Sophomore & Junior Year • Narrow your potential career path options • Obtain leadership roles in targeted student groups and Fall/Spring/Summer

volunteer organizations Pursue on-campus jobs related to your career interest Complete an Externship during Winter Break Complete an Internship during Summer Break Arrange a mock-interview to learn what employers expect of you during interviews • NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! • • • •

Senior Year September - October

• Reflect on your summer internship experience • Do you want to continue pursuing that type of career? • Make some critical decisions ›› What do you want to do ideally? Where would you like to go after graduation? What type of organizations do you want to work for? • Visit CE&D to create your own customized job search action plan • Attend one of the required Senior O workshop sessions • Update and upload your resume on DULink • Create/update your LinkedIn profile and use it to log-in to and automaticall update your DenisonEverywhere profile • Develop your elevator speech (a.k.a., your professional introduction) • NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! ›› Make sure everyone you know, especially close family and friends, is aware of the type of job you want. • Start applying for jobs NOW ›› Many competitive industries (e.g. consulting, banking, Fortune 500 leadership development programs, etc) start interviewing in September for jobs that start in May • Arrange a mock-interview to learn what employers expect of you during interviews

November - December

• NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! • Reach out to alumni on and through LinkedIn to conduct informational interviews during Winter Break • Consider completing another externship over Winter Break • Look through the job search resources at

January - May

• NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK! ›› Keep track of all the people you are meeting and periodically follow up with relevant updates • Attend CE&D networking/recruiting events ›› Continue to check the CE&D calendar for events like First Look Chicago, Big Red Networking, CareerFest, and other career fairs • Continue practicing with mock interviews • Apply for Jobs ›› Monitor DULink for job opportunities and make sure to customize all your resumes and cover letters based on the specific job descriptions • Leverage CE&D ›› Use our online resources or come visit us. We welcome the opportunity to guide you through every step of your job search and application process






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Career Exploration & Development Handbook  

A publication of Denison University's Office of Career Exploration & Development.

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