From Learner to Earner: STC's Top 10 Job Hunting Tips
STC's Office of Career and Employer Services offers tips for new grads. All services are free and available virtually, from reviewing resumes to helping with the job search. Plus, STC’s online tools like career assessments, occupational wages database, and mock interviews are available night and day, so there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Graduating and unsure of the future? Or maybe you’re hoping to prepare early for your post-college career? Good news: You’re in the right place!
With the turmoil of the past year starting to settle, experts are optimistic about upcoming employment opportunities. According to a recent article by Indeed, most labor market measures have bounced back more than halfway from pre-pandemic levels.
The future is looking bright, and it’s the perfect time for South Texas College students to shine. We asked Director of Career & Employer Services Celinda Salinas about tried-and-true job-hunting tips to help illuminate your dream career.
You don’t even have to be a graduating senior to take advantage. In fact, according to Salinas, the sooner you can prep for your ideal job, the better.
“On average graduates take about seven months to find work,” says the director. “We do advise students to start looking for work way before they graduate.”
Ready to get to work? Then read on!
1. REDEFINE YOUR RESUME
If you want to make a positive impression on a potential employer, a professional resume is a must. Thankfully, Career Services is here to break the process down.
“The overall appearance of the resume can make it or break it as the employer will base selected resumes on a quick 7 second scan of the resume. Other things that are most important are to make sure that your contact information is clear and that there are no grammatical errors whatsoever,” advises Salinas.
Check out STC’s sample resumes for an assortment of templates to follow (and keep reading to learn about STC’s easy-to-use resume builders!)
Other savvy tips:
- Focus on relevant skills and experience
- Don’t leave a lot of blank spaces in your resume — fill it up!
- Include your education and if you have a high GPA, include it.
- Generally, limit your resume to one to two pages, max.
- Use consistent formatting.
- Double- and triple-check for typos… then send your resume to Career Services and have an expert proofread it one last time!
2. NO WORK EXPERIENCE? NO PROBLEM.
“Way too many times, we get students who say, ‘I’ve never worked,’” recalls Salinas. “But just coming to school alone is a job in itself.”
If you’re not sure how to pad the work experience section in your resume, here are some pro tips:
- Volunteer work is good for your community and looks great on a resume!
- Find a job shadowing or internship opportunity through your professors. Many programs have advisory boards featuring industry partners who might be able to help you land experience.
- Joining STC clubs and organizations is free, fun, and can make you stand out as a job candidate.
- Did you complete a class that’s relevant to the job you’re applying for? Did your class project make it into a competition? Include your coursework and other accomplishments that make you unique.
- Finally, don’t forget to list any scholarships you earned!
3. RESUME BUILDING (AND NETWORKING). MADE EASY.
Sign up for STC’s online job board. Not only will you get streamlined resume support… you’ll also get access to employers.
Called the College Central Network, STC’s job board provides an easy-to-use resume builder tool. It will prompt you to enter your information, and at the end, it will automatically format everything into a professional-looking resume.
You can then upload your resume to the site, where Career Services staff will review your work and provide feedback. When you’ve polished up your information and your resume is approved your resume will go live to the College’s employer network.
“The best thing about using this system is that it’s exclusively designed for our STC talent,” says Salinas.
Using the resume builder is optional. You can also upload an existing resume, or get the best of both worlds and create your resume with STC’s Career Coach. This online platform has a special drag-and-drop resume builder that comes in handy for itemizing your job skills.
Need extra help? Be sure to check out STC’s virtual resume workshops or book a one-on-one appointment with a Career Specialist. You can meet via video conferencing or phone, or you can make an appointment to visit the office.
4. CURE THE JOB INTERVIEW JITTERS.
The purpose of your resume is to line up that job interview. And with STC’s newest tool from InterviewStream, it’s a cinch to prepare.
Used by schools like Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, the interview prep tool can help you create personalized mock interviews from a database of thousands of pre-recorded questions. Your sessions are recorded, so you can share them with a career adviser and your peers for feedback.
“That’s a new virtual feature we just added,” says Salinas. “They practice do interviews 24/7, wherever they are.”
Try it out at https://southtexascollege.interviewstream.com/Account/Login?ReturnUrl=%2f. Just log in with your regular STC email and password.
5. MAKING A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION.
“One thing that I always do tell students is that there is never a second chance to make a first impression,” advises Salinas.
Want to ace that job interview? Below are a few insider tips about what to do… and what not to do!
- Be personable, smile and ensure eye contact
- Be mindful of your behavior: the minute you arrive at your job interview location, you are in the limelight. Don’t litter in the parking lot! And don’t be rude to the receptionist. “Students always laugh at those kinds of things, but they do happen,” warns Salinas.
- Be careful what you eat! Garlic is a definite no-no, but then, so is doing an interview on an empty tank… and having your stomach growl.
- On that note, stay away from caffeine so that you don’t get the jitters. As for carbonated drinks, don’t risk the burps!
A common question references what to do with your arms while you are sitting. The answer? Simply clasp your hands on your lap.
“We have a lot of literature online that students can take advantage of,” says Salinas. When it comes to the big interview, “it’s nerve-wracking, but students will get through it.”
6. DRESS TO IMPRESS.
Part of making a good impression is dressing the part.
“There's this little misconception that if you're going to apply to be a nurse, then you should go to apply in your scrubs,” says Salinas. Instead, says the director, “always dress professionally… the simpler the attire, the better.”
A few professional dressing tips:
- Keep the colors basic: blacks, blues and muted plaids are safe bets.
- Keep your jewelry to a minimum—you don’t want bracelets jangling around during a job interview!
- Do your homework: see how people dress at the company and do your best to blend in.
- Rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t wear it to church, don’t wear it to a job interview.
Says Salinas, “In a nutshell, I would say keep it simple, keep it professional.”
7. COSTLESS PROFESSIONAL CLOTHING
The Threads Career Closet is where STC students and alums can find free clothing for job interviews and professional events.
As the director says, “Come visit us at the Threads Closet. We can help give you some advice, and hopefully, you can find an outfit.”
The best part? There’s no need to return the clothes. Salinas explains, “As long as they bring their student ID, they can come and ‘shop’ in our Threads Career Closet.”
For more info and to make an appointment, visit https://studentservices.southtexascollege.edu/careerservices/threads.html.
8. RECOMMENDATIONS BEGIN WITH GOOD IMPRESSIONS.
“You don't only need to make a good impression when you're looking for work,” says Salinas. “You need to make good impressions in your classrooms.”
Why? Well, on top of being a good student, your teachers are some of the best sources for good job references and recommendations.
Take time after class to introduce yourself to your professors. Make sure you ask questions in class and get involved. Forging connections doesn’t just start when you’re nearing graduation. It’s essential to build relationships with teachers throughout your college career.
And the number one thing not to do? “Don’t list somebody as a reference without asking their permission,” warns Salinas. It’s a tactic, she says, that is all too likely to backfire.
Remember: as the semester ends, be sure to secure those recommendations while classes are still in session and, it’s easier to connect with your instructors.
“Your faculty are your BFFs,” says Salinas. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
9. JOB FAIRS.
STC hosts a job fair every spring, and more possibilities are emerging for virtual fairs and events in the fall. Career fairs are the perfect place to network, get the inside scoop on the latest openings, and prepare for an interview.
The best way to stay in the loop? Make sure you register on STC’s College Central Network. As a subscriber, you’ll be notified whenever there is a workshop, career fair or campus recruitment.
10. THE #1 CAREER TIP!
Okay, so maybe we’re a little biased with our number one tip… but we stand by it: “Visit the Office of Career and Employer Services,” urges Salinas.
Discover new careers, find fresh threads, network and so much more. Once you’re a Jaguar, you’re always a Jaguar. Alums stay registered on the College Central Network, where they can build resumes and hunt for jobs. And they are always welcome to visit.
“We typically say alumni after 18 months, but we’ve had some that have come back years later, and we’ll still help them,” confides Salinas.
All services are free and available virtually, from reviewing resumes to helping with the job search. Plus, STC’s online tools like career assessments, occupational wages database, and mock interviews are available night and day, so there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.
As the director says, “All they have to do is visit our website so they can take advantage of all these online tools.”