Inside information from professionals — Joyce’s Career Tip of the Week

On Tuesday, May 16, 2017, Fulton Schools students and recent graduates had the opportunity to get “inside information” about hiring processes from industry professionals at a full-day career conference. Presenters drew on their experiences from employment with APS, Cognizant, CXT Software, Intel, Medtronic, OSISoft and UnitedHealth Group.

The day began with résumé basics. The goal of the résumé is to get an interview. Job seekers need to shape their message to show that they have the skills to do the job and that they are ready contribute to the success of the organization.

Undergraduate and most master’s students should have a one-page résumé. (What is too much for one page can go on LinkedIn.) The résumé must be easy to read or it will most likely not be read at all. It should also be error free.

It is important to include activities and personal projects that demonstrate applications of classroom learning. When describing these, create bullets that convey results and illustrate your depth of knowledge. Include technical concepts and tools.

Panelists discussed the importance of applying online. If the company is a federal contractor, tracking is required to ensure fair hiring practices. Company systems also track the status of each applicant as they move through the process. Completing a company’s online application prior to attending a career fair indicates an applicant’s high level of commitment and interest in an organization.

The advantage of attending a career fair is the opportunity to make a personal connection. In addition to technical skills, recruiters want to discover who you are as a person. What do you do and what have you done outside of the classroom? Are you committed to lifelong learning? How do you manage projects and people?

Then there was this tip: Guys, when you are wearing a suit, do NOT wear white socks!

The interview presentation stressed the importance of preparation. You need to demonstrate that you are confident and competent — and do this with enthusiasm. The interview is not a silent test or an oral exam, but a conversation. Ask questions and discuss your assumptions.

The day ended with recent graduates responding to student questions. Hindsight is 20/20. Looking back, one alumnus wished that he had networked more when he was a student. There were so many opportunities for talking to professors and working professionals. Another panelist stressed the importance of keeping up with classmates after graduation and using your network. Both of these presenters assured students that the hard work earning a degree is worth the effort. They enjoy the work they do and appreciate the flexibility they have to create a satisfactory work/life balance.

Students often feel stressed from being over-concerned about their GPA. A strong GPA (3.0 or better) is important, but it does not have to be perfect. Employers want well-rounded people. Students found it amusing that four years after graduation, one of our alums could not even remember her college GPA!


Joyce Donahue is a career counselor in the Fulton Schools Career Center. She is a Nationally Certified Career Counselor and holds “Master Career Counselor” membership status in the National Career Development Association.