1 – Weekly walk-in hours: Tuesdays – 12:30-2:30pm AND Wednesdays – 2-4pm. Drop by for a quick resume review or get a quick question answered.
2 – Schedule a longer appointment to talk about anything that’s on your mind career-wise. Use the link below to find a time that works for you.
If you can’t find a time in less than two weeks, please contact our office directly and we’ll see when we can fit you into one of our schedules – 404-413-0069 or e-mail email@example.com.Individualized Career Coaching
Self-assessment is about really taking some time to get to know yourself and all those things that make you unique, BEFORE you jump into an internship, job search or the graduate school application process.
Self-assessment means you identify your likes/dislikes, wants/needs, strengths/challenges, skills/areas to develop, how you make decisions, where you get your energy from, what kind of information you find it easy to remember, and your interests (including what you’d like to know more about).
Just start paying closer attention to what you genuinely do and don’t feel drawn too – there’s very good information to be found in your natural responses to the world around you.
Trying new things and reflecting on those experiences is maybe your single greatest tool in this “getting to know yourself” stage.
Very often, these tools reinforce what you already know about yourself, increasing your confidence in your natural gifts and what you feel drawn too. They can also help you to better understand and clarify those things (i.e., situations, types of information, physical conditions, etc.) that you sometimes find challenging. Lastly, they can help you identify the strengths and skills that you want to market in your resume.
Formal assessments available at GSU:
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Jung Typology Assessment) – The MBTI focuses on your natural personality preferences. You can access this free, online tool here, then schedule a meeting with a career counselor at AYS Career Services to review your results and talk about next steps.
StrengthsFinder – Identifies your top strengths and how to put these strengths into action (eg. market your strengths on your resume and LinkedIn). (See AYS Career Services Office or GSU's Leadership Development Office for more information).
Strong Interest Inventory - This assessment focuses on your interests as they relate to six career themes. (Visit University Career Services for more information).
Focus 2 - A career and education planning system that offers insight on work interests, personality, skills, values and leisure activities. (Visit University Career Services for more information).
Know Potential Career Paths
- Managing global climate change and controlling its underlying causes such as carbon emissions
- Supplying food, energy and clean water to the growing populations in developing countries
- Securing the United States and other countries against the possibility of chemical, biological and nuclear terrorism
- Redeveloping older urban areas that have lost their economic base in manufacturing
- Transitioning recently incarcerated persons into productive, nonviolent lives in society
- Ending the epidemic of HIV infection in developed and developing countries.
- Providing quality education and health care to children living in poverty.
The University of Tennessee created an interactive resource that you can use to explore potential career paths, called "What can I do with this major?"
Benefits of Informational Interviewing
- Get firsthand, relevant information about the realities of working within a particular field, industry or position. This kind of information is not always available online or in print.
- Find out about career paths you did not know existed.
- Discover what others with your same major are doing in their careers.
- Get tips about how to prepare for and enter a given career.
- Improve your communication skills and confidence speaking with professionals.
- Learn what it’s like to work at a specific organization.
- Gain knowledge that can help you in a job search. Resume writing and job interviewing become much easier when you have a good sense of what interests you and how your background and skills match the qualifications of a particular field, industry or job.
- Initiate a professional relationship and expand your network of contacts in a specific career field; meet people who may forward job leads to you in the future.
- Learn about how others have balanced their work and other priorities.
Informational Interview Resources
Potential Information Interview Questions
Questions about the job and field overall:
- What kinds of tasks do you do on a typical day or week?
- What types of tasks do you spend most of your time doing?
- What do you like most about what you do, and what do you like least?
- What are some of the biggest challenges facing your company and your industry today?
- I really like doing ____________. Do you have an opportunity to do that type of work in this career?
- What characteristics or skills does a person in this job need to have?
- Do you usually work independently or as part of a team?
- What types of decisions do you make?
- How does your work fit into the mission of the organization?
- What types of advancement opportunities are available for an entry-level worker in this career? I read that ________ is an issue in this occupation. Have you found that to be true?
- How do you see your industry changing in the next 5-10 years?
- What’s unique or differentiating about your company?
Questions about working conditions:
- What kind of hours do you work?
- Is your schedule flexible or set?
- Are those hours typical for most jobs in this occupation, or do some types of jobs have different hours?
- Does this career include or require travel?
- Do you have any health concerns associated with your career?
- How does this career affect your lifestyle?
Questions about training:
- How did you prepare for this career?
- How did you find this job?
- Do you have any advice for someone trying to break into this field?
- What type of entry-level job offers the most learning opportunities?
- What professional associations would you recommend to someone starting out in this field?
- What do you read (print and/or online) to keep up with developments in your field?
Questions about other careers and contacts:
- Do you know of any similar careers that also use __________ or involve __________?
- I know that people in this career specialize in ______and _______. Do you know of any other specialties?
- I think I really like this career. But do you know of similar jobs that do not have this ______________ characteristic?
- Can you suggest anyone else I should talk with? May I tell them that you have referred me?
- Gain valuable professional experience.
- Build skills and abilities to add to your resume and tool box for your next experience.
- Gain confidence and professional etiquette knowledge.
- Add to your list of cool experiences to share with your next employer.
- See first-hand what it’s like in a field of interest. (Good food for thought as you make career decisions!)
- Expand your professional network.
- Employers utilize internships to test out future employees. In addition, employers are much more likely to hire previous interns than people who haven’t worked with them in the past.
- Bottom line: Internships make you more competitive.
Finding an Internship
There are a variety of ways to find an internship. No one way is the best way. You should plan to use any and all resources available to you.
- Determine what area(s) (i.e., companies and organizations, national programs, etc.) you plan to target. Do a little exploring first, to narrow things down.
- Visit employer web sites and review their internship application process closely.
- Meet with a career counselor in AYS Career Services.
- Network - Get out and meet people. (See Networking section in this book)
- Talk with faculty - Make sure that you connect with your department early on in your search if you intend to earn academic credit.
- Connect with alumni - Use LinkedIn, ask AYS Career Services for contacts, attend career events that alumni often attend (eg. Fall Alumni & Student Mixer - See AYS Fall Calendar).
- Keep an eye out for current postings on AYS CareerLink and Panther Career Net (University Career Services)
- Attend career events and workshops
Who Do You Know? (And… who knows you?)
Professional networking is about relationships. It's about conversations and the sharing of information, ideas and support. It's about asking what you can do for others.
It's not complicated and doesn't have to be nerve-wracking. It's just about meeting professionals in your field, hearing about their day-to-day activities, learning what the required skills are, and getting tips on how to break into the field.
Who do you know and respect? Go talk with that person (or people) and build from there.
Remember the incredible community that you have within the Andrew Young School; the students, faculty, staff and alumni. You're surrounded every single day with people that work in a range of public affairs-related industries.
Ideally, you'd start networking before you start a job search.
Get curious about what other people do for a living.
Ask questions, be friendly, and show a genuine interest in others.
Get involved in campus events, student and community organizations as well as professional associations.
Get to know your community, involve yourself in what is happening around you. Let people get to know you!
Networking will also involve conducting informational interviews with people who are in fields, roles and positions that you are exploring, as well as with recruiters and hiring managers (you'll meet those folks at career fairs and events) at the organizations you wish to work (see Informational Interview section earlier in book).
Here’s a perfectly reasonable way to begin a professional conversation with someone new: “Hello So-in-so! I’m actively exploring my career options right now. By the way, how did you get into the work you’re doing?”
Some Networking Tips:
- Always send thank you notes (emails or note-cards) following every meeting/appointment.
- Join the professional organization/association connected to your academic field of study or industry. [Note: Student membership is usually much less expensive than professional membership.]
- Talk with faculty; get to know them and ask if they can recommend anyone that you should connect with.
- Be careful not take up too much of your networking contact's time. Show gratitude and professionalism in all your interactions.
- Be prepared with good questions. Be curious about others, their work, interests, goals and aspirations.
- People like feeling "seen and heard". Be that person that listens well and appreciates the presence and input of another professional.
- Ask politely for connections/referrals, and accept the response you receive - don't push!
- Follow up on any referrals within 48 hours. Those types of connections can go "quiet" quickly.
- Stay connected to the people in your network that are most important to you. Reach out to them at least once a year, just to say hello and see how they're doing.
Tips for Introverts
Networking may be the very last thing that you want to do, if you are introverted, or have a quiet personality. Approximately 50% of the general population consider themselves introverted. So, you're not alone!
Here are a few survival tips:
- Utilize social media and e-mail to initiate communication.
- Schedule face-to-face meetings in locations that are comfortable for you (coffee shop, library, etc.).
- When you need to be at a larger event, prepare in advance (i.e., decide who you'd like to talk with and come up with some questions), plan to attend with a friend and support each other (eg., at a career fair, split up and visit one table each, then regroup and share how it went).
- When attending a large event (eg. a reception), scan the crowd for people that are either alone or in groups of three. It's easier to walk up to an individual, (who is likely as uncomfortable as you are) or to step in and introduce yourself to a group of three people.
- Pace yourself; you don't have to visit every employer at a fair. Prioritize; visit one or two and call it a day.
Finding Networking Contacts
Everyone that you know is in your “network”!
Professional networking is about getting to know your community and letting key people know that you’re exploring professional options.
Faculty, staff, classmates, people you know through internships, part-time jobs or volunteering, people in your community outside of school, friends from other colleges, coaches, mentors, family members, the person that you chat with in the line at Kroger, etc. These are all different relationships, with varying levels of support to offer.
By engaging in the Andrew Young School community while you are a student, you will begin to form a network which can last throughout your career. Take advantage of events, student clubs, speakers, mixers, and academic opportunities and connect with people that share your interests.
A professional association is a nonprofit organization that is connected to a particular field and supports research in the field as well as professional development for its members. All the fields in the Andrew Young School have professional associations connected to them (eg. American Economic Association, National Association of Social Workers). As a member of a professional association, you not only gain access to the membership directory, but you can also attend conferences, trainings, workshops, and social networking events. They also may post fellowship and scholarship opportunities. Visit our web site for a list of associations tied to Andrew Young School majors and degrees.
Alumni & Alumni Associations
AYS alums are directly engaged in policy work across the metro Atlanta as well as the country. Our office works directly with alumni throughout the year. Watch our calendar for AYS alumni and student networking events. In addition, let us know if you're interested in talking with an alum in a field or organization of interest. We may be able to make a connection for you.
Once you graduate, stay in touch with us and consider joining the AYS Alumni Board and/or working with our office to support students with their career/job search. Also, as an alum, consider joining the central GSU Alumni Association so that you may benefit from their networking events. Alumni association mixers, networking events, or service opportunities may allow you to connect to fellow alumni.
Social media isn’t just social anymore. Social media has given all of us visibility like never before. So, unless you’re completely “unplugged” and don’t use the web for any social activities, it’s time to start being careful about what you’re sharing with the world. When you start building a career, you start creating a “professional persona”. You need your on-line information and overall presence to be professional (and/or tighten up those privacy settings!).
Why Use Social Media in Your Search?
- Employers across industries – private sector, nonprofit, government - use the web and specifically, social media to market opportunities, search, pre-screen and eliminate potential candidates. Fact: As much as 92% of employers use LinkedIn during recruitment process (National Association of Colleges & Employers, 2014).
- Internships and jobs are posted via social media, and sometimes even faster than they are posted on company web sites or major job search sites.
- Having an on-line professional presence has become essential to marketing yourself.
- Utilizing LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook effectively can get you closer to the “hidden job market” (i.e., opportunities not posted publically; positions that may even end up being created just for you, based on your unique skills!).
- By actively engaging in the cyber-circles within your field of interest you’ll already be part of their larger professional community. You’ll see what they’re talking about, what’s new in the field, and what’s challenging. This can be helpful information as you make career decisions and prepare for interviews.
- LinkedIn essentially allows you to build an on-line professional portfolio, where you can include things like links to projects or web sites, short endorsements from previous employers regarding your work, areas of interest, etc. This gives you additional ways to attract employers, beyond your resume.
- Depending on your industry, Twitter can be a great way to stay current and even contribute to conversations in your field.
- Following companies and organizations on social media outlets demonstrates sincere interest and professional engagement to employers.
LinkedIn just might become your favorite social-networking tool. If you haven't gotten familiar with LinkedIn and set up your profile, you'll definitely want to do that when you're ready to begin actively networking. LinkedIn will help you keep all of your networking contacts in one place. It will allow you to search for potential new contacts and help others see what you've done and have to offer.
- Complete your profile - Don't leave it with large empty spaces and no photo. Employers will pass right by it.
- Include a photo that is just a "head shot" (shoulders and up) that is professional-looking.
- Add detail to your profile so that it isn't just a copy of your resume.
Things to consider:
- Details to your employment descriptions.
- Course projects
- Community involvement
- Ask previous supervisors, co-workers or people that you've volunteered with to provide a recommendation for you.
- TIP: Offer to reciprocate and provide people with recommendations for them.
- Follow companies, organizations and professional associations of interest
- Consider creating "Posts" (LinkedIn's version of a blog) to share ideas or information on a professional topic of interest.
Again, the Internet is a very public space. While it's fun to have on-line social interactions with friends and family, as you build your professional reputation stay very aware of the image you're communicating.
- Tighten up your privacy settings.
- Ask friends to stop "tagging" you in crazy photos (un-tag yourself if you don't want a photo public)
- Consider changing your "just for fun" FB profile name to something that can't easily be found in a search. This way, only people that you find or that you give your info too, will be able to find you.
- DO NOT "vent" about any person, place or thing in your status updates, especially if you're conducting an internship or job search. (eg. "Long day trying to find an internship… 🙁 Feel like it's all just a bunch of @#&!?!"… If a potential employer saw that, you would be eliminated from the list of potential candidates immediately.)
Finding someone to shadow can be tricky but a great vehicle can be through an informational interview. If you really hit it off with someone in an informational interview you might ask how s/he would feel about having you come shadow them for a day. Worst they can say is no, so give it a try!
- Criminal Justice Department
- Economics Department
- Public Management & Policy Department
- School of Social Work
- Set Personal Goals. While some internships are very structured, others are not, so you need to spend some time before you start the internship setting goals that you want to accomplish. Maybe it’s deciding on what area within marketing that you want to specialize, or learning new skills, or building your network. Whatever your goals, you will feel a greater sense of accomplishment once you achieve them. Setting unrealistic goals could make even a good internship seem bad, so make sure your goals are realistic and attainable in your internship.
- Create an Immediate and Lasting Strong Impression. Appropriate professional attire, impeccable punctuality, excellent attendance, respect for general work place decorum, and meeting deadlines and carrying out responsibilities in timely ways are expectations in any professional workplace. Interns are held to those expectations. Be mindful that you are not only managing your own image but you also are representing your university and future students interested in interning.
- Have Regular Meetings with your Supervisor(s). Sound obvious? Well, maybe, but you may get a supervisor who never schedules meetings with you or travels quite a bit, so you have to make sure to have regular meetings where you can share experiences and lessons learned- both good and bad, as well as give progress reports. While you want to keep your supervisor abreast of your accomplishments, remember also to be a good listener and learn as much as you can during these meetings.
- Tackle all Tasks with Enthusiasm and a Positive Attitude. In just about every company, an intern is going to have to “pay his or her dues.” You will undoubtedly be given some grunt work to do, such as making photocopies, but the key is to complete all your work assignments with the same level of enthusiasm and professionalism. You also might consider working extra hours (beyond the required number for the internship) to show your work ethic to your supervisor(s).
- Avoid Negativity. The quickest way to kill a good internship is being negative. So, avoid complaining, being rude, disrespecting coworkers, being closed?minded, appearing arrogant, acting unprofessionally, appearing inflexible, and taking part in office politics. A common mistake among interns and new hires is treating secretaries and clerks as being beneath them. Avoid this behavior at all costs.
- Never Shun a Chance to Learn More About the Company/Industry. Take every opportunity presented to you to attend company or industry meetings, conferences, and events; participate in training workshops; and read all company materials. Meetings may appear (and actually be) boring to you, but they can often offer a good chance to increase your knowledge, network, and build relationships.
- Get as Much Exposure as Possible. Some of the best internships rotate you among departments and supervisors, but if yours doesn’t, don’t let that stop you from tackling new tasks, meeting people outside your department, and attending company social events. The more you are exposed to new ideas and new people, the more you’ll learn. For example, joining the company softball team (or other informal group) is a great opportunity to meet new people in a relaxed and informal environment.
PART-TIME JOB or VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE
|You LEAVE with more skills and knowledge than what you came with||
You COME IN with skills and knowledge that the employer needs
The employer supports your learning
The employer has a need to fill
Paid vs. Unpaid vs. Credit
- Paid or unpaid (Compensation will vary widely between industries and depending on your level of experience)
- Can be for credit or not
- Can be for credit AND paid (see Myths below for more information)
A NOTE ABOUT ACADEMIC INTERNSHIPS:
Currently, at the Andrew Young School, three departments require an academic internship as part of the curriculum (both undergrad and grad) - Criminal Justice, Public Management and Policy, and Social Work. Economics offers an internship option, but it's not required. For details regarding each department's requirements and internship process, visit your program department web site or AYS Career Services page for more info.
- Internships can run as short as six weeks (over a holiday, for instance), or as long as a year.
- Can be one semester or multiple.
- Can be part-time (generally during academic year) or full-time (generally during summer).
- There are structured internship programs that bring in several interns at similar times every year and have set application processes and deadlines.
- Internship application deadlines vary. Some are as early as the fall before the summer of the internship (eg. Fall 2016 for Summer 2017 start date). Some are as late as a month prior to starting. Look at organization and company websites for everything you need to know about the application process. If you are unsure, contact the organization.
Not true. You don’t always have to earn credit for internships. Internships are all about gaining experience. You can engage in an internship (i.e., an out-of-the-classroom learning experience) just for the experience. Students often participate in more than one internship during undergrad and graduate school. In fact, we highly recommend that you seek out internships, beyond what is required for your program.
Myth: If you earn academic credit, then you can't be paid.
Not true. You can earn academic credit AND be paid (or receive a stipend - more on stipends coming up).
Compensation is entirely separate from your academic program. A couple of examples: 1, you find a paid internship that also fits the requirements for your program (win-win situation!!), or 2, you find a great unpaid position, the employer offers to work with you on the credit piece of the puzzle, AND you also ask (no harm in asking) if they might be willing/able to provide you with compensation (or a stipend to cover transportation, meals, wardrobe, etc.).
Be aware, however, that employers can have their own rules. So, an employer can say that you must earn credit in order to participate in their internship program (or that you must be enrolled in school in order to participate). But that is unique for each employer.
To repeat, depending on the employer, you can earn credit AND be paid.
Myth: You can only complete an internship in your junior or senior year.
Not true. For some academic-based internships (where you earn credit) you do have to wait until your junior or senior year, based on program course sequencing (see you academic department Internship Guidelines).
However, many internship programs (i.e., employers) are open to anyone as early as high school on up. Plus, participating in multiple internships, starting early in college, can help make you competitive for the higher level internships during your junior and senior years.
Myth: You can only participate in internships related to your major or program of study.
Not true. You may have to complete an academic internship for your program and that will need to be related to your major or field of study. But, again, not all internships need to be done for academic credit. You can also complete internships in any other area or field of interest.
Myth: You have to be a full-time student to be eligible for an internship.
Not true. There are many programs that offer internships to recent grads. The timeframe is generally within two years of graduation. Some programs and employers have their own rules around this so be sure to read the eligibility requirements carefully.
- Is an internship required for your degree program? If so, what are your AYS department application deadlines and what are your responsibilities? (Visit your major/program of study department web site and talk with your department Internship Coordinator to find out what you need to know in order to earn credit for your experience. Note: Some depts. have very early deadlines (as early as 3 months prior to the start of your field experience) for applying and turning in paper work.
- Do you have time in your schedule to commit to an internship?
- Do you have reliable transportation and can you make it to your internship on time consistently?
- What are your interests? What do you want to learn about? What skills do you want to learn or build?
- What skills do you bring to the employer?
An internship is always about you learning but you should also market what you can bring to the experience. For example, you may be interested in learning about how a nonprofit agency is managed but also have some experience organizing volunteers. Maybe you can assist with volunteer management while also learning about the policies, funding and other processes of the agency.
First and foremost, your resume should:
- Get the reader’s attention; be easy to see key points in 20-30 seconds
- Be error-free and have consistent formatting throughout
- Generate interest in you and what you have to offer to an industry in general or specific employer
A chronological resume is focused on chronology (dates) and is straight forward in terms of sections and order of content. There is only one experience section where everything is listed, starting with the most recent (in reverse chronological order). This type of resume focuses on your work history and education. The downside of this style is that it puts the work on the employer to find the experience that relates to their opportunity and needs.
A functional resume lists major skill categories and combines all of your work experience together, pulling those descriptions out from under each experience. In this way, it focuses on your skills and experience, rather than on your chronological work history.
A combination resume brings the best aspects of the chronological and functional types together, allowing you to effectively market your skills and experience. This type of resume highlights specific skills you possess related to the desired job, but also shows where you obtained those skills. In this style, you categorize your experience and separate it into different sections. You then have the flexibility to move different sections based on the target audience.
Curriculum Vita (CV)
A CV is typically used when applying for academic or research positions. It is a longer resume, often 3+ pages, including things such as comprehensive listings of publications, presentations, conferences attended, research interests, teaching experience, and grant awards.
It’s a good idea to simply start by getting all your information down in a document. Ultimately, strong resumes will be ordered with the audience in mind – a tailored resume. The next section contains some examples of layouts and formatting. Choose the sections and styles that you prefer to create a resume that is entirely your own and will stand out from the crowd!
TIP: We strongly advise against using templates. They can be confining and limit your options with using space. In addition, you will run the risk that your resume looks like many others. Lastly, employers will know that you’ve used a template and may question your abilities with using Word.
Name, Address, Telephone, & Email
- Center or left justify your name at the top of the page. Include both your current and permanent addresses and one phone number (voicemail message should be professional).
- List a professional email address (firstname.lastname@example.org NOT email@example.com).
- Check both voicemail and email regularly.
- Consider creating a separate e-mail account that you’ll use for professional communication.
- Consider including the link to your LinkedIn profile at the top.
Objective (not always required)
When you have a varied background, are changing careers or are specifically targeting one industry and/or one function, an objective can be helpful to clarify your goal to the employer.
However, you won’t always need an objective. For example, when you’re attending a career fair and will be meeting with several employers, you can leave the objective off or keep it broad (eg. To gain professional
As is the case in every section of your resume, start with the most recent thing first and work backwards (i.e., reverse chronological order). This means that for all students, GSU and the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies will be listed first. NOTE: High school will come off after sophomore year of college.
We highly recommend that you include AYS in your listing of GSU. This school has name recognition and will offer you the chance to stand out from the large GSU crowd.
Georgia State University, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Atlanta, GA
Master of Arts in Economics, May 2016 (Note: This will be your expected graduation month/year.)
In terms of the order of things, there's no rule. Consider what the employer is looking for and what will attract their attention. Maybe it is your degree/major.
So, another way of ordering it could be,
Master of Arts in Economics, May 2016
Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
The only rule, however you choose to order and format your degree/university(ies), is that you need to stay consistent and list any other schools in you education section exactly the same.
If applicable, in the education section, you can also include study abroad, honors, thesis completion, and relevant courses.
Related Experience (May have more than one… see examples)
This is the longest and most important part of your resume. It should include both paid and unpaid work, and part-time and full-time work (although there's no need to list full or part-time next to or as part of each job listing).
If you have held numerous part-time jobs to help finance your education, you may want to put a statement at the end of this section such as, “Held various summer and part-time jobs to finance educational expenses.”
Use verbs to describe your work (use present tense for anything current and past tense for anything in the past). Don't repeat the same verbs over and over again. Mix up the verbs that you choose (see next section for list to help you get creative). Don't be hard on yourself if this section is challenging. Stop by and see us - we're happy to help!
- Study Abroad OR International Experience
- Volunteer Work OR Community Involvement
- Leadership Experience OR Activities – both college and outside activities.
- Relevant Skills – list or describe special skills applicable to your area of interest or industry (computer, language, etc.).
- Honors and Awards – academic honors, scholarships.
- Publications –articles, books or manuscripts you have published (senior thesis can be listed in this section).
- Military Experience –dates of service, ranks, duties, training, and honorable discharge.
- Additional Skills OR Additional Training – a catch-all category which allows you to add depth to your resume.
Search for opportunities
Students: In addition to finding and applying to jobs via Handshake, you can also view upcoming career events (and RSVP to events), edit or create a resume, and more!Student Login
Naturally introverted? Need help networking? Read this, which provides some strategies on how to network as as someone who is naturally introverted.
Click on the link below that corresponds to your major department, and ask to join the group! And don’t forget to join GSU’s big alumni group!
Connect on LinkedIn with alumni and current students
Your cover letter should do the following:
- Tell the employer what type of position you seek, or which specific job you’re applying for.
- Outline your key selling points.
- Address the needs of the employer.
- Invite the employer to contact you.
The cover letter is a brief introduction, not your entire history so don’t try to cover everything. Just make sure that these 4 points are addressed.
You should customize and tweak your letter for every single position, highlighting the skills and experiences that are most important to your target employers.
Here are some cover letter tools to help you get started:
Frequently Asked Cover Letter Questions
- How long should a cover letter be? No more than one page for most traditional job applications (more pages are okay if you are applying for academic or government positions). If you do have more than one page, and you are printing the cover letter out to deliver/mail it, make sure you staple both pages together.
- Do I need a cover letter if the job posting did not ask for one? This is a hard one to answer. Normally you should not provide an employer with more than they ask for in their job posting. However, if the job posting is not clear on what to submit, or you are applying for an opportunity you learned about from a friend or colleague, then a cover letter should be used to introduce yourself to the employer, to explain how you learned about the position, and to clarify what details from your professional background make you a candidate they should consider for a follow up conversation or interview.
- What elements are normally conveyed in a cover letter? (see an outline of cover letter basics)
- The position you are applying for (name, job reference #, etc.)
- How you learned about the position
- Reflection that you have read the job responsibilities and desired qualifications listed by the employer, and a summary of how you meet each of those requirements (provide enough detail so the reader can “see” you have done the skill – avoid vague statements).
- List academic or professional accomplishments that show you are outcomes focused.
- Restate why you are a good fit for the position
- End with your email/phone contact information
- Can I use my email as my cover letter? If the job announcement asks for a cover letter, then write a cover letter and attach it with your resume. Do not assume your email is your cover letter. If they do not ask for a cover letter, then you can use your email as your letter of introduction without necessarily officially sending a cover letter. Make sure you always reference the job announcement #/title in the subject line of your email.
- How should I send a cover letter via email? Always send your resume and any other attachments you email, as PDF documents. If you do not have Adobe installed on your computer, you can always click “Save As” in your MS Word program, and under “file type” you can click “PDF” and it should save it/convert it to PDF.
- How do I “sign” my cover letter if I am not printing it out as a hard copy for me to sign? You can either sign a piece of paper with your signature, that you then scan and create a JPEG of your signature that you insert into your cover letter, or you can instead use a fancier font just for your name in your cover letter to illustrate it as a signature.
- Paper – does it matter why type of paper I use for my cover letter? If you are printing your cover letter out and delivering it with your resume, both papers for both documents should match. We strongly encourage you to buy a ream of resume paper from a local copy shop.
- The job announcement asked me to include my salary history. Why do they want to know that and do I have to oblige? All jobs have approved salary ranges and because it tells about your salary trajectory and the offer you are likely to accept. Do not write “negotiable.” A good answer to this question in your cover letter is: Depending on the job and the professional development environment, my salary requirements are in the $______ to $______ range, with appropriate benefits.
- Why do I need a cover letter when my resume should be enough to tell the employer I am qualified? Cover letters are a way to help the reader see the parallels between your background/expertise and the needs that they have. The letter is a way for you to market yourself to the employer and to help draw conclusions about your application that might not be evident in your resume. It is also the best tool to assess your writing skills.
Step 1- Preparation– Learn about the organization before the interview so you can demonstrate knowledge in the position for which you are interviewing, the prospective employer and the employer’s industry. This should include researching the organization’s services, products, departments, mission, locations, competitors and reputation. Finding current event information that pertains to the organization can also be useful as discussing your perspective of these events during an interview can display your analytic thinking skills.
Step 2- Self Assessment– What are your top skills and strengths? Be ready to express why you are the right person for the job by analyzing the job description and matching your skills, education, experience, and interests to the employer’s expectations. If you don’t have a complete job description, ask the employer to provide you with one before the interview. Prior to the interview, consider how well your experiences match specifics from the job description. Think about actual examples that you can share during the interview that demonstrate your abilities to fulfill the duties on the job description.
Step 3- Positive First Impressions– There are several ways that you can impress your potential employer before the interview begins.
- Arrive 10-15 minutes early for the interview. Do not arrive more than 15 minutes early as the employer may feel rushed to see you. Use the time prior to the interview to review the office environment. Does
this organization seem to provide a good work culture?
- Greet everyone you meet prior to the interview professionally and with a smile. Often times employees who are not part of the actual interview, such as front desk staff, will be asked for their impressions of you from casual introductions.
- Most interviews call for business professional attire. Even though some organizations have casual dress policies in their work environments, dressing professionally when interviewing with these types of organizations is still appropriate as your attire will show that you are taking your interview seriously.
Step 4- Create your own questions–
Typically you will have the opportunity to ask your own questions of the interviewer towards the end of the interview. Prior to your interview, consider 2-3 questions that you would like to ask. Your questions
should be designed to elicit helpful information for you and to show the employer your ability to inquiry about thoughtful topics.
- Consider a question that focuses not only on the job you are applying for but also shows your understanding of the larger organizational operation.
- Questions regarding the professional track for your position show your ability to consider long-term plans.
- Avoid questions that bring up topics such as salary, benefits or vacation time. These are issues that can be addressed when discussing compensation after you have been offered the job.
In order to effectively prepare for an upcoming interview, it is important to know the interview format you will be entering. Traditionally you may have thought of interviews as a one-on-one experience with a single interviewer asking a job candidate questions. Interview formats, however, can vary based on the position you are applying for, how far along you are in the interview process, and even things like organization size and culture. Consider how your approach may change with the following formats:
- Screening Interview– Employers use screening interviews to get a quick handle of a candidate’s ability to perform in a job. These interviews are typically short (15-30 minutes) and the questions are focused on job-specific tasks. Sometimes an employer may conduct this type of interview over the phone.
- Panel Interview– In this format, a candidate will be interviewed by multiple interviewers (typically 2-4). Usually interviewers will ask pre-determined questions in a round-robin format. When answering questions, be sure to address all of the interviewers and not just the person who asked the question. Organizations find this type of format beneficial in order to gain multi-person consistency in evaluating a candidate.
- Group Interview– A group interview, while not very common, brings together multiple candidates to be interviewed at the same time. Through this format, an interviewer may be evaluating your ability to work effectively and listen to the thoughts of others. Be sure to thoughtfully listen to the responses of the other candidates and, if possible, integrate their thoughts into your unique responses.
- Meal Interview– Candidates will typically find this type of interview towards the conclusion of an employer’s search process. The conversation during a meal interview may have less to do with the job and may focus more on general topics including news, culture and shared interests. During this type of interview it is best to avoid controversial topics such as religion and politics. Be sure to order a simple meal that is priced near the mid-point of menu choices. It is also best practice not to order alcoholic beverages even if the interviewer does choose to have a drink.
Structured vs. Unstructured Interview– The four interview formats above may range from quite structured, where all of the questions are pre-determined, to unstructured, where the questions are created on the spot.
Certainly, the core of any interview consists of the questions you will be asked during the conversation. Employers are evaluating both the content of your responses as well your ability to confidently communicate your message. While it may be a popular strategy, reviewing a long list of potential interview questions and then attempting to create (and then memorize) your best response is not the ideal way to prepare. Instead, as a candidate you are better off thinking about the types of questions that you may be asked and then determining the types of experiences and traits you want to communicate. Most interview questions can be divided into three categories:
- Traditional Questions– Any interview will certainly have a variety of traditional questions that focus on topics such as your career goals, your thoughts on topics like leadership and teamwork, and your work ethic. The key in answering these questions effectively is simply to respond directly and honestly. In all likelihood, there is no “right” answer to these questions. Instead employers are more interested in your overall work style and ability to communicate. For a great list of good “traditional” questions, visit this link.
- Behavioral Questions– Through this popular interview format, interviewers want to learn about your potential future success through your past behavior. The key in answering a behavioral question is to accurately describe a situation from your past that displays a certain trait such as leadership, team work, or goal-setting. Behavioral questions should never be answered with your general thoughts or theory on a topic. Employers are looking for you to describe an actual and specific past experience using the STAR technique. This technique allows you to break your experiences down into specific components and is a great way to prepare for behavioral questions. To answer questions using the STAR technique just keep in mind the following:
- S– Describe the initial Situation and any relevant background information.
- T– Explain the Task that you set out to accomplish
- A– Detail the Action(s) you took to complete the task
- R– Highlight the positive Result(s) and major learning outcomes from the experience.
For a great list of behavioral interview questions, visit this link.
- Technical Questions– Depending on the job, employers will want to know if you have the specific skills that are required to complete certain job tasks. In these situations, you may be asked some technical questions. These questions are usually not designed to be easy and getting the “right” response, while preferable, may not be crucial. When responding to a technical question, employers are evaluating your logical in solving a problem. Therefore, walk the interviewer through your thought process in arriving at your response.
Reflection Point– The best way to prepare for a behavioral interview question is to consider the possible topics that an employer may bring up during the interview. Complete the Behavioral Interview worksheet to help you prepare for your next behavioral interview.
What to Wear to an Interview, Informational Interview, or Career Fair
Use the interview to determine the culture of the organization, including dress policies, but do not give the employer any reason to select someone else over you before they have had a chance to get to know you.
Avoid Strong Fragrances – Wear deodorant, but do not wear perfume, cologne, or aftershave. Many people have allergies to fragrances, and you could be interviewing in tight office spaces which could allow your fragrances to overpower the employer.
Be Well-Groomed – Clean nails, showered, good breath, and a neat hairstyle are always crucial. Shined shoes and fresh clothes that are crisply ironed/dry cleaned are also important. Bring some breath mints. Also make sure that tattoos are covered.
Practice, Practice, Practice – It is a good idea to “try out” your interview suit once or twice before the interview so you know how you feel in it while walking, sitting, and standing. Also, make sure your suit fits well. If it does not, have it altered. A well-fitted suit looks professional and gives you confidence.
Avoid Items That Show You Are A Student – Backpacks, water bottles, and other campus gear are not necessary for an interview. Also, turn OFF your cellphone! Even a cell phone on vibrate is a disturbance. Buy a portfolio to carry with you and to also hold additional copies of your resume. Make sure you bring a pen – and not one that has been chewed on!
Less is More – Keep your look simple. Wear minimal jewelry and do not carry more than one briefcase or handbag. Remember, you need a free hand to shake hands with everyone you meet.
Grooming: Hair should be away from your face and neatly cut or styled. Wear daytime, natural-looking makeup – no heavy eyeliner or glittery shadows. Nails should be clean, in a uniform color; avoid overly long fingernails and nail art. Lip color should not be trendy or bright.
Suit: Wear conservative, two-piece matching business suits. Knee-length skirts or pant suits are both appropriate. Color should be worn under your suit jacket. Be prepared to take off your suit jacket.
Blouse: Lighter-colored professional button-down shirt, shell, or sweater should be worn under your suit jacket. V-neck line should not expose cleavage, and shirts should not be too tight fitting so that buttons pull across the chest line exposing skin or undergarments.
Hosiery: Never show bare legs! Wear at- or near – skin-toned pantyhose or trouser socks. And always have a spare pair in case you get a run.
Shoes: Low-heeled and closed-toe pumps are a must. Avoid brightly colored shoes. Black, brown, or navy blue are traditional colors. Make sure they are polished and not scratched up along the heel.
Accessories: Keep it simple. No more than one ring on each hand. No visible tattoos or piercings, except for one pair of earrings and a small necklace or bracelet. Carry either a purse or a professional bag, but not both.
Grooming: Have your hair neatly trimmed, including facial hair. Nails should be clean and neat.
Suit: Wear a conservative, two-piece matching business suit, preferably dark in color (navy or black). You can also mix/match suit coats with dress slacks – as long as the colors/patterns compliment one another.
Shirt: Wear a long-sleeved, light-colored, button down shirt. The shirt should fall ¼ to ½ inch below the suit sleeve. Be sure your shirt is pressed and ironed. Poly-cotton blended shirts withstand wrinkles best, but they are also warmer. Wear a white cotton t-shirt underneath your shirt to hide perspiration and to protect your suit.
Ties: Yes, you need one! Choose a tie with a conservative pattern that ends at mid-belt. Practice tying your knot over and over, and if you are still new to tying ties, watch a YouTube video on how to tie one!
Shoes: Comfortable leather shoes, with or without laces, should match your suit colors. Do not wear brown shoes with black or blue suits. Black shoes are best. Make sure they are polished.
Socks: Wear dark-colored socks to match your suit. Socks should be worn over the calf.
Accessories: Leather belts should match the color of your shoes. No visible piercings or tattoos. Bring a portfolio.
How and When to Say “Thank You”
It seems amazing, but it’s true: A simple thank-you note after a job interview, informational interview, networking meeting, or job fair can wield considerable power and influence, and reflect very favorably on your candidacy for the position. Why? Several reasons:
1. In sending a thank-you note, you show your interviewer common courtesy and respect.
Unfortunately in our busy and often impolite world, we simply don’t acknowledge each other’s time, efforts and commitments. So in sending a thank-you note, you tell your interviewer in no uncertain terms that you appreciate the time he or she has given you. After all, he or she had to give up part or all of the day to be with you, and expend effort learning more about you and what you have to offer.
2. So few job applicants send thank-you notes that you automatically stand out if you do.
It’s shocking, but the majority of job applicants fail to send thank-you notes after their interviews. Why? Who knows? But the bottom line is that you wind up in a position to shine simply by putting forth the effort of sending a note. A thank you note should be written and mailed or emailed the day of your interaction. By simply tucking a few thank you cards and stamps in your padfolio, you can have your note written and mailed during your next coffee break.
3. A thank-you note gives you an opportunity to reiterate points you made during your interview.
Have you ever left an interview wishing you’d more strongly emphasized a certain skill or experience the employer seemed to be looking for? A thank-you note gives you the chance to do just that. After using the first paragraph of your note to thank your interviewer, you can use a brief second paragraph to touch again upon the key points you made in your interview. You can also use a similar strategy to “clean up” any interview rough spots you might have had — i.e., to expand upon or clarify responses you felt were weak or shaky.
4. A thank-you note lets you make points you forgot to make in your interview.
Sometimes after an interview, as you walk out to your car, you smack yourself on the forehead and say to yourself, “Why didn’t I talk about _____?!” Frustrating? You bet. But you can take care of the problem to some degree in your thank-you note. Again, perhaps in the second paragraph, you can say something to the effect of “After our discussion, it occurred to me that I forgot to tell you about _________.”
5. A thank-you note demonstrates your written communication skills.
In receiving and reading your thank-you notes, your interviewer will see firsthand how you handle yourself on paper. You’ll be using similar skills every day with the company’s potential clients, customers, and vendors — so the interviewer will be reading carefully to see how you come across in print. Be sure to proofread your note carefully before sending it, and, if hand writing the note, be sure to write neatly and legibly.
Thank You Note Tips
Electronic Thank You Notes
If your interviewer has given you his/her business card and it has an e-mail address on it, then it is acceptable to send your thank-you that way. If you have any doubts, though, you are always safe sending a hard copy letter. It is also acceptable to send a brief thank you note through email on the day of your interview, and follow-up with a more detailed note through the mail.
When e-mailing, be sure to send from an email account with a professional address (yourname@gmail or yourname@gsu, etc.) and remove any personal quotations or weblinks from your signature line. Use an easy to read font, and do not use any background images. Remember that this is a professional communication and should reflect the quality of the work that you can offer the employer. When “signing” your name, use the same font as the rest of your email—do not use a “cursive” font for your name.
If you interview with more than one person, be sure to get a card from each interviewer. Send a thank you note to each, noting a particular item that was discussed in the interview. Always send hard copy notes and personalized e-mails to individuals.
Write and mail or email a thank you note within 24 hours of your meeting.
Adapted from http://campus.monster.com/articles/jobhunt/notes/ by Peter Vogt
One big and important word of advice; instead of getting excited and saying “YES!!” to the first offer, it is usually to your benefit to pause and reflect for a second. Combining this technique with information additional information on comparative salaries and knowledge of the local market value for your services.
Online Tips for Salary Negotiation
- “The New Salary Negotiation” (salary.com)
- “Negotiating a Good Salary at a New Job” (wsj.com)
- “10 Lessons for Salary Negotiation” (msn.com)
Resources for Comparative Salary Studies
- Abbott, Langer & Associates, Inc provides salary and benefits survey reports for information technology, marketing, accounting, engineering, human resources, manufacturing, legal work, nonprofit work, consulting and a few other fields
- CareerJournal.com (Wall Street Journal)
- Comparative Salaries
- Economic Research Institute offers almost 100 international salary surveys
- Jack Chapman’s website
- JobSmart: Profession-Specific Salary Surveys
- The Office of Personnel Management lists the pay scales and wage systems of the federal government
- The Riley Guide hosts a compilation for all sites that review salary information
- Teacher salaries
- Vault Company
Organizations in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies
- The Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Club
- Planning and Economic Development Club
- Criminal Justice Student Association
- Criminal Justice Graduate Student Association
- The Economics Club
- The Economics Department Graduate Students Association
- BSW Social Work CLUB
- MSW Bridge Builders
- Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society
There are additional great clubs around the university. Visit the GSU Student Organizations site to explore them.
For more information or questions, please contact Laura Nguyen at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit AYSPS, Room G48.