Resume & Interview Support

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Job Lab

Job Labs are held once a month for certification students. They include tip sessions with speakers and time to get personalized help with your job application materials. Students should bring digital copies of their resume and cover letter to get one-on-one help. See our events page to find out when the next Job Lab will be.

Job Search Guides

Use the four guides below to sharpen your job applications and prepare you for interviews. Certification students can also make an appointment with our Employment Services team.

1. Resume Guide

2. Sample Resumes for IT or Admin Positions

3. Cover Letter Guide & Sample

4. 20 Common Interview Questions & How to Answer


1. Resume Guide

A resume tells your story. It sells your most relevant and positive attributes that make you the right candidate for a position. Your resume should encourage hiring managers to call YOU for an interview. How can you stand out? More than a list of the tasks from past jobs, a professional resume is your chance to market your strengths, skills and accomplishments!

Tips

  • Keep your resume to 1-2 pages. List your name, email address, city and the best phone number at the top. Use a professional email address with your full name so hiring managers can remember you.
  • Use a Font size of 10 or 12 that’s easy to read like Arial or Times New Roman. Keep to one inch margins.
  • Don’t abbreviate!! Spell everything out and have someone PROOFREAD your document for errors. A second pair of eyes is key!
  • Never begin a bullet statement with “I.”
  • Focus your resume on a specific job to which you are applying. Use KEYWORDS from the job description.

Summary or Objective Statement

After writing your contact information at the top, start with a Summary or Objective Statement. If you have specific work experience in the field, write a Summary statement that summarizes your top accomplishments. Objective statements work best when you are changing careers. You will need to specifically state the type of position you desire.

EDUCATION

  • Only list college experience if you’ve completed a degree.
  • List certifications and include dates.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

  • List your most current job and go back 10 years in work history.
  • Bold job titles only, not companies. Leave off manager name, salary and reason for leaving.
  • Don’t write paragraphs. Use four to five bullet statements per job outline to show your experience. Your job outline should not read like a job description. Turn these bullets into action statements (start with an action verb) that sell your strengths and achievements.
  • Use the formula: Accomplished (X) as measured by (Y) doing (Z). Start with an action verb, measure what you’ve accomplished and specifically state what you did to achieve this goal.

TECHNICAL SKILLS

  • List all applicable software and operating systems that you can confidently use in your job.

ADDITIONAL SECTIONS

  • Add appropriate sections, including Internships/Volunteer experience,Languages and Professional Memberships.

Use Powerful Words

In your bullet points, use action verbs. Here is a list of great power verbs that will boost your resume.


2. Sample Resumes

Need to start from scratch? Let these samples be your guides:

Sample Resume for IT Position
Sample Resume for Admin Position

 


3. Cover Letter Guide

EVERY resume you send out should be accompanied by a cover letter. While there is much
debate about the usefulness of a cover letter, it can make the difference in your application.

Purpose

  • Sales tool/sparks interest
  • Serves as a writing sample
  • Shows a skills match

Format

  • One page, 3-5 paragraphs
  • Font size 10 or 12
  • Address a specific person

Opening Paragraph

  • Specify job and how you found it
  • Describe interest in company

Body of Letter

  • Highlight key skills
  • Use three specific examples
  • Bullet statements work best

Closing

  • Restate contact information
  • Indicate interest in position
  • Ask for interview/thank you

Need a template? We’ve made this Cover Letter Sample just for you.


4. 20 Common Interview Questions & How to Answer

1. Tell me about yourself.
Normally, this is the first question that is asked. Focus on work-related skills and accomplishments and keep your initial comments to two minutes.
• Describe why your skills and accomplishments benefit the company.
• Describe your work history and education briefly.
• Avoid common phrases like “I am a team player” and “I have excellent communication skills.”
Someone new in IT may answer this question in this manner:
“I’ve enjoyed working with computers since I was 10 years old, and I’ve always had a knack for using them. During high school, I was always the go-to person for fixing computers for friends and relatives. This year, I’ve decided to pursue my A+ certification through Byte Back to enhance my skills and validate industry-standard skills for working in the IT field. Reviewing the job description, I feel that my skills are in line with what you’re looking for and I feel that I can contribute to the success of your organization.”

2. Why should we hire you?
Focus on how you are the best candidate for the job. They key is to research the company beforehand and thoroughly review the job description. How do your skills and talents benefit the company?

3. What are your greatest strengths?
There is no right way to answer this question. The key is to be honest and authentic. Some say being able to learn from mistakes or having the ability to think outside the box. Your response will be unique to you as a person. Name one or two strengths and explain how you exhibit those strengths.

4. What are your greatest weaknesses?
Don’t say you don’t have one! It’s never a good idea to gloss over this answer. State a specific weakness that you have, but choose one that is not relevant to the job if you can. Phrases like “I’m a slave to my job” and “I’m a workaholic” will not work. Be specific and most importantly, be honest.

5. Why do you want to work for this company?
Show that you’ve done research about the job and company. What is it about the company that attracted you to the job? The research you do beforehand will provide you with the answer to this question. Referencing skills that you can utilize in your new position is a good idea as well as noting the company’s cause or mission. If you believe in it, say it!

6. What do you know about our company?
Always do your research. Review the company’s website and do a Google search to find out
all you can. What are their products and services? How large is the company? What are their future plans and events? Check out all social media outlets including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

7. Why do you want this position?
State what you find most interesting about the position. Always reference your ability to learn new tasks and take on new and exciting challenges. Specifically reference the tasks in the job description that you find most appealing and which you feel you can contribute in the greatest capacity.

8. Why did you leave your last position?
Be sure that you keep your answer positive and always be honest! Always portray your experiences in an upbeat way. Limit your response to note that you are looking for new opportunities for career growth. If you were laid off from your last job or quit, be sure to explain briefly the circumstances (always remaining positive) and describe how you learned from the situation. If you were fired for work performance, briefly explain that the job wasn’t the right fit for your skills and quickly shift to why this opportunity is a good fit. Never bad mouth or talk negatively about your previous employer.

9. Can you explain the gaps in your employment?
Hiring managers are looking for specific explanations here, so again it’s always important to be honest. If you say you did nothing during the gap, this will not bode well for your chances in an interview. Discuss educational classes you took to learn new skills and/or expand your knowledge. Describe in detail volunteer positions that you took on during this timeframe. If the reason was personal (taking care of family), it’s perfectly acceptable to be honest with a brief statement. But be sure only to give general details about the personal reasons.

10. Describe a specific example of how you successfully worked in a team environment.
Specifics are needed here and stating examples from your past will show well in an interview. Describe how you organized a project and set a task list. Talk about multitasking and dealing with deadlines. Did you cultivate ideas and then implement them collectively? These are all great examples that you will want to expand upon during an interview.

11. What are your most significant accomplishments in your career, so far?
Be specific about what you’ve accomplished in your career. Did you get recognized by your supervisor? Earn awards? Get promoted? This is the time to show how you’ve shined. If you’ve taken on a leadership role on a project, state that during this answer. If you helped a customer resolve a problem, mention it here.

12. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Avoid phrases like “running the company” or “being in charge.” Be specific about your goals. If you want to move into management, express your willingness to learn and master your job and then be in a position to teach others for the greater good of the company. Usually, hiring managers are looking for an answer that relates to growth within their company. If you are not interested in a long-term position at this company, they may not want to hire you.

13. How well do you handle change?
Keep your answer positive and state how you react and adapt to change. Change is a constant and it hits organizations all of the time. Hiring managers want to know that you are flexible and able to adjust.

14. When can you start?
All employees should give a professional two weeks’ notice. Even if you’re asked to start right away, you never want to burn bridges with your previous employer.

15. Describe a situation in which your work was criticized.
Be detailed and lay out the facts. Provide information on how you properly reacted to the situation and focus on how you solved the issue at hand. Hiring managers want to know that you can take constructive criticism in stride.

16. How would you describe your personality?
Focus on the aspects of your personality which allow you to get along well with others, manage
effectively, and get the job done efficiently. But remember, always be honest. Hiring managers will see right through you if you are not being authentic.

17. What have you done to improve yourself in the past year?
Describe the classes you’ve taken to improve your skills and talk about any networking events you’ve attended. Volunteering can also be discussed to show that you’ve been getting out into the community to make a difference.

18. What risks did you take in your last position?
Hiring managers want to know that you are flexible and comfortable thinking outside-of-the-box. Think about projects you requested or creative ideas that you put forth to improve efficiency. How did you challenge the status quo, professionally of course!

19. Walk me through a typical day at your current/previous job.
This question is posed to get you to describe in detail what your work tasks were and how you interacted with your coworkers and supervisor. The hiring manager wants you to specifically talk about things that you’ve listed on your resume. Be sure you can systematically outline what you do or have done in your current or previous role.

20. Do you have any questions?
This is normally the last question asked on an interview. It serves as a way to wrap things up. Always prepare questions beforehand to ask the interviewer. Research the company and write down the questions you’d like to ask. Never bring up salary, vacation time, or employee benefits in the first interview. Potential questions include:

  • Why is this position available?
  • Is this a new position? How long has this position existed?
  • How many people have held this position in the last two years?
  • Who would be my supervisor? To whom would I report?
  • With whom will I be working most closely?
  • What do you like about working for this company?
  • What are the current plans for expansion or cutbacks?
  • What is the company’s culture and work environment?
  • What are the company’s long and short term goals?
  • What are the most challenging aspects of the position?
  • Describe the opportunities for training and professional development.
  • Are there opportunities for advancement within the organization?
  • When can I expect to hear from you?