Monday, April 27, 2009

The Resume Breakdown (Break it Down Now...)

This goal of this entry is to give a crash course in resumes. For anyone who is somewhat unfamiliar with resume writing, this will hopefully give you some basic structure to use in connection with other, more specific templates. For anyone who has spent a significant amount of time perfecting their resume, with any luck, you will be able to use these insights for a little advanced resume critiquing. Keep in mind that this is from an engineering perspective. Resumes for other fields may be significantly different. Let us begin...

PART ONE: Who are you again?! And what do you want?!

It may seen a little odd, but one extremely important part of your resume is what is at the top...your name and contact information. Any major issues in this data may cause mild confusion for recruiters and could possibly result in you never hearing back from a company because you missed one digit in your phone number (doh!). So here's what the first few lines of your resume should include:

Full Name <-- Make it large enough that a recruiter can glance down while talking to you and catch what your name.

Address <--It is okay to put your permanent and university addresses, but make sure they are accurate for the time frame you are looking at. If you're moving in a month, maybe put down a more permanent address.

Phone Number <-- Keep your voicemail message professional! Avoid ridiculous comments or profanity. If a recruiter hears "F this, F that, leave an F-ing message..." they will never call you again. Ever. You're a big kid now so your voicemail should reflect that.

E-mail <-- Again, make sure it's appropriate. is probably not a good address to put on your resume. Something like is much better.

Objective <-- State what you want and when you want it. For example, my objective statement would be something like "Seeking a full-time position or leadership program position in the Spring of 2010 with a focus in operations management and manufacturing."

PART TWO: Hey Look, I'm a Spartan...Hire Me...

As a college student, one of your biggest assets is your potential. Since most student only have a hand full of work experience in their field, the majority of their potential is reflected in their performance at school. Good grades and recognition for academic excellence are signs to recruiters that you can work hard at school and for them. Here's what to include in this section:

Full Name of University and its Location
Major (i.e. Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering)
Projected Graduation Date
Purely Academic Honors (i.e. Honors College, Full-Ride or Partial-Ride Scholarships, etc.)
*For any Michigan students, putting your Michigan Merit Award in here is not advised unless you are looking to fill space. It is an award, but a whole lot of Michigan residents received it as well so it's not too terribly unique.*
**Having your high school GPA on your resume is acceptable until you receive your first set of semester grades in college. After that, say bye bye to high school. You're a big kid now.**


This is the section where you will give details about your most significant work experiences that relate to the job you are applying to. If you wish, you can include extracurricular experiences in this section or have an entire section devoted to your extracurricular activities if you would like. While everyone's experiences are different, the format for each of these experiences should include:

Company Name and Location
Time Frame of Work (i.e. May-August 2009 or for current jobs, September 2006-Present)
Name of Position
Major Projects/Duties (These are usually given as bullet points with concise details. Giving details relating to money, time, and people are generally solid ways to give a magnitude to your experience. If you say that you saved money at Company A that does not say much, but if you say you saved $100,000 at Company A then you've really made an impact.)

PART FOUR: Check Out My Skills

This part of your resume is the time where your unique skills should come out. While I'd steer away from calling out super abstract skills like being able to touch your tongue to your elbow, this section can act as a conversation starter with recruiters. In addition to listing skills like "Proficient in MS Office" or "Completed Six Sigma Black Belt Training", you can also include things like "Certified to Teach Underwater Basket Weaving" or "Fluent in Dolphin". These are unique skills that require a certain level of dedication and training to achieve.

This completes the Resume Breakdown. If all of this information is old news to you because you are a resume star, then I apologize for repeating something you already know. If some of this is new to you, please take a few minutes to apply what you learned here to your resume. If you have any specific questions about resume building, please feel free to e-mail me at

As usual,

Good Luck Job Seekers!

Tid Bit from Last Week and an Intro for This Week's Entry

5 Easy Resume Tips:

1. Use your Objective statement to your advantage! State what you want and when you want it. For example, my objective statement may be:
  • “Seeking a full-time position in the Spring of 2010 with an emphasis in...”
2. Format your bullet points for your experiences by emphasizing the three things listed below. Quantifying your experiences gives a magnitude of your work. If you saved your company money, make sure to say how much. If you worked with people, say how many, etc.
  1. Money
  2. Time
  3. People
3. Don’t frown on your experiences because you think they aren’t related to “engineering”. Engineers need to know much more than how to crunch numbers! Emphasizing the soft skills (communication, networking, trouble shooting, etc.) you learned during a “non-engineering” experience can actually fill out your resume more than you think!

4. Try not to be redundant. Listing a C++ class under your education section then saying that you know C++ in your skills section is an example. For something like that, I’d skip adding your classes to your education section and just go straight to skills.

5. Trying to fill space in your resume? In your extracurricular activities and interests, mention activities that you may do that stand out! If you are a black belt in karate, say so! These details may help you maintain a recruiter’s interest and show that you have been successful in activities that may take discipline, patience, etc.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Alternative Strategies for Job Seekers

When Things Seem to Hit a Wall: Making the most of your Summer Without an Internship

With the economy in a bit of a rough patch, it seems that increasing numbers of student are facing something they may not have been expecting...trying hard, but not finding an internship for the summer. For all of you who worked your tails off without success, or had a company cut your position, do not fret! Yes, you may be living at home this summer or taking summer classes, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up hope for next year. Taking an active stance towards finding an internship or co-op this summer may actually make you incredibly appealing to all those companies who may have let you pass by this time around.

Here are some things you should do NOW to make you a fantastic candidate in LATER:

  • Job Shadow Professionals in your Field:
    • Even though you won’t get paid to network with professionals in your field, doing this is a great way to learn more about your field, ask questions you may have about jobs/school/etc., and learn about how companies function in the real world. Key people to contact to find people to job shadow may be your career advisers, alumni services, neighbors, etc.

  • Work on Your Weaknesses:
    • Let’s say that you feel like your interviewing skills are lacking. One great thing to do over the summer may set up several mock interviews. You could practice in front of a mirror, ask your parents or siblings to ask you sample interview questions, or even find a career adviser to help you out! This can apply for any set of skills.

  • Make the Most of a Summer Job:
    • Worried that flipping burgers is going to stunt your career growth? Get a new perspective on your summer job. There is a whole lot to be learned outside of technical engineering. Engineers need to know how to communicate effectively to broad audiences, troubleshoot difficult situations, etc. Find a summer job that will get you in touch with those “soft” skills. Feel like you need to work on your “people” skills? Work a job where you have to interact with more people that you’re used to. You can still emphasize these skills on your resume! In some cases, having experience with perfecting your “soft” skills might actually get your that engineering job!

If you are able to accomplish three things over the summer, you will be on your way to setting yourself up for success during the fall job search! Taking care of the simpler details now will hopefully allow you to move on to the more advanced career search techniques I’ll tell you about in the fall.

Good Luck Job Seekers!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Student Nomad Tips: Packing Like a Champ

Of the many things I thought I'd learn in college, I never thought that being able to pack up months of my life in a compact car would be one of them. For as long as I can remember I've been totally fascinated with playing "house", so coming to college was a great chance to deck out a dorm room or apartment with fun furniture, artwork, and who knows what else. What I didn't realize during these daydreams about that really awesome apartment was that if I wanted to have lots of stuff, I had to pick it up and shove it up stairs, through doorways and end up dropping it on myself or the unsuspecting people I asked to help me move. Now that I've thoroughly dented every wall in town along with my fingers, toes, shins, etc. I've begun to learn the beauty of minimizing and prioritizing. It is from these two points that I begin my tutorial on how to pack like a true champion student nomad.

The first step to packing like a student nomad is to prioritize like one. Like with any engineering problem, you have constraints and variables. In this case, the amount of space you have available to move all of your stuff is a constraint. This may be as little as a few suitcases for airline travelers or as much as a large vehicle or moving truck for others. It is important to realize your boundaries. Yes, you need room to see out your back window and move around during driving. If bags are falling on you when you turn, please re-think your packing strategy. In this case, what you choose to take along is your variable.

Here a few things you may want to think about always packing:
  • Emergency Kit: Include flashlight, water, blanket, jumper cables, First Aid Kit etc. If anything goes wrong, it's better that you are prepared.
  • Cell Phone Charger: Pretty self-explanatory. Dead phone = no help.
  • Directions/Contact Information for your destination(s).
  • Anything you will not be able to get where you are going or things that you would have a lot of difficult getting. For example, in parts of Europe, certain cold medications that are Over-the-Counter in the U.S. require a prescription. Do your research if you're moving somewhere where your everyday essentials may not be available. Figure out a way to bring them with you, or consider adapting.
  • A good luck charm. Why not? Keep it small and avoid perishables.

Another aspect of prioritizing is dividing things up by what you definitely need and what you may need. You would be surprised how much you could eliminate from packing for relocation by taking away the things you may need. Besides keeping around toiletries you will use en route to your new destination, you do not really need any additional toiletries. For an avid hair product consumer such as myself, leaving behind a slough of toiletries could save me space in an entire tote bag. You can carry over this mentality to other items. If you are really strapped for space, only take the bare essentials. If you can buy new things when you arrive at your new location, this will save you plenty of space that can be used for the items you will definitely clothes, essential electronics, and you handy dandy good luck charm.

The second step to student nomad packing success is to minimize. Once you figure out the things that you absolutely need to relocate, condense them. Instead of taking five photo albums of your family/friends/dog, set your screen saver to scan through your pictures and call it a day. This step is really about tapping into your inner laziness. If you really don't want to move that big, pointy object hundreds of miles only to drop it on yourself and require your first aid kit, don't bring it. Your back with thank you.

Helpful Small Car Tip: If your car is small with oddly shaped places to pack your stuff in (small trunk, back seats, etc.) consider packing things like clothes in duffel bags or trash bags since they conform to the space they are being packed into. While putting everything into boxes seems logical, it could actual waste a whole lot of space.

Beyond the slightly obvious hints and tips for living minimally in order to make moving easier, one of the best things to keep in mind while relocating is to have an open mind. There's a solid chance that you're not going to fall in love with your new location immediately. If you do, you are one lucky person and I sincerely hope that you continue to enjoy your new environment. For anyone who has not relocated on their own before, be prepared for some culture shock. It's important to recognize that it usually takes 2-4 weeks to really start adjusting to a new environment. Try not to write off your new location right away just because it doesn't feel quite right. Sometimes the differences in a new location are the things you will miss most when you leave to return home.

If you have any more questions about relocation, please feel free to send them to be at

Good Luck!

-Eva McSpartan

**Event for Job Seekers**

SPECIAL EVENT: How to Find a Job in Tough Times
WHEN: Monday, April 20, 2009 @ 7:00 pm ET
WHERE: College of Communication Arts and Sciences, MSU, East Lansing, 48824 - Room 147
WHO: Sports Agent and Author Molly Fletcher, Job Search Specialist and Author Kevin Donlin, MSUAA Director of Career Services John Hill

This free local area networking reception hosted by the MSU Alumni Association features Molly Fletcher -- author of the book "Your Dream Job Game Plan - 5 Tools for Becoming Your Own Career Agent", Kevin Donlin, contributing co-author of "Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0", and John Hill, Director of Alumni Career Services with the MSUAA. The three will discuss proven job-search tactics, including how to get hired using, why your resume is not working (and how to fix it), how to network without being a pest, and more.

RSVP REQUESTED: (please put date of event in the subject line)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore: Tips for Successful Relocation

Finding Your Place in a New Location

For many students, aside from moving to East Lansing for college, their first exposure to moving somewhere new is during their first internship or Study Abroad experience. As a seasoned student nomad, my advice to anyone who is having anxiety about moving somewhere new is to relax and enjoy the new experience! If my mental math is right, since coming to school, I have moved into and out of nearly 7 dorms, apartments, or host homes and spent almost a year 80 to 2000 miles away from MSU/home. Let’s just break it down this way…if I can move all those times and survive, there’s a solid chance that you can too. Here are some ways to make relocation significantly less painful.

Do Your Homework

Doing some research on the area you are moving to will help you get an idea for the major demographics of that area along with get a feel for the general “culture” of the area. Here are some suggestions to lead you in the right direction:

  • Put on Your Tourist Hat: Check out tourism websites for the town you are moving to. These usually have summaries of local events, attractions, good places to eat, etc. Making an effort to experience unique activities that are special to your new location can really boost your connection to your new location in addition to just being something fun to do when you’re not at work!
  • Go on an Adventure: Not doing anything for the weekend? Grab a friend or two and take a Road Trip! You don’t have to go far, but check out something new. Go on a photo scavenger hunt around town, drive to the nearest body of water…find a reason for an adventure and high tail it out of town!
  • Learn a New Skill: Many medium to large-sized cities have community education classes or community colleges that hold workshops or classes year-round. These are a great opportunity to meet new people and try new things. For example, if you are interested in painting, try taking a class in your new location. Prices for classes vary wherever you go so find something that is affordable, fun, and something you’d really like to try out.
  • Connect to Alumni: Michigan State has entire databases of alumni all of the US and internationally! Take advantage of this resource to connect with other Spartan fans in your new location. Some cities may even have an active MSU Alumni Association. Sometimes the best medicine for home sickness is being around people who know all about Dairy Store Ice Cream, Sparty, and love MSU sports as much as you do.

On top of taking advantage of activities in and around your new location, a great way to get accustomed to a new area is by networking with your co-workers at your new company. In some cases, your company may already have ample networking opportunities for interns/co-ops/new hires, but that may not always be the case. Here are some sure-fire ways to take networking into your own hands:

  • Anyone Hungry? One easy way to network with other employees is by starting lunch groups or inviting someone new to eat with you.
  • Volunteer. Many companies encourage their employees to volunteer in their community and will even host community service activities. Ask around to see what activities may be coming up. In most cases, these activities are fantastic opportunities to network with all levels of employees. You never know when you might end up volunteering alongside big-wigs in your company!
  • Plan Intern Social Events. While some companies have intern social boards, others may not. Take the time to meet your fellow interns and see what their interests may be. If several of you are passionate about rock climbing, research local climbing hot spots or take a trip to the nearest climbing wall.

Even though moving to a new place can be daunting, it is not the end of the world. More times than not, after about two weeks in your new location, your anxiety levels will decline and any homesickness you may have will have passed. By taking charge of your experience, you can make your move work for you!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

There's Only 4 Weeks of School Left...Now What?!...

Didn't realize there were only four weeks of classes left?? Well, be aware Spartans! It is almost summer! Or at least the closest that Michigan can come to summer. With snow still on the ground, it seems a little inaccurate to call the season we're currently in spring. That discrepancy aside, it's time to start thinking about making the most of our time off. Whether that be by working, going to school, traveling, or just getting a rockin' tan. No matter what you are doing this summer, there are some things everyone can do (myself included) to prepare for the upcoming school year.

First on the Agenda...Things To Do Before Finals Are Over:
  • Meet with Your Adviser and Enroll for Your 2009-2010 Classes
    • Check for more information on class times, etc.
    • Take a gander at Degree Navigator...this is one resource that few students seem to know about it! It details all of your class requirements, grades, etc. This is a great thing to review before visiting your adviser. Here's the link:
  • Make Some Goals.
    • I know not all of us are pro-list making people, but give it a try! Setting goals for yourself keeps you on track and can actually make you feel pretty good when you accomplish them!
    • Here's a sample list set-up:
      • Top Career Goals for the Summer (This might include reviewing your resume, creating a LinkedIn account, apply for X number of jobs, make an appointment at The Center to talk to a career adviser, or just to get yourself in gear and do a little research on what you might want to do when you "grow up".)
      • Top Personal Goals for the Summer (These are fun because it's stuff YOU want to do! Here's an example...this summer I want to visit at least 5 new places I've never been before, try a new group fitness class, and send at least 3 snail mail letters to my family back home while I'm away on internship.)
        • Even for non-listers these kinds of goals are fun to map out! Think of random things you might like to research and do!

Not too painful, right? Let's move on to a few suggestions I have for getting your career search on the move early.

  • Take the time to update your resume.
    • Change contact information, class information, etc. as it changes.
    • Starting a new job this summer? As you work on projects or get a handle on what all you are working on, update your resume to reflect it.
    • Ask for resume critiques!! Getting a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th opinion on your resume is a great idea! The only thing to remember is that everyone has a different resume writing style. There will always be disagreements about formatting, wording, and what is okay or not okay to include.
  • Start thinking about what you might things you want to be involved in for next year.
    • Want to look for a new campus job? Student organization? Hobby? Fish around now so that when you get back to campus you can dive into whatever it is you'd like to do!

If you can get all those things done this summer, you'll definitely be on track for success in the Fall.

Good Luck! With Finals...and just in general!

Welcome to the SpartanCareerSeeker Blog

Hello All and Welcome to the SCS Blog!

My name is Eva and I will be your guide the next few months on how to perform effective job search and how to boost your Career IQ!

Here's a little bit of background about myself. I am a senior at Michigan State University in the College of Engineering. I will be graduating in December of 2009 with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering with an ultimate goal of finding a full-time position as an engineer in industry. While at MSU I have been able to be involved in student organizations, a fantastic study abroad program in Ireland, several student jobs around campus, and have even had several chances to do internships with some great companies! Now that I'm nearing graduation, I'm looking to use all of the skills I've learned during my education to land a fantastic job!

In addition to tracking my own progress, my goal for this blog is to act as a resource to other students who may be looking for internships/co-ops or full-time positions. With the job market as competitive as it is right now, it is important that we all put our best foot forward in order to set ourselves up for success!

If you have any specific questions that you'd like me to address in this blog, topic ideas, or constructive criticism please feel free to e-mail me I will be happy to incorporate your feedback into my weekly entries!