This is Why I’m Hot: Talking About Your Experiences

-Kristy Virgo

Is there such a thing as talking about yourself too much? Why, yes. We all have pointed out those people in our lives who annoy us with their narcissism, which is likely to make us even more shy and sometimes unable to talk about ourselves to employers when it’s most important.

All too often I work with a student who tells me “I hate talking about myself. I don’t want to come off as egotistical.” Usually along with that comes meekness and the lack of awareness that they’ve gained something from their classes, whether it be through the course objectives or projects that have been completed.

Someone asked me once, “How am I supposed to show that I am qualified for an entry-level job that requires experience when I have none?” The answer, my friends, is simple: labs, projects, and course work.

Maybe you didn’t get that internship, or maybe you were working someplace that wasn’t related to your degree while going to school. You learned some things from those experiences, too, such as transferable skills, which are skills you learn that can be taken from one job to another.

Here’s the thing: you have to become comfortable talking about yourself, and talking about your experiences, whether they’re from projects you’ve done in class or direct experiences through work. Experience is experience, and if you have the confidence to talk about those things, the employer won’t care that you didn’t do an internship. It’s about what you have to offer, and how you present that offer, not just one or the other.

Something else to keep in mind: you’re not entitled to this job, or any job, at that. Yes, you’ve worked your behind off, but the degree does not mean you should get the job. First off, there can be numerous reasons as to why you don’t get it, such as not the right fit, qualifications, or just a bad interview. Secondly, you’re probably one person out of many to be in the running, so that’s where you have to consider your approach. Below are some tips on how to approach talking about yourself:

Navigating little to no experience: The Interview Guys encourage new graduates to reference their academic achievements, athletic endeavors, charity, and volunteer work, in addition to group / activity work, and / or projects.

Sounding like an ego-centric jerk: Humble bragging > being cocky. The Under30CEO article on ways to show confidence without being cocky explains how to humbly brag and talk about your accomplishments without coming off too strongly.

Not coming off too desperate: The Undercover Recruiter explains common approaches to job hunting that does not work any longer, as well as how to avoid looking desperate.

Aside from these tips, you could always, of course, schedule some time to do a mock interview in the Career Center.

With that being said, have a wonderful week, and we will see you next week! Those going through finals, good luck!

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Thank-You Letters: Just How Important Are They?

-Stacey Staack

Have you ever had a job interview go amazingly well but did not end up getting the job? Let me ask you something else: did you follow up with a thank-you letter or email after your interview? If you did, you may want to start doing so. Writing a thank-you letter after your interview is important for so many reasons.

Writing a thank-you letter to the interviewers gives you a chance to remind them as to why you are the ideal candidate. The interviewers may have several candidates that they are interviewing. By them receiving a follow-up email, including your top skills and qualities that make you best suited for this position, will let them know that you are still very interested and have the skill set that they are looking for.

In addition, it shows that you are great with follow-up and communicating with others. Just remember to double-check for any grammatical errors. This is also your time to show that you have a strong writing ability, especially if that is one of the skills they are looking for. You want to make sure that your writing is accurate and stands out in a good way.

Remember that a thank-you letter does not have to be long. In my opinion, five or so sentences is sufficient. Now, you may be asking yourself, what should I include in my cover letter? Below are my top six tips for a great thank-you letter/email:

  1. Send out an individual letter/email to each interviewer right after your interview, on the same day.
  2. Thank them for their time.
  3. Reiterate the job position in which you had your interview for. (They may be interviewing for other positions as well, so reminding them which position you are writing about is a great idea.)
  4. Share a couple of the essential skills and characteristics that they are looking for in a candidate that you excel at.
  5. Share why you feel that you in this position will make for a great fit for both parties.
  6. Proofread, proofread, proofread!

It is important to show that you are enthusiastic in your letter. This shows that you are happy with how the interview went and shows your excitement to land this new role. Remember, The Career Center is here to help you. Therefore, if you have any questions regarding preparing a thank-you letter/email stop in and see us. We are happy to offer guidance!

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Lifelong Learning is the Key to Transforming Yourself

-Jeffrey Allen

One of the most common reasons I encounter for student appointments is two-fold: new graduate or alumni, or an alumni switching careers, applying for a promotion, or simply searching for a job. First of all, I have been all of those people-young, older, student, alumni, then student again, employed, unemployed, and have enjoyed three different career paths by simply reinventing myself as a contemporary professional. How? By consistently embracing change, asking for help, using the resources available to me, and learning from others. The best way to learn is to model the behaviors of professionals you admire.

But where do you start? The best way to inventory yourself is by looking at your professional materials (resume, professional memberships, briefcase, etc.). Does your resume say “references available upon request”? The phrase tells an employer one of two things: you are an older job seeker or you used an outdated resume template. Think about it-would you say no to an employer requesting your references? Of course not! How old do you look on paper?

If you use social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Snapchat, etc, do you look like a professional? If you aren’t on social media, get there so you have a clean, professional digital profile when employers check you out (and they will). If you have any concerns about your “on paper” image, have you visited the Career Center yet?

Some of the many platforms of social media

FYI, our services are free, available on both campuses, and alumni enjoy lifetime access! The access is actually how I ended up working for Purdue! Everything is an opportunity if you promote yourself, learn and adapt. Some of our services include (but not limited to):

  • Resume review and cover letter prep
  • Mock interviewing
  • Job search assistance
  • Grad school prep
  • Linkedin development
  • Career counseling

Once your materials are updated and you’ve practiced interviewing and job searches, take a look in the mirror- do you look like the professionals on employer websites? It may be time to update your wardrobe, get a more contemporary haircut, and begin investing in your future. Many clothing companies have points programs, decent clearance sales and coupons but you might also find a nice consignment shop in the area. A short train ride to the city can yield benefits by purchasing really nice suits at consignment prices! If you are still wearing the same hair style you had in high school or your hair is three or more colors, time to fix it. One of my friends calls the multi-color hair CNTIN or “colors not found in nature”! Only tropical fish can get away with the multiple colors in a business office. Next, turn to your social circle and let them know you are looking for a new job and ask for advice or leads. No social circle? Attend professional or networking events and simply practicing talking to others (no phone or text thumbs required!) but the chat doesn’t always have to be about business (but keep that talk nearby). Did you get contact information or a card? Put it in your phone and send them a “thank you” email before you leave the event!

A few last things to consider: your grades and caliber of your university are far less important than your ability to showcase yourself as an adaptable problem solver. If you are a new grad, research companies on Linkedin, engage the principals on Twitter, and try to engage in person. If your research yields a new project the company is engaged in, think of a solution and share over coffee with the employer. Speaking of speaking, avoid email when you are truly trying to connect-make a phone call instead! My best successes have been over the phone. The same applies to Linkedin, use it or it’s not effective. This means engaging in discussions, adding connections and sharing content.

In order to be your best self and a champion of you, practice some self-care during this stressful time. A few self-care measures include:  getting adequate sleep, exercise, eating better food (no ramen or microwave popcorn), ask for help (someone to pick up your children, cook dinner, pick up the dry cleaning, or provide a sounding board), and learn when to say no. The one thing you can take to the bank?-the staff of the Purdue University Northwest Career Center offices are always concerned about your success and well-being. As a matter of fact, we measure our success by helping you become successful so you would actually be helping us too! See you soon!

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Benefits of Working on Campus

-Luke Faith

Greetings and welcome back once again Purdue people! I hope we all have been fortunate to enjoy ourselves and relax during Spring break. I myself cannot deny that I wish it had not have gone by so fast. Yet, school and the blogs must go on. This week, I’m faced with the challenge of answering a loaded question: what are the benefits or advantages of working on campus?

Students have plenty of opportunities to work on campus. There are plenty of on campus opportunities intended to suit all majors. Some departments, such as Nursing, Engineering, The Dean of Students, and The Career Center look for department assistants, some of which require a specific academic major, and some of which don’t. In any position, students are offered the chance to gain professional experience in their field. Some of the top universities in the nation such as Cornell and Syracuse are praised for their excellent Federal Work Study programs. I’m certain that they work hard to be honored with such praise. They, like us at Purdue University Northwest, are certainly aware of the fact that their students benefit more in the long run while being offered the chance to gain skills while working and attending class on campus.

Keep in mind, though, that the two regional Purdue campuses do not have abundant opportunities. Therefore, if you (students) intend on applying for a position be sure to check for openings online via CareerTrax by searching for on-campus student employment. The best time of the year to do so is before the start of a semester. If you are really curious you may consider asking around the departments to inquire what sort of positions are available or may soon be vacant.

I cannot speak for everyone but I’ve had the experience of meeting some students who work on campus whom I’ve acquainted myself with. I always perceive students that work on campus to be destined for success or at least in search of good prospects. I’m always glad to hear of students finding fantastic jobs straight out of college. Quite a few of those students that I know who have on-campus jobs did find good jobs shortly after or even before graduation. I have a feeling that their dedication toward their career objective during college had something to do with these positive outcomes. I would guess that there is some sort of upper hand if a job applicant can prove that they have acquired some professional and soft skills.

Personally, I have the honor to say that half my experience in college has been attributed to working on campus. Almost two years have gone by and it seems unfathomable to imagine what type of student I would be had I never taken advantage of the opportunity with The Career Center. I can say with confidence that employing myself on campus has been hands down the most positive and beneficial working experience I have taken in my life thus far. This info graphic outlines the basic skills obtained while working on campus and being involved in tasks that are compatible in their respected fields.

InfoGraphic of Skills Earned by Students who Worked on Campus

Courtesy of: University of Maine

I must give credit where it is due and say that the staff has made working on campus hands down irreplaceable. I myself have been very humble and feel graced to have been employed at The Career Center for a considerable portion of my time in college. This alone has been quite an advantage for me as I have certainly learned something from each individual and every task. Most of all, I have had the pleasure to learn and work in a diverse and professional environment in comparison to a public or private occupation. Working at The Career Center has exceeded my expectations. I’ve had many opportunities arise where I was called on to take part in a project that requires self-improvement. With that my confidence, abilities, and wisdom have grown which gives me quite a boost in my career path.

Remember that the personal benefits of working on campus are bountiful and consider looking into a position if you have not already. I myself have high hopes for myself and for my fellow students in the future. Yet, our success is solely dependent on what we learn when in college and what we decide to do with it as we soon enter the job market. The fact is that an on-campus student employment position will be something that you generally will show off to any employers while interviewing in the future. If you can say to them, “As you see, I’ve gained plenty of experience working for so and so while earning my degree,” That shows them that you are a person with dedication, perseverance, and expectations which will certainly suggest to them that you could be a good prospect for the company. The most important aspect of a work study position is to gain skills that can be transferred to a job. So make sure that you retain anything learned while in any position as when you interview in the future you may be honest and feel confident when starting a position that you have the know-how.

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Career Assessments: What do they Mean?

-Kristy Virgo

It’s funny how many people assume that career-related assessments are the end-all, be-all of their future. Even when I was a restaurant manager we had an assessment that measured the risk of a potential candidate based on counter-productivity, reliability, and honesty, and I’ll never forget how many of those candidates walked away thinking it was a personality test. In my head I kept thinking, no, this doesn’t tell you that you have a crappy personality- it tells us way more than that. Heck, it doesn’t even touch upon personality.

Now, as a Career Consultant, and a Career Counselor-in-training, I see it even more: students think that these assessments that we offer for them are personality tests, or those that connect careers absolutely have the answers.

Guess what? None of this is true. It’s like the Matrix, but of career assessment myths. We as human beings tend to take the objective definition to terms associated with assessments, and base those definitions on what we’ve learned of them. For example, if you take the Myers- Briggs Type Indicator, or Do What You Are, you’ll find that your first characteristic is either Introverted or Extroverted. What do you think this means? The typical response is, “I’m not antisocial, so why am I introverted?”, or, “I’m not that social.” But when you look at what the definition of these terms mean in relation to the Myers-Briggs inventory, you’ll discover that these two terms refer to where our energy is centralized. For example, a heavy introvert has a tendency to do well in social situations, but need time alone to re-energize, whereas an extrovert may become re-energized by being in social situations (being the center of a party, speaking to large groups, etc.).

What’s your central source of energy?

Again, definitions to these assessments go deeper than our initial perceptions. So, please allow me to centralize this week’s blog around the types of assessments The Career Center offers.

  1. Do What You Are: A Myers-Briggs Type assessment that provides a statistically accurate representation of a student’s personality type. Personality type is the best way of determining and individual’s natural gifts, and to pinpoint the occupations where they find the greatest opportunity for expression. Again, this assessment does not tell you whether or not you have a good or bad personality, but how you react to certain situations and where your central force of energy comes from. It’s responses are also focused on how you act in social and school-related situations (i.e., studying, group work, etc.).
  2. Myers Briggs Type Indicator: Similar to Do What You Are, but it’s the original assessment (OG, if you will) created by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Briggs. It’s based off of Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types. It’s based off of preference- how you prefer to process and do things, and focuses on life in general, not just school. If you sit down with someone in The Career Center to do this assessment, or Do What You Are, you’ll see the connections made. It’s really cool, I promise!
  3. Peps Learning Style Inventory: Administered from the same company that licenses the Do What You Are, Peps helps students identify the kind of environment in which they prefer to work or learn. Like a fingerprint, everyone has a unique style, and it is important for each of us to know what our style is. This information can help students understand themselves and others better.
  4. MY Advantage: This assessment identifies an individual’s top ‘intelligences’ to help them recognize strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Strong Interest Inventory: Based off of John Holland’s six themes of career interest (explained later in this blog), this assessment identifies how interests relate to careers and focuses on your strengths and blind spots.
  6. Indiana Career Explorer Kuder Journey Assessment: Get your giggles out now, okay? This is another interest-based assessment that connects with interests.
  7. O*Net Interest Profiler: Similar to the Journey Assessment and the Strong Interest Inventory, this is another interest based assessment that aligns with O*Net (The Occupational Information Network), which is an online database that contains hundreds of occupational definitions to help students, job seekers, businesses and workforce development professionals to understand today’s world of work.

I think 7 is enough to talk about, right? Allow me to let you in on a little secret: The Career Center now offers career counseling for students. Now, this doesn’t mean that every person will need an assessment and will have to follow it. What kind of people would we be to say “you must do this”? We listen to you. Unsure about your major? Come talk to us. Unsure what to do regarding your career path? Come talk to us. We are here to help you. We can also guide you more in depth with what these assessments mean and how they fit you as a person. You. See the central focus?

Until next time,

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LinkedIn 101 Webinar Pinpoints

-Luke Faith

Hello and welcome back for another blog post from The Career Center’s staff. I’m pleased to inform you that recently we have had some great resources for Purdue students & alumni. I believe each event we host is extremely beneficial and I would find it doubtful if someone said it is not worth their time. I hope that everyone keeps up with the events that we host at The Career Center, but if you haven’t, it is never too late! If you’re interested in looking at what is coming up click here! Otherwise, I encourage you while checking your e-mail and blackboard daily to please devote just one moment someday to see what we’ve got going on. I promise you learn something and have fun at the same time!

Anyways, I’ve taken the liberty to summarize the LinkedIn webinar that was held back in early February by Chaim Shapiro: LinkedIn 101. It merely covered the basics, however, there was plenty of great information that I learned. First, take a look at these statistics on the LinkedIn audience:

The webinar was hosted by our office (Super) Director, Natalie Conners, and an expert of LinkedIn, Chaim Shapiro. Natalie introduced us to Chaim’s work history as, “a Freelance Writer, Public Speaker, and Social Media Consultant. She added that, “Chaim earned his Masters Degree in College & Student Personnel from Loyola Collage and is presently the Assistant Director for Career Services at Touro College in New York.” The truth is that this man is a genius with over, 15 Years of experience in organizational administration.

So, after hearing that impressive track record I’m sure that everyone is interested in what he had to say in this LinkedIn webinar, right?

Chaim began by explaining that the number one misconception regarding joining LinkedIn is the belief with this they will somehow spontaneously come across some “magic job opportunities.” He explained that LinkedIn is certainly only one component to a job search. Obtaining employment “takes time and effort.” He suggested “not to focus on what social media can do for you,” but instead to “think about what you can do that is proactive with social media.” LinkedIn is not a job generator, but you might have some luck on LinkedIn in the realm of employment.

Chaim also said he finds people questioning if the Premium LinkedIn account is necessary. He said, “No, unless you are interested in the extra perks such as data, etc.” He is often asked what the best approach is in regards to connections. The fact is that LinkedIn is meant for professional networking and is not meant to be treated like other social media websites such as Facebook (This does not mean you should not connect with acquaintances but keep in mind you want to establish a network or colleges / colleagues with similar occupations).

After this Chaim broke down what matters most on a LinkedIn page. It is very important that a professional head shot is uploaded to your page. Including a photo causes increasability to visibility. “People are more likely to click on your page 8 to 10 times more with a photo.” He encouraged LinkedIn profilers to try to create and display their brand in their picture.  For example, he is a public speaker and uploaded an image with him speaking to a group.

Chaim suggests that the second most critical piece of one’s LinkedIn page is the headline. He said that this is “120 characters to sell you.” He said to think of it like your elevator pitch. Here something to help you get a start and more resources to help you get your pitch started on our website. (click here!)

A recent addition to LinkedIn is something Chaim certainly was glad to buzz about was the Publication Section. In this section, members may add some of their “polished works.” This gives people the opportunity to show viewers some of their most accomplished works.

Another recent improvement within the site was the chance for members to share things from LinkedIn directly onto their twitter accounts. Chaim explained that if you are a job seeker that does not have a Twitter account to get one, as a lot of job opportunities are becoming marketed via Twitter.

The final portion of the discussion led to be exactly that. The students who attended this event came with great questions and made the webinar one of the best Chaim has ever hosted in terms or interaction. The students asked plenty of questions but due to limitations I can only bring a few to the table here and now.

Top of Page Importance. Chaim made a point to explain this: he believes people will either be interested or uninterested within the first few sections so keep this in mind when creating or editing your page (kind of like a resume, right?).

Endorsements. The endorsement section is especially important and always thank those who endorse you. If you have no clue where to start with a LinkedIn page, check out someone’s page with similar experience as yourself. Some people as college students may feel discouraged that they have little experience and subject matter to impress employers. This is why a job search can be challenging and you are forced to think what it is about you that is employable.

If you have a LinkedIn and found this blog to help you edit your page, remember that our office staff can review your page and provide you with some feedback. You can contact our offices at 219-785-5451 (North Central) or 219-989-2600 (Calumet) to schedule an appointment.

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Resume Pointers That May Point You to a Job

-Luke Faith

Disclaimer: This title does not by any means indicate that following these instructions will get you a job. There is much, much more involved to the hiring process than the resume.

Hello again everybody! I hope that you’re all ready for a real treat as I plan to discuss EVERYTHING there is to know about resumes. Sike! I am obviously kidding. I’m sure no one has the time to spare for that. Instead I am going to give you some basic information about resumes, like where to begin and so on.

I am really excited to briefly explain the basics of resumes and I hope no one is reading this thinking, “here we go again, another speech about resumes.” I’m sure some of you are up-to-date and already know enough about resumes. If that’s the case then I tip my hat to you, but others may not feel as confident. Plus, there is always room for improvement. How often have you heard 2 people in a row tell you that your resume is perfect as it is? As students and potential job seekers it is crucial that we have a resume. I say this because (just sometimes) I feel as though resumes are not as rightfully taken into consideration as they should be. Yes, writing a resume can be a timely and an excruciating process because you aim to craft a truly impressive document that will win over any employer. I promise that, even though resumes are not the only part of obtaining employment, they are extremely important. I like to consider a working resume as a big sign that one lugs around across your entire career path (which is a large portion of you lifespan) but the sign is limited in size so be sure that you’ve highlighted what counts.

By the way, if you ever get the chance to talk to Kristy, a Career Consultant at the Calumet campus, ask her about her 5-page resume experience as a job seeker.

It’s okay if you know literally nothing about resumes. A resume is something that takes time, effort, thought, and assessment. This being said, The Career Centers offers guidance for those in need through their drop-in career advising hours:

Tuesdays: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Wednesdays: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. & 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursdays: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

A person’s resume is really never finished until they reach their retirement. A resume is a basic outline of ones skills, training, development, and experiences that are compiled all throughout their work history.

Okay, I hope that lit a fire under all you job seekers and that you all understand the importance of resumes.

Now that I’m done with my sales pitch, allow me to begin discussing some resume tips and the basic outline. In addition to the content of the resume, the visual appeal is important. Try to use sans-serif friendly fonts (no script or wingdings), 10-12 point font, and check for spelling errors.

Image from “Funny Things People Put on Their Resume”, Buzzle.com

SUMMARY

To start, every resume may not begin with a summary or an objective statement. To be honest, it only makes sense to have one so that you can summarize who you are (skills, abilities, intellect needed for job). It also address what position or field you’re interested in. It’s great to use if your academic degree doesn’t match the field you’re applying for directly, because it introduces what exactly makes that match, especially if your degree, or the field you’re applying into, is liberal.

Avoid personal pronouns. A resume is a formal document and it’s already implied that it’s about you. Your statement may be a fragment, but that’s okay (and it’s one of the rare cases that it’s going to be okay).

EDUCATION

Commonly the education section is listed after the summary because resumes are written in reverse chronological order. Why, you ask? Well, it’s because when you think about it, employers and recruiters want to see your most recent and relevant information  (you’ll see these words used lots going forward!) towards the top. It draws their attention, so things like education, relevant internship information, or course projects, need to be highlighted.

Avoid putting high school education, since college accomplishments and learning points are the main focus.

WORK EXPERIENCE

This section is where resumes will vary. Let’s say you did an internship in your desired field. Since it’s considered recent and relevant you’ll want ti highlight it, right? Yep, there are those words, again! How do you do that? Well, you could create a section labeled RELEVANT EXPERIENCE if you’d like, and separate this experience, and any others that are related, from anything that wouldn’t be related, such as the grill cook job you had at your local Applebee’s.

Avoid describing non-relevant work tasks if you have other accomplishments to highlight. For example, if you don’t yet have an internship experience to talk about, or if you don’t have any relevant projects or course work, that’s okay. You’re welcome to include bullets with task descriptions for those jobs. Just keep in mind these may leave when you other, higher bragging points..

SKILLS

Okay, so, when you hear skills, what do you think of? What are you skilled in? What can you do? One of the common types of skills sections we (The Career Center) sees are technical skill sets. Can I let you in on a little secret? I’m sure you have more skills than operating Microsoft Office. This is where you, as the job seeker, have to apply your critical thinking skills (get it?) to compile a nice balanced list of skills that you know how to perform.

Avoid opinionated statements such as “hardworking, responsible, ethical, reliable, a good communicator, fast learner,” etc. Here’s the thing- you may perceive yourself as some of these, however, can you prove it? If you can, then your skills section may need to be morphed into a qualifications section, where you back these points up with qualitative and quantitative information. For example, you received the employee of the month award at your current job for showing great customer service, ethical boundaries, and by being responsible and making sure your job, as well as others’ jobs, are done. That’s something to talk about.

HONORS/ACTIVITIES

With this portion of a resume you can really flaunt off any club or activities you were or are involved in throughout school (don’t forget that volunteer work is important, too!). Also you may display any high awards you received which implies diligence, such as Dean’s List or Semester Honors.

Avoid narrating this section as a story. Keep it short and formatted as you would your work experience, entering your role in the organization and how long you’ve been doing it for. If it’s an honors award, list the award and the date(s) you’ve received it.

As you can see, the resume is truly set up to catch employer’s attention and keep them reading. People, I am not joking when I say you should put a lot of thought into resumes, remembering that you want the employer to be interested in you.

Cat, "if you look into my resume, you'll notice I have caught the red dot.

Courtesy of: memestorage.com

Nevertheless, I say this not to discourage you about resumes but instead to encourage everyone. Never fear, because The Career Center is here! If you feel uneasy about your resume or need some help to bring things to mind check out the drop in advising hours offered from The Career Centers and drop in with at least a rough draft.

Also if you are just interested in a self access guide to follow while writing a resume you can find check our our Online Career Center, or stop in to one of the campus offices to obtain a Resume Sample.

I hope this blog has helped everyone that may be in need of resume advice. Other than that I hope you all comprehend the importance of having a good resume as new comers in the job market. I bid you all good luck in future job hunts and in writing resumes.

 

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