Present a professional image during your internships and as you begin your career! Work with SIRC to learn about business correspondence and practices; resume content and design; writing cover letters and thank-you notes; comparing, accepting and rejecting job and internship offers; dining in a business setting; professional dress; and interviewing skills.
Open Houses are designed to give you information about the company, its internship and management program, and to facilitate initial contact between you and the recruiter. Business casual dress is acceptable. Open houses are usually held in a classroom in the Business College Complex, hosted by SIRC staff. A schedule of company open houses can be obtained from SIRC.
At an open house, you can confirm an interview. If you are interviewing with a company, attendance at its open house is mandatory. Companies expect students to attend, and it will reflect badly on you during your interview if you were not present at the open house. Bring resumes and be prepared—research the company before you attend.
The current demand for your degree is certainly a large factor in your employment prospects. However, whether or not you land the job you want often depends upon your skill in marketing your potential.
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression! This theme is especially important during an interview. Your grooming and dress are important aspects of putting your best foot forward. Always remember that the clothing you wear should enhance your personal style and identify you as a person the employer would want to represent his/her company or organization. Unless the employer specifically states otherwise, you should dress in corporate attire.
Jobs are seldom secured during the first few minutes of the interview. You can, however, kill your chance for success during that initial critical period. Here are examples of negative factors to avoid. Each has resulted in rejections during job interviews.
It is the interviewer’s responsibility to investigate and evaluate your qualifications and suitability for employment with his/her company. Be positive in your responses to his/her questions.
If weaknesses exist in your experience or academic background, don’t try to hide them if questioned directly. Mention them in context with, or relate them to, factors of strength. Talk about what you are doing to improve areas of weakness.
Occasionally, an interviewer may pose personal questions that you consider inappropriate. For example, questions about race, religion, marital status, political affiliation, age, sexual preference, and physical and mental status or condition are generally illegal as grounds for making employment decisions. How you respond to such questions, should they arise, is up to you. Keep in mind, however, that the nature of your response may affect the outcome of your interview.
Career Services and Placement expects employers interviewing on campus to maintain the highest possible ethical and legal standards in their recruiting activities. If you are asked questions that seem inappropriate during a campus interview, please call the SIRC office immediately after the interview. For more information, please see the “Pre-Employment Inquiry Guide” published by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. Since laws vary among states, you may want to check with the civil rights department in the state in which you are looking for employment. Also refer to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, 1990.
Don’t assume that the interview is, or should be, a one-sided affair. The initiative should remain with the interviewer as s/he tries to gain insight into your character, job aspirations and preparation, and how you might fit into the company in general and the job in particular. However, you should also ask questions. Your questions should be designed to help you evaluate the job and its organizational environment to see whether they match your needs, aspirations and aptitudes.
Stay alert for clues that you are on the right track and have the interviewer with you. If the person seems interested and relaxed, and is following closely and encouraging you with comments, nods and expressions of interest, you’re probably right on. If the interviewer appears puzzled, stop and restate your reply. If s/he obviously has lost interest (starts doing things not related to the interview, such as sorting through papers or looking around), try getting the interviewer back by asking if you covered the point adequately. Maintain eye contact at all times to try to aid in holding interest. Watch for indications that the interviewer has received enough information and is ready to close the interview. S/he will make this evident. Don’t try to extend it unless you have an extremely important question to ask. If so, make it brief or you run the risk of overselling yourself and losing the good impression you have made.
Finally, your objective is to create a job opportunity. Conduct your portion of the interview in this vein. Don’t waste precious minutes talking about job security, sick leave, retirement benefits or salary. If you are successful in the interview, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to investigate these aspects of the job at a later date.
Whenever you mail a resume or application to an employer, it should be accompanied by a cover letter. However, cover letters are not necessary when you present your resume to an employer you do not have an appointment to see, or when presenting your resume at a career fair such as CAREER EXPO.
The cover letter is often the first contact you have with a prospective employer. Its purpose is to create a favorable, professional impression while you introduce your background and interest in employment opportunities. It is called a “cover” letter because you always put it over your resume and fold them together to go into one envelope. It is also used to “cover” the key elements of your background that you want an employer to consider.
Keep the following points in mind as you prepare your cover letter:
Have someone read over your letter for content and style.
Note: Please remember there are many resume formats; the following example is just a suggestion and a frequently used format
If both addresses are the same, use only one (centered under your name).
OBJECTIVE: Make this statement focused, interesting and unique so that it grabs the reader’s attention. If you are seeking an internship, indicate your interest in obtaining an internship in your field. Explain that you have classroom theory and related skills that can be applied to a practical experience. NOTE: Feedback from employers varies – some prefer an objective, some do not. Keep it simple and to the point!
EDUCATION: List the degree you are currently pursuing first and continue in reverse chronological order. Identify the university name, city, state, title of degree, major, minor and the expected date of graduation. Grade point may be listed if it is 3.0 or more on a 4.0 scale. Some students indicate the GPA in their majors.
EXPERIENCE: Start with your current or most recent employment and list data in reverse chronological order. Identify employer, city, state, period of employment, job title and duties. Bullet your duties versus listing them in paragraph form. Include volunteer work and summer jobs of significant duration and importance – it all counts. Volunteer work could be listed under a separate section as well. NOTE: If you have experience that is directly related to your major, you may want to include a section called “RELATED EXPERIENCE,” which would appear prior to the “EXPERIENCE” section.
ORGANIZATIONS: List the organizations and clubs that you are (or have been) a member of, whether on or off campus. Also include the dates of your membership. If you are an officer within the organization(s), indicate the office.
HONORS/AWARDS: Include any honors, awards and scholarships that you have received. These may include dean’s list, honors programs, organization recognition, etc. (This section could be part of the EDUCATION section as well.)
COMPUTER SKILLS: List the computer software/hardware that you know. Do not include phrases such as “familiar with” or “understanding of” as these may imply weaknesses. (These may be listed in a two-column bullet format.)
COURSEWORK: This can be a separate section or part of the EDUCATION section. List the courses that you have taken that are in your major or related to your area of study. List them by course title versus course number. (These may be listed in a two-column bullet format.)
PROJECTS: List projects in which you have been involved that are related to your major.
SPECIAL SKILLS/INTERESTS: Special skills, hobbies, travel, ability to speak other languages, etc. (it is helpful to list interests that demonstrate transferable skills needed for employment opportunities.)
REFERENCES: List “Available upon request.” Create a separate document that lists the name, title, company name, complete address and phone number of at least three references that can be distributed to employers when requested. It is suggested that these are professional references rather than personal references. (Always ask permission before using references’ names, etc.)
Resumes should be only one page. Put it on really good resume quality paper. Professional colors are cream, white or beige. Be mindful that colors that are very bright will detract from the information that’s on your page.
The first section you want to deal with is your name and address. Don’t forget that employers like to email, so put your email address on it as well. If you might be home during the summer, you might want to put your permanent address as well as your school address. That way employers can reach you at both locations.
Our hospitality employers simply want to know if you want an internship or a permanent management job. Indicate that only. Do not make extraneous, flowery sentences. Simply list, “my objective is to obtain a management position (or an internship, or work experience).” If you know what segment of the hospitality industry you want to enter, it’s best to list that. Employers really like to see whether you’re food and beverage or you’re lodging. Also, remember that you can have an objective for a variety of different purposes. So it’s okay to have various resumes with different types of objectives.
Our next section is education. Remember, you want to list your degrees and certifications. Many in the hospitality industry do not have a formal degree, so it’s important for you to mention your bachelor of arts in hospitality business. Make sure you also list that you got it from Michigan State University. If you’d like to list the Eli Broad College of Business, you’re welcome to do that as well.
Following your degree, you might want to list your GPA. It is a personal choice. The rule of thumb is, if you get a 3.0 or better, you might want to put that. Also, make sure you put when you’re graduating. It’s really difficult for employers to find out if you want a permanent job or an internship because they don’t know when you’re graduating. If you have any certification specific to hospitality, those would go next. Certification such as TAPS or TIPS, or your Servsafe certification, will be important to list as well. Another section under education would be whether you did a study abroad. Employers love to see international experience, so if you’ve done one, also list that. Be sure to include how many credits you might have taken and what particular discipline that it covers. For instance, 9 credits in International Hotel Lodging Development, taken in India.
Your next section is your hospitality work experience. Now remember, all work experience is in reverse chronological order, meaning your most current job is listed first. You want to have a beginning date and an end date for that particular job. If you’ve had all hospitality jobs, then list them as hospitality jobs. But, for instance, what if you’ve had another job, say janitorial? Then I would like you to make that a different section than your hospitality section, because our employers are looking specifically for that hospitality experience. So, if you have a number of other jobs, non-hospitality specific, please put them in a different section after this one called “additional work experience.”
Now underneath each job, if it’s not evident by what you do, you might want to give an explanation, especially if the company is not a recognizable one and employers may not know what kind of company it is. So, for instance, you might be in food and beverage, and you might have been a server, and I have no clue of the restaurant. So you might want to say, “I’ve been a server at a 400-seat fine dining restaurant.” Some kind of description that allows the employers to know a little bit more about that company you worked for and what your duties and jobs entailed would be helpful. Don’t use complete sentences; just list two or three different phrases about the duties that you performed on that job.
Our next two sections are honors and leadership. You can put them together under one category, depending on what your personal experience is. If you have a number of honors, simply list them and the year you received them. Under leadership, you would list any of the activities you’ve been involved in, any sports, anything that shows your extracurricular activities. Again, you can combine the two categories, if you don’t have a lot of things to list.
Our companies are particularly interested whether you have presentation skills. So Excel and PowerPoint are critical things that you need to put down. Also, under the computer area under skills, I want you to list anything that has to do with property management systems or property operating systems. List what those systems are, such as MICROS or ALOHA. Companies will be particularly interested that you have those type of skills.
The other thing listed under skills would be any languages that you speak. I use three different ratings for competency, whether you’re familiar, whether you’re proficient or whether you’re fluent in written/spoken French, for instance.