Brownsville: BINAB 1.105
Edinburg: ESTAC 2.101
Phone: Brownsville (956) 882-5627
Phone: Edinburg (956) 665-2243
Clear written communication is vital when creating documents. Excellent writing skills positively affect your success in a career, and your documents must reflect your competencies and accomplishments.
Below are examples of professional documents commonly used during the job search process
Although not always required, cover letters are used to show genuine interest in a position, demonstrate written communication skills, and allow you to further explain your qualifications from your resume or CV that directly apply to the position you are seeking.
Résumés are derivative of Curriculum vitae and highlight your education and experience related to a specific career path you desire to follow.
Curriculum Vitae (CV)
A CV is used when applying for teaching and administrative positions in academia or for a research position, fellowship, or grant.
Thank You Letters
Thank you letters are used to thank the employers for the opportunity to interview and to reiterate your interest in the company/position. Students can have their documents critiqued through the Career Center.
A vital component of any job search is networking, which is more than just an introduction, handshake, or casual conversation. Various research studies on this topic indicate that 69% of people get jobs through their contacts (i.e., networking). Below is a list of multiple networking tactics:
Spread the Word
It may seem basic, but as soon as you know you will be on the job market, get the word out! Tell your friends, family members, neighbors, classmates, professors, teammates, previous bosses, and others what skills you have and how you are hoping to use them in a job setting.
Keep an open mind about who might be helpful because it is a small world!
Ask your contacts to keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities that might be a good fit for you - at their company, in their industry, or anywhere.
Informational interviewing is a great way to establish a relationship with people in your field of interest.
Remember to keep in touch with classmates that graduated ahead of you (you never know who will be able to pass your resume on to the hiring manager).
See if your advisor and professors keep a list of employers who have hired graduates of your program.
Check with the UTRGV Alumni Relations office for a possible list of alumni who might be willing to provide career guidance. Focus your job search on a geographic area and connect with the local MSU Alumni chapter.
Attend Campus and Community Events
The Career Center, along with many other campus departments and organizations, periodically invite guest speakers and employer representatives to campus to speak to the students about various career-related topics. Attending such events is an easy way to connect with professionals in your field or related fields.
Student organizations on and off-campus also serve as a great way to meet professionals in your area. For more information, visit V Link!
Social Networking (Social Media Platforms) – Get Connected
- Employers DO use internet search engines and social networking sites to check up on potential hires.
- Use your site as a marketing tool. Highlight your resume, accomplishments, and professional skills.
- Be cautious about the content you put on social networking sites such as Instagram and Facebook.
- Check social networking sites for profiles of employers that interest you.
Social Networking Tips/Considerations
Google yourself. Look into removing anything potentially damaging to your character. Change your privacy settings, such as who can view your profile, your wall, your applications, etc. Carefully consider how much/what type of information you include on your Profile (Status Updates, Quotations, About Me, Religious/Political Views, etc.) Remove anything remotely inappropriate.
Photos you upload should never cast yourself in a negative light or compromising position. Untag yourself if someone uploads a questionable photo of you. It's not just about you! What your friends include on their profiles can be linked to you as well.
This refers to what is expected in social and business situations in terms of behavior and practices based on a code of ethical conduct. Manners and proper etiquette are just as important as the person’s qualifications for any job. Etiquette is not just about following rules of what and what not to do, but about treating others with the respect you want to receive.
- Always show your appreciation for your colleagues and customers.
- Make sure to stand up, acknowledge, and greet everyone.
- Address people formally until you are told otherwise. Formal meaning: Ms./Mr./Dr./Professor.
- Always knock before entering someone’s office and ask if they have time.
- Give your full attention to who has taken the time to come in person. Phone calls and electronics can wait.
- Always be on time for meetings and be prepared to take notes. Stay engaged during meetings and do not be distracted by electronics.
- Follow the dress code in order to look professional.
- Make sure to RSVP to events and meetings. Show up if you said you would attend, and don't show up if you didn't say you would. "Maybe" is not an acceptable response.
- Be aware of dining etiquette so that you conduct yourself appropriately during work-related meals and social events.
- Treat everyone with respect and kindness.
- Be aware that certain behaviors rise above simple good manners to the level of ethical conduct.
Your appearance is one of the most important parts of your interview, as well as when you attend work. What you wear is what is going to say the most about your attitude, your culture and how serious you are about the situation. If you are interested in the way you make your first impression, you need to organize your wardrobe accordingly to have a positive and great impact on your potential employers. It is important to demonstrate that you made an effort to look professional and make sure to feel confident in what you wear and be your best self! The following information may serve as a guide to success and to create higher expectations. Call us with any other questions.
Interview Attire Options
- Suits: Try to stick to darker colors and be sure to match suit jacket to pants/skirts and have them fit appropriately.
- Pants/Skirts: Wear full length pants or if you decide to wear a skirt make sure it is at knee length.
- Ties: It should complement the rest of the outfit in length and color, keep colors conservative. The tie should meet the top of your belt.
- Shoes: Should match belt and be black or brown, should be closed-toe if heels or slide-in shoes. Socks must match as well and avoid showing any skin.
Work Attire Options
- Suits: Optional as there are designs and colors that could be more flexible.
- Pants/Skirts: knee-length dresses are also an option. Dress pants or jeans can also be worn as long as their designs and colors are conservative.
- Ties: Optional.
- Shoes: More flexible colors and not necessary to match. No flip flops.
- Well-groomed hair, natural shades for nails and natural makeup.
It is important to always maintain a professional image, no matter if it is a formal dinner or lunch with colleagues. Here are some tips for business dining etiquette to help you mind your manners and make a good impression at your next business meal event.
- Wait until everyone at the table is served.
- Unfold and place a napkin on your lap when seated.
- Take part in the dinner conversation but avoid controversial topics like politics and religion.
- Use your utensils from the outside in as you move through each course, and pass items politely.
- Cut only enough food for the next mouthful. Eat-in small bites and slowly.
- When consuming soup, always move the spoon away from yourself. Bring the spoon to your mouth and drink the soup from the side edge of the spoon instead of using the whole spoon and do not slurp.
- When eating a salad, you may cut large pieces of lettuce with your fork and knife, one bite at a time.
- When eating the main course, leave your plate positioned as it is presented to you. If you don’t care for something on your plate, discreetly push it to the side.
- If you are not a coffee or hot tea drinker, turn your cup upside down on the saucer indicating to the server you do not want those beverages.
- If you need to excuse yourself from the table
Different employers ask different questions through the interview process to gain specific information about the candidates as they make selections. In what type of information are interviewers interested? Understanding the question will give you hints.
Example: "Tell me about yourself." The interviewer is interested in finding out about you as a person and your fit for the position and company culture.
Example: "Have you done this kind of work before?" The interviewer is evaluating your background.
Example: "What are your weaknesses?" The interviewer wants to know that you are aware of areas or skills you need to improve, as well as what you do when you identify those weaknesses.
Company Research Questions
Example: "Why do you what to work for this company?" The employer is interested in how you prepared for the interview and how interested you are in working for the company.
Example: "If you could be a cartoon character who would it be and why?" or "Tell me how many triangles are in this picture." These approaches may be rare but they do happen. Employers are testing your creativity, flexibility, and original thought processes.
Example: "Do you have any questions?" This is your cue that the interview is finishing up. Make sure you prepare to ask questions. Also be prepared for the employer to ask for additional information or documents, such as samples of work or references.
It is unlawful for employers to ask specific questions of candidates. Why? Employers could use certain information as a way to discriminate against you.
What types of questions are illegal? Questions regarding marital status, disabilities, age, race, national origin, citizenship, religion, sexual identity or orientation, and pregnancy status should not be asked from you in an interview.
Although it is not illegal to ask for the student to submit a photograph with his/her application or to take a picture at any point before they are hired, be cautious if a company requests these as it may lead to discriminatory selection.
How do you respond to illegal questions?
Many times questions of this nature are asked out of unawareness of the law or out of an attempt to make small talk, but not necessarily to use the information inappropriately. The following are tips when you encounter an illegal question:
- Try to determine the employer's motivation in asking the question.
- Clarify the question by asking the employer to restate the question. At this point, it may come out differently, or they may realize they made a mistake in asking.
- Avoid getting upset or defensive.
- Ask the employer the purpose of asking the question.
- Ask how this question relates to the position. After the interview, discuss this situation with your Career Center Coordinator for additional information and advice.
This can occur when you have received an offer from and employer for the position you applied for and it is now time to find out the amount you will get paid. Here are some steps to find out what the best thing to do is.
- Determine whether the salary offered can cover your living expenses. Calculate your monthly costs including housing, transportation, and see if it will suffice.
- Make sure you sell yourself and assure the employer of your capabilities before you get into salary talk.
- Ask for a fair price. Make sure your requests are reasonable and within the ongoing salary range for the position and your experience.
- Make the salary proposal in writing.
- Make it known that you are seriously considering this employer.
- Be professional: Avoid coming across as greedy or aggressive when asking for a higher salary. Practice and plan out how you want to phrase your request. Consult with one of our advisors if you need further help.
- Whether you are asking for a higher salary or flexibility in your work schedule, explain the reasons for it. Having a specialized skill or knowledge in an area that is unusual but beneficial for the position can be seen as a strong rationale.
- The starting salary for an entry-level position may not be negotiable but find out other aspects that may be, such as additional vacation time, more sick days, the opportunity to telework, etc.
- Keep the big picture in mind: Ultimately, does this job offer meet your career goals? Will it challenge you and provide growth opportunities? Will you fit into the company culture? You may not negotiate every aspect of the job to your advantage but consider the overall perspective of whether you will be satisfied in this position.
- Will you get a signing bonus?
- Does the salary include a commission or incentives?
- Do not bring up salary in an interview unless the employer brings it up.
- Do not specify an exact salary figure if asked by employer.
- Never under-value your worth.
- Do not fail to assess the employer's needs.
- Don’t lie about your past salary.
- Don’t discuss salary until you have sufficient details about the job or until a job offer has been made.
- Don’t appear desperate for any offer.
Labor Market, Cost of Living, Benefits, Difficulties Finding a Job
The Power of Labor Marketing
The tracking of employment opportunities and wages is by no means is a new concept to the job search. For years, students have used this information to choose a major and to improve the chances that their choice will lead to living-wage jobs and strong career paths. To learn more about how to review labor data, we recommend scheduling a Career Exploration appointment with one of our staff.
Cost of Living
- Cost of living is a factor that one should definitely keep in mind when considering looking for a job outside of one’s own state or even county, because 60K annually in Edinburg, TX could be the equivalent to 100K annually in Sacramento, CA. Not only this, but some may consider working remotely or outside of the US, which would involve further investigation in order to decide whether one location would be better to live in than another.
- Furthermore, working remotely is one form of lowering expenditures and would tremendously change the amount of money one could designate for certain necessities or luxuries, meaning that more money can simply be saved or used for a more upscale living space or high-quality clothes, among other things.
- Some elements that make up the cost of living are transportation, monthly bills (like utilities, rent/mortgage, car insurance, student loans, etc.), food, clothing, entertainment, and many others.
- Texas is among the cheapest states to live in, especially in the Rio Grande Valley. In fact, Harlingen, Texas was the cheapest urban area in the United States to live in (on average) throughout 2019.
- Sometimes, prospective employees can overlook benefits solely because of a decent wage or salary, but it can make all the difference, especially when it comes to healthcare benefits.
Some benefits to look out for are:
- Health Insurance
- Dental Insurance
- Vision Insurance
- Paid time off including PTO (personal time off)
- Retirement Savings (401k plans)
- Paid parental leave
- Wellness Programs
- Perks such as employee discounts, free coffee/breakfast
Difficulty Finding a Job
- Many students will find that finding a job after graduation, especially in our current circumstances, might be a bit more difficult than anticipated. It could take months until a student finds a job, and they may have to compromise on some of their wants, such as location or department.
- Because of this, it is good to network and research companies that could potentially hire those with a specific major. To network, students can look out for events on Handshake such as:
- Virtual Career Expos
- On-Campus Career Expos
- Job Fairs
- Another option students and alumni can take advantage of are the “Mock Interview” sessions available at the Career Center. To set up an appointment, all that is needed is a Handshake account. Quiet spaces for online interviews are also available for use at the Career Center, however laptops and web cameras are not provided.
- Resources for interviewing tips and the like are also available at the Career Center.