Mines students are often incredibly qualified for the internships and jobs they want to pursue during and after their time at school. However, the nerve-wracking process of interviewing for such positions can throw students for a loop, causing them to make mistakes and even costing them the position.
Barry Byars, Courtney Murphy, and Mary Ann Clark, Representatives of EOG Resources, understand the confusion and misunderstandings that often arise from students’ first interactions with the workforce and spent a few hours last Thursday guiding people through the daunting process of procuring a job. These three pooled their experiences with actual interviewees to explain common errors candidates make and offer simple tips candidates can use to boost their chances of landing a job.
The members of the trio are among the representatives who travel to schools for career fairs and interview candidates for jobs at EOG. The representatives began the program by explaining to the audience that everything mentioned in the presentation was based on real-life experiences of the representatives. Murphy warned that, although some of the tips in the presentation would seem fairly self-evident, “this isn’t just to remind you of the obvious. We say it because we’ve seen it.”
The program began with an explanation of the importance of internships. The representatives highly recommended getting an internship before getting a full-time job, as interning gives students a chance to try out different jobs and get to know the industry as well as increasing a student’s chances of being hired, especially by the same company he or she interns with. Murphy pointed out that a student’s final internship, if at all possible, should be with the company he or she wants to work for. Byars also warned students to watch out for companies which treat their interns like “gophers,” rather than giving them a chance to do meaningful and instructive work. These sort of internships give students no real perspective for what it is like to work in such a job and these internships tend not to impress other companies.
The EOG representatives then shifted their focus to how students ought to conduct themselves with regards to career fairs. They advised that students to research any companies they are interested in by both looking up the companies online and talking to other students who have worked for the companies. When students arrive at the career fair, they should locate the companies they want to talk to and not waste time talking to others of little or no interest.
Before approaching companies of interest, students should know what sort of job opportunities are currently available and background information on the company including location. Byars stressed that it was very important that potential job candidates know where they might want to work as well as where they definitely would not like to work. He pointed out that students need to be up-front about their location preferences, keeps the business from offering students positions in location they cannot stand.
The representatives emphasized the importance of appearing qualified and eager for the job, pointing out that students should not only dress professionally and act confident (by looking representatives in the eye, shaking their hands firmly, etc.), but should also prepare with a practice interview. This way, students can be ready for the sort of questions companies will ask as well as practice maintaining facial expressions they want to display to potential employers.
Murphy also explained fairly successful method of evaluating the appeal of companies she had seen students use. The students made an evaluation for each company and noted ahead of time the business’s available positions and office locations. After talking to the companies, the students evaluated their opinion of the position available, their fit with the company, and other miscellaneous factors. Having such a form ahead of time also allowed them to speak more intelligently with the corporation’s representatives.
Having discussed the finer points of a student’s first impression with a potential employer, the EOG representatives moved on to discuss résumés. Amazingly, one of the first tips presented was that students should be sure to include their name and contact information, as EOG has received far too many résumés that excluded any method of contacting the applicant. They also advised students whose permanent addresses are different from their school addresses to include both.
Murphy said students should be sure to include both their major and cumulative GPA, since, as Byars said, GPAs are an “initial make-or-break” factor. Not including a GPA or including only one can result in wasting the time of both the company and the student if the student does not actually meet the GPA requirements. Not putting it on a résumé keeps the company from spending the time on realistic candidates and prevents the student from interviewing with companies he or she actually has a chance with.
Murphy then explained that when listing prior internships or job experience, applicants ought to consider the difference between individual accomplishments and team accomplishments. She said that companies are much more interested in what the candidate actually did, rather than what the team pulled off or what was expected of the candidate.
She also advised that applicants who were not born in the United States state their eligibility to work in the US. The representatives pointed out the usefulness of submitting online résumés in PDF files to protect formatting. They also advised applicants to check spelling and consistency in tenses and formatting when proof-reading. The representatives also listed several things candidates should not include in their resumes, including photos, age, religion, negativity, dishonesty, memberships with any political or controversial organizations, reasons for leaving any position, or the phrase “references available upon request.” They also cautioned against submitting a résumé for anything other than an internship with a stated goal of learning something from the company. The resume should be less than a page, unless the applicant has decades of experience or a doctorate.
The next step in getting a job is the interview process. The representatives here restated much of the advice given for career fairs, that is, dress appropriately, research the company, be excited, ask and answer questions intelligently, and be sincere. Murphy warned against the use of generational slang, as not all interviewees will understand such language. She said the image candidates should be trying to portray is that “[your company] is the best company in the field. I want to be a part of what you’re accomplishing, to contribute to it and to learn from the intelligent and experienced professionals that work here.”
Candidates then need to back up that image by explaining how they can contribute to the success of the business. Finally, candidates need to consider whether or not the company offering them a job is actually a good fit. If it is not a place candidates can see themselves growing, finding training opportunities and leadership positions, or does not support a comfortable culture or environment, they should not be afraid to seek employment elsewhere.
The representatives ended with an assurance that applicants who are qualified, honest, intelligent, enthusiastic, and do not become so nervous they make easy mistakes will generally have a good chance at finding a job.