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Tips on First Time Job Searching From a Human Resources Manager

As my college career grows closer and closer to finishing my college career, I can’t help but worry about what comes next. How do I find a job? Will they even hire me? What do I even want to do with my life? I know for a fact that I am not alone when it comes to having these distressing thoughts, so I asked for help from an expert. My father, Michael MacNamamara currently works as a Human Resource manager, meaning he hires people for a living, for Merck and has been in the field for 26 years. In order to help myself and other  struggling soon to be graduates seek advice on the next part of their life’s journey, I asked him all the questions you may have about this process and he answered with his own, personal guidance!


When should soon to be college graduates start the job searching process?

Fall semester of senior year is the time you should start making choices about “adult life” after college.  Where do you want to live?  What companies do you want to target for employment?  Ideally, you are actively interviewing during spring semester with the goal of having a job by graduation.


What makes a good resume?

First, always tell the truth.  Most employers conduct thorough background checks.  You don’t want a potential employer to drop you from consideration, or worse - rescind an offer.  Make sure your authentic self is clearly communicated - you’re selling yourself! Just like on a college application, you want a potential employer to know you will be a valuable contributor to the company.


How can students find companies that are hiring?

LinkedIn is your best source for initial engagement with potential employers.  Other sites like Indeed and Monster are good, but LinkedIn is Human Resource’s “best friend”.


Since most networking is now on LinkedIn, do you have any tips for using this site?

Treat LinkedIn differently from your other social media platforms.  Please save your political opinions, affirmational quotes and drunk selfies for Snapchat or Instagram.  


What is the number one thing employers look for in potential employees?

A big HR buzzword these days is “authenticity”.  You need to be yourself at work.  Studies show an “authentic” employee is a meaningful contributor to the company.  Employers want to know whether or not you are a cultural “fit”.  Likewise, you need to make sure a potential employer will allow you to be your true self, and share your values.


What advice would you give to somebody about to go in for their first big job interview?

Seemingly little things are big things.  Everyone is evaluating you - the manager, the potential co-workers, the administrative assistant.  Be courteous to all.  Be on time for your interview!  Dress professionally.  Have your narrative ready: you need to tell a story - a true story - with your resume and your questions.  Potential managers need to know you are genuinely interested in the job, and company.  DO NOT try to negotiate salary during an interview, or ask about vacation time.  And don’t forget to smile!  A potential manager doesn’t need your routine from Improv.  But they need to know you have a personality.  I’ve rejected candidates who did not crack a smile during the interview.  You could give the impression you take yourself too seriously.


Maura MacNamara

West Chester '21

Hello friends! My name is Maura MacNamara and I am a student at West Chester University studying Communications with a minor in Media and Culture. Writing has always been a big part of m life and has allowed me to express my creativity and emotions in ways I never thought possible. Aside from writing, I am a DJ on 91.7 WCUR West Chester, where I host a show called "Code Red", and can also be found watching Netflix, listening to music, and spending way too much time on TikTok.
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