Frequently Asked Questions during Drop-In Sessions
- Career Planning
- Cover Letter Critiques
- Resume Critiques
- CV Critiques
- Further Education
- Job Search
- Mock Interviews & Interviewing
Are there any assessments that can help me figure out what career is best suited for me?
Yes, there are both free and paid assessments. Career Cruising offers assessments on interests and learning styles. Choices Planner & Choices Explorer allows you to look at your desired career characteristics, interests, values, and work preferences. TypeFocus helps you explore your personality type and better understand how it relates to your career choice. You can choose to do 1 or all 3, it’s up to you. One recommendation is to complete them all and see what careers came up on multiple assessments. These careers would be a great place to start your career exploration.
To access these assessments: login to your student Experience Guelph account and click on “Career” on the left hand side bar. Then click on “Resources” to access specific login information for the free on-line career assessment resources.
We also have paid assessments. The Strong Interest Inventory (SII) objectively examines your interest patterns and compares them to satisfied people working in popular occupations. It’s a great tool for discovering careers you may not have considered and for narrowing down your options. The MBTI looks at personality preferences and explores the meaning of these preferences in a career context. To take either of these assessments, there is a $28 fee ($150 for alumni, one year or more past graduation). For the paid assessments, you will have to come to a drop-in appointment to determine if they are right for you.
What can I do with my degree?
Degrees lead people in so many different directions. Regardless of your major, your degree will give you solid skills you can take with you into the workforce. For specific information for your program, please review our “What Can I do with my Degree?” pages. The Government of Canada also has degree specific information in their Career Tool. Here you can research how successful graduates are at finding jobs in their field, what types of jobs they have, and how much they earn.
I don’t know what I am interested in. How do I figure this out?
Reflect back on some of the more memorable experiences you have had in your life. What is it about these experiences that you liked? That you were proud of? What do these experiences have in common? By answering questions like these, you will have authentic examples of your areas of interest and things you do well. For a detailed look at an exercise you can complete to help you, visit our Life Highlights exercise.
You also have access to free career assessments like Career Cruising and paid assessments like the Strong Interest Inventory. Here are the tools and assessments to help guide you towards discovering your interests, as well as your personality and values.
I know what career I want to pursue. Now what?
It’s time to make sure your marketing materials are current. Update your resume and cover letter and bring them in to be reviewed at a drop-in. Set up or update your LinkedIn profile and come in to have that assessed as well. Attend networking events like Career Fairs, both on and off campus, to meet with potential employers. These are just a few ideas. Come to a drop-in for tailored advice on coming up with a job search plan that works for you.
What are my values and skills? Who cares? I’ll take any job.
While we appreciate everyone needs to make money, it helps to understand what fits best with your values and skills. Knowing what you want out of a career or a job will help you find positions that will be the right fit for you. By taking the time now, you will be able to concentrate on getting jobs you actually want, and still provide the opportunity to make money.
I’m almost done my degree. I have no idea what to do next and my parents keep asking me.
We have a timeline of resources and activities to get you started. As it is your last year, take a look at the 4th year options (even if you are doing a 3 year general degree). Then take a look through years 1-3 to see if there are any steps you may have missed that you can take advantage of.
I was not able to maintain a 70% average and I am now in a general program. Am I doomed?
Absolutely not! A general degree is a university degree and it is still valuable to employers. As with an honours degree, it is up to you to market the best accomplishments from your degree, and provide employers with evidence of your skills and experiences. If you look at job postings, you will see many employers look for a degree, it is rare for them to indicate it has to be an honours degree. If you are not ready to work quite yet, you can look into college and university post-degree programs to receive specialized training for a specific field.
I hate writing cover letters. Do I really need one? I heard they are not looked at anyway.
Yes, you do need one unless the employer specifically says they don’t want one. If one is not specifically asked for, we still recommend including one. Even though the cover letter can be challenging to write, the cover letter provides the opportunity for you to professionally introduce yourself to the company and let them know why they should bring you in for an interview.
I’ve never had to write a cover letter and I don’t know where to begin. What is important for me to include?
- Opening Paragraph - Let the employer know why you are interested in working for their organization and the job. If someone has referred you to the job, mention the name of your referral in the first line.
- Middle Paragraph(s) - Present the best experiences/skills that help sell you for the job. This information should be related to the employers’ requirements.
- Final Paragraph - Let the employer know why they should hire you and what sets you apart from other applicants. Thank them for their time and let them know you would like an interview.
- Review our cover letter information for more tips and tricks.
I can’t find the name of the person to address the letter to – is To Whom It May Concern okay?
Ideally you will have the name of the person to address it to. If it has not been included in the job posting, take a few minutes to contact the receptionist of the company to see if you can get the name. You can also look up the management team on LinkedIn. Otherwise, address your cover letter to the “Hiring Manager”, as it sounds more professional than To Whom It May Concern.
What should I bring to my resume critique?
Come to the drop-in with a hard copy of your resume. The person doing the critique would like to be able to make notes for you directly on the document. It is also helpful to bring in a copy of a job posting you are interested in applying to. We can then make suggestions on how to target your resume for that job.
I don’t have a resume or I haven’t updated it in a while. Can I come to learn what goes in a resume or bring my old one?
We have some great resume resources on how to build your resume on our website. We would encourage you to review these resources first and do your best to come up with a resume draft.
*Make sure all of the information is current and up to date so that we can spend our time trying to make the resume more impressive rather than adding in missing content.
Every job is asking for experience. I don’t have any. Should I bother applying?
If it is a job you are interested in definitely apply. Usually companies looking for less than 3 years’ experience would be willing to train the right candidate. Focus on highlighting the relevant skills you have to offer through accomplishment statements. Remember to include relevant academic experiences. Also consider volunteering if that will help get the experience you need.
I’ve contributed to some really great class projects. How can I include this information in my resume?
For many students a lot of their relevant knowledge and experience comes through their studies. It is imperative that this information finds a place on your resume. It will help prove you have relevant skills the employer needs. Take a look at the academic experience section on our website for ideas on marketing this type of content.
I’ve always been told that you should never have more than a 1 page resume, however, I can’t fit all of my experience on 1 page. Is it okay to have a 2 page resume?
It is important to know your industry and the company you are applying to. Some industries, like IT or Finance, are happy with a one page resume and that is what they typically request. For the majority of organizations, submitting a two page resume is fine. Anything really important that the employer needs to know should be on the first page. The second page can showcase work or volunteer experiences that demonstrate related transferrable skills.
What is a CV?
CVs are used for applications to graduate programs, applying to positions in academia, and for research positions. They contain information about your research/research interests, teaching experience, industry experience, community involvement, publications/presentations, and awards.
I’m an undergrad. My prof asked for a copy of my CV. I don’t have any publications. What am I going to put in a CV?
Focus on your undergraduate research experience. For some students this will include information about your thesis. Highlight any research related skills through academic projects, for example, writing literature reviews, or analyzing survey data.
I’m interested in applying to Masters Programs. Where do I begin?
Talk to some of your undergraduate professors about your interests to see if they have any recommendations of programs, schools, or professors to talk to. Speak with your teaching assistants as most of them are in or have graduated from Masters Programs. They will be able to provide you with a realistic perspective of what it is like to pursue a graduate education. You can also utilize resources like our Beyond Grad Fair held every October. Schools and Departments come to the University of Guelph to promote their programs. SchoolFinder and UniversityStudy both allow you to search graduate programs and the schools that offer them. Drop by the Graduate Studies office to find out more about graduate programs offered at the University of Guelph.
I don’t have the marks to get into a Masters. What else can I do?
While it may be disappointing not to get into a Master’s program, there are other options you can pursue. Consider post-graduate university certificates or college programs. Another option is to enter the workforce. Come to a drop-in appointment to discuss your options with a Career Advisor.
How do I get references for my Masters/Graduate School application?
It’s important to connect with faculty during your 3rd year or at the beginning of your 4th year if you haven’t already. We recommend talking to them as soon as you can to secure them as a reference. Pick faculty members who will be able to speak to who you are as a person rather than just being able to say you are a good student who attended class every day and got high marks. Provide your possible reference with information about the program you are applying to, as well as your application materials.
What’s a Personal Statement/Letter of Intent?
Personal Statements are short writing samples that provide the department you are applying to with an idea of how you will contribute to their program and who you are as a person. Letters of intent address the type of research you would like to do and how you are looking to make a contribution. For more information on these documents, we have created tips on what to include. You should always check the requirements directly from the institution you are applying to, as what needs to be included can differ by school and by program.
I want to study abroad. Where can I get more info?
Many University of Guelph students take the opportunity to study abroad. The Centre for International Programs runs Guelph’s study abroad program.
I keep hearing about college post-grad programs. What are they?
Colleges are offering post-grad programs to students who have graduated from a university degree program or a college diploma. Typically, these programs are condensed, less than 1 year in length, and provide career focussed training. Take a look at your options on Ontario Colleges.
I don’t know anyone in my field. My parents don’t know anyone. How am I supposed to network?
The University of Guelph provides many opportunities to meet with employers. Login to Experience Guelph and look at the events information on the main page. There are employer information sessions, networking events, and careers fairs happening throughout the fall and winter semesters that will give you multiple people to connect with.
What companies or industries are actually hiring?
Doing research on labour market information will help answer this question. The Government of Canada releases labour market information for regions across Canada. Cities and regions release economic reports that highlight industry and company growth. Typically, these materials can be found on the city or region websites for where you live or where you would like to live.
I don’t have any experience. Every job I see is looking for 3-5 years. Should I bother applying?
There is no denying having direct experience helps get you an interview. However, experience is usually one of many requirements employers list in their job postings. Our recommendation is if you have 75% or more of the qualifications you should apply. Always focus on selling what you do have.
Usually jobs needing 1-3 years’ experience are considered entry level. Because the employer would need to train their new hire, it makes sense to apply. It may be more challenging to get a position with no experience when they are looking for 5 or more years’ experience. Given the competitive job market we are currently experiencing, the reality is the employer would most likely get enough applications of qualified experienced applicants. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if you want to apply, there is no harm in trying.
Do you know any jobs I can get with my degree?
We have a great deal of information on this topic on our website under “What Can I Do with my Degree?”. The Government of Canada also has degree specific information in their Career Tool. Here you can research how successful graduates are at finding jobs in their field, what types of jobs they have, and how much they earn
I’m in my final year. When should I apply for jobs?
Start as soon as you arrive back in September. Many employers post in the fall and then hold interviews over reading week. If you wait until January or April, you will have missed deadlines for applications and many job opportunities.
I know about Monster. What are some other sites that might help me?
It’s worth mentioning that the number one way to get a job is through networking so try not to solely focus on online applications. Common sites include: Experience Guelph, indeed, eluta, talentegg, and jobpostings. There are also degree specific sites listed on our website under “What Can I do with my Degree?”
I have no experience so I want to get an internship. How can I find one?
Some companies and organizations hire interns. These opportunities can be both paid and unpaid. In addition to internships, you should also focus on entry level paid employment and volunteer opportunities. This is a list of popular internship websites you can explore.
Career/job fairs are a waste of time. Employers are never hiring for my degree program. They’ll just tell me to apply on-line anyway. Why should I go to a career/job fair?
It is really important to learn directly from employers’ the experiences and skills they are looking for in candidates. At a career fair you will be able to practice answering questions and speaking with employers, as your conversations are like participating in many mini-interviews. If you are encountering resistance because of your degree program, stop mentioning it. Instead, focus on the top skills or experiences you could bring to the employer, and how these experiences/skills would allow you to contribute to their organization.
Even if an employer needs you to apply online, that does not mean they aren’t interested in you as an applicant. For most large organizations this is standard practice, even internal applicants apply for positions this way. If you feel your conversation with the employer is going well, ask for a business card. Follow up directly the next day with a short email thanking them for speaking with you and reiterate what you would have to offer to the organization. Ask about the possibility of setting up a meeting.
I want to work outside Canada. How do I find out how to do this?
If you are a Canadian citizen looking for full time permanent work in your field after you graduated, this can be challenging. In many instances you will have to find a company that can support your visa application. The employer will have to prove to their government that there are no citizens in their country qualified to do this particular job. Another option is to find a Canadian firm that has international locations or does a lot of work overseas. In this case, the organization will help you arrange your visa.
If you are looking to “backpack” after graduation and need a job to help pay for your travel, there are usually international opportunities in teaching, hospitality, seasonal work, and tourism related businesses. There are also organizations that charge a fee to help you arrange your visa, find employment, and help with accommodations.
Co-op & Careers Services has a great resource, MyWorldAbroad, where you can find a great deal of information on international work and travel.
I don’t want to work for anyone else. I want to start my own business. Are there any resources I can access?
Absolutely, students from any major can take an entrepreneurship course, MGMT*4050/4060, as long as they meet the entry requirements. There is also support offered through the Hub Incubator Program. Review our additional entrepreneurship resources on Experience Guelph.
I want to volunteer/work on campus. Where do I find out what’s available?
Getting involved on campus is an excellent idea and there really is an opportunity for everyone. Here is our brochure on where to begin applying.
I applied for a job online and received an email that they will forward me opportunities, but they need my banking information to deposit cheques. Is this something normally done by employers?
No, it is not. You should never give out your banking information online to be forwarded job opportunities. Reputable organizations would not ask you to do this. For more information, the Ontario government has provided this resource on employment scams.
How can LinkedIn benefit me?
LinkedIn is a great social media resource tool to help you with your career and educational planning. It allows you to broaden your network and connect with people. Take the opportunity to join industry and job search groups. Research people doing the job you would like to have as well as potential organizations you would like to work for. Follow companies and get updates when they are hiring. Employers also post jobs you can apply to. Start using LinkedIn today!
Who am I supposed to connect with?
Start with your friends and family. Branch out to former supervisors, co-workers, classmates, professors, or volunteer contacts. Join the University of Guelph alumni group and try to connect with people who have graduated from your program. Join groups and connect with people that share similar interests as you. After you have attended a Career Fair, try to connect with some of the employers you had great conversations with. Some people will connect with anyone, other people are more selective. Ideally, you want to have had contact with someone, either through a direct message or in person before you try to connect with them
How do I make my profile different from my resume?
There will be some similar content on your resume that you will also have in your LinkedIn profile. Keywords should appear in both so potential employers can seek you out for job opportunities. They should both include examples of your accomplishments and proof that you are a great employee. With LinkedIn you have the opportunity to add in more information than you would on a resume. For example, for your education, work and volunteer experiences, you are able to add documents, photos, links, videos, and presentations. While a resume should be extremely targeted to the job and company you are applying to, a LinkedIn profile has the potential to be seen by a lot more people and should highlight the best you have to offer any employer. Review additional LinkedIn information.
Do I need to bring anything to a mock interview?
Normally when booking a mock interview we will ask for you to submit copies of your application materials 48 hours in advance, e.g. cover letter and resume, as well as a copy of the job posting you have applied to. This is the only way that we can develop relevant questions. If there is no job posting, at a minimum we need to know what field you are interested in. You should bring a copy of your application materials to the interview. For a real interview, it is always recommended to have several extra copies of your application materials in case you will be meeting with more staff members than expected.
What can I do at home to help me prepare for my interview?
Start jotting down some of the accomplishments or experiences you feel proud of. Use the STAR acronym, Situation, Task, Action, and Result to guide your answer. Most examples will give you several skills that could be highlighted and discussed in an interview. By practicing this way, your answer could be used for a variety of questions, not just one.
It also helps to take a look at common interview questions and prepare answers in advance. What is most important is to practice saying your answers out loud. Try having a friend, family member, or roommates ask you the questions and give feedback on your responses.
What can I say when I have no example or no idea how to answer a question?
Take some time to think about your answer. As uncomfortable as it can be, silence during an interview is okay. You can always ask them to repeat the question to give you more time. Try and come up with the best answer you can, even if it does not target exactly what they are looking for. You can always ask them when you are finished if you’ve captured what they are looking for in your answer. If you are really stuck, ask if you can come back to the question later on in the interview.
What if they ask me about money?
Our recommendation is to avoid talking about compensation until the end of the interview. This gives you enough time to sell yourself and also for you to learn more about the employer’s expectations. Start by asking the employer what the salary range is for the position, that way you can quote a figure within that range. If the employer can’t quote the salary range, give a range back for your answer, e.g. $35-40K. To successfully give the best answer for you, it is important to do your research beforehand through the Government of Canada job bank or PayScale.
I interviewed 2 weeks ago and have not heard anything. Should I just continue to wait to hear from them?
Give them a call and find out the current status for the position. Let them know you are still very interested in the position. Another tip, before you leave your interview, ask when they are expecting to make a decision by. Then you can ask permission to follow up with them if you have not heard anything by that date.