Nabbing that first job

From résumé to interview, professionalism is key

Attention, Chico State seniors: The real world is a mere three weeks away… are you ready?

Chances are you’ve already headed down the road toward landing your first big job. But if you haven’t reached the desired destination, you may want to examine the route you’re taking to see if you’re heading the right way. Here are key landmarks:


Dimitri Chavis has seen his fair share of résumés. As the assistant store manager for Kohl’s in Chico, he often meets with young people looking for jobs. His résumé demands are few. Basically, he just looks for “something that looks like it took more than five minutes.”

Some people may feel overwhelmed by the task of creating a single document that accurately represents them on paper. This anxiety is understandable; after all, the average time that a recruiter spends looking at a résumé is just 10 seconds, according to the Chico State Career Center’s Web site. But creating a successful résumé doesn’t have to be scary.

Chavis suggested that résumés should be kept to one page, with a clean, easy-to-read font. It can also be helpful to include a small picture to help management attach a name to a face.

Dave Blythe-Bettes, an assistant store manager at the Old Navy in Chico, said that “a résumé is a one-page representation of you, but it shouldn’t be filled with a lengthy essay.” Instead, students should list their experience and achievements in easy-to-read bullet points. Take advantage of the precious space and include the most pertinent information.

Plus, he said, “if you’ve got an e-mail address like, you may want to think about changing it.”


The résumé is just one hurdle to jump before receiving a job offer. Often the first thing an employer will read is a cover letter. According to the Career Center, a good cover letter can triple the chances of securing a job interview, which is the candidate’s chance to sell him- or herself to the potential employer.

A three- to five-paragraph letter should accompany the résumé in order to match the education, achievements and skills that a candidate possesses to a particular job at a particular company. The cover letter should be structured like an essay, with an attention-grabbing introduction followed by details about the potential interviewee’s qualifications that are specific to the job being offered.


In all aspects, but particularly the interview, professionalism is key.

First-time interviewees should remember to pay attention to what Chavis called the “little things”:

• Actually listen to the questions that the interviewer asks.

• Enthusiasm, eye contact and confidence (not arrogance!) are also important.

• And remember, dress the part! “We actually get people come through with torn jeans and flip flops,” Chavis said.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the prospect of an interview, Blythe-Bettes said; candidates simply must show that they have a willingness to learn.

“People try to put forward what they think the employer wants instead of what they have to offer,” he said.

Chavis offered some advice for grads entering the job market for the first time: “The economy is rough, the job market is rough. Get out of your niche and don’t be afraid to branch out.”