Be the Better Candidate

by: Alec Mandell

On October 2nd, CSUN PRSSA hosted a Career Building Workshop with featured alumni guest speakers Leena Ali and Monica Rodriguez. From this very informative meeting, we discussed how to best construct job application materials to secure interviews, as well as networking strategies to increase our visibility in the professional world.

The first thing our speakers outlined were résumés. While not the only tool in your arsenal, a résumé is arguably the most vital in securing an interview for jobs. Some basic aesthetic guidelines given were to limit it to one page and to make it eye-catching (not over the top though) to set it apart from the stack. Tailoring the look to the job can help with this. For example, apply to corporate jobs with a toned down look, and beef it up for a graphic design position.

As far as content, résumés should list personal contact information, employment and educational history in descending order from most recent, special skills, and any clubs or organizations if applicable. It is also important to keep it neat and concise, because with too much clutter, employers will lose their interest. Regularly update it with relevant information while discarding inaccurate/outdated information. As Leena and Monica advised, limiting job descriptions to around three bullet points per job is best and always save it as a PDF so third-parties can’t edit it.

We were also cautioned against the recent trend of including a photograph of yourself in the résumé. As our Organization Advisor and Public Relations Professional, Stacy Long, put it, “It’s another way someone can say no.” Employers can make judgements off of your physical appearance, and it is best to leave it off the résumé.

After discussing résumés, we delved deeper into supplemental materials. The most common is the cover letter. The purpose of a cover letter is essentially to pitch yourself to an employee by providing more detail about your personality, expanding upon important bullet points from your résumé, and explaining why you are interested in the position. Like the résumé, the cover letter should be articulate and concise, no more than a page long. Start by explaining why you want the position and what connects you personally to the job. It is important to get to the point quickly because most employers go through dozens of cover letters at a time and they will not read very long paragraphs. Just be sure to make it personal. Simply stating that your objectives are to work in your intended field will not stand out. Not only is it generic, but that objective is inherent in your job application. A good tip Monica gave for cover letter content was, “rewrite [the employer’s] mission statement in your own words.” This will show employers that you have a personal connection to the job. Still, make the cover letter your own.

Next on the agenda was online supplements, such as Linkedin profiles and portfolios. Linkedin was described as “FaceBook for professionals.” Using Linkedin will help build connections with other professionals in your desired field as well as acting as a source of credibility.

Adding an online portfolio of your work also lends credibility while showcasing your talents to employers much more than a résumé could ever do on its own. If you have social media profiles related to your chosen field, it might also be worthwhile linking that in any résumé or portfolio. However, we were given a word of warning regarding social media profiles. Personal Social Media profiles are checked by employers and should be scrubbed clean of any suggestable content.

CSUN PRSSA would like to thank Leena and Monica for traveling out to speak with us! We look forward to implementing their advice for all our future career opportunities.


 Wed - 7 p.m. 




Established in 1978, the California State University Northridge PRSSA provides students with workshops, networking events, internship opportunities and exclusive agency tours which help further advance their careers.


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