Ask A CM!

Hello everyone!

I hope everyone did great on their finals and congratulations to everyone graduating! This week instead of one question, we are going to do a bunch of inquiries from current NDSU students!

  1. Should I plan to apply to… 20+, 30+, or more locations?
    1. When sending out your application materials, we suggest tailoring all your documents to the specific company. If you research the company while creating your materials, it will show your interest in the company and allow for better quality overall. You will be more successful submitting quality applications then if you were to send out several mediocre applications. Always remember your resume and cover letter get you an interview and an interview gets you the job!
  2. How can I present myself as a competitive applicant if I don’t yet have relevant work experience?
    1. While creating a resume and cover letter if you don’t have relevant work experience, that doesn’t automatically disqualify you. All work experience can be relevant in some way because of the transferable skills you gain that all positions require. No matter what you are doing and where you are applying, you need to be skilled in more than just your industry’s specific technical skills. For example, being a server at a restaurant allows you to become proficient in time management, patience, communication, and problem-solving. All of those skills would be useful as an Architect, Engineer, Journalist, Marine Biologist, Nurse, or any other occupation! It is always important to gain industry specific abilities through internships, shadowing an employer, or volunteering, so never stop seeking opportunities to grow in your field!
  3. What do I do if a company requires me to move for the job?
    1. The main thing to consider about relocating for a position is your values. Your values can consist of a location preference, cost of living changes, housing, commute times, weather, salary, your family/friends, and many more. You should never sacrifice your values unless you feel comfortable doing so. There will always be another job or opportunity to pursue in the future. Whether you accept the position or not, depends on your comfort level and interest in the position in question. Being honest but professional with an employer is always a good idea when it comes to your values. If you receive an offer but you would have to relocate, it is more than okay to ask for time to think and if they have any relocation assistance. Relocation can drastically change your life, it can be an adventure, or something you regret. It is not a decision to be taken lightly and an employer should respect that!
  4. How do you negotiate your salary?
    1. Keep in mind, many employers also conduct research to ensure their offer is competitive. Not all employers are open to negotiating with entry-level candidates. If you choose to negotiate:
      1. Do your research. Check out the below salary calculators to review comparable offers and salaries:
        1. NACE Job Seekers Salary Calculator
        3. NDSU Career Outcomes Report
      2. When approaching the employer, do so in a non-confrontational and professional manner. Discuss your concern with someone on the phone or in person. Email communication is not recommended, except as a follow-up or to confirm the conversation.
  5. Should you include a picture of yourself on a resume or in a portfolio?
    1. A picture should not be included on a resume for many reasons. The main one being it can be used for discrimination purposes. The employer doesn’t know what you look like, your age, or any other specific details unless they are given on the application materials. The less you give them to discriminate against, the better chances you have of receiving a position. An interview is the employer’s first impression of you and they are able to compare your written skills and abilities to what you physically look and sound like.
    2. A portfolio on the other hand, can be different from a resume. Depending on your major and whether it is a physical copy or electronic portfolio will determine if it is appropriate. For interior design, computer science, apparel merchandising and design, and education you can have your picture in your portfolio. It is even sometimes required! For other majors such as Architecture it wouldn’t be appropriate to include. Make sure to check with other connections you have in your field such as LinkedIn, faculty, staff or any other networks to be confident in your decision to include or not to include a photo of yourself.
  6. In an interview, how do you answer, “How would you rate your experience at the company you previously worked at”?
    1. For questions regarding your previous employer relationship being honest is important, but being so honest you put the other employer down or speak negatively is not a good idea. If you left your last position on bad terms, there are professional ways to communicate that. For example, if you left because of a lack of direction or communication you could say, “I enjoy clear direct communication in my work environment, and I wasn’t able to be as successful in my last role because of the difference in communication styles.” Or “My last employer and I had different values and I felt my talents would be better utilized elsewhere.” None of these say anything negative about you or the employer, but you are still being honest! If you have a positive relationship with your previous employer, explain why and what you liked about that company culture.


That concludes this week’s blog. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday break! Please write your questions on the lower, right side of the main page of our website!

I will be answering them every Friday. Ask any question you like, no question is too small!

Signing Off,


By Andrea Richard
Andrea Richard Graduate Career Mentor