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Alum Advice: How to Land Your Next Job

Bobbie Barnes, a three-time UNLV graduate and director of the Boughner Career Services Center, offers tips for every stage of your career.

People  |  Apr 25, 2018  |  By Cate Weeks
woman by railing

Bobbie Barnes, director of the Bob Boughner Career Services Center in UNLV College of Hospitality. (Josh Hawkins/UNLV Creative Services)

When it comes down to it, says Bobbie Barnes, her advice for job seekers at any level is the same. Yet, after 14 years in human resources at a casino resort and 10 years at UNLV, Barnes comes across people who still can’t connect the dots between their success with one company and how that will benefit the next one.

Barnes, ’93 BS Hotel Administration, ’05 M.Ed. Educational Leadership and ’13 PhD Workforce Development, is director of the Bob Boughner Career Services Center, UNLV Harrah College of Hospitality. Here’s her refresher.

Do the research

A lot of people don’t bother to do the basic research to find out, “Do I even want this job?” I once interviewed someone and asked: “Why do you want work to here?” They answered with something that showed they didn’t understand what the hospitality industry was about. There’s really no recovering from that.

You have to research or your answers will be surface level. You have to know enough about the company — and yourself — to be able to articulate why you’re a good fit for them. And a strong sense of fit, both for you and for the employer, is what will land the job.

Bring enthusiasm, with balance

When you only have 30 minutes to make a strong impression, you have to do some shameless self-promotion, even if that makes you uncomfortable. Do the self-talk before you walk in so you can advocate with confidence about yourself. Of course, this goes the same for the extreme extrovert. They have to have the self-awareness to dial it back so they don’t come off as pompous or inauthentic.

Concise and customized

An alumnus with 20 years’ experience has to customize a resume for every type of position. Your resume is a marketing piece; it should be a consumable. Keep it two pages of relevant experience. Then use LinkedIn for the rest.

Cultivate your connections

There are still the passive companies that post jobs and wait for applicants, but more companies are going through LinkedIn profiles and seeking out candidates, especially for the higher positions. They’ll look to see what sort of network you’ve built and what organizations you’re involved in. And I’ll add: Among the organizations you should maintain a connection with is your alma mater.

That old saying, “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you” is truer than ever.

Stay in job-hunting mode

Sometimes students say, "It’s just my hourly job." No, it’s never just a job. Whatever position you’re in, remember that it’s really just one long interview for your next one. That attitude will set you up to be promotable with your current company or ready to make a leap to a new one.