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Ask the Expert: Landing A Job

The director of the hotel college's career center offers her tips for today's job market.
People  |  May 14, 2013  |  By Kate Stowell
Bob Boughner Career Services Center Director Bobbie Barnes. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Photo Services)

Bobbie Barnes is director of the Bob Boughner Career Services Center in the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration. She helps graduating students (and alumni) find jobs and develop their careers. Having worked in human resources, recruitment, and training and development for MGM Resorts International for 14 years prior to joining to UNLV's staff, Barnes has a great deal of expertise to offer students and alumni. She focuses on the Harrah Hotel College. As graduation approaches, Barnes shared some insight on the job market and her top tips for landing a dream job.

What are you seeing out in the job market?

The good news is that the job market has improved over the last couple of years. This year, we've seen an increase in both on-campus recruitment and the overall number of job offers extended to students. We're not back to the good days yet, but we're certainly on the right track.

That being said, it's still very competitive. Your education is only one of the things you need. You really need to have a full package -- some work experience and great interpersonal skills -- in order to have more than one job opportunity upon graduation. Our graduates with the most career success right out of college are the ones that started networking and building their resumes in their freshman or sophomore years.

What are your top five tips for getting a job?

  1. Know what you want and why. What experiences -- academic, student involvement, work, or volunteer -- made you sure you wanted this career? Have sound reasoning for why you are pursuing this career path to share with an interviewer.
  2. Know the companies that you want to work for and the brands they represent. It's about knowing what you want to do, knowing where you want to do it, and why. Create a list of the top five companies you'd like to work for. Be able to answer why and how you chose them and why you will be a good fit in those companies.
  3. Be flexible. Your career might take you out of Vegas or to a place that is not your first choice, but be strategic. Look for a company that has a property in a city that you do want to end up in. The more flexible you are, the more opportunities you'll have.
  4. Make sure your resume is your marketing piece and really reflects who you are. Recruiters and HR only see what's on paper, so it's really important your resume reflects how amazing you are. That's where staff can help. UNLV Career Services, located in the Student Service Complex, has staff ready to help with preparing resumes and other employment documents. If you are a student in the Business or Hotel College, there is additional assistance through each college's office.
  5. Be prepared for that interview. You got the interview based on a fantastic resume. Now a recruiter is looking for someone who knows him or herself well, knows the organization well, and can tell them how and why they fit into the company. The University Career Services Center has a wonderful book with interview questions and great resume samples. We have so much to offer students; they just have to engage in the process.

What are your do's and don'ts for interviewing?

  • Do your research, and do a deeper dive than just looking on the company's website.
  • Match their verbiage. If the company uses "guest," you use guest. If they say "customer," you say customer.
  • Always dress professionally when visiting the job site, even if you are just stopping in to drop off an application or thank-you cards. A suit is a must for the interview!
  • Be nice to everyone you come in contact with at a job site. Receptionists and assistants are gatekeepers and will often be asked to evaluate the interpersonal skills of job candidates.
  • Turn your cell phone off for an interview. Don't even set it to vibrate, just turn it off.
  • Focus on what you have, not what you don't. I never want to hear a student say, "I don't have any experience, but ..." Start with what you were going to say after the "but."
  • Be confident in who you are. Don't worry if you don't have the experience. If they called you in for an interview, they obviously saw something they liked.
  • You should always have your dream, and then you should always have a Plan B. And remember that your career is not a ladder, it's a lattice. You're going to move up, but then you might move down in order to move up two steps later. It's not necessarily a straight shot, and that's OK.