SMU’s Hegi Family Career Development Center is often asked, “What should I do to find my first job out of college?” This is quickly followed by the next request: “The Spark Notes Version, please!”

If your graduate is short on time or just needs a refresher course, the center offers this 4-step process to increase graduates’ odds of getting the career they want:

1. Get Started Yesterday

In this competitive job market, time is not on the job seeker’s side. It’s been estimated that at least six months is needed to secure a relevant job opportunity.

2. Know Thyself and the Company

When seeking a new job, job seekers should research salary information, re-evaluate their skills, touch up their resume, and know something relevant about each of the companies that they find most attractive. Employers are often appalled by the lack of knowledge about the positions they are offering. A generic resume often puts an application into the “No” pile.

3. Increase your Bacon

You probably have heard that Kevin Bacon, the actor, reportedly commented that he had worked with everybody in Hollywood or someone who’s worked with them. See where this is headed? Connections and networking are powerful and often the most important variables in getting the interview. Outgoing and reserved personalities can be successful when networking. Graduates should build contacts, gain insider knowledge, and get their foot in the door.

4. 30-Second Storytelling

To paraphrase Alan Kay, former vice president at Walt Disney, “Scratch the surface in a typical boardroom and you’ll find that we are all hungry for a wise person to tell us stories.” If the boardroom is hungry, the recruiters who work for these VIPs are ravenous for top-quality candidates. The art here is to mix together an authentic and concise “story” that is so enticing the employer wants to order more from your story menu. Job seekers should remember the 3 R’s: Research the company, Relate your qualifications to the company’s hiring needs, and Respect the interviewer’s time.

The Career Center is open this summer and ready to discuss resumes, networking and other career issues with alumni and students. Contact counselors by email at, by phone at 214-768-2266 or by appointment at Hughes-Trigg Student Center. Counselors also are open for questions and comments at their blog: