6 Job Search and Application Tips

Summer is coming to a close and companies are starting they search for new hires. If you’re looking to apply to a job think about these 6 tips during your job search.

1. List What You’re Good At and What You Like

Before you start sending out applications to any hiring company, know yourself. List your strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, goals and dreams. You’ll waste much less time searching aimlessly online when you know yourself better. You can be more specific in your job search to find a job and company that suits you.

2. Find Something That Suits You and Makes You Happy

Now that you are properly prepared you can start the search. Find a position you can succeed in. Even better, find a company you can support and advance in. Finding a company you can support will give your work meaning and purpose. You’re passion about your work will give you the drive to make an impression and advance through the field.

3. Gather Your Experience and Qualifications

Narrow down what experience and qualifications you have that apply to the job. Think about what you’ll use in your resume, cover letter and portfolio. Do you have any online presence you can included? Or other “outside of the box” qualifiers? You don’t need to list everything on a resume, only items that most apply to the position and create a story about you.

4. Find A Way To Stand Out

When that big pile of black and white resumes lands on the employer’s desk, how are you going to stand out? Will you stand out by the design of your resume? The story in your cover letter? An unique experience? Come up with something creative so you will be remembered.

5. Represent Yourself Correctly

Sometimes we can get caught up in the formality of the job search. Don’t lose yourself in all the paperwork. Make sure you’re presenting yourself in the right way. Don’t sell yourself short. Show some personality and what you can bring to the company. You can do this through what information you choose to share on your resume and cover letter; how you design your resume; and your online presence.

6. Complete The Process

You can find numerous articles and resources on how to create a resume, write a captivating cover letter, properly dress for an interview, and how to prepare interview question and answers, so I won’t dwell on that. Just remember when you are doing the professional thing, be the charismatic you. Show your true self. Let the interviewer get an idea of you are. Genuine personality is more attractive than dishing out answers you think they want to hear.

Today I will be posting more articles and tips on job searching, applying and interviewing on Ask the Young Professional’s Facebook page! Follow today! 

What other job search and application tips do you have?

 

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9 Steps To Get An Internship

Recently someone from my university reached out to me for advice on how to get an internship. Luckily my university, Fitchburg State University, had a full time internship program set up for us so we had a little advantage. There are still some basic steps anyone can take to get an internship. I’ve come up with 9 steps for you to follow on your own.

Step #1: Start Early

If you’re looking for interning tips, most likely you’re still in college. That’s perfect. The more experience you can get before officially entering the work field the better.

If I could go back and do college over I would change two things; interning more and going abroad. Going abroad is a completely different story of itself but I do encourage you two explore that option as well.

Interning while you’re in college gives you the opportunity to not only build and define skills that you will need to get a job, but it is also the first time you will be able to see the work force first hand. This first hand experience will allow you to decide if you enjoy in this field before it’s too late. You can also narrow down what specific areas and positions you like.

Lastly, starting early gets you ahead of the game… And the competition.

Step #2 See What Your School Can Offer You

Start by seeing what your school has to offer. Is there an internship program offered through your school? Can you get school credit for your internship? Even if the school doesn’t have anything official set up, professors may have good suggestions on where to look. They also can give you great recommendations!

Step #3 Always Be Collecting and Updating

During your college career it is important to keep track of your accomplishments. Later, when applying for an internship – or a job – you will need a list of your experience, awards and projects to create your resume, cover letter and portfolio.

I highly suggest you create a document where you can keep track of what you have done, if you haven’t already. In this document you should also include the date and a brief description of each item you add. While you are collecting pieces of your professional portfolio make sure to update it at least yearly. The more frequent you update, the easier it will be to recall each experience.

Step #4 Learn About the Company and  Find A Contact

By now you should have selected a few internships to apply to. Before you send in you application make sure to do your research. Start with the company’s website. Learn about the company’s mission and vision statements, what projects they’re currently working on and find a contact.

Learning about the company will help you decide if this is the right choice for you and will help you during the interview. I might be bold enough to say that the contact will be the most important part. The contact may or may not be the internship coordinator. Maybe this contact is someone you know personally or through a friend. Either way it will behoove you to also talk to this contact before you submit your application.

Use this contact to learn more about the company and ask any questions you may have about the industry. This contact they may be able to refer you to the internship coordinator. This should help you make an impression. If it doesn’t work out with this company, you always have this contact to go back to for advice or to refer you to a different company or contact.

Step #5 Apply, Then Make The Call

Now you are ready to apply. A lot of applications are strictly online now, but if there is a number where you can reach the internship coordinator personally, CALL! I cannot express how important personal human contact is.

Of course you will go through the normal routine of applying online just like the other applicants but you will call to ask for an interview. If you do not know what to say here’s a script to follow;

“Hello, Mr./Ms./Mrs. _____________, My name is _______________. I’m calling about your internship program in the _______(say what semester here)______. I have submitted my résumé, cover letter (and possibly portfolio) online. I was wondering if I could come in for an interview.”

They may ask you to call back in a few weeks or a couple of months even. This is because sometimes companies are so busy or they get such a big applicant pool they do not do interviews until closer to the internship starting date. Do not be discouraged, just make sure you call back when they ask you to.

Step #6 Confirm

Normally you’re interview is scheduled at least a week later or more. It is good practice to confirm your date and time before the interview. If the internship coordinator was okay with you calling him/her you can call them, but some prefer email so just make note of how he/she likes to be contacted. You can call or email saying;

“Hello, Mr./Ms./Mrs. _____________, this is ____________. I’m calling/emailing to confirm our interview on __________________ at ____________.”

Then they will reply and you can say something like, “Thank you for your time, I look forward to meeting you in person on ____________.”

Step #7 Have The Interview

It’s the big day! Now you are finally having the interview. Make sure you are wearing something appropriate. There is a debate on how dressed up you should be for an interview. At the very least you should be as dressed up or a little more dressed up than the best dressed person in the office. How do you get this information? Ask your contact! Or go with one of these safeties…

For Women: A dress, but not a sundress. A skirt with a blouse. Or slacks and a blouse.
For Men: A pair of khakis or dress pants with a button up shirt.

Now that you look the part, go over your research and practice responses to interview questions. You can go here to use my mock interview to practice your responses.

When the interview is over make sure to think the interviewer and shake his/her hand.

Step #8 Follow Up

After the interview you will want to follow up with the internship coordinator. You will be thanking them again for the interview and ask when the decision will be made. Jut keep it sweet and short. This will be the last time you talk until you hear the decision.

Step #9 Wait Patiently And Pray!

Now there’s nothing left to do but wait. It will be tempting to call or email to see if the decision has been made. It will also be torture waiting. Just keep yourself busy, enjoy whatever is going on in your life and wait for the call.

** These steps are similar to the steps taken when applying for a job. On Tuesday I will have steps for applying for a job. On Thursday I will have 6 steps to take after graduating. **

What do you think of these 9 steps? Would you add any steps or advice?

How to Get the Job

Resume? …Check!

Portfolio? …Check!

References? …Check!

Cover Letter? …Check!

Impressive Professional Outfit? …Check!

You have everything they told you was required… why haven’t you been hired?

Chances are you have all the content, but your writing might be why someone else is getting chosen over you.

Having the right qualifications, easy to read formatted resume and praised recommendations are all important necessities when applying, but the cover letter is what separates you.

Picture yourself as an employer. You have two twentysomething applications in front of you. Both are from Ivy League schools, have the same GPA and meet all the qualifications. You only have the budget for one new employee. Which one do you choose?

You choose the one who most resonates with you; the one who wedges his/her way into your memory; the one who told you a better story.

“A good story goes further in the twentysomething years than perhaps at any other time in life.” ~The Defining Decade, Dr. Meg Jay (p. 62)

The cover letter is your opportunity to capture your future employer’s attention. Instead of telling a chronological explanation of your highlighted experiences and accomplishments, create an engaging story. Grasp their attention. Make them want to read your cover letter because it is different from the tens to hundreds sitting in the same pile.

Go back to the basic writing skills you learned in English class about a story arc. Do you remember this chart?

story arc

Try to use the story arc to tell your professional story. Be selective and share specific moments that can form pictures.

“As a twentysomething, life is still more about potential than proof. Those who can tell a good story about who they are and what they want to leap over those who can’t.” ~The Defining Decade, Dr. Meg Jay (p. 62)

This was hard to hear the first time I read this. I was very proud of all my accomplishments in college. I thought my experiences set me up very well. To think my experience meant nothing kind of hurt… It took my pride away, but only for a moment.

I realized the point wasn’t that the experience gathered as a twentysomething was not important, but that it was more important to showcase traits that can be improved upon. 

When an employer is looking to hire a twentysomething most likely they are looking for someone to grow with the company. Someone who has the fundamentals to be a good employee. Someone who can listen to directions and improve over time. Someone who can be easily trained.

How can this be reflected in an a cover letter? It sounds like something that has to be demonstrated in person and perhaps over a period of time.

The answer is in the story. Your well written story will show that you have the two most basic, yet highly necessary skills needed of every employee; communication and reasoning.

Having good communication means you can receive direction, relay information, and express your own thoughts. Reasoning is important because it allows you to operate on your own and make key decisions. Having both these skills gives the employer something to start with, something with a success rate that can be molded into the long term employee they need.

In your story you can relay what type of person you are and what type of employee you can be. (I think both are important.) You can reason out how you can be a key aset to the company and how you want to grow.

“Stories that sound too simple seem inexperienced and lacking. But stories that sound too complicated imply a sort of internal disorganization that employers simply don’t want.” ~The Defining Decade, Dr. Meg Jay (p. 62-63)

This is why I would suggest outlining your thoughts first. Organize them in a manor that pertains to the position and to each other. Then you can get a better handle of capturing the best illustration of yourself and keep it all on one page.

Take your time on your cover letter. Personalize them for each position you apply for. Select specific illustrated stories that most apply to the position. Get feedback (I’d love to help review your cover letter through email at asktheyoungprofessional@gmail.com).

This might not be your one chance, but it is probably your best chance to grab the attention of an employer.

I know I need to go back and update my cover letter. I encourage you to join me because it turns out our English teachers were right, our writing skills will always be important.

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Quick Tip #0024

Have a copy of your resume and cover letter as a PDF.

A lot of recruiters are like the rest of the world, they use their phones to do work. They are so many different formats your resume and cover letter can be looked at. It should be something you think about when you’re formatting your cover letter. Saving it as a PDF can save the formatting work you’ve done to make the layout just right and guide their eyes to the important parts.

Try it for yourself. Save it as a PDF then check it on different devises.

Being Well Rounded

I was lucky enough that my internship site set me up with a lot of opportunities to get advice from major professionals. One week my internship supervisor set up meetings for each intern to meet with one person from our company. On my meeting day I was able to show my resume and cover letter. It was great receiving more feedback from a professional already in the field. It was even better that I was able to learn what type of person the company would be looking to hire.

The idea was having talents to fill a full 360 degree view. With a 360 degree of talents you could potentially create an idea for a project then follow it through all its phases until completion. Being diverse in talents was valuable to an employer because they would be the option to use you for more than one project or area.

Some suggestions I was given…

Take classes. 

Increase skill levels you already have and invest in ones that I was lacking. 

Create a website.

Showcasing yourself online gives you some visual personality to stand out from the crowd. It is a great opportunity to further go into detail about what you can offer.

Be involved in the digital world.

The digital world is quickly evolving. Having at least a basic understanding where you could stay a float in the digital world can be a desired quality in a new hire. 

Overall I understood that starting off any young professional should stay fresh with practice in new skills and knowledge of new advances.