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?



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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How to Customize Your Life and Not Settle

  “You wouldn’t believe the jobs I can’t even get. I go for jobs and people just look at me like, ‘Why haven’t you done something by now?’ I wish someone had told me to think about my resume a long time ago.” ~31 year old female client of Dr. Meg Jay

“You can’t pull some great career out of a hat in your thirties. You’ve got to start in your twenties.” ~ 41 year old male client of Dr. Meg Jay, advice he wants his son to know when he is twenty.

Ian (the same client Dr. Meg Jay spoke of on the topic of a search for glory) was having trouble committing to a job for a couple reasons, not wanting to limit himself and not settling being the main reasons. Ian was led to believe he could do anything, so naturally Ian wanted something unique. He did not want to settle for the normal 9 – 5 desk job.

I have to admit, I was like Ian. I did not want to be limited or restricted to a desk either. It is part of the reason why I ended up as a film major.

I think it is common for twentysomethings to think this way, especially Millennials. We’re dreamers. We dream big and want to take part in something bigger. We want to be different by making a difference. Working a 9 – 5 desk job hardly feels like a way to fulfill that dream.

When talking to Ian about his hesitation to settle for the norm, Dr. Meg Jay had the following response…

“I’m not talking about settling. I’m talking about starting. Twentysomethings who don’t get started wind up with blank resumes and out-of-touch lives only to settle far more down the road. What’s so original about that?”

What’s so original about that? Nothing.

Still, it can be hard for twentysomethings to understand and accept this concept. In Ian’s case, Dr. Meg Jay found a way to get through to him by applying Ian’s passion of customizing his bike, to his life.

Ian’s main mode of transportation was his bike. He was not a dirt bike racer nor was he a mountain biker. He liked the customized bike because it was a way to convey himself to the world. He explained how he started with a generic bike and overtime he made the upgrades he wanted. After a while he got the result he wanted but he still has to put in some extra work to maintain the upkeep of a customized bike. To Ian the bike said that he was “a product of different parts, someone who cannot be defined by a label.”

Dr. Meg Jay took this opportunity to explain that…

“Ian’s life could be personalized and changeable, but it was going to take some time and effort – and he would probably need to start with some common parts. Having an uncommon life wasn’t going to come from resisting these choices, it was going to come from making these choices. Same as the bike.”

This resonated with Ian. He could picture starting somewhere and then being able to add parts to his career to get him to the uncommon life he wanted.

This is where the difference is. Ian was not settling; he was starting. We all need to start somewhere. Then we find the chances to customize our own unique life.

The best place to start is somewhere you have talents and an interest. In my next post we will talk about how to get started.

This starting process was true for me too. I got started by jumping on an internship at Sesame Workshop. Now I have a job as a Production Assistant. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is the most basic entry level position in film and video. Nothing special about it at all and thousands of people do it. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful, I’m just saying that the position is not unique. It is the normal way to get started in the business. I now have the opportunity to learn new skills and experiences, the parts to my customized career. Maybe in the next year or so I can use those parts to make a bigger update with a change in position. Whatever happens, I cannot and could not make these changes without first starting as a Production Assistant  And I never would have been a Production Assistant if I didn’t start with an internship.

Hear what Ian had to say after he took a position in Washington D.C. as a digital designer…

“Above all else in my life, I feared being ordinary. Now I guess you could say I had a revelation of the day-to-day. I finally got it there’s a reason everybody in the world lives this way – or at least starts out this was – because this is how it’s done.”

This is how it’s done. Don’t settle, customize.


*All quotes from this post and this post series come from The Defining Decade and should be accredited to Dr. Meg Jay.*


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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.

Preparing for an Interview

I know a lot of people going through the interview process right now and with graduation right around the corner even more people will be getting prepared for interviews. With that in mind I thought I’d write a mock interview as an example of some questions you may be asked and how to answer them.  I’ve always wanted to work with Disney Pixar, so for the purpose of this mock interview let’s say I’m applying for a coordinating position with them.


Interviewer: Tell me a little about yourself.

Katie: I’m a production assistant for production management at Sesame Workshop where I help with recording time sheets, submitting invoices, PA-ing on sets and any other production needs. In college I was the Concert Head where I put on the first back to back concerts at our school, with a $100,000 budget. I have a big passion for both the film industry and concert world. I like working with a group of minds to collaborate and create a variety of different visions into reality.

Be prepared to respond to this question with a concise response that also gives concrete examples of your experience and best qualities. This will be their first impression of you so it is important to have the right balance humility and confidence. It’s all in the word choice.


I: What interests you about this position?

Katie: I have always had a dream to work with Disney Pixar. I love the company culture and environment that allows for creative minds to grow. Every single Pixar movie I have seen has inspired me in some way. Most recently I feel in love with La Luna. I want to be a part of a company that inspires and impacts children’s eyes at such a young age. I want them to be wide eyed like the young boy from La Luna. I think everyone should be inspired by life and I believe this company feels the same way.

I’m ready to move on to the next step. I’ve worked hard as a Production Assistant and Sesame Workshop taught me a lot. I’m ready for a new challenge.

I really do love Pixar so I may have spent more time talking about that aspect of it because if I really were applying for a position with Pixar my excitement and passion would not be held back. Showing your passion for the company or position is a genuine quality the interviewer wants. They want to hire someone who will fit in with their company culture and someone who will come to work with a smile every day.

I: Where do you see yourself in 5 year?

K: In 5 years I’ll be turning 29 so I would hope that I would have started a family and held a steady position either as something in production management or as in a position leading towards assistant directing.

I like to answer the question with a short truthful answer that shows I am more than just a worker, I have caring human qualities and wants beyond work. As long as you answer it truthful, you should be good. If this is a job that will get you closer to where you want to be in 5 years, even better.

I: How would someone else describe you?

K: If someone else were to describe me I think, and hope, they would say I’m a driven, dedicated young professional who puts her full effort into every job she is presented with. She’s always willing to help and is a pleasure to work with.

Preparing for this question is a good time to think about the image you set for yourself. Think about how people really do view you. Take your best qualities and express them here.

I: What is your biggest weakness?

K: They say your biggest strength is also your biggest weakness. I fully believe this because I think my biggest weakness is caring too much. I’m always thinking about others, how they’re feeling, what else they need help with. I need to actively watch myself to make sure I take time for myself and carry a healthy work load.

This is such a tricky question! It feels like a trap if you’re not prepared for it. The best advice I can give is to state a weakness you are aware of and can control. In other words, don’t say you’re a compulsive liar who hates working… or something extremely obvious is not good like that.


I: Why did you leave you last job?

K: I left my last job because I moved to California to seek new opportunities with features, where as in New York most of my options were mostly in television.

(Or why are you thinking about leaving your current job?)

K: I’m looking to pursue the next step in my career to continue to move towards my goal of being a producer or assistant director.

I’m giving you to variations here because there are numerous reasons as to why you may be looking for a new job. It might be a logistical reason, like moving, or it could be a personal reason, like career advancement or pursuing a passion. It may repeat or sound similar to a reason why you are interested in the position, but that could just reaffirm your reason for applying.


I: Tell me about your experience at        insert past job here        . (I’m choosing Sesame Workshop.)

K: I’m so grateful for my time at Sesame Workshop. It was my first exposure to a television studio and work flow. I was given the opportunity to work with crew and talent. My specific duties were collecting and recording digital freelancers’ time sheets; kept track of my own petty cash of $800, and booked meetings, hotels, travels and conferences. In addition to my personal tasks I worked with any production needs from script distributions, runs, meal planning to the unexpected.

This is a pretty easy question. Just tell them what you did, what you were responsible for, and anything else you did to help or learned a skill from.


I: Tell me about a time when     fill in situation relevant to position here    .

Someone one asked me how I dealt with working with friends, so I will use that as an example here.

K: When I was Concert Head my senior year at Fitchburg State I had the challenge of managing a group of my peers and balancing friendships. I had to keep business and friendships separate. I did this by treating everyone the same. Everyone was encouraged to approach me with any questions about the task at hand or with any problems they had with my leadership. I was open to hearing any feedback, positive or negative. I made an effort to have dedicated time at the beginning or ending of each meeting to open the floor to anyone. I learned quickly to explain things fully, set clear expectations and deadlines. Clearly setting my expectations so everyone knew where everyone stood. When there was a quarrel I took advantage of having our adviser to have an unbiased point of view help us solve our problems.

With a question like this it is important to use an example. A story will illustrate how you work and stay in the interviewers mind.

I: What questions do you have for me?

This will most likely be the last question of every interview. I’m preparing another post with a list of questions you could ask, so stay tuned!

Do you have any additional interview questions to add? What was the hardest interview question you had to answer?


For more information on interviewing please go to my Interviewing Page here.

New Pages

If you haven’t noticed already I started releasing those resource pages I promised. They are still a work in progress and I would like you feedback on what would be most helpful to you. I couldn’t wait any longer and wanted to give you what information I have gathered for you now. These are the pages I have so far:

Please let me know what you think and what else you would be interested in hearing more advice on.

Quick Tip #0015

Be diverse!

Diverse your talents and expertise as much as possible. The more talents you have, the more valuable you become to a company. You are more valuable if you have talents that can be applied to more than one area. The further a company can spread your talents the more they can use you and the longer you will stay with that company.