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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Dr. Meg Jay from The Defining Decade – 30 Is Not The New 20

Check out my girl, Dr. Meg Jay! She’s on TED talking about her lessons for twentysomethings.

I did a post series on her book, The Defining Decade, where we learned about the importance of using our twenties to build of future in work, family and personal life. Listen to this talk, read some of my posts, and take the time to read The Defining Decade. If you learn and act, you will be better prepared than most of your peers.

“Thirty is not the new twenty, so claim your adulthood, get some identity capital, use your weak ties, pick your family. Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do. You’re deciding your life right now.” ~Dr. Meg Jay

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Where Have I Been!?!?

Oh my goodness it feels like years since I’ve written a new post! I apologize to all of you readers and I thank you for the continued support of comments and views while I was away. And a very merry welcome to new followers!

As you may know, I am a production assistant for Sesame Workshop, meaning I work at Sesame Street helping with a variety of tasks to make creating the show possible. The last few weeks have been crazy busy! We’ve been at the studio creating new pieces for the show. Although I can’t give you any clues as to what we did, I can tell you that I am surrounded by so many creative and talented professionals. The team never seizes to amaze me, the writers especially. The writers are so talented in creating content that is educational and entertaining for children, but also have content for the parents, guardians, babysitters, nannies, teachers or whoever is watching the children.

Since I’ve been away so long, I thought I would share with you the type of work I have been doing while I was away…

Studio

Our studio is at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens. The studio has been there from the very beginning! When we are shooting at the studio I have a variety of tasks to complete so everyone else can do their job smoothly. Let me give you a generally run through of my day…

The day before I will usually receive the running order. The running order is basically our shooting schedule for the day. I print and distribute copies to everyone the day before so they know if there have been any changes and what to have ready first. Some people receive timed running orders, which are the same thing but someone has written the actual times of when we should be doing what and how long it should take. This is how the producers, stage manager, director and a few others can see if we’re on time or not.

In the morning I come in and immediately check my email. Even though I handed out the running orders the night before anything can change in a matter of hours… minutes really. Sometimes there are no changes and sometimes I have to start all over again. Either way, in the morning I hand out any running orders to people who weren’t there the day before and put up two extra large printed copies on the studio doors and talent doors. During the day the production stage manager will cross out what we’ve completed so everyone knows where we are. And it’s a real motivator to see how much we’ve done!

In addition to my running around with running orders (see what I did there 😉 ) I set up snacks and waters in the control room, hand out walkie talkies, refill water coolers and make sure the stage manager has waters on set for the talent. You may have seen my quality snack presentation on my Instagram. These tasks are small but I take pride in them. The little things need to get done so the big project can be fully functioning.

At a break before lunch I check in to see who needs lunch orders. There might be a vocal recording or meeting during lunch, these people will need personal lunches ready for them. These people could be talent, producers, directors, clients, international partners… basically there’s a potential I’m getting lunch for someone who is important. I need to coordinate my time to make sure I can get all the lunch orders at a time that is not interrupting their work schedule, order the food with enough time for it to arrive on time, and set it up before the lunch break. Taking these lunch orders gives me an opportunity to meet some pretty amazing people. Taking lunch orders and going on coffee runs is how I first met a lot of people at Sesame who are the reason why I work here.

The rest of the day is a little less planned out. I can get a random phone call to go on a run to pick something up for the director or an email saying we’re making changes that I need to notify people of. Sometimes I have time to observe on set. I learn so much from just observing. It’s also a great time for people to learn more about me by coming over chatting when they have a break.

Studio time can be a little hectic. I can wake up at 5am and not be back in my precious bed until after midnight. Normal call time for me is 7:30am at the studio, but depending on the work load I might come in earlier to set up. A normal wrap time can be from 6pm – 9pm. On long days we work more than twelve hours. I’ve learned how to get into a routine to keep me going for an entire week. You learn to adapt your lifestyle to what work asks of you. There are weeks when I’ll wake up, go to work, go home, have dinner, shower, go to bed and never see my roommates. It can be tiring but studio time is my absolute favorite! I would rather be on set than anywhere else!

Gala

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I was asked to help the stage manager for our Gala. You may have seen my pictures on Instagram for this as well. I was an assistant stage manager for the Sesame Workshop benefit dinner where we honor people for the extraordinary achievements and raise money for Sesame productions. The Gala is basically a dinner and a show. We have celebrity hosts, Muppet bits and a musical act. This year we had George Stephanopoulos and Ali Wentworth as our hosts and the PS22 Chorus for the musical act. A stage manager’s job is to make sure the show runs smoothly and talent has their cues. This was a one day project so we arrived early for a meeting with the director. When I say “we”, I mean the 3 camera men, the teleprompter, the other assistant stage manager, the stage manager, the assistant director, the director and myself. The director went over the script with all of us to share his vision of when shots and entrances would take place. I was out in charge of all the Muppeteer entrances. I marked up my script to see who had to be where, when and with what.

I loved working the Gala because I had never done it before. It was kind of similar to my theater experience in high school, but I was never actually a stage manager. It gave me new exposure to something that I think I could do one day.

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks but I love the chaos. The constant need of things getting done gets my adrenaline pumping so I can keep going throughout the day. What I’ve learned from my time at Sesame Workshop is to do everything that is asked of you to your best potential and do it with a smile.

If you have a job that at first glance might not look too important, look again. You’ll be surprise how much you would be needed if you weren’t there. Make an impression by taking yourself and your job seriously. Go above and beyond the normal. It’s a great opportunity to show your potential, but most importantly you will be happier at your job.

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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But These Are Supposed to be the Best Years of My Life!

Twentysomethings too often think their lives are supposed to be a glamorous party life or a meaningful life of saving the world. There are too many preconceptions we, twentysomethings try to live up to. These preconceptions about what the twenties are supposed to be are misleading. When our twenties are not like this it causes many twentysomethings to become stressed and sometimes depressed. So, what is the truth? Dr. Meg Jay says in her experience “’…these are the most uncertain and some of the most difficult years of life.’”

Twentysomethings want to discover their full potential. When we don’t know where to start looking, we compare ourselves and our dreams to these preconceptions instead of looking inside for our potential.

“Working toward our potential becomes what developmental theorist Karen Horney called a search for glory when, some how, we learn more about what is ideal than about what is real.”

People on a search for glory are easily spotted by their enslavement to “shoulds” and “supposed to’s”…

I should be working for a company who is trying to make a difference in the world… I’m supposed to be traveling through Europe discovering myself… I should be at the same work level as my friends are… I’m supposed to be having the best years of my life!

I don’t think any of these things would be necessarily bad, but the constant comparison is not good. This is what Horney would call the tyranny of the should.

We should be working towards our potential, not glory. (And that’s one good “should”.) Someone’s potential consists of working towards the goals he/she has set for him/herself. These goals are personal. They are unique for every person. They can come from within out unthought knowns. “Shoulds” and glory are judgements we make on ourselves from the outside. Judgements based on others’ potential.

“Contrary to what we see and hear, reaching your potential isn’t even something that usually happens in your twenties – it happens in your thirties or forties or fifties”, says Dr. Meg Jay in The Defining Decade.

These are the years where, just like everyone else before us, we do the grunge work. We work for underpaid jobs and overqualified jobs. (Remembering to choose the job with the most capital.) We do the work no one else wants to do. We do it, and we do it with a smile. This is a time to not only show what we can do but also to learn from the more experienced.

 

*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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What Career Path Should I Take?

After walking off the stage with your tassel turned and a diploma in your hand the adrenaline is high and you’re ready to take on the world! The next day the sparkle starts to fade as you as yourself, “So now what?”

Ian was one of the twentysomethigns who met with Dr. Meg Jay to move pass this point. He didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do which left him feeling lost. He described this feeling as treading in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight.

Having too many choices can cause us to want to tread water rather than swim in one direction. Treading water can keep us in one place but at least we are staying afloat by meeting minimum requirements like paying monthly bills.

We are afraid of choosing one direction because it might sacrifice opportunities of an alternate direction. Instead of taking a risk we stay right where we are at our dead end, overqualified job with no capital, hoping… dreaming that a choice will be made for us or suddenly become clear. We wait for a raft to come drifting by offering protection, when in reality that is not going to happen.

“Not knowing what you want to do with your life – or not at least having some idea about what to do next – is a defense against that terror.”

In other words, not knowing what to do is not a reason to wait to take action; it is an excuse to not face the terror of taking charge of your life and making decisions.

“Twentysomethings who make choices are happier than those who tread water.”

We do have some idea of what we want or what we could do. Dr. Meg Jay suggests we start by looking at our past and thinking about our futures.

What were some of your interests growing up? Did you develop any skills? Maybe you enjoyed working with your hands or working with numbers.

In the future do you see yourself working behind a desk or out in the field? Can you see yourself working in the city? Maybe you’d like to see yourself working for a corporate company or for a nonprofit.

“You’ve spent more than two decades shaping who you are. You have expectations, interests, strengths, weaknesses, diplomas, hang-ups, priorities. You didn’t just this moment drop onto the planet or, as [Ian] put it, into the ocean. The past [twenty-something] years are relevant.”

Unfortunately our parents have been lying to us… the sky is not the limit. The truth is we have skills and passions we developed in the past. We have desires and dreams about our futures. All of this narrows down out options for potential career paths.

Asking yourself questions about your past and future, narrowing down your options leads us to what psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas calls the unknown thought.

“Unthought knowns are those things we know about ourselves but forget somehow. These are the dreams we have lost sight of or the truths we sense but don’t say out loud. We may be afraid of acknowledging the unthought known to other people because we are afraid of what they might think. Even more often, we fear what the unthought known will then mean for ourselves and our lives.”

Twentysomethings need to take the time to explore our unthought knowns. Be honest. Explore every avenue. It could be helpful to write down a list of your skills, experiences, interests from the past and your thoughts on the future. Seeing them written down in front of you will make them seem real. You can compare and research reasonable options for which path to take.

Remember, making a choice does not mean another choice is lost. It only means your next choices will be “better informed”.

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