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On the Brink… June 23, 2007

Posted by Amanda in The Job Maze.
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Did you ever have that moment as a kid where you’re at the local swimming pool and you decide you want to jump off the tallest springboard? So you pull on your arm floaties and march up to the long line of older kids waiting their turn. You’re so impatient to get to the front of the line. When it’s finally your turn you climb all the way to the top as quick as you can. Then, when you’re standing on the very edge of the board, you freeze. The magnitude of what you’re about to do finally hits you and you are so scared to take that final step off the edge…

Well that little kid right now is me. And no, I’m no longer seized by fear when jumping into the pool, but it is my last semester of college. And the waters below are not the crystal blue color of the pool, but the turbulent seas of the job market. I’ve had it all planned out for years. Just work hard and do well in school and then at the end, when college is over, there will be a wonderful job waiting. A place where everyone can’t wait to go to work every day and love what they do. The fact that it is well paying is just icing on the cake.

But it’s not that easy. There’s no guarantee on getting a job. Finding one that’s liked or even loved is even rarer. And yes, we live in the great United States where everyone should be able to succeed as long as they work hard. But it doesn’t always work like that. We’re in an age where personality tests and computer based resume screeners tell companies if they should hire us or not. And even if you do everything right that you can think to do, you may not even get an interview.

It’s a long ways down… Both exhilarating and terrifying…


Following Up on the Interview September 8, 2006

Posted by Amanda in The Job Maze.
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Send a Thank You Letter. Yes, it may seemed oldfashioned and that no one cares anymore. But they do. It is common courtesy to send a thank you letter and it could be considered rude if you do not.

Because sending a letter IS so common, you should not rely on that alone. An article from the Career Journal says:

It’s Time to Call

Five to seven days after mailing your letter, place a follow-up call with the explanation that you want to make sure the interviewer received your note.

Undoubtedly, you’ll be told that your letter arrived and was read. What’s important, though, is that while your competition is still hoping to hear back from the company, you’re talking with the person who will make the hiring decision. This gives you the opportunity to deepen your relationship and move ahead of other applicants by engaging the manager in a stimulating conversation.

Good subjects to discuss on the phone include any aspect of the position that remain unclear. You could revisit an important issue from your interview or elaborate on a key point. You also might ask an insightful question about the job, the manager’s department or the company. If you heard of a significant business development, ask about its effect on the organization.”

Interview Tips For the College Graduate September 7, 2006

Posted by Amanda in The Job Maze.
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So you went to the career fair and they now want to have an interview with you. What you should NOT do:

Fumbling the Interview
Common mistakes job candidates make during interviews, based on a recent global recruiter survey. (
Link to this article here)

  • Talking too much
  • Lack of knowledge about company or position
  • Over-inflated ego
  • Appearing overly confident
  • Inquiring about compensation too early in the process
  • Unkempt appearance

And now here is what you SHOULD do, if you really want the job.

Arrive early. Not on time and definitely not late. You want to be about 5-15 minutes early. NO MORE than 15 minutes. If you are that early, it becomes an inconvenience to the interviewer. I usually shoot for about 10 minutes on the dot.

Do not Chew Gum. This one seems like a no-brain-er, but it really distracts from your polish when you’re chomping away at that piece of juicy fruit.

Listen carefully. If you look distracted and bored during your interview, it does not give them a good impression of how you will react to customers. Since you are trying to sell yourself to the interviewer, show interest in what they are talking about. Listen actively and try to pick up on key points about the business.

Make a connection. Try to find some common points between you and the interviewer. Try to relate to them. Making a connection with the interviewer will put both of you more at ease and leave them with a better feeling about you. Personality is a plus to help set you apart.

Ask questions. It is important to always have a few questions to ask the interviewer. First to show interest in the company and second to show you’ve been paying attention to what they have been saying. Here are a few sample questions you could ask:

– Why is this position available?
– What would you like done differently by the next person who fills this job?
– What are some of the objectives to be accomplished by this position?
– What are the long term objectives for this position?
– What are some of the more difficult problems in this position?
– What type of support does this position receive in terms of people, finances. etc?
– How would objectives, deadlines, and methods of measurement be determined? How much input would I have?
– What advancement opportunities are available and in what time frame?

Call to Action. Always ask when you can expect to hear back from the company regarding this position. It’s important to set a time-frame so that you know when to follow up. I’ll cover how to follow up in my next post

Top 10 Tips for Attending Career and Job Fairs September 6, 2006

Posted by Amanda in The Job Maze.
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Top 10 Tips for Attending Career and Job Fairs
1. Have a pen/pencil and paper available for notes.

2. Bring resumes and a folder or portfolio to hold your materials. [Business cards are also good to have.]

3. Take the time to find out what companies will be represented before the day of the career fair.

4. Research information about the participating companies and organizations prior to approaching the recruiters. Use the Internet, news sources and career fair materials to learn about the companies’ booths you plan to visit. You can impress a recruiter by knowing about his or her company and can discuss its current situation.

5. Use time wisely. Determine where employers are located and in what order to visit them. Focus on three companies that you are truly interested in.

6. Broaden your focus and include many types of employers. For instance, you may not have considered working for a hospital, but hospitals recruit and hire professionals in many different fields (e.g., management, information systems, or health care).

7. Be aware of time demands on employers. Do not monopolize an employer’s time. Ask specific questions and offer to follow up after the fair, as appropriate.

8. Be direct. Introduce yourself, including your name and career
interests. If you are job-seeking, state the type of position in which you are interested. If you are gathering information, let employers know that you are only interested in materials and information. Remember to use good eye contact and a firm handshake. Career fairs are the perfect place to use your elevator speech.

9. Make sure you learn from the recruiter employment and/or hiring trends, skills necessary for different jobs, current openings, salary, benefits, training, and other information about the organization. Also make sure you know whom to contact for follow-up discussions.

10. Ask the employer for the next steps in the recruitment process
and try to obtain the recruiter’s business card for follow-up discussions/correspondence.

Source: Compiled by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Top Ten Tips for Attending Career and Job Fairs, http://www.careers.com

Getting Noticed September 5, 2006

Posted by Amanda in The Job Maze.
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Marketing Headhunter has been on my blog list for some time now, as Harry Joiner posts many informative articles which could be adapted to suit College Grads (if you’re a marketing major, or just looking for a job period, I encourage you to read some of his advice). One of his recent articles really caught my eye. How do you reach hiring managers when their gatekeepers are good at their jobs? Common advice is to send them an email directly. However, not all of them have their emails in an easily accessible. Here’s what Harry suggests:

So: If you want to send an email directly to your hiring manager, try visiting Whois Search and entering the URL of the firm you wish to solicit. After entering a special onscreen code, note the format of the email address of the firm’s Webmaster. Try sending an email to your contact using that format. See example. This trick is especially effective for Hoover’s users, who can lookup the names of the firm’s officers and copy multiple recipients in on the same email.

I encourage you to read the rest of the article here. After talking with Harry a little bit he added this opinion:

I think this tactic is especially differentiating for college grads. if you try this and it works — then you know your values are confluent with the hiring company’s. If they frown on this kind of unconventional, noise-busting personal marketing, then that’s useful to know as well.

So to all you College grads, don’t be afraid to take a few risks. It takes effort to break through the clutter.

Inexperience is an asset August 22, 2006

Posted by Amanda in Business Tails.
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When “Tag-surfing” a new a feature of WordPress, I ran across Mike Foroobar’s Weblog and he had some interesting thoughts.

In hiring an employee or contractor, experience is almost always at the top of the list. But it’s this type of thinking that breeds insularity. Experience is a great thing, don’t get me wrong, but your payroll should be healthily balanced between inexperienced, outside-the-box thinkers and those who know the in’s and out’s of the industry. The key is hiring people who are looking to learn, who aren’t afraid to take risks, and who, most importantly, hold themselves accountable for their failures as well as successes. Like everything else, even failure, in moderation, is a good thing.

It is too easy for people to get stuck in a rut of just saying, “Well, that’s not how we did it last time.” and we all need the little reminders to shake it up. Innovation can be brought by a different approach to an old problem. And just because you have a solution does not mean it is the best, or most effective one.

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