Posts Tagged ‘job search’

Getting Into the Real World Mentality

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

By Kristen Fischer,

The end of the semester is fast approaching for many college seniors. Even though you may be caught up in campus life, the professional world is just around the bend. Here are a few tips on how to get into a “real world” mentality to make the transition a tad bit easier.

Think about what you want to do. You have been studying a particular field for around four years, but that doesn’t mean you will—or will want to—automatically enter it. If you know that you want to pursue something else upon graduation, there is nothing wrong with not going into the field you studied. In fact, you’ll do better off knowing this from the get-go so you can build your career in another field. Regardless of what you want to do, learn about your options. Examine what you want your ideal day to be like. What kinds of jobs are available in your industry and in the region you want to work in?

It may sound silly but most new grads are on autopilot and, understandably, enter the working world taking whatever job they can get. But you want to build a career now that you have your degree; not just get a job. Put some thought into the direction you want to take.

Get crackin’ on a resume. I know it may seem daunting to work on something that doesn’t have a deadline—unlike turning in a final paper—but this document is equally as important. While you are on campus and have the resources, talk to the pros at your Career Services office and get tips for writing a resume, and feedback from people who know all about them.

Compiling a resume is often overwhelming for soon-to-be grads because they feel like there’s nothing to fill up an entire page, but if you really assess your skill set and look at the latest resume-writing trends, you can come up with a powerful resume that will get you the job.

Start looking for a job—yesterday. Again, you may be swamped with class work or you may be trying to relish your time as an undergrad, but nowadays, jobs are hard to come by. Add the fact that you’ll soon have to pay off loans and bills—and probably want to get your own pad at some point—and you will realize that you don’t want to be behind the eight ball. It is frustrating when your peers have great jobs lined up while they are still students. While that does not happen to everyone, many students are preparing to enter the professional world months before they graduate. Be proactive in your job search and start putting feelers out. You never know how long it will take to get a job and it’s smarter in the long run to get something fulfilling and profitable so you don’t have to take any old gig to get by. (Chances are, you went to college so you would not have to just “get by” anyway.)

Even thinking about what you want to do and where you want to live—and arranging for those things—is smart planning. Talk to your parents about the possibility of moving home or see if you can get a roommate if you want to be out on your own or plan to move far from home.

When summer starts and your classmates are at work and you are home on mom’s sofa, it may feel good for a while but it won’t be long before you will want to get out into the working world. Start your search now so you can make a timely transition.

Practice interviewing. If you aced your public speaking class and excel at debates, that doesn’t mean you will be a natural at an interview. Most of the time, the weight of landing your first job and the pressure of impending expenses can turn you into a frazzled mess when it comes time to sit down for a one-on-one. That kind of anxiety can take away every strategy you have mastered in the past. Start developing answers to common interview questions and practice a mock interview with a friend or a professional in the Career Services office. You can submit a stellar resume but the interview is what makes or breaks it. First impressions are huge in the real world.

Coming in to an office wide-eyed and bushy-tailed is common for recent grads, but you can get more comfortable with a professional environment by rehearsing answers and dressing up. Pay attention to things like how much you fidget—you may smell like an entry-level candidate to the interviewer but you don’t want to look like one, too!

Enjoy your last days in college. Even though it is beneficial to think about and prepare for the future, there is nothing like living in the now. Spend extra time with friends, sleep in, stay out late, hit up a crazy party, or enjoy campus activities. Even if you cannot wait to graduate, you will probably long to be a college student again at some point in the future—make the most of it now.

Balance, balance, balance. This is an overwhelming time for everyone so try to prioritize what matters. Yes, putting together the resume and starting your job search is important, but you may just want to get the foundation started before you start job hunting. Then you can use that time to complete coursework and make time for fun. There’s also nothing wrong with visiting a counselor to help developing coping strategies. If you’re feeling stressed, take a step back and make time to enjoy things—no one said you have to do everything before your graduation date, but starting to get things in order will help you in the future, too.

Kristen Fischer is the author of Ramen Noodles, Rent and Resumes: An After-College Guide to Life. For more tips on preparing for life after college and coping with 20-something issues, visit

Interview with LaunchSquad’s Brett Weiner

Monday, April 13th, 2009

This week on, in our Great Grad’s Gallery, we are honoring Megan Soto – a young professional who was recruited on Twitter by a San Francisco based PR agency called Launchsquad. After learning more about Megan, we wanted to know more about LaunchSquad and the partner who discovered Megan on Twitter – Brett Weiner.

Brett manages LaunchSquad’s HR and employee issues and plays an integral role in new business activities. To help job seekers understand what companies are looking for when they take their recruiting efforts to social media sites, Brett agreed to be interviewed for our blog.

Anne:  Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. So, what search methods do you use on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to find employees?

Brett: Pretty straight-forward here:

1. On LinkedIn, we look for PR people.
2. On Twitter, it’s more organic. Not necessarily proactive.
3. We don’t use Facebook that often.

Anne:  What are some things you’ve seen that would convince you not to hire someone?

Brett: We realize that the trend is to share as much personal content as possible on the Web and we’re not averse to people having a social life. We are, though, more interested when they put their best foot forward while being themselves, realizing that just because their mom isn’t on Twitter or Facebook, employers often are.

Using discretion with the content they upload and allow others to see is impressive, not just photos but also comments from friends. We’re generally put off by anything that suggests a lack of focus on school, jobs, internships as well as content or activity that doesn’t make this person appear to be a savvy online user.

In addition to content, the personality presented online can also be a turnoff. Negativity on Twitter, Facebook, and blog comments can easily translate into a general attitude for interactions with fellow colleagues, the media and clients, and the outlook towards work in general.

Anne: Is recruiting through social media outlets going to replace other methods of recruiting you’ve used in the past?

Brett: Not necessarily replace, but definitely make it easier. It’s better for getting a sense of who someone is, where their priorities are, what they’re interested in and, perhaps, what kind of work they do.

Anne: What can recent graduates be doing online that is likely to get them contacted for a job interview?

Brett: There isn’t by any means a succinct outline, but these are some things that impress us:

1. Have a blog that includes a solid, easily accessible resume
2. Comment on other blogs
3. Tweet relevantly and often
4. Show that you can create an online community around yourself and your interests

These all show online leadership and engagement in a space in which we’re deeply entrenched – we’re a technology PR firm so those things are important to us. We realize not all recent grads are going to know about SaaS (software as a service) but showing an enthusiasm to get to know this and other technologies helps – and is relatively easy to do with a blog or Twitter.

Anne: If you decide you want to interview them, how do you contact the potential candidate. Email, phone, tweet…etc?

Brett: However we can. If we can’t find email, we’ll send them a Tweet. Otherwise, we use email for an introduction then move on from there.

Anne: Will you be hiring any interns this summer?

Brett: Yes – maybe 2.

Anne: Are you hiring recent grads this year? If so, what qualities do you look for? Is someone’s major important?

Brett: Sure – we’re looking for smart, fun people with PR experience who do great work with any client. Major isn’t so important as talent. We have people here from all backgrounds, but their commonality comes with passion and drive.

Anne: Thanks so much Brett!

How to Impress Potential Employers in Less than 30 Seconds

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

Looking to get noticed by a potential employer during an on-campus meet-and-greet, career fair or student-run conference? Or, need to impress a recruiter during an on-campus interview with a foreign-owned company? You don’t have much time during these types of events. One way to stand out from the crowd is to know your current events. Being able to initiate and carry on a conversation – that doesn’t revolve entirely around your own job search – will make you more attractive to recruiters and alumni who’ve more than likely been listening to the same tired introductory speech all day or night.

One way to get some info outside of your college campus microcosm (besides Twitter and Facebook) is In a matter of seconds you can scan the front pages of almost every newspaper in the world.

They also have a virtual map so you can find newspapers even if you don’t know what they’re called. Want to know what El Mercurio is reporting today? Check it out.

Being well-read is also something you’ll want to strive for throughout your entire career. Knowing the classics is essential when you’re coming out of college. Get reacquainted with Henry James, Mary Louise Alcott, and Charles Dickens at Fullbooks. These books are posted online for you to scroll through.

Can’t Find the Name of the Hiring Manager?

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Every career expert tells you to address your cover letter to a specific person, right? They warn letters with generic salutations like, Dear HR Manager, are sure to end up in the trash bin. But some technology savvy companies make this next to impossible by not listing staff member names online, or by obfuscating HR titles on LinkedIn.

Solution? Time warp back to the 1980’s and use the telephone. Here’s a link to over 900 US companies from with tips and tricks for getting around their automated voicemail services. So, next time you’re unsure who to address your cover letter to, use this list to get a live person and just ask.

Resumes 2.0

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

May graduates are quickly discovering that finding a job this year requires  skills equivalent to slaying a three-headed dragon. Not only must graduates compete with classmates for open jobs, but they have to beat out candidates who have more experience and are willing to work for less. Finally, grads must convince overwhelmed HR personnel that after four years in school – with little to no experience – they have what it takes to succeed.

San Jose State University Senior Josephine Chandra has opted to use a better, more professional way to get noticed when seeking employment – VisualCV.  VisualCV is a free online, media-rich resume that allows job seekers to create a winning online portfolio and provide first interview content to hiring managers who are inundated with potential candidates.  The paper resume that graduates are told to use is a necessary start, but they also need to utilize tools that are better suited for the digital age: tools that can help them present a 360-degree view of their skills, strengths and accomplishments all in one place.

By incorporating the content from their one-dimensional paper resume into new mediums like VisualCV, pending graduates can present a professional online image that goes beyond text to include graphics, photos, video and relevant links to showcase educational achievements, internships, work experience, volunteer work, interesting projects, professor recommendations, and more.  For instance, this is how Jason Wray got his first job! It’s also how Alicia Alexander landed her Marketing Coordinator position with The League for People with Disabilities. (Alicia’s story will be featured in an upcoming “Interview Spotlight”.)

Learn more about how to create the perfect online resume.

Hiring Expected to Decline 22% From 2008: 20 Things Grads Need to Know to Boost Job Search Mojo

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

If you believed early media reports that companies in 2009 would be hiring the same number of graduates they did in 2008, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise. Turns out hiring for the Class of 2009 isn’t going to be flat afterall. It’s going to take a major nosedive. According to the NACE Job Outlook 2009 Spring Update survey, companies expect to hire 22% fewer graduates than last year. That’s 1/5 of the total number of jobs that would have been available last year. According to the AP, there are 2 million available jobs right now, and 1.5 million college students expected to graduate in May. Now add all the experienced professionals who have been laid off, plus stay-at-home moms re-entering the workforce, small business owners closing shop and looking for a steady paycheck.

The downturn in hiring affects all regions of the US, but the Northeast and West are the hardest hit. Companies that are hiring have indicated they will hire many less graduates than last year. So, if you’re planning to graduate this May you need to start planning your job search now. You can wait until after mid-terms are over, but no more excuses for putting it off after that.

So, here are the 20 Things Grads Need to Know to Boost Their Job Search Mojo!

Realities for the job market this year (and every year):

  1. No one owes you anything, even if you did just pay your way through school. For every one of you, there’s about 100 others who did that and more to get to exactly the same spot you are today.
  2. There’s always someone else out there who wants it more than you do. You are competing with that person for every single job you apply for this year.
  3. Only the top candidates are going to get hired. (What does a top candidate look like?)
  4. Grades will matter to some companies more than others.
  5. Work experience gained during internships will be expected.
  6. If you haven’t started thinking about what you want to do when you graduate you’re in trouble.
  7. Hard work is the only true path to success. Finding a job takes hard work.(There is no such thing as a hidden job market! There are jobs companies only advertise internally though.)
  8. Social networking is not the ticket to job offers for everyone
  9. Companies want grads who know how to sell; even for non-sales jobs.
  10. Knowing how to communicate is a critical skill for getting hired.

To improve your chances of getting hired you need:

  1. A resume
  2. A good understanding of your transferable skills
  3. An understanding of what you’re good at and what you enjoy
  4. A commitment to your job search
  5. The ability to set goals effectively (simply writing goals down isn’t even close to doing this the right way)
  6. Conversations with as many people as possible
  7. An open-mind and creativity
  8. Tenacity
  9. People who will recommend you and be a reference for you
  10. Confidence in yourself (This is where fake it ’till you make it applies…not on your resume)

On April 2nd at 9am CST I’m hosting a free webinar to discuss these issues and other topics related to career planning. If you haven’t started planning for life outside of college yet, you can’t afford to miss this free 30-minute presentation. Click here to register and submit a question you’d like answered during the presentation.

5 Things Job Seekers Should Never Do

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

1. Don’t self-select out of the interview process
When looking for a job it is important not to self-select out. If you have sent a resume in to a company you are interested in, don’t assume you have been rejected for the position just because you do not receive an immediate response. Follow up and make sure the resume was received. Keep yourself in the running for the position by being proactive and following up with the company you want to work for.

Don’t decide not to apply for a position simply because you are lacking a few of the requirements listed in the job posting. If you can develop a rapport with the interviewer, your enthusiasm and people skills just may win you the job. You may also discover during the interview process that you may not have all the skills they were initially looking for, but after meeting you they are willing to modify the job slightly to make it work. 

2. Don’t neglect to mention transferable skills to an employer
A skill you possess that can be applied across multiple disciplines is called a “transferable skill”. Recent graduates often neglect to point out their transferable skills to employers because they don’t know what they are. Identifying your own unique set of transferable skills is important to do before meeting with any hiring managers because it is a major asset in the interview process. For example, if the person interviewing you asks about whether or not you possess enough work experience in a particular area, emphasizing your transferable skills—like resourcefulness—could really come to the rescue. This is something we teach recent graduates how to do in our workshops. 

3. Do not ask about vacation time on a first interview
When you ask about benefits, pay, or time off on a first interview, you give the interviewer the impression that you have a “what’s in it for me” mentality. If you act more concerned about what the company has to offer you, as opposed to what skills you can contribute to the company, you may not get called back for many second interviews. In order to make the best first impression you can, it’s much better to focus on your enthusiasm for the position and on what you bring to the table. Make them so excited about wanting to hire you that by the time salary and vacation time negotiations come up, you’ll be in a position to negotiate.

4. Don’t forget to send a thank you note
Immediately following your interview, send a thank you letter via e-mail to the people you spoke with. It’s not a bad idea to send a handwritten note as well, but many hiring managers prefer email these days.

5. Don’t lose heart
It is critical to your success to exude confidence during the job search process. Jobseekers most not lose confidence in their skills and abilities during this period. Remind yourself why you are the perfect candidate for the job before you go to the interview. Repeat your qualifications to yourself over and over again before you sit down with the hiring manager. If you can’t believe in yourself, no one else will be able to either.

Top 20 Companies That Are Hiring

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Amidst the hundreds of thousands of layoffs being announced every month, there are at least 20 companies still looking for employees (source: CNN Money). Consider these companies for internships as well. In our opinion, the best two companies to target in 2009 for business majors are PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young.

There will be a lot of competition for these jobs, so make sure your resumes, cover letters, and interviewing skills are polished.   

Check out the web sites of these 20 companies or go to for more information about companies that hire college grads. 


1. KPMG 
(Positions in a wide range of areas, from administrative assistants to IT associates to tax and audit managers)

 –Consulting/Business/Professional Services-

2. Accenture 
(Specific IT skills, such as Java, J2EE, industry expertise and government secured clearances. Also hiring for corporate roles that include finance and sales development.) 

3. Booz Allen Hamilton  
(Software and systems engineers, information assurance and security engineers, and intelligence analysts with access to classified information)

4. Ernst & Young
(Looking to hire 5,000 college graduates in 2009 from campus recruiting events) 

5. PricewaterhouseCoopers 
(Looking to hire 2,000 students on campus for winter and summer ’09 internships in firm’s three core business units) 


6. Bright Horizons
(Center and school staff, center and school leadership positions, benefits, client services (sales), payroll, property management, information technology, marketing.)


7. Edward Jones
(Financial advisors and branch office administrators)  


8. Baptist Health South Florida
(Talent in all areas, especially RNs, allied health professionals and clerical/administrative staff)

9. Mayo Clinic
(Nursing, laboratories (e.g., research and lab technicians), healthcare professionals (e.g., pharmacists and therapists)). 

10Methodist Hospital System
(Management, nursing, clinical professionals, non-clinical professionals (such as IT and HR), entry level support services (such as housekeeping and dietary) and administrative/clerical jobs) 

11. Scripps Health
(Executives, managers, staff nurses (RN), imaging techs, pharmacists, IT, and service and support people)


(People for retail grocery stores, information systems, manufacturing, distribution and other support offices)

( Retail sales, customer service, sales, engineering & operations, EIT, finance, product development, legal affairs, business operations, human resources, marketing, integrated customer experience, corporate communications )

14Whole Foods Markets
( Retail and non-retail. Positions range from administrative jobs like accounting and IT to store-specific jobs in all departments) 

15. Wegmans
(Grocery store in the northeast looking to hire for in-store positions)  


16. Cisco Systems

17. Genentech
(People in engineering disciplines and customer advocacy)

(Engineering, marketing, product management, people operations, legal, sales)

19. Microsoft
(software design engineers, financial analysts, human resources, administrative and marketing and sales talent, particularly in online ad sales) 


20. Burns & McDonnell
(Engineering, architecture, construction management) 

Chris Matthews Offers Sage Advice to Gen Y

Saturday, January 10th, 2009


This past Friday on MSNBC’s “Hardball”, Chris Matthews bequeathed the first ever “Hardball Award” to the new Illinois Junior Senator, Roland Burris. Matthews said the award was in honor of Burris’ “moxy” for showing up on Capitol Hill and demanding to be seated by the U.S. Senate. Photos of Burris standing in the rain after being turned away from the swearing in ceremony were splashed across the television screen as Matthews applauded Burris for having the guts and the courage to show up and demand what Burris believes is rightfully his. Matthews went on to say, “This is what I tell people, especially young people. If there’s something you want, show up and demand it. Make the [other person] tell you no. Don’t you say no for them.”

I wanted to share Matthews’ comment with Gen Y and anyone else looking for a job right now because I think we often have a tendency to let our fear of rejection hold us back from asking for what we truly want. And when people don’t know what you want, how can you expect them to give it to you?

In Grad to Great we talk a lot about being authentic, not only in your interactions with others, but with yourself as well. Because if you know what you want to do, if you know what job you want; there’s no reason to be intimidated by the gatekeepers. Ask for an interview: ask to be introduced to someone that works for the company you want to work for: ask for the job. Don’t be meek; be confident, but never cocky. By directly asking for what you want, you put the pressure on the other person to come up with a reason to say no to you. If you have the qualifications for the job and if you have played by all the rules, then like Roland Burris, hopefully it will only be a matter of time before someone says yes.

Resume Advice

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Here’s a link to an article about crafting your resume by Kevin Donlin, a career columnist for a newspaper in Minnesota and the man behind Guaranteed Resumes, LLC. He’s no longer in the resume writing business, but he offers a lot of free advice for job seekers online.

I liked this article because it talks about many of the topics we cover in our book. For those who just want a quick summary of the article, here you go:

  1. Be professional and don’t use an immature or silly email address. (i.e.
  2. Avoid spelling and grammatical errors. (Larger companies use scanning software to skim your resume for certain keywords that apply to the position they’re hiring for. If you misspell the words that are meant to communicate your key qualifications, your resume will never see the light of day.)
  3. Keep your resume to one page. It is highly doubtful that you have enough experience to fill two pages at this point in your career. 
  4. Do not enhance your resume with buzzwords you don’t understand, or experience you don’t really have. Stick to the truth.
  5. Be patient. Finding a full-time job is a full-time job.

To read more about what NOT to do during your job search, click here to visit our Tips & Articles section of