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How can I make my resume appealing to employers?

resume1Shane from Red Rocks Community College asked:

I have been out of the workforce for almost three years.  I have been taking classes to pursue a degree and now that my course load will slow down to half time, I want to get some part time employment in my chosen field. I am concerned about my resume.  It does not reflect any experience in this field and does show the gap in my employment. What are some creative and truthful ways to dress my resume for success so that a potential employer can see I am strong candidate candidate?

Hi Shane –

The first thing to remember is that your resume is a marketing document, not an informational document.

Its purpose is NOT to present a general summary of everything there is to know about you.

Rather, its purpose is to present the most relevant information about your qualifications (education, experience, skills and characteristics) in meaningful and accessible ways.

Here are some quick tips:

Your Contact Information

Provide your name, email address and one phone number.  If you have a LinkedIn account and you maintain that account, you should also list the URL to your LinkedIn profile in your contact information.  Don’t provide multiple email addresses or phone numbers, and only include your mailing or physical address if you can find a compelling reason to do so.

Warning! I saw it on a resume template is NOT a compelling reason!

Ask yourself:  Does a potential employer really need to see this information in order to consider me for employment?  If the answer is “no,” leave it off your resume.

Your Education

If you are using your education at the catalyst for a significant change in your career path, put your education before your experience.  It is more relevant to where you want to go with your career, so it will be of greater importance to potential employers.  I assume that you are pursuing a degree that related to your chosen field. (I certainly hope so!).  Use your Education section to highlight relevant coursework, experiential class projects, academic achievement, etc.

Don’t assume that potential employers know anything about the degree you are pursuing.  You have to explain it to them.

Ask yourself: What about my education do employers need to know in order to consider me for employment?  Focus on that information in your resume.

Your Experience

Your past experience may not be directly relevant to the types of jobs you wish to pursue, but it does say something about your maturity, dependability, professionalism, ability to work well with others, ability to deliver quality service, and a variety of other skills and characteristics employers value and seek in potential employees.  Use your Experience section to illustrate (through examples) the qualities, skills, and characteristics you offer.

Don’t simply list job description information!  Job descriptions say nothing about you – they are all about the job itself.  Your resume should be about you.

In describing your experience, focus on YOU and not on the the positions you held.

Your Time Away from the Workforce

You mention that you have been out of the workforce for three years AND that you have just transitioned from being a full-time student to being a part-time student.

Be ready to have that conversation with potential employers.

Be ready to talk about how you are using the opportunity away from the workforce to get more education, to become more skilled and to become skilled in new areas.

Whether you left a job to go back to school or your job left you, you decided to take advantage of the opportunity to become more employable!  THAT is a good story!  That is the kind of story potential employers like to hear.

Your Interests and Hobbies

Be careful including hobbies and interests on your resume.  Make sure they are serving a legitimate purpose.

They show I am a well-rounded person with diverse interests is not a strong enough reason to include hobbies and interests on your resume.

If you are a very competitive person, and competitiveness is a characteristic employers in your field seek in potential employees, including a hobby that fuels your competitive spirit can be a good thing. Competitive sports, for example.

If you are a history buff and a rich knowledge of history is a beneficial in your chosen field, include this information on your resume.

If you are a marathon runner, and you are seeking employment in fields that require personal discipline, endurance, individual effort and perseverance, include this information on your resume.

Get the idea? Everything on your resume must serve a specific purpose.  If it doesn’t serve a purpose – take it off your resume!

Answer this One Simple Question

You stated in your question that you want employers reading your resume to see that you are a strong candidate.  Look at everything you are thinking of putting on your resume and ask yourself:

How does this information show employers that I am a strong candidate?

If you don’t like your answer, see if you can refine/restate the information truthfully so that it will show you are a strong candidate.

If you can’t find a way to effectively refine/restate the information truthfully, it probably doesn’t belong on your resume.

Two last bits of advice:

  1. Seek out the assistance from the career coaches and counselors on your college campus.  You will find they can be really helpful.
  2. Check out my Resume Writing Guide and the sample resumes in my Resume Gallery.  Combined they offer a lot of examples of how to effectively present your qualifications in resume format.

Good luck!

matt-signature

I can’t get any interviews. What am I doing wrong?

frustratedArmando from Monterry Tech recently asked:

I have a Bachelor’s in Marketing, two Master’s degrees (Mass Media and and MIB) and a Ph.D. I can’t seem to get a single interview when sending my resume online. I am frustrated. I have consulted experts, and they all agree that my resume format is OK. What am I doing wrong?

Hi Armando –

I can sense your frustration, That said, I can’t tell you what you are doing wrong unless I know what kind of work you are seeking and how you are going about your search.

I do know this: Simply applying online for jobs and hoping for interviews is not an effective job search strategy; it is a small part of an effective job search strategy, but not a strategy unto itself.

You also mentioned that you consulted experts … what are their areas of expertise? Just because someone is expert in one field, does not make them an expert in all fields or in job hunting or recruiting.  So, be careful to evaluate all advice you receive (including advice from me!), because not all of the advice you receive is good advice!

With that caveat – here is some of my advice:

More is not necessary better when it comes to education

You are certainly well educated.  You have four degrees!  Unfortunately, more education does not necessarily mean more marketable or more desireable to employers.  The qualifications you offer must make sense to potential employers and must be relevant to their hiring needs.  If someone needs to hire a chemical engineer, they are not going to care that you have a Ph.D. in Computer Science.

Also, does your series of degrees tell a coherent story?  Are the degrees in related fields?  Do they complement each other?  Or, are they in widely different fields and unrelated?  As a job seeker, it is your responsibility to help potential employers understand who you are, what you offer, and what you want.

While one employer might look at your resume and say: Look at how well-rounded and highly educated he is!

Another might look at it and say: Why did this guy get degrees in three different fields?  He’s all over the place!

It’s not about the volume of the education. It’s about the relevance.

Resumes are not “one size fits all” documents

Most employers do not hire “renaissance men”, so a generic, all-encompassing resumes are not typically effective job search tools.  They might be exceptionally well-formatted, well-written and free from typographical errors, but if they are full of information that is not relevant to the hiring employer, they may actually hurt your cause.  I recommend that you focus your resume to feature those aspects of your education, experience, skills and characteristics that are relevant to the employers you are targeting.  Leave the rest off.

You may need to have a few versions of your resume, so be prepared.  Don’t waste time customizing a unique resume for every job, but do make sure that the resumes you send are written to present your qualifications in terms relevant to the employers and kinds of jobs you are seeking.

Employers hire based on what they need, not on what you offer

Employers hire to meet specific needs when they have those needs.  They do not usually hire people when they are available just because they are available and have strong general credentials.  If you have what employers need, and you tell your story well, you will get considered for available opportunities.  It really is that simple.

If you tell a clear and compelling story about your qualifications, and your qualifications align well with the needs of hiring employers, you will get interviews.  If your story is unclear and/or your qualfications do not align well with hiring needs, employers will have no need or desire to interview you.

It’s basic, supply and demand economics.

One last thing: I strongly recommend you review my post Four Job Interview Questions You Must Be Able To Answer.

If you can answers these questions, you will be poised for success.

Good luck,

How should I follow up on an introduction to a potential employer?

first-impression2Jerry from Grand Valley State University asked:

How can I most effectively follow up on an introduction to a potential employer? 

I briefly met a man who owns a small holding company in my home town. We exchanged cards, and he asked me to send him my resume.

What is the best way to follow up?

Hi Jerry

Timing is everything!  The longer you wait, the greater the possibility the potential employer will forget he met you.  So, here is my advice:

Follow up within 24 hours

Strike while the iron on hot!  That is, follow up while this potential employer still remembers meeting you.  If you wait too long, he will forget his offer to review your resume, and you will develop a reputation as someone who doesn’t follow through in a timely manner.

Remind him who you are

In the email or letter that accompanies your resume, remind him who you are and why you are contacting him. Very likely, he is a busy guy who doesn’t remember the details of every meeting or introduction. Bring him back into the moment.  Remind him it was his idea that you follow up with your resume.

Be brief and to the point

Don’t go into a lot of detail.  He already wants to see your resume.  Don’t feel the need to include the details in the body of your email.

Follow instructions

If he told you to send your resume, do so!  If he asked for a resume and references, provide that.  If you follow the instructions he gave you – no matter how informal those instructions may have been – you will show that you know how to follow instructions.  You will show you are dependable.

Market yourself

Toot your horn a little bit.  Give him reasons to review your resume immediately.  Don’t go overboard here, but take the opportunity to market yourself a little.

Ask for the next meeting

Conclude your email with a request for a next meeting.  Regardless of whether this potential employer has current openings, he can be a valuable professional contact for you immediately or down the road.  Ask for a meeting.  The better he knows you, the more willing he will be to consider you for a job now or in the future (provided, of course, that you make a good impression in the meeting!).

Following is an examples of how you might craft your email follow up:

Dear Mr. Smith,

It was a pleasure meeting you last night at the Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting reception for ABC Corporation.  I enjoyed learning about how you started your holding company and grew it into the successful enterprise it is today.

Thank you for taking interest in me and my career. As I am sure you will recall, I will be completing a bachelor’s degree in business and finance in May and am eager to begin my professional career in business with a local company such as yours.

Per your request, I have attached my resume to this email for your review.  I am eager to visit with you again and learn more about possible opportunities with your company.  

All of my classes this semester meet on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I am most available to meet on Tuesdays and Thursday.  I will call your assistant next week to inquire about scheduling time on your calendar.  In the meantime, please feel free to call or email me.

I look forward to continuing our conversation!

Best Regards,

Jerry Candidate

Good luck!

matt-signature

Should I use paragraphs or bullet points on my resume?

Kevin from the University of Texas at San Antonio asked:

When highlighting experiences on my resume, should I summarize them in a paragraph or use bullet points? Which is recommended when going to a career fair?

Hi Kevin –

Great question, but one that does not have a single answer which can be applied to every resume in every instance.

In my opinion, the most important factor to consider when trying to resolve the “paragraphs vs. bullets” debate is your audience:

Present your information in a way that is reader-friendly

You want to make all resume content as reader-friendly as possible.  The easier it is for them to get to know you, the better chance you have of being considered.

Bullets usually work when you have a lot of ideas/accomplishments/unique statements to present, paragraphs work when you have fewer messages to present.  Present your information in a way that will allow readers to get to know you quickly.  The more time they have to invest in a specific section of your resume in order to understand it, the greater the chance they are going to give up and skip to the next section; whether that means jumping from one bullet to the next, from one paragraph to the next, from one complete resume section to the next, or from your resume to the next person’s resume!

Remember, you are not writing this resume for yourself. you are writing it for the reader.  Make it easy for the reader to get to know you and what you offer.

Let me give you a few examples:

Paragraphs are used below, because the amount of information being presented is relatively small and focused.

paragraph sample 2

Paragraphs are used in this example, as well.  Note that each paragraph begins with an action verb and each highlights an accomplishment.

paragraph sample

Bullets are used below.  The statements are brief, but each one is unique.  The bullets help create a list of qualifications.

bullet example

Bullets are definitely the right call for the example below.  Each bullet contains a key accomplishment/qualification that would be obscured if all of the information were provided in one large paragraph.

bullet example 2

Remember, resumes are marketing documents, not informational documents, and you need to be prepared to discuss everything that is on your resume with potential employers.  If you are not ready to have that conversation, it won’t matter whether you used bullets or paragraphs on your resume!

Hope this helps,

matt-signature

Be a selective job seeker, not a picky job seeker

picky_eaterA colleague from a very large state university recently contacted me with a hard question.  An alum struggling to find a job called him from a job fair.  He was frustrated and seeking advice.

 My colleague asked:  Why do you think you haven’t found a job yet?

The alum’s answer after a long pause: I’ve been limiting myself to automotive companies because that’s what I’m really interested in. 

This exchange reminded me of many conversations I have had over the years with students.  

Conversations like the following:

Matt: “Did you apply for this job?This exchange reminded me of many conversations I have had over the years with students.  Conversations like the following:

Student:  “No, I don’t know if I want to work in that city, so I didn’t apply.”

Matt: “ What about that job?”
Student:
 “No, I don’t think I want to work for that company, so I didn’t apply”

Matt: “Okay, so how about this job?”
Student: “Yeah, I didn’t apply for that one either. They’re not in my industry.”

Matt: “So what kinds of jobs and careers are you looking for?  What is ‘your industry’?”
Student: “I don’t know; something I’ll like; something in my major.”

Matt: “How do you know you won’t like the jobs we’ve been talking about? How do you know they’re not right for someone in your major?”
Student: “I don’t know; they’re not what I’m looking for.”

Matt: “How do you know they’re not what your looking for if you don’t know what the jobs involve and you don’t know what you are looking for?”
Student:   “Look, I can’t describe what I’m looking for, but I’ll know it when I see it.  So, I have one more question.

Matt:  “Okay, what’s your question?
Student: “Why is it so hard to find a job?  Nobody seems to be hiring.”

Don’t you just love circular logic like this? I do.  It brings a real  level of  certainty to the process. In this case,  it guarantees you just one thing:

“You will not get jobs for which you do not apply – 100% of the time.

How do you like those odds?

Listen, I want students to be selective when considering their career options. I don’t want student randomly applying for jobs just because a job is available and they need a job.  But there is a huge gray area between “perfect fit” jobs  and “not a chance” jobs that far too many job seekers neglect.  And worse yet, many job seekers don’t even take the time to define or describe they types of positions they are seeking, yet are perfectly happy to reject opportunities outright as “not for them” without any reasonable explanation.

Former US Supreme Court Justice Potter, when asked to characterize pornography in a 1964 opinion (Jacobellis v Ohio),  had difficulty defining it, but said:

“I’ll know it when I see it.”

Is that your approach in your job search?  If so, I’ll bet you’re pretty frustrated.

Don’t use the “Justice Potter approach” in your job search! It might be a good way to characterize your definition of pornography, bgut it’s a lousy strategy for a job search.

If you don’t have some idea what you are looking for, chances are it (and many other really good opportunities) will pass you by.  Don’t arbitrarily apply for every job out there, but don’t arbitrarily reject potential opportunities unless you can legitimately defend your rationale for not applying.

Finding a job is hard – identifying a career path is even more difficult – don’t make the process that much more (and unnecessarily) challenging by being picky.

It’s good to be selective in your search for a job.  Being selective means you are evaluating your options and pursuing those most suitable to you and your goals.

It’s bad to be picky in your search for a job.  Being picky means you are not willing to invest the time necessary to be selective.

So, are you picky or just selective; are you looking for opportunities or excuses (and be honest when you answer that question!)

Good luck

matt-signature

 

What tools do welders need?

Welder-011Ben from the Lamar Institute of Technology asked:

Can you point me to the right tools most commonly needed for welders. I have a hood, gloves, half round file, leathers, goggles, glasses, adjustable T-square, tip cleaners, folding rule, and tool bucket. What else do I need?

Hi Ben

I have to admit, welding is not my area of expertise, but your question gave me the opportunity to show how easy it can be to find information while looking for a job when you know where and how to look.

A basic Google search

I googled your question.  A lot of useless info came back to be sure, but the following news release came up, as well:

What Are The Basic Welding Tools For Welders?

The information is a little old, but it is sound.

It is amazing how valuable the most simple of searches can be.  Not always, of course, but often.

Company and Industry Discussion Forums

The news release mentioned above was produced by a company in the welding industry, so I searched for more companies and found some company and industry discussion forums that proved very valuable.  One offered a good reminder that you have to make sure you are asking the right questions if you want valuable answers.  The following response was very enlightening:

An Iron Worker Welder will carry much different tools than a Machinist Welder, and an Aerospace Welder will carry no tools. You need to be more specific with your questions.

Check out the Welding Design and Fabrication Discussion Forum and company discussion forums, like Miller Electric’s MillerWelds that answers the question  What tools should one own as an apprentice welder fabricator?

And, finally – check out YouTube

I found the following very helpful video: The 10 Must Have Hand Tools of Every Welder

Hope this helps!

matt-signature

What can I do with my major?

Crossroads1I get a lot of “Ask the Coach” questions asking essentially the same thing:

What can I do with my major? 

This can be very easy or very difficult to answer, depending upon your major.

If you are majoring in accounting, chemical engineering, social work, architecture, or any other field that tracks directly toward a specific professional, you have at least one possible answer to that question.

If you are majoring in a foreign language, any of the liberal arts, or many of the natural sciences and social sciences, you have a wide variety of possible answers.

If you in your senior year and have just discovered that you do not want to work in the area of your undergraduate major, you have a lot of options to consider, and you are probably a bit frustrated and scared.

What should you do?  Here are a few things to consider.

Many people with college degrees work in fields NOT directly related to there undergraduate major

Not working in a field related to your major is NORMAL.  It certainly is easier to look for work when you are an accounting major looking for a job in accounting, but that doesn’t make it better.  Take a look at the new Education section on LinkedIn.  (If you’re looking for work and your are not on LinkedIn . . .  what are you waiting for?)  Search your school’s alumni by major and you will see that you have a lot of options. For example, I went to the State University of New York at Oswego and studied communication.  Look at the “Where they work” and “What they do” columns below.

Surprised by the variety?  You shouldn’t be. If you limit your search to those opportunities that are directly related to your major, you are really limiting your options.

Oswego

You major does not define you

You are not an English major,  you are a student who happens to be studying English.

You might call it semantics.  I call it a big distinction.

Defining yourself by your major is self-defeating. It says “I can only do things that people similarly educated do.” It tells potential employers that the only thing they need to know about you to consider you for a job is your major; nothing else matters.

I don’t mind saying . . .  THAT”S CRAZY!

What you offer potential employers is the grand collection of education, skills, experience, qualities, characteristics, gifts, talents and passions that make you who you are.  And, you are a lot more than just a major.

But there is a catch . . . .  (there’s always a catch) . . .  .

You have to help employers understand what you offer and what you want

Even when you are majoring in a clearly definable professional field (e.g., architecture), you still have to help employers understand who you are, what you are looking for in a job, what you offer in qualifications, why you want to work for their company, and why you want to work in their industry.

If you can’t explain who you are, what you want and what you offer to employers, how do you expect them to figure you out?

Answer:  They won’t!

You must be curious, ask questions and explore your options

If you are going to ask the question – what can I do with this major? – you had better be ready to look for answers.  If you want to consider your options, you have to be willing to explore those options.  Be curious!  Let your knowledge of yourself, your interests and your talents guide your exploration.

If you are really into sports, what industries, business, non-profits, etc. focus on sports.  Not everyone who works in sports in an athlete. Where might you fit in?

Likewise with arts & entertainment:  Not everyone who works in the arts is an actor, sculptor, artist or musician.  What roles exist in arts and entertainment that allow the artists to create? Again, where might you fit in.

If you haven’t explored your career options, you are in no position to complain you don’t have any career options.

You must be realistic

Understand this – you will not live in a big house, drive an expensive car and vacation in exotic locations on a school teacher’s salary, unless you marry well, win the lottery or have a trust fund.

No matter how badly you would like to be a teacher and earn a six-figure income, those two concepts are largely incompatible.

As you explore your career options, be realistic.  Look at jobs and career paths that are compatible with your needs and lifestyle expectations. Not doing so will be very frustrating for you and everyone who might offer you job or be willing to help you look for a job.

You should seek help

Why try to answer the What can I do with my major? question on your own?

Chances are, your college has people and resources that can help.

For example, the California State University Chico Career Center has an excellent  What can I do with my major? page and career center advisors who can help you navigate your options.  Likewise, St. Norbert College’s Career Services office has a  What can I do with a major/minor in . . . ? page on their website, and helpful career center staff.

Get help!  And, start with the career center on your college campus.

What can you do with your major? What can’t you do with your major? You’re not going to become a brain surgeon by studying sociology, but if you really explore your options, you will find they are many, but the answers don’t always come easy.

Good Luck,

matt-signature

When is the right time for a college senior to start looking for a job?

starting blocksMatt from Seminole State University asked:

Like many of my fellow May 2014 graduates, I am hoping to have a position lined up when I graduate. I am completing a B.S. in Construction Management.  When is the best time to apply for a full time position before I graduate? Also, how do I indicate in a cover letter that I won’t be available for a full time position until after graduation?

Hi Matt –

A lot of students have these same questions.  Your first question has a variety of answers; the second is pretty straightforward.

When should you start looking for a job?

The shorthand answer:  When you are in a position to say “yes” if you are offered the job?

Companies recruit in different ways and on different time frames for different types of positions.  So, your timing depends upon the kinds of work and the types of employers you are targeting.

If you are targeting corporate employment (the kinds of jobs that dominate on-campus interviewing schedules on college campuses), they you should start actively applying in September and October because that is when those employers are recruiting to fill those kinds of positions.  When large corporations are setting targets for their entry-level hiring for the year, they plan months in advance because they can.  Smaller organizations do not have that flexibility.

In most cases, employers hire when they have immediate vacancies to fill, and they try to fill these vacancies as quickly as possible; that usually means within 4-8 weeks of the position being posted.  They have an immediate need, and they need candidates who can start in the immediate future – not 6-8 months later, after they graduate.

Look at the industries you are targeting.  How do employers hire in these industries?  Do they recruit entry-level candidates and make offers well in advance or do they hire “just-in-time” to meet their needs?

Some employers have the latitude to recruit candidates in the fall for jobs that will not start until the following summer. If these are the employers you are targeting, your job search should have started already.

Most employers hire when they have positions to fill and look for candidates who can say “yes” and start soon thereafter. If this is your case, your job search should really start picking up steam about 6-8 weeks before you graduate.

How do I indicate in a cover letter that I won’t be available for a full time position until after graduation?

Easy!

In presenting your qualifications in cover letters. state clearly when you will complete your degree and be available for full-time employment.  Statements like the following:

In May 2014, I will complete a Bachelor’s degree in Construction Management and will be available for full-time employment beginning June 2, 2014.

or

I am available immediately to interview in-person, via phone or via Skype.  I will graduate in May and can start work at any time after May 23rd.

or

As I am currently completing my degree requirements, I am available immediately for part-time/contract work and can begin full-time employment starting June 2, 2014.

These are just a few examples of how you might address the “availability” issue in cover letters.  Be honest and take the opportunity to tell employers when you are available to interview and begin work.

Good Luck,

matt-signature

What do employers love and hate to see from candidates?

Job-InterviewMelissa from Lindenwood University asked:

I’ve seen numerous job search websites that offer advice like “employers love this…” or “employers hate it when you…” but employers are people too, and all people have individual personalities. Some may prefer traditional cover letters, others might want shorter and more casual e-mails. One hiring manager might appreciate a career summary at the top of a resume, another might feel that it wastes space. Is it appropriate to contact the office before applying and ask about these preferences? Or would that be seen as trying too hard to get on somebody’s good side?

Hi Melissa –

This is a fun question to answer.  Far too often, people offer advice on this topic that is really bad.  It’s not intentionally bad.  It’s just offered in ways that come across as universal.  The only thing I can tell you for certain is that . . .

No two employers are completely alike

You are correct!  Employers are people, too; so you should not approach them all the same way.

What one employer might love to hear, another might abhor!  Craft your resume in manner that markets you most effectively to the kinds of employment you are seeking, not to address the whims and preferences of an individual recruiter.  Your goal should not be to “get on someone’s good side.” Rather, it should be to present your relevant qualifications as professionally and effectively as you can.

When you are looking for a job, two things have to happen for you get a job:  An employer has to make you an offer, and you have to accept.

Just because someone offers you a job does not mean you have to accept it.  Just as the employer is evaluating you as a potential employee, you should be evaluating that employer to determine whether or not you want to accept a job if one is offered.

Be consistent in the way you present yourself to employers and in the way you assess employment opportunities, and you will have a much better chance of landing a job that suits you well.

Now back to your specific question:  I have conducted a lot of interviews, observed a lot of interviews, and met with a lot of recruiters.  Based on that experience, here is my general advice regarding what employers love and hate to see in candidates.  I think the following observations hold up well, regardless of the employer.

Employers love authenticity

Be who you are, not who you think the employer want you to be. Seriously, if you change your behavior and your responses to “tell them what they want to hear” just to get the job, who are they considering for employment? You or your interview “alter ego.”?

By the way, most savvy employers can see through BS answers and nervous posturing.  Be cognizant of your surroundings, be professional, and be authentic.  Employers love it when candidates are authentic.  When you are authentic, they know who they are talking to.

Employers love confidence

Be confident in what you offer, just not overconfident. Don’t be ashamed of what you have accomplished. It is possible to be proud, humble, and confident all the same time.  Your confidence show the employer that you are not easily rattled; that you can hold up under pressure.

Employers love candidates that don’t waste their time

Make good use of the time you and the interviewer are investing in your interview.  Don’t waste your time and don’t waste theirs.  Show up on time. Dress appropriately for the interview. Don’t ramble when answering questions. Don’t overstay your welcome.  Don’t make them wait to hear back – return calls and emails promptly.

Employers love candidates that are prepared

Do your homework.  Do as much research as possible before applying for (and interviewing for) a job. Be ready to tell the employer why you want the job, why you are a good candidate for the job, why you’re interested in working for their company, and why you’re interested in working in their industry.  Be ready to tell your story, and be ready with questions so you can learn their story.  Follow the Boy Scout Rule:  Always be prepared!

Employers hate stock answers

Leave the stock, rehearsed answers at home.  Most recruiters have heard them all before.  No one learns anything from a stock answer. Offering up a stock response is never “telling them what they want to hear.”    Stock responses are usually express passes to the front of the “thanks but no thanks” line.

Employers hate kiss-ups

Don’t pander – you’re better than that (or at least you should be!).  Recruiters know their companies are not perfect and that the job they have to offer is not perfect.    If you are a kiss up in the interview, you are telling them you will be a kiss up on the job.  Do you like working with kiss ups?  I don’t.

One caveat: If you want a job that requires you to be a kiss up, go for it! When you get that job, just remind yourself that it is the job you wanted.  Be careful what you wish for.

Employers hate arrogance

If overconfidence is bad, arrogance is outright laughable; and they will laugh about you after the interview if you come across as arrogant.  If you honestly feel a job or company is “beneath you.” why did you apply, let along accept the interview? Get over yourself; drop the  attitude.  Arrogance is rude, bad form, and just distasteful. In most cases, arrogance will NOT get you the job.

Still uncertain?  Follow the advice of Dr. Seuss:

dr-seuss-youer
When interviewing for a job, be the best You you can be!

Good Luck,

matt-signature

How can I find a “gap year” job related to my major?

gap yearLiz from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences asked:

I am a recent graduate with a Bachelor’s in Premedicine and Health Studies. I am looking for a job for the next year. Do you have any recommendations for jobs that I should apply to beyond research? I am not having any luck finding entry level jobs with my degree.

Hi Liz –

Can I assume from your degree (premedicine) and your desire to find a job just “for the next year” that you are planning on going on to medical school when the year is up?

If my assumptions are correct, I understand why you are having difficulty finding a job:

You’re not really looking for an entry-level job in your field, you are looking for “gap-year” employment. Check out this jobs resource from GapYear.com: http://www.gapyear.com/jobs.

Why a “gap year” job?  Unless the positions they are seeking to fill are temporary, most employers are not going to consider candidates who do not plan to say beyond one year. Training new employees is costly and time-consuming, so if employers know you won’t be sticking around, they have no incentive to invest time and money training you. If you are absolutely certain that you will be going to medical school after one year, finding “gap year” employment should be the focus of your search.

Your degree  – premedicine and health studies – has prepared you to study medicine and work in a healthcare-related field.  I suggest focusing your search on companies in your area that are  – in some way  – connected to the healthcare industry to see what might be available, whether the work itself is directly related to your degree or not.

Perhaps some administrative or research work in a doctor’s office or pathology lab; patient care in a nursing facility or retirement home; support positions in pharmacies, hospitals or emergency clinics.  If your circumstances allow, consider volunteering your services at a local, free/low-cost community clinic. Seek positions that do not require specific certifications but will provide you with some exposure to areas of the healthcare industry you may pursue once you have your advanced degree.

Here are some additional resources that should prove helpful:

The Association of American Medical College’s How do I make the most of my Gap Year?

PreHealthAdvising.com’s What to do during a “Gap Year” prior to medical school

Remember, when you are looking for “gap year” employment, you are trying to satisfy multiple priorities, so you must be very flexible.  You are not looking to make a long-term commitment to an employer, so you can’t expect employers to be willing to consider you for positions requiring a longer commitment than one year.

Good luck,

matt-signature