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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,

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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 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

How can I make myself more marketable to employers?

Spring Commencement, Graduation, jkDawn from Strayer University

I  just finished the coursework for an MBA in Marketing,  and I’m really struggling finding a career opportunity.  I have experience in sales, customer service and banking, but my interests are  in education and finance. Every job I want seems to require 5-10 years of experience. I can’t even get employers to look at my resume. I’m so frustrated. What do I need to do to make myself more marketable?

Hi Dawn –

It can be very frustrating when you are trying to transition from one industry to another.  Here are some tips that I think will help you make yourself more marketable to employers:

Focus your message and keep it relevant

Employers won’t understand you or what you offer unless you help them – particularly when you are trying to change fields.  If your resume is a simple historical record of what you have done and where and when you did it, it is telling the employer who reads it that you want to do what you have always done.  If your resume presents your accomplishments and qualifications in sales, customer service and banking, why would an employer think you want to work in any other field?

Your resume, cover letters, LinkedIn profile and other job search marketing materials should present your qualifications in terms and language relevant to the fields you wish to enter.

When you say you are interested in education and finance, what exactly do you mean?   If you can’t describe what you mean in detail, you can’t expect employers to figure it out.

Focus your message on things relevant to prospective employers, and you will see more success in your job search.

Speak the employer’s language

You will earn credibility with potential employers if you can show them you understand their world.  When you can speak the language of their business, they have great confidence that you understand the culture of their industry. If you want employers to understand you and what you offer, you have to make the effort to understand them.  Learn about their companies and their industries.

Learn to speak their language, so you can understand them (and so they will understand you).

Look in the right places

Often, people get frustrated looking for a job because they are looking in the wrong places.  While you can find a lot on Indeed.com, you cannot find everything. If you have a niche interest, look at the niche job boards and related resources.  If you are looking for jobs in higher education.  Look at resources focused on that industry. For example:

Academic 360
AcademicCareers.com
The Chronicle of Higher Education Online Job Board
HigherEdJobs.com
National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) Position Announcements
National Association of Student Affairs Professionals (NASAP) Job Announcements
PhDs.org – Finding a Job
Student Affairs.com Position Listings

If you are interested in finance, check out the resources in my blog post – What can I do with a degree in Accounting and Information Systems?

There are many places to look – make sure you look in the right places.

The kind of experience is more important the number of years of experience

Employers are more concerned that you have the kind of experience they need, than they are concerned that you have the number of years of experience spelled out in the job description; so take those date ranges with a grain of salt!

If it says 5-10 years of experience, they mean they need candidates with some experience, professional maturity, and  – of course – the skills they are seeking.  Translation: Entry-level graduates and inexperienced candidates need not apply!

If you believe you can legitimately make and defend a case for your candidacy, then apply for the job.

By the way, the word “legitimately” is the most important word in that sentence. Wanting a job and feeling qualified for it is different from wanting a job and being able to make a case for yourself as a qualified candidate.

You must be prepared to make a persuasive and compelling argument that you deserve to be considered.  If you cannot do that, perhaps you should not apply for the job.

So – to sum this whole blog up into one sentence:

The better employers understand you, what you offer and what you want,
the better chance you will have of getting hired.

Hope these tips help,

matt-signature

I want to work in Environmental Consulting

earthEmily Gallagher, a freelance writer, compiled the following information for PM Environmental, an environmental engineering firm. The original post can be found on the PM Environmental website.  Emiliee has given me permission to reprint it here.

PM Environmental discovered that many students express interest in environmental consulting careers, but that there wasn’t much practical information available about what a career in this environmental consulting looks like. With that in mind, Emiliee asked some successful environmental consulting professionals about their thoughts on career paths, advice on classes, starting positions and much more.   Their responses are below.

If a student were looking to get into environmental consulting, what courses should they focus on and what skills should will be most valuable in the industry and most important in helping them succeed?

It depends what type of consulting they are interested in. The environmental sector is really broad, and is probably going to continue to spread into different areas in the future. Clean Tech, Supply Chain, Environmental/Green Design, Sustainable Business Practices, etc. all have different areas of expertise; but, in general I would say focus on the hard skills (math, science, design, engineering, environmental economics, etc.) that pertain to your area of interest. These are more marketable, are likely going to pay more, and are more difficult to learn/master once you are out of a college environment.

A. Lauren Abele
COO, Pipeline Fellowship

Students looking to enter the environmental consulting industry should do their research and determine what aspect of environmental consulting they are interested in making a career.  If environmental due diligence (i.e. Phase I ESA, Phase II ESA, etc.) is the area  students wish to get into, students should focus on environmental policy, environmental chemistry, geology/hydrology, and writing courses. Most courses are not going to cover the basics of writing a Phase I or Phase II ESA, however, if you have a good background in the policy and science involved, you will stand out as an applicant and consultant. 

Kristin Dawkins
Staff Consultant, PM Environmental

The environmental due diligence consulting that we do at AEI is primarily related to helping people evaluate property for the presence of contamination – it’s a bit like environmental detective work.  Environmental history plays a role in understanding how land use can affect property with legacy issues.  Geology and hydrogeology are important in regards to subsurface sampling and remediation of soil, soil vapor and groundwater.  GIS and geography can help with the presentation of the information that we gather.  One of the most important skills in environmental consulting, in my view, is the ability to take complex information and present it in a well-written, easily understandable format for the layperson.  Conducting research and preparing written findings of your research is one of the most important skills you gain during your studies.

 Holly Neber
President and a Principal at AEI Consultants

There are many branches of environmental engineering. Examples include water (potable) and wastewater plant construction, operations and management, infrastructure impact planning, mining operation amelioration, energy conservation, etc. Other aspects include helping governments in the US and overseas develop environmental legislation and regulations for industrial, commercial and residential polluters or those industries that specialize in pollution cleanup.

In addition to technical courses, students should take a foreign language, economics, accounting or finance, political science/government, sociology and writing because consultants are required to be conversant with a range of issues and comfortable communicating with diverse groups of stakeholders.

Carla Sydney Stone
Founder & Principal, International Development & Technical Assistance, LLC

Earth science, biology, chemistry, and public policy. Learn to write an intelligible report, unlike what engineers tend to crank out. Read “The Elements of Style” by Strunk & White, or some other such manual.

Bob Carlson
President, Green Knight Environmental

LEED AP – then work on energy modeling and audits that show how to pay for improvements.

Chuck Lohre
Green Cincinnati Education Advocacy

If there were such a thing as a “typical career path,” what would it look like?

Internship, associate, manager, director….I’d say that the corporate ladder in the environmental sector is much the same as anywhere else. Which sector you are working in will dictate a bit of how that path looks, and many people in the environmental field cross sectors throughout their career.

A. Lauren Abele
COO, Pipeline Fellowship

A typical career path starts out with an internship or entry level consultant.  The next step depends on the specific type of consulting and the company you are working for.  You may transition to a project manager and find that is best for you, or you may have management opportunities and find that is the career path for you.

Kristin Dawkins
Staff Consultant, PM Environmental

In the environmental due diligence field, people generally start out assisting with field work or research under the guidance of a Project Manager.  They then grow into a Project Manager role where they are responsible for all aspects of the project.  Over time, they can progress towards more senior roles such as managing teams of Project Managers and providing technical expertise and working with clients directly.

Holly Neber
President and a principal at AEI Consultants

In an entry level position, what types of tasks and responsibilities should a student expect to take on?

Sector (public, private, or nonprofit) and business size (large, medium, small) will play a large role in terms of what types of tasks and responsibilities an entry level employee will be faced with. In general, larger agencies tend to have more structured roles, opportunities, and larger budgets. Smaller companies and nonprofits tend to have more diverse needs, less structure, and less disposable income. Both of these can have pros and cons, depending on what your goals and needs are. I would say that after looking at sector and business size, the next variable is your manager or managing team. These people, and their working styles, will usually play a big role in terms of what responsibilities will be delegated to you and/or how open your managing team is to you taking initiative as a new hire.

A. Lauren Abele
COO, Pipeline Fellowship

Entry level tasks will focus on learning and building on various aspects of the area of consulting you have chosen.  The training period can vary, and within our company the first year is considered your training period. You will help with research, site visits, information gathering, report writing and preparation, and client communications. All of these will build on each other and as you become more skilled, the projects you are working on will increase in difficulty. As an entry level employee, you should take this time to ask questions and absorb as much information as you can from senior staff members because you will be able to apply all of that information to future projects.

Kristin Dawkins
Staff Connsultant, PM Environmental

Example tasks would be conducting site research at local agencies or conducting soil or groundwater sampling at the site.

Holly Neber
President and aPprincipal at AEI Consultants

Most beginning engineers are assigned to a mixture of duties and projects that will teach them the basics of the industry in which they have chosen to work. They will hone their skills as mining engineers, dam designers, energy auditors, etc. They also may be asked to take some accounting or finance courses if they have not done so as undergraduates to prepare them for preparing budgets or capital justifications. They may be asked to go into the field to conduct environmental assessments. In most cases, the work, while interesting, is not glamorous. They may spend several years as part of a team conducting a survey of the water and geological resources in a site scheduled for development.

Carla Sydney Stone
Founder & Principal, International Development & Technical Assistance, LLC

Grunt work, carrying gear around, helping more senior staff finish reports.

Bob Carlson
President, Green Knight Environmental

What kinds of varying positions / jobs / experiences should a new hire seek out to become well-rounded as an environmental consultant and make them marketable in the industry?

In environmental work, I would say seek out projects/jobs/roles that allow you to flex some of those skills (math, science, design, engineering, sales, networking, legal work, etc)–especially skills that you can quantify and talk about in a resume. Project management, which many young environmental professionals do, can be a bit vague. It can be a hard sell. You should learn to back that up with either technical skills (that you can demonstrate you have used at work) or soft skills (Are you a good networker? Do you write really professional emails? Can people refer you to others?). Word of mouth, and having a great network, are really important in the professional world. Of course, in order for your network to work for you, you also have to be good at what you do.

If you want to work abroad, you should definitely spend several months in that area–either as a volunteer or in a paid capacity. If you want to work in or with a country that speaks a foreign language, you should also speak that language.

Working in different sectors–maybe even all of them–would also be great. Unlike other industries, environmental issues cross all three sectors. Having experience working at a non-profit, government agency, and for-profit will give you insider knowledge about culture and operations of each of these types of businesses. It can also be very attractive on your resume, depending on what a particular job is looking for.

For me, when considering potential hires for entry level positions at a social venture start-up, these two main things have popped up as “issues”: (1) This person does not have the hard skills and/or experience we need for this specific project and (2) This person does not have the soft skills we need for someone to be a part of our team (they are a bit awkward, don’t feel comfortable networking, their emails are a bit odd and unprofessional sounding). These soft skills will not be taught in school, you kind of have to learn by doing… and the earlier you start, the better.

A. Lauren Abele
COO, Pipeline Fellowship

Internships are valuable experiences and stand out on a resume and application. If you know your career path early in your college career, you should seek out internships with similar skills. As we all know, you do not necessarily know what your career path will be until your last year in college or even after you graduate. However, internships are still very important and will provide you with valuable skills that you will be able to apply to a future career. If you are unsure of your future path in the environmental industry, seek out a range of internships that include field work, data collection, report writing, etc. Any of these can be applied to an environmental consulting career.

Kristin Dawkins
Staff Consultant, PM Environmental

Conducting Phase I Environmental Site Assessment research is a good place to start because you get exposed to the regulatory oversight agencies and reviewing the other phases of work that often occur (Phase II investigations and remediation projects).   However, it is a mistake to think of a Phase I position as an entry-level job.  Phase I ESAs can be very complex, depending on the type of site you are evaluating.  If you can work under the guidance of a top notch Phase I Project Manager, you will gain a great skill set and a well-rounded view of the overall industry.   Joining a Subsurface Investigation department as an entry level person can also be helpful in terms of understanding typical contaminants and how they behave in the subsurface of a property.

Holly Neber
President and a Principal at AEI Consultants

Study federal and state regulations and local industrial history.

Bob Carlson
President, Green Knight Environmental

What differences are there between working for a large (national or international) environmental consulting firm compared to a smaller, regional one?

For starters: bureaucracy. Larger companies have much bigger food chains, and rely more heavily on bureaucratic processes to get things done. Smaller companies have more of an opportunity for a more democratic or “flat” hierarchical structure–but that is not necessarily always the case.

Second, opportunities and/or requirements for travel and professional development will likely vary between the two.

Third, benefits–and that could go in either direction. Environmental companies tend to be a bit more socially-minded and often offer great “quality-of-life” benefits, but that is really dependent on company culture.

A. Lauren Abele
COO, Pipeline Fellowship

Smaller firms typically allow their staff to “wear more hats” which allows for more variation in your job responsibilities.  If you join a growing smaller firm, there is often more opportunity to advance to levels of more responsibility quickly.  A larger firm may offer more opportunity to work on extremely large or complex remediation jobs or the ability to work internationally.

Holly Neber
President and Principal at AEI Consultants

Larger international or national environmental consulting firms, or the environmental divisions of a large construction or international development firm may work on larger projects in more locations. Smaller firms tend to work locally or partner as subcontractors to larger firms for a piece of a large contract, foreign or domestic. The contract manager usually comes from the larger firm. I am an international consultant who has been a project manager as well as a subcontractor to large multinational corporations.

Carla Sydney Stone
Founder & Principal, International Development & Technical Assistance, LLC

Large tends to be more for big or quick spill cleanups under EPA oversight; small tends to be more geared towards local conditions such as endangered species, watershed issues, etc.

Bob Carlson
President, Green Knight Environmental

If you had one piece of advice for a student looking to get into a career in environmental consulting, what would it be?

Develop your professional skill-set as quickly as possible. Get networking. Everyone hates it, but there is no substitute for it.

A. Lauren Abele
COO, Pipeline Fellowship

Do your research. Self evaluate your skills and match those with an aspect of environmental consulting that is consistent with those skills.

Kristin Dawkins
Staff Consultant, PM Environmental

When you get your first job, be a hard worker.  Show your company’s management that you are up to any challenge.   Opportunities will open up to you from there.   Internships are also great.  We’ve hired a few people that originally worked for us as interns.

Holly Neber
President and a Principal at AEI Consultants

Technical advice: Water – access to clean water and the reuse of process water and waste water- is the single most important issue affecting the world today. Life does not exist without water.

Personal advice: Learn to write well and to be comfortable speaking with people of different backgrounds.

Carla Sydney Stone
Founder & Principal, International Development & Technical Assistance, LLC

Get a job with a government agency first for the experience. Stay there if you can.

Bob Carlson
President, Green Knight Environmental 

Based on your experience, what are the most surprising or unexpected elements about working in environmental consulting?

In general, it’s less about what I learned in school, and more about how well you do the job. But, I always love how often I get to use economic principles in my job and use project design skills from school when analyzing impact.

A. Lauren Abele
COO, Pipeline Fellowship

The most surprising aspect of environmental due diligence is the standardization of the process. Although every state has their own regulations, I have had experience completing Phase I ESA reports throughout the eastern and southeastern United States because of the standardized process.

The most unexpected element is the number of industries you will encounter and the manufacturing processes you will have an opportunity to observe.

Kristin Dawkins
Staff Consultant, PM Environmental

Every state has a unique regulatory environment so working in Michigan can be quite different from working in Illinois, even on the same type of project.

Holly Neber
President and a Principal at AEI Consultants

The most surprising aspect of environmental consulting is the extent to which projects are subject to politics, both in the US and abroad.

Carla Sydney Stone
Founder & Principal, International Development & Technical Assistance, LLC

Congress yanking funds from programs.

Bob Carlson
President, Green Knight Environmental

Not wanting to study to pass the LEED AP exam and then go on to work on projects.

Chuck Lohre
Green Cincinnati Education Advocacy

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your career?

Essentially being my own boss and being really creative and strategic about solving social and environmental problems.

A. Lauren Abele
COO, Pipeline Fellowship

The most rewarding aspect of my career is the ability to be a resource for our clients.  We have clients that are just as knowledgeable as we are, and we have clients that have never even heard of environmental due diligence. I am able to provide valuable information to clients on both ends of the spectrum, and in between.

Kristin Dawkins
Staff Consultant, PM Environmental

I love working with our clients to find solutions to environmental issues, and I love building a collaborative team with my co-workers.

Holly Neber
President and a Principal at AEI Consultants

The most rewarding aspect of my career is the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people around the world.

Carla Sydney Stone
Founder & Principal, International Development & Technical Assistance, LLC

Doing public education. It’s amazing how concerned but uninformed people still are about all this stuff.

Bob Carlson
President, Green Knight Environmental

 

It’s the future.

Chuck Lohre
Green Cincinnati Education Advocacy

Biographies of Respondents

A. Lauren Abele
COO, Pipeline Fellowship

Prior to her involvement with Pipeline Fellowship, Lauren worked in the nonprofit sector in economic development, environmental issues, and women’s empowerment. A long-time sustainability advocate, Lauren has analyzed the Kyoto Protocol with the U.S. Department of State in Brussels and worked on environmental projects in both Spain and Australia. Her interest in social and environmental issues led to her involvement in social entrepreneurship where her focus has been on strategic planning, social impact assessment, and executing mission-based business strategies.

She currently serves on the New York Women Social Entrepreneurs (NYWSE) Events Committee and is a former Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of New York City (YNPN-NYC) board member.

Lauren has a B.A. in English Literature and Environmental Studies from Washington University in St. Louis and an M.P.A. in Economic Development and Comparative & International Affairs from Indiana University’s School for Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). She is also a proud School for International Training (SIT) alumna. You can find Lauren on Twitter (@laurenabele).

www.pipelinefellowship.com

Holly Neber
President, AEI Consultants

Holly Neber is President and a principal at AEI Consultants, a national environmental and engineering firm headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area.  AEI performs environmental and engineering due diligence, investigation and remediation projects with 14 offices located across the US.  Holly’s educational background consists of a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Kansas and a Masters of Education from Holy Names College.   She is a Registered Environmental Assessor (REA) in California, and oversees the day to day operations of AEI.  AEI’s website is www.aeiconsultants.com

Carla Sydney Stone
Founder & Principal, International Development & Technical Assistance, LLC

Ms. Carla Sydney Stone is the founder and principal of International Development & Technical Assistance, LLC, a firm that delivers projects that improve people’s lives. It provides consulting services to companies, non-governmental organizations, and government agencies. Ms. Stone has a proven ability to initiate and build international partnerships to achieve results. A mining engineer, with additional training and certificates in water and wastewater operations, she also acts as a consultant to governments on the critical areas of environment, human capability, and resource management. She has considerable experience in developing, managing and implementing training programs, project management and public information programs for stakeholder support.

Carla Stone is a graduate of Columbia University’s (New York) Henry Krumb School of Mines with a B.S. degree in Mining Engineering, Geophysics Option and M. S. degree in Mining Engineering and Mineral Economics. She also holds certificates in Wastewater III (Delaware) and Water Operations (Delaware). She is a Member of the Board of Directors of People to People International, Delaware Chapter, a Past Member of the Board of the World Trade Center Institute Delaware, and serves on the International Council of Delaware. She also is a member of the Water Environment Federation, the Society of Mining Engineers, Society of Women Engineers, and the Project Management Institute. She has been Chair of the Council of Economics of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers. She also served as Economics Committee Chair for the Delaware Delegation to the White House Conference on Small Business.

Kristin Dawkins
Staff Consultant, PM Environmental

Bob Carlson
President, Green Knight Environmental
http://rlcarlson.wordpress.com/

Chuck Lohre, LEED AP+
Green Cincinnati Education Advocacy

http://www.green-cincinnati.com

In 2007 we started to promote LEED by holding afternoon seminars as forums for prominent LEED pioneers to address the community of architects, engineers, contractors and the public. From there we started to volunteer with the Cincinnati Regional Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council and helped develop their web site and trade show exhibit materials. Promotion doesn’t come without education and we registered our offices as a LEED CI project as well as Chuck Lohre passing the LEED AP exam. After developing educational materials for the Fernald Preserve Visitors Center we created classes to help individuals pass the LEED AP exam with one-on-one mentoring and tutoring. With the push to achieve LEED AP status by June 30, 2009, several classes were held. A unique aspect of the classes was actual tours of many regional LEED projects. We received LEED Platinum May, 5, 2011 on our office.

 

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

What it takes to land the job you want

Job-Preparedness-Indicator_Infographic_10.16.12

Top 10 things hiring managers look for in candidates

Top 10 winnerI recently attended the annual conference of the Midwest Association of Colleges and Employers in Chicago. One of the general sessions featured a panel discussion with members of The Career Advisory Board. As part of this panel, CAB member Kristin Leary, Vice President of Global Talent  at Quintiles, presented the top 10 things hiring managers look for in candidates, gleaned from the Career Advisory Board’s Job Preparedness Indicator Report.

Here is that top 10 list (with my parenthetical commentary).

Top 10 things hiring managers look for in candidates

  1. Positive Attitude (focus on the opportunities in your life, not the obstacles)
  2. Strong Work Ethic (show up, work hard, set higher standards for yourself than your boss sets for you)
  3. Excellent Communication Skills (talk and write write well; not just in social media shorthand)
  4. Interpersonal Skills (look up from your iPhone and look at people when you talk to them)
  5. Self Motivation (motivating you is more your job than it is your boss’s)
  6. Collaboration Skills (can you work and play well with other and be productive?)
  7. Business Acumen/Skills (successful means that you understand expenses cannot exceed income)
  8. Intellectual Curiosity (employers want lifelong learners – be one!)
  9. Local & Global Perspective (there are people who live, think and act differently than you; respect those differences)
  10. Passion (if you’re not doing something you care about, find something else to do)

The one thing missing from this list, of course, is the most important:  Employer want you to have the skills needed to do the jobs they need to fill.   Everything on this top 10 list is very important IN ADDITION to education, skills and experience, NOT INSTEAD OF of education, skills and experience.

Develop and nurture all aspects of you qualifications and you will be successful.

Is it okay to apply for multiple jobs with the same company?

RNMarie from Barry University asked: 

Is okay to apply for multiple jobs within the same corporation?  

I am a registered nurse looking for a job within an hospital. Frequently, single corporations own many hospitals. I want to apply for as many jobs as I can, but I don’t want to look desperate.

Hi Marie –

In a word – YES!

It is okay to apply for multiple jobs within the same corporation.  Just don’t take a shotgun approach to applying.

#1. Prior to applying for any job, make sure you are a viable candidate

That might sound pretty obvious, but I have reviewed a lot of applications from candidates who clearly did not read the position description prior to applying.

Once, when hiring to fill a position on my staff, I asked candidates applying to use their cover letter to tell me how their qualifications matched those called for in the job description. I actually received a cover letter that said:

My qualifications are what qualify me for this this position.

Guess who didn’t get an interview? When an employer reviews your application they should not have a difficult time matching your qualifications with the qualifications they are seeking in candidates.

If your primary qualification is that you need a job; you are probably not going to get an interview.  If your primary qualifications align well with the qualifications sought for multiple jobs within a company, apply for those jobs.

#2. Apply for all jobs for which you are a viable candidate

And, don’t be lazy about it.  Each opportunity is unique, so treat it as such. In most instances, the same person is not reviewing all applications – particularly in large organizations.  A Human Resources Clerk (or a computer program) may do some initial sorting and vetting of applications to weed out the non-qualifiers, but hiring managers will make the final decisions about who they interview and hire.

#3. No one expects you to apply for jobs one at a time

Competition is a good thing.  Let employers compete for your services.  Let departments within the same company compete for your services.  Let different hospitals owned by the same parent company compete for your services.

Your goal is to give yourself as many viable options as you can.  Their goal is to find the very best candidates they can.  These goals are compatible!

When in doubt, refer back to #1

Applying  for multiple jobs for which you are qualified is not viewed as a bad thing by employers.  Indiscriminately applying for jobs  is.

You are a Registered Nurse.  Registered Nurses are in great demand in most markets across the US. Chances are, the hospital that gets you will be lucky.

My advice to you: Talk to as many people working in these different environments as you can. Get some first hand information on the different hospital cultures.

When the job offers start coming in, you want to be able to make the most informed decision possible and that kind of first-person advice will be invaluable.

Good Luck!

matt-signature

What companies are most likely to hire graduates of my university?

new_alumni_picRegina from California State University – Bakersfield asked: 

I’m an English Major with a Public Policy Administration Minor; I wanted to know which companies are most likely to hire CSUB alumni? I am also seeking a position in contracting or underwriting perferably in the insurance industry as I have my license.  Any advice you can give me on the companies that hire these positions and suggestions would be appreciated.

Hi Regina –

Your first question – Which companies are most likely to hire CSUB alumni? – is a challenging one to answer.  Most companies do not make recruiting decisions primarily by school.  They make decisions based on how they can most efficiently and economically find candidates with the skills, experience and expertise they need to fill the positions they have open.  That said, geography and school ties do play a role:

Alumni often look to their Alma Mater when they need to hire

Who loves a school more than its alumni!  Alumni who valued their college experience often like to “pay it forward” by looking to their Alma Mater for interns and employees when they need to hire.  It is a long standing tradition at most schools and a great way for alumni to “give back” without having to write a check to the Annual Fund. I’ll bet the CSUB Roadrunners like to help other Roadrunners!  Start with your University Career Center and see how they can help you connect with alumni.  Also, join the CSUB Alumni LinkedIn Page and visit the CSUB Alumni page for more information on connecting with alumni.

Many graduates wish to work near where where they went to school and many employers prefer to hire from the local talent pool

Whenever possible, employers like to hire from their local community.  The candidate review and selection process is usually less expensive and the on-boarding process using goes a lot more quickly when you don’t have to bring in candidates from outside the local area.  Hiring locally is not always an option (or the best option) but when it is possible, employers like to do so; particularly small and mid-size employers.

Look at the pool of employers around where you live and go to school.  Who is in your immediate vicinity?  Of these employers, which ones are in industries that match your interests, skills, education and experience.  Answer those questions, and you will have a good idea of where the best opportunities for you can be found.

Employers target specific universities and degree programs when they offer candidates that match their hiring priorities

Affiliation (alumni) and proximity (local talent pool) won’t matter unless the candidate pool meets the employer’s hiring needs.  Employers will target specific schools when those schools are a proven source of the kind of talent they need.  Employers that target specific campuses (often larger employers) usually do so through the University Career Center, so check with them to see who recruits on campus and what types of candidates they are seeking.

How to find a job in insurance underwriting

underwriting1You can and should look at the major job boards (Indeed, CareerBuilder, Monster, etc.) for insurance underwriting opportunities in your area, but also look at the industry specific resources unique to your field.  For example:

InsuranceUnderwritingWeb.com

UltimateInsuranceJobs.com – Underwriting Jobs

UnderwritingJobs.com

InsuranceJobs.com

These are just a few suggestions and ideas to get you started.

Good luck!

matt-signature