Katherine Perez, a career coach with ASU's Career and Professional Development Services, answers some of the most common job-hunt questions in today's post.
Job hunting can be a lonely assignment. While networking with other professionals is often part of the plan (as it should be), many hours are filled with research about companies, crafting resumes and cover letters, and engaging in self-reflection. While doing all these things will ultimately boost your search, sometimes results can come much faster when you engage with a trusted coach, who can help you navigate through the trickiest parts of the job search process.
ASU Alumni Career Services regularly offers virtual “office hours” during its “Ask A Career Coach” online presentations. We asked Katherine (Andruszak) Perez, a senior career specialist with ASU’s Career and Professional Development Services, to answer a few of the most common questions she hears when coaching alumni through the job-search process. Appropriately enough, many of this month’s questions relate to the travails of recent graduates, who often feel great pressure to get their professional careers of the ground!
What are some of the common mistakes you see new grads make in their search for a job?
There are several less-than-optimal strategies we see employed by new grads who visit our office. Many grads will apply to a huge number of positions, all at once, because they feel panic at the fact that they are about to graduate (or just graduate) and still don’t have a job. Because of the rush to apply, these applicants often don’t tailor their resume to precisely fit the position(s) for which they are applying.
Applying for work is truly a full-time job in itself, and recruiters look closely at how the applicant is demonstrating that their skill sets align with the position being offered. Believe it or not, this is another common problem for new grads - they do not read the job description thoroughly. They will see a job title, or perhaps a company that interests them, and read far enough to see that they have the minimal qualification of having a bachelor’s or other degree. They click “submit” without doing their homework on what the job really requires. This might be due to finally leaving school and wanting to be free of homework - but I can tell you, if you are a job-seeker, doing your homework is often what gets you the job!
What are a few ways new grads can help themselves stand out on their resumes?
As mentioned above, tailoring your resume to the exact job for which you’re applying can go a long way to make you stand out from others who are sending the same stock resume out with every application. They need to take the time to look at their skills that that have attained from past positions, both paid jobs and volunteer activities, and demonstrate how those skills meet the qualifications listed for the job - both those listed in the “minimal” and “desired” categories. Your goal is to show a prospective employer that you have what they are looking for, and they need look no further.
Another way to stand out is to highlight the experience you already have in your chosen field, if you’re applying for a professional position in that area of work. This shows an employer that you have found your drive and passion for this industry, that you have made the effort to gain some experiences in it before you absolutely had to, and that you now know what it takes to succeed in the field in which you’ve chosen to pursue a career.
What are some ways to jump start a job hunt for those who are stuck?
There are many different ways to jumpstart your job search process, especially when you are stuck. One of the best places to to start is to clarify what you want in an employer and a position. A job should (ideally) utilize your strengths and passions - if you don’t enjoy what you do, you’re far less likely to be successful. Take some time to reflect and write down what your ideal work day would look like, from the moment you get out of bed to the time you return home at the end of the day. What does that look like?
You can use components of that ideal work day and integrate them into the types of jobs that you want to include in your search. Taking the time to engage in self-reflection can benefit you in terms of better understanding what your goals for yourself are, and what type of career path that you will enjoy and motivate you, which should help you get out of that rut that you may be stuck in.
Another way to break out of your stuckness is to network. Being able to tap your social and professional network can provide you with several advantages. It’s helpful because the majority of jobs that become available are never posted before they are filled, because the employer already
has a candidate in mind, and interviews and hires THEM. The most direct route to getting to be the person that employers think of and hire without competition from other applicants is to network. (See, doesn’t that make all the work involved in networking WORTH IT??)
There are many different networking groups that you can join. Some groups are very narrowly focused on your profession or career field (engineering, or public relations, to give two examples), and some have a broader focus, like a networking group for people under age 35, or one like the Maroon and Gold Professionals, who represent all graduates and supporters of ASU.
If you’re able to make connections at networking events, you can move on to one-on-one networking appointments, where you can do informational interviews about their company or job, and build a relationship where you can help them, as well as receiving job-hunt assistance from them.
Networking should become a habit, and not just be used during a time of need. You should be utilizing your networks not only to find positions, but also to discuss developments taking place in your field. You can share your perspectives on your profession, and provide aid to others, who will then put you at the top of their mind when it comes to filling a position in their company on an important project.
Joining a networking group is a great way to break out of a job-hunting rut.
How important is LinkedIn and how can you make your profile stand out?
LinkedIn is a very important tool not matter what stage of your career you are in. It is a way to keep up on connections to build your network, to understand what is going on in the industry you are in or interested in going. Your profile should be fully built out with a professional picture and have all the variety of different components built out.
The wonderful thing about your LinkedIn profile is that you don’t have to limit your experiences to a two-page paper document, as you must with a resume. On your profile, you can include everything from presentations and portfolio samples to testimonials from clients, bosses, and co-workers. Your LinkedIn URL is something you want to include on your resume when applying for a position, to entice that employer to check out your profile and find out more about what a great candidate you are.
You want to make sure you include skills that relate to what you have accomplished ... there is a recruiter tool on LinkedIn where recruiters can now look for a candidate with certain skills that individuals have tagged on their profile.
Who should you include as references when applying for jobs?
There are a variety of different references you can use when applying for a position. You can list past supervisors, past professors, even an academic advisor you worked closely with or a board member you worked with as a part of a professional organization.
When adding references to an application make sure to give yourself enough time to reach out to that reference and make sure that they are OK with you listing them as a reference. You want to also follow up with them and provide your resume and the job description of the position you’re applying for, in order for them to be well prepared when the employer does reach out to them. Another plus to reaching out to your references before listing them on an application is that it ensures that you’re giving accurate contact information to your potential employer!
~ By Liz Massey, Managing Editor, ASU Alumni Association, and Katie Woo, communications assistant for the Alumni Association.