QUICK TIPS: Interviewing

Image by Stuart Miles

With graduation just a few weeks behind us recruiters are often swamped with interviews this time of year. Let’s say you’re scheduled for one of these interviews but have decided the position is not the right one for you. What should you do?

A. Nothing. You’re not interested in the position and you won’t be applying for it in the future.

B. Send the recruiter a polite email explaining you have decided to pursue other opportunities.

C. Go anyway. It’s not professional to cancel after the fact.

B is the best way to go. An email is fine, but a phone call is more professional (and not a voicemail left in the middle of the night). This isn’t so much about the job as it is your character. You never know if the company might offer another position that is of interest to you. In fact, the recruiter might actually keep you in mind and reach out to you later on.

A might seem like a good idea, but I caution you to never burn bridges. Guess where recruiters go when they leave a company? often to other recruiting roles. If you canceled on the recruiter when she worked at Victory Logistics there’s no reason for her to believe you’ll be reliable at Procter & Gamble.

C could be a waste of your time and the hiring manager’s. Call the person who set up the interview to let him know you’d like to cancel and give an honest reason. You might have a misunderstanding about the opportunity that he can clear up—and, frankly, it’s less cowardly. This is called professional courtesy. After that, if he asks you to come in anyway, consider it. No one can have a thorough idea of a job even if they go through the entire interview process, but you will at least learn more. Hopefully an observation or shadow will be part of the process to provide you with even more insight. You might even change your mind.

For more interviewing tips check out the following posts:

Didn’t Get the Job? It’s Not You: http://wp.me/p2Yxve-9

Post Grad And No Job? Relax: http://wp.me/p2Yxve-25

 

 

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Don’t Give Up

Your #1 New Year’s resolution was Find a New Job. What you might be discovering is tons of people made that same resolution. And not just December grads. Many experienced people joined the January frenzy too.

You might not get the first job you pursue, but don’t be discouraged. Given the volume of applicants recruiters are receiving it might be more challenging and take more time before you get that coveted offer. If you are beginning to feel frustrated here are a few tips to keep in mind while you continue your search.

 Image by Stuart MilesDo some soul-searching

Be honest. Did you miss some offers due to your own errors?

Perhaps you came across as cocky instead of confident during the interview. Confidence is a wonderful attribute, however, overconfident body language and answers can be off-putting. This happened with a candidate who told one of our hiring managers, “When you call to offer me the job—and you will be calling me…”

This kind of attitude doesn’t make anyone feel warm and fuzzy. If the manager was rubbed the wrong way, how will customers and co-workers feel? If you want to convey you are the best person for the job simply reiterate your strengths.

“I think the leadership experience I gained as Vice-President of my sorority will be a real benefit to the Project Manager role. I’m looking forward to hearing from you regarding your decision.”

Did you walk into an interview without preparing? Maybe you went just for experience and the recruiter sensed that—despite the fact that you discovered mid-interview the job would be right up your alley. Even if you’re not excited about the opportunity when you apply, if you accept an interview take time to prepare and go with an open mind. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I applied for my company simply because it was in my home city where I planned to return after college. To my surprise, the person who interviewed me had such great things to say I was sold. I originally thought I’d stick around for 3 months then move on.

That was in 1994.

Have you been aiming too high? If you only have 1-2 years of experience (or maybe even less) and every opportunity you seek requires 5+ years, you are barking up the wrong tree. Commit to searching for entry-level jobs and you should see some doors begin to open. The same is true for more seasoned candidates. If you have a wealth of experience and your goal is to walk into a management role, cross entry-level opportunities off your list. They more than likely will not offer the compensation or responsibility you are seeking.

Remain Positive

Whether you are in the application stage or face-to-face interview stage, no one likes to hear the word no. When those no’s multiply over a few weeks, though it may tug at you hard, resist the woe-is-me mentality.

Do some things that make you feel good. Go to the gym, spend time with friends, participate in a sport or treat yourself to dinner or a movie—within your budget, of course. Give yourself permission to not think about your career search while you are out having fun.

If the negative thoughts come, replace them with good ones. 

Don’t lament because you got passed over. Again! Consider this: there is something out there that is a better fit for you. Had you gotten the other position(s) you would have missed out.

Years ago when my husband and I were looking at houses we found one we both liked and put in a bid. I was absolutely convinced it was the house—the perfect one for us. Imagine my disappointment when we didn’t get it. Then there was a second one I fell in love with. My husband, not so much. Yet I kept dreaming about that place. Finally we found yet another one that we both agreed on: open floor plan for him, attached garage for me and a bonus sun room. That was the one we got, and it is so much better than the others. Think about your job search in the same way. Even if the position seemed like the one that got away, keep believing something better is on the horizon.

Don’t cry reverse ageism. It’s the timeless dilemma: How can I get the experience required for the career I want if no one will give me a shot?  You are not totally devoid of experience. There are entry-level careers that only require the skills you were able to pick up at your high school and college jobs.

When my husband first began his career in IT no one was willing to give a young guy with no computer experience an opportunity. After a long search he was grateful to land a job in his field making less than minimum wage. He used that time to his advantage, learning as much as he could, proving himself and, slowly, other opportunities opened up. He eventually became a Senior Manager and a Director in his field. The moral of the story: don’t knock humble beginnings. Pay your dues and you will reap the benefits.

Don’t dwell on the interview that was an epic fail. If at first you don’t succeed try, try again. Prep for the next time. Brush up on interviewing tips or sign up for a mock interview at your alma mater (Bonus tip: recruiters who conduct mock interviews are hoping to find some leads).

Bitter is not better. I’ve seen it dozens of times. You don’t get the offer and then you lash out. The problem is, when you become bitter it can show in your interviews. If you get a rejection notice and feel a need to respond, keep it professional.

“Thank you for reviewing my application. Should any other opportunities become available for which you feel I am qualified, please keep me in mind.” This is a message that could score some points with the interviewer, so she just might give you a call when another position becomes available.

On the other hand, “I’d like to know why I wasn’t considered for the job. I meet every single qualification listed!” more than likely will not elicit a reply. Even if it does, it won’t be, You’re correct. I made a mistake. Your demanding email indicates you’d bring unity and harmony to our team. The recruiter will not be inclined to keep you in mind for anything except an example of what not to do during the interview process. What grandma taught you still rings true: You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Walk into every interview as if it’s the first

It might sound odd, but if you have a fresh mindset it will show. If you are replaying rejections in your head you could come across as desperate, defeated, or both. Remember this when you ask for the job, emphasis on ask, not plead.

Don’t rule out a part-time gig. Yes, student loans are around the corner, but a few months might allow you some time to find direction now that you don’t have fifteen things going on at once — classes and projects and meetings (oh my). Even if you begin your new career in April, you’d still beat the May/June grads and have a few months before you have to face the loans.

Remember, life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it (Charles Swindoll), so choose wisely.

Make it a great day!

Classroom to Career-Part 6

I am back. Nanowrimo (that is, National Novel Writing Month, where writers strive to write a 50000 word novel in November) and Nanowrimo prep has taken up quite a bit of my time in the past few weeks. But, I know you’ve  gotten more comfortable in your new role and you might be wondering, what’s next?

Climbing the Ladder

Image by nattavut,

Image by nattavut,

How do you get to the next level anyway? Consult your research. Some companies, like mine, have very specific criteria for moving ahead but, oftentimes, the path isn’t always clear. In that case, performance is your best bet. Know your job inside and out and go above and beyond what is expected. If there are others in the same role, be the one to stand out.

Several years ago I had heard one of my hires was a little disappointed with her manager. Although she hadn’t said anything to me we were both at a luncheon and I could tell she was down. I gave everyone at the table the same advice, but I was talking to her and she knew it. “Remember, we are a promote from within company,” I said, looking around the table, my eyes lingering on hers for a few minutes. “Some of you might be working with people who you feel could do better.” I leaned in closer. “Out-perform them.” Her eyes sparked and she sat up straighter in her chair. Within months she was promoted to upper management

It has been said, If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Be honest with yourself about areas in which you could improve. Write out the career path you’d like and the action steps you’ll need to take to get there and don’t forget to consider the obstacles that might hinder you.

Overcome Obstacles

You’ve heard the phrase, If it was easy everyone would do it. So what are some of the challenges you face?

Are you shy? Join Toastmasters to improve your presentation skills. Since you’ll be presenting in front of an audience you will automatically face your fear. But this isn’t the only route to overcoming shyness. As a Manager I had to deal with customers and accounts on a daily basis. And, although my knees were often quaking, I just forced myself to do it. Little by little I grew more confident over time. In fact, now I love getting in front of an audience. And people don’t believe me when I tell them that at one time it was a struggle for me.

Have you fallen short in your job? That was my obstacle my first year as a recruiter. It was, in a word, abysmal. I went back to my mentor, made a marketing plan for the year, focusing on my weakest areas and within two years I won back-to-back awards for my efforts! Own up to your mistakes and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Is your image holding you back? Make sure you look and act the part (see part 2). If that isn’t your area of expertise ask someone who already looks the part for advice.

Maybe there aren’t any opportunities. Keep working hard. Remember, you’ve only been there a short time. A year or more is not an unreasonable time frame for promotion. In the meantime,you might receive some “in-kind” promotions: bonuses, extra time off or the opportunity to manage a project.

Do something great, then make sure people know about it. About a year into recruiting I realized we were spending an exorbitant amount of money using agencies to help us hire. I buckled down that year, utilized our other sources and reduced that number completely. That was great then, but what about recently? Well, last fiscal year I exceeded my forecasted hires and now I am setting new goals for this year.

Remember to walk before you run, work hard and make wise decisions. Keep these tips in mind as you become acclimated to your new role and it will pay off in the long run.

Make it a great year!

Classroom to Career–Part 2

Image by Ambro

Image by Ambro

VARIETY VS. ROUTINE—Mix It Up

You’re a couple months into your new career. Everything was exciting and new on that first day but now, although you still like your job things are beginning to feel…well, a little boring. You’re so used to having a variety of tasks due to all your commitments: classroom projects, your business fraternity, student government and volunteering. Every weekend brought a new undertaking or an event to coordinate.

What should you do? You don’t want to quit, but if this is all you’ll be doing for the next (gulp) year or more you can’t promise the thought hasn’t run through your mind. Maybe another company out there has something better to offer. Maybe you should check out Monster.

Hold on, people. Finger off the panic button, please. You just got there! By no means have you seen all your company has to offer in two measly months. Or even six measly months. Those who jump ship quickly often regret it later and wish they’d given that first choice just a little more time.

Want to add some more responsibilities to your plate? Try the following:

Start by asking some questions. Talk to those who brought you on board or your manager if possible. What are their responsibilities? Ask what you can do to help them reach their goals.

Image by Gualberto 107

Image by Gualberto 107

Shadowing. Ideally this is something you should request during the interview, but it might not be part of the process or realistic for every company. Shadow those in the positions in which you’re interested if you can, including your manager.

Ask someone to lunch. If a company hired you it is in their best interest for you to succeed, so they should appreciate your desire to build relationships within the organization. Ask people to lunch—both in and out of your division—and take time to learn what they do.

Just ask! Let people know you’d like to learn as much as possible and you want to take on more. But prove yourself in your current role first to earn their trust. Years ago I spent an afternoon riding around with my Area Manager asking her questions about her responsibilities so I knew how to prepare for promotion.

Evaluate your long-term goals and consider what you’ve learned from your conversations and observations. What do you need to know and do to get to the next step? What tasks—both at work and at home—can you take on to help you get there?

Not only will you increase your knowledge but, by taking these steps, you will let others know you’re serious about your career, you plan to stick around and you’re open to learning more. Once they can trust you, your managers should be eager to give you more responsibility. And with responsibility comes opportunity.

Stop back next time when we’ll continue discussing your transition to Corporate America in the area of professionalism.

Classroom to Career-Part 1

You’ve been at the new job for a couple of months—or you’re preparing to begin a new job. A perfect time for some tips about how to make that transition from the classroom to corporate!

 MONEY

 When you find that first job after graduation you will more than likely receive the largest income you’ve had up to this point. It might seem like a lot of money, but it’s important to make a budget. Think about the unexpected expenses that might crop up. Maybe your roommates are moving out and you’ll be paying the rent and bills on your own. That will include utilities—gas, electric, phone, cable and possibly water. Groceries cost more when they’re not split between a couple of people. By the time you add all that up you could eat into a big chunk of your take home pay. With taxes, 401(k) and insurance benefits coming out of your check you’re bringing home only about 60% – 70% of your salary. That’s where your budget starts. Not with the gross. It might seem obvious but often people forget to consider typical deductions.

As I mentioned in a previous post, make wise decisions. Do you really need to get the priciest apartment? Do you need a new car right now or can your old college beater last a little bit longer? When I started my career I thought about buying a brand new Saturn. Beside the fact that, at nearly six feet tall, I could barely fit in it, I didn’t have much extra money for a car payment. So I kept driving my ‘85 Chevy Cavalier for a few more years. Yes, the paint on the hood had faded from blue to a curious gray, and by the time I was finally able to give the car up it had no heat, no air conditioning and some decorative rust around the doors. But by then I had been promoted to upper management and I was allowed to drive a company car. Now, many years later, I still don’t own a car of my own, but I get a new one every year— and since my company pays for gas and maintenance and we’re self-insured I save a ton of money.

As Dave Ramsey says (www.financialpeace.com), live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else. Small sacrifices now allow you to have nicer things later on when you’re not indebted to everyone else. A good rule of thumb is to live on 80%, give away 10% and save 10%.

College Students

TIME MANAGEMENT & WORK/LIFE BALANCE

Yes, college is challenging. Juggling classes, study time, organizational involvement, work—and, let’s face it, if you’re dating someone that takes a huge chunk of your time too—can be difficult. But the bright spot is, if you’re lucky, your weekend starts on Thursday night. I was even fortunate enough a couple of times to have all Monday and Wednesday classes so my weekend started even earlier!

Not so in Corporate America. You might have friends who are still in school and they’re still hanging out until all hours during the week. This is your opportunity to make some good decisions. Sure, you can probably get away with that every once in a while, but don’t wait until you doze off in a team meeting before you learn to say no. Save the late nights for the weekend. Some of you might actually have to commit to going to bed as early as 10:00 pm.

I’ll admit I’m a night owl, but when the alarm goes off in the morning and all I can do is groan, I know I will be in bed early that night. I can’t sit through interviews, make good decisions or contribute to my team when I’m tired. Not to mention, my sunny disposition is a little more on the stormy side.  😉

Once you begin your career—unless you’re in education—Spring Break, Summer Break and, sometimes, holidays like President’s Day or even the major holidays you love could become a thing of the past. That’s not to say you won’t have vacation or other paid time off, but often new grads are surprised when Martin Luther King Day comes along and they’re expected to go into the office. If it’s a day that is important to you plan ahead and use one of your paid days.

 

Take Care of You

All work and no play…stinks! No it’s not the usual saying but it’s true. Even if you love your career, if that’s all you have in your life you will eventually wear yourself out. Take up some activities both with and away from your co-workers. It’s important to build camaraderie with your team; it can benefit you in the office. At the same time, many people need time to decompress which can be difficult to do in the company of your team members. So make sure you don’t inadvertently cast your friends aside just because you’ve landed a new job. I know someone who schedules quarterly outings or get-togethers with friends so they don’t lose touch in the busyness of everyday life. You’ll make new friends along the way, of course. Some of which will be your co-workers. In that case, you might need to make a pact to leave the office at the office. Otherwise it might feel like you never left work!

I take my workout clothes with me to work so I can go straight to the gym. I’m involved in a writing group and my church’s worship team. I salsa, go to local festivals (who doesn’t love a funnel cake?) and plays. I recently even went to the symphony a couple times. Not my thing, but it was worth a try. And in the past I was on a few softball teams. The point is, though I love my career, I have interests outside of work that allow me to continue to love it.

Stuck in a rut? Here are some ideas: join a book club, the gym, coach a team, have card tournaments, invite friends over for a cook out, mentor someone or pick up a new hobby. Check out http://www.meetups.com to find groups of people with similar interests.

I’ll see you back here next time for some tips on professionalism in the workplace.

Where the Jobs Are 2013

You visited all the top job sites, prepped your resume—and had someone review it beforehand, thank you very mucJob Searchh—and applied for some jobs you came across that first day. There are tons of them though, and it turned out to be a grueling day. You posted your resume so now all you have to do is sit back and wait for those employers out there to find you, right?

Actually, you couldn’t be more wrong! Remember what I’ve said in the past—with so many people seeking work, it’s all a recruiter can do to keep his head above water at times. Between the career fairs, job postings, phone screens, interviews, coordinating the interview process, running background checks and, for some, generalist duties (benefits, legalities, unemployment claims, trainings…)

Wait, what was I saying? Oh, yeah. We recruiters are swamped! That means, that while we still prospect, you can’t count on us seeing your resume as the only way to find job leads. And while the popular ones—Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed—will all send you jobs that might be of interest you’re going to find a lot more opportunities by having a plan for your job search. Not to mention, as a recruiter, I want a self-starter who is results driven and ambitious, not the guy that waits around for something to fall into his lap.

 

Below is a list of the top fields hiring new grads this year, so there are definitely jobs out there. The question is, how do you go about finding them?

1.             IT — 26 percent

2.             Customer service — 19 percent

3.             Finance/accounting — 16 percent

4.             Sales — 16 percent

5.             Business development — 15 percent

6.             Health care — 12 percent

 

(Find the complete article at http://www.examiner.com/list/top-6-jobs-for-college-new-grads-2013)

 

Top Places to Search for Jobs

Internet 

By all means, do not discount the job sites listed above. You might also check out career rookie, simply hired and even snag-a-job. Granted, Snag-A-Job primarily posts part-time jobs but perhaps that can lead to a full-time position. These sites are definitely viable, and the place I find many of my new hires, but I encourage you to go beyond the obvious. Check out Twitter, Linked in and Facebook.

True, the careers popping up on on Twitter could be in Timbuktu, but if you utilize the search feature and enter your city (ex. Jobs Atlanta) you can see the companies posting local jobs. Follow them and it could open up a world of opportunities that might never be posted in the more traditional ways. The same goes for Linkedin. In fact, if you visit your home page, on the right side mid-way down, you’ll see job opportunities that might be of interest to you. If you follow the link for more jobs you will also see which of your connections already work for those companies. Now you have an in—as long as you haven’t been randomly connecting with people you don’t know on Linkedin. You can reach out to your friend to do research, ask questions and, perhaps, even ask for a recommendation.

Is one of your friends raving about his new job on Facebook? Is he posting about how much fun he’s having, how much he loves his manager and his team and just got promoted after only six months? Find out where he’s working. Have a conversation and see if that company is hiring in your field.

 

Employee Referral 

Many companies, mine included, offer incentives for employees who make referrals for employment. Let your friends know you’re looking. Keep your resume up-to-date and be prepared to email it at a moment’s notice. The last thing you want to do is make your acquaintance wait while you make revisions.

A few years ago my brother-in-law, John, was in between contracts in the pharmaceutical research field. John’s resume found its way to the desk of a hiring manager and a colleague who knew John saw it. Because she was familiar with him, his performance and his work ethic she told the hiring manager, “You need to hire him.” John got a phone call, had a brief discussion and hung up with a job offer! Sometimes it really is who you know.

 

Colleges 

As I mentioned in a previous post, career services at your alma mater is a great place to visit. You can also jump on the career services website and browse jobs that have been posted by their employer partners. During the school year attending the career fairs is a must! You can make a much greater impact as a real live person vs. just words on a piece of paper that can get lost in a sea of other resumes. If I am impressed with someone face-to-face I am much more likely to bring that person in for an interview.

 

Networking 

During a presentation a few years ago the speaker emphasized the importance of a viable network. If you can’t help others and vice versa, he said, you don’t have a network, you have a netbroke. One candidate I came across definitely understood this. He worked at a country club throughout college where many affluent guests were members. He was a server but knew he was in a position that could open up doors later on. He kept resumes in his car and had his elevator pitch memorized, so when he got a chance to strike up a conversation with a business owner he was ready. That interaction led to an internship in New York where he was able to hone his marketing skills in a position the company created for him. When you impress people sometimes they go out of their way to help you!

I mentioned Linked in before, but it deserves another mention in this category. Take time to join groups of interest and comment in discussions. That way you can meet more people to add to your network. I recently posted a job and got a recommendation from someone who’d read my feedback. For my contributions in another group I was recognized as the Contributor of the Month and was offered a gift card. I was able to provide valuable information and, though it wasn’t my motivation to do so, I got valuable feedback in return. The same can be said of your job search.

 

Other Sources

 Employment Agencies

Employment agencies can be very expensive for companies so the agency might have a limited number of clients. Similar to your internet search, don’t just sign up and sit back and wait for a phone call. Agencies have numerous clients which means your competition could be significant.

Local Organizations

Oftentimes your local Chamber of Commerce, Urban League, even the unemployment office will have a place for employers to post jobs, so check out the website. In addition, they and other local organizations might host a few public career fairs. Do an online search for “career fairs (name of city) 2013” to see what events will be held locally this summer.

Think outside the box 

If you want a job in a creative field, be creative. With the internet at our fingertips people are thinking way outside the box. I read a story about a guy who put up a billboard to get the attention of employers—and found a job! Utilize Youtube to put together a video. Pin your works of art on Pinterest. Take pics of your fashion designs and post them on Instagram. How about using your marketing skills to draw people—including employers—to your blog? What better way to prove your results than a huge following.

I have yet to hear anyone exclaim, “Yay! I get to search for a job!” Let’s face it, it’s not fun. Keep a positive attitude, but don’t make your job search last any longer than it has to. Take advantage of these tips, exhaust every avenue and keep plugging away until you get that job offer you’ve been seeking.

 

New Grad & No Job Offer? Make Your Summer Count

So you haven’t landed your dream job yet. Last time we established that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But you can’t justify your break forever. What can you do to improve your chances of getting the one you have your eye on when you embark on that career search again?

First, let’s review the obstacles you encountered.challenges

You only applied for one job. But, hey, it was the one and the first two interviews went really well. How were you to know they’d offer the job to someone else? Bad move. Take advantage of all the money you invested in college and visit Career Services. They have relationships with tons of employers and can give you some referrals.

This time, make sure you cast a wide net. Where do your interests lie? Is it only nursing, or do you also enjoy physical fitness, social work or other fields where you’d be able to help people? Or you might be interested in some totally unrelated fields—aviation and IT and law. Personally, I am not only interested in recruiting, but finances, writing and philanthropy. Since few jobs would incorporate all of these areas, you will have to satisfy some of your interests outside of the workplace. Just make sure you tailor your resume accordingly when applying for jobs. Don’t send your aviation-related resume in for a programming career at Microsoft.

Do some research to find out if you’ll need more education or a certification for your desired career. If so, consider it—the cost, the time and what sacrifices you might have to make. Perhaps, with those qualifications under your belt, even more avenues will be open to you.

You bombed the interview. It happens. Use it as a learning experience. You will live to interview again—believe me. I walked into an interview for a sales position my senior year in college. Back then I was extremely shy. (Shocking, I know.) Much to my horror I found myself facing five—yes, five—interviewers.

It did not go well. I filed it under the category of Things I Don’t Speak Of. If interviews make you break out in hives, this is another area where Career Services, local organizations like the Urban League or other job centers can help. Take advantage of a mock interview (or two) or a resume critique and get some feedback on where you can improve. You’ll walk into your interviews much more polished than you were in March.

Lack of experience 

If this is the case, is there something you can do over the summer—volunteering, working part-time, taking a course—that can help you gain that experience? Let’s say you applied for an accounting position but you never had an internship. Why not try to obtain one over the summer if a company is open to hiring graduates as interns? If that doesn’t work read some entry-level accountant job descriptions. Will the company accept banking as related experience? If so, head over to US Bank or 5/3rd and fill out an application. You’ll not only gain cash handling experience, you’ll gain customer service and sales experience as well. You might even qualify for promotion into their accounting division after a few months of proving yourself.

This is the best way to gain experience—hands on, and it’s what I personally like to see on a resume. But there are also other ways which I’ll cover below by order of preference.

 

Honing Your Skills

Do not take a random summer job if you can avoid it. Choose one that will help you gain new skills. If you were turned down for a communications position and re-apply for the position in the fall with the same resume you’ll more than likely get a similar result. And I’m not sure you can sell your parents on taking another three months to find work.

Previous jobs

As I mentioned, I love to see real life experience on a resume. Because I hire for a sales & management trainee position I am even more drawn to candidates who held leadership roles or who met goals. So if you work in a department store and there are no sales goals established by the company, and you would like to get into sales, set some goals of your own and highlight the results on your resume.

Volunteer/Organizational

Rotary, relay for life, habitat for humanity, missions trips just to name a few. This is also solid experience because it involves real situations. Don’t settle for showing up at organizational meetings and filling in where needed. Is there an opportunity to take the helm for a project? Conceptualize and plan events? I am so impressed by candidates who can organize and motivate teams to accomplish tasks. Why? Because so few recent grads have that experience.

No too long ago I hired two candidates who had been on missions trips. They had to raise money (sales/persuasiveness/resilience), set appointments (communication/self-starter) and organize Bible studies and outreach (time management, leadership). All of this while in school (flexibility/adaptability).

Classroom — This is impressive when you have had the opportunity to present solutions to an actual company who decided to implement them. However, classroom experience is typically hypothetical or simulated. While it gives students an understanding of what happens in a company nothing beats that face-to-face customer encounter you had as a server where you were able to turn him into a repeat diner at your restaurant. No theoretical idea can take the place of the organizational process you implemented at your last job to help keep track of inventory that was later adopted by three other divisions.

Years ago I interviewed a solid guy for our internship program and asked him to tell me about a time when he had a leadership role. He was an Assistant Manager at a car wash but for some reason he started telling me about his classroom project. I interrupted him and said, “If you tell me about your capstone… You were an Assistant Manager! Tell me about that.” We both laughed, but he got it. He went on to describe some of his responsibilities, the number of people he managed and even how he was able to impact the bottom line. I brought him on board and after he graduated we hired him full-time.

Check out this link for even more ways to gain experience:

http://education-portal.com/articles/10_Ways_for_New_College_Graduates_to_Gain_Job_Experience.html

Transferable Skills

Let’s face it, there is only so much experience you can gain in three months’ time, so what’s an alternative? I guarantee many of you already have valuable skills you never even considered—transferable skills.

Some of the most beneficial skills include: leadership-ability to motivate a team, communication—written & verbal, flexibility/adaptability, teamwork, time management, self-starter, problem-solving, organization, creativity, resilience, results driven

Recent grads often discount their “college jobs”, but don’t sell yourself short. Server, Sales Associate, Laborer (warehouse, landscaping), construction and athlete are all job experiences that will add to your skill set. Think about the skills you’ve gained and ways you can highlight them on your resume and, once you land the interview, what specific examples you can share that prove you have that competency.

Job   Title Experience   &Transferable Skills
Server Multi-tasking/adaptability, customer service, sales,   leadership–ability to oversee a process
Athlete Leadership, work ethic, tenacity, resilience, teamwork,   dedication, goal-setting, problem resolution, results driven, time management   (school, practice, games/meets & sometimes a job)
Landscaping/Construction

(bonus points for crew leader)

Self-starter, ability to meet deadlines, teamwork;   entrepreneurship if you started your own mowing business, leadership
Tutor Planning, training, teaching, motivation (with proven   results), communication
Resident Assistant Leadership, customer service, planning, problem resolution,   organization, creativity, sales if you had to persuade other RA’s to accept   your ideas, budgeting
VP of fraternity Event planning, leadership, creativity, able to motivate a   team, sales—ideas or fund-raising activities, budgeting

Job Shadow

One final suggestion for your summer. You think you’d like to work in a non-profit, but you’re not entirely sure. Why not tap into your network this summer for a connection in that field? (Networking is a topic all its own that I will cover in a future post.) Perhaps you can shadow someone a few days a week or even volunteer. This will give you insight an interview might not offer and you could discover you’re not as interested as you thought or it’s the perfect fit for you.

Remember, just because you haven’t landed your first job is not a license to take it easy this summer. Take advantage of some of these tips and, after you get a few months’ experience under your belt, get back out there! Everyone had to start somewhere. Make that first step pay off in the long run.