Getting Started: Job Interviews That Get You Hired
Gathering Your Resources, Networking, and Embarking on Your Job Search
IT SHOULD COME to you as a tremendous relief to learn that looking for a job doesn't need to be a daunting proposition. In fact, the process can be exciting and fulfilling. And, ultimately, it is a process you can control. Many of the skills and disciplines that you learned in college, and that served you as a student, will come into play when you start looking for a job. In other words, you should feel confident not only that you are equipped to find the job you want, but that the process itself will be an enlightening and memorable one.
The most important step in the job-search process, of course, is to land an interview. But for many recent graduates, this step is the hardest. One of the biggest obstacles is the erroneous belief that getting an interview is a matter of chance. In fact, the process of getting an interview is more like solving a statistics problem than it is a matter of luck: The more resumes you send, the more likely you are to get an interview. It's as straightforward as that. It also means that the more resources you use, the better your chances will be of getting an interview for the job you want.
The process that leads to a job interview may actually start with an interview: an informational interview that you conduct to gather information from a human resources manager, recruiter, or a network contact.
What are Your Resources?
Before you begin to devise your strategy to find a job, you need to consider the resources available to you:
- What are they?
- How can they be best used or accessed?
- Which ones will bring you the highest degree of success in landing an interview?
The next sections of this chapter offer some guidelines on how you can make the best use of newspaper ads, career centers, recruiting firms, and the Internet in your job-search process.
Most people begin their search with a careful look through the advertisements in the Help Wanted section of a newspaper. This is one of the easiest and most useful ways of researching interview possibilities.
However, want ads can be misleading. In the career world, the best jobs often don't reach newspapers, which means that you get a limited sense of the jobs available. Also, because employers are conscious of the cost of advertising, they tend to put only bare bones information in their ads. Therefore, if possible, try to obtain additional information about the company and the job advertised. Most companies large enough to advertise in a major newspaper will probably have a website, so start by Googling the name of the company to see what you can find. Essentially, what you want to discover is what the company's products or services are, how large it is, what its annual revenue is, and so on. By researching advertised positions ahead of time, you can eliminate jobs unsuitable to your needs.
Better yet, try to talk to someone who already works for the company in which you are interested. Your college career center may be able to give you the name of a recent graduate who has gone to work for the company, particularly if the firm recruits on campus.
You may also be surprised to find that you already have a connection to the firm. This is where your network of peers, or people you know who are already in the working world, comes in handy. Ask your parents, friends, relatives, and peers if they know anyone who can tell you more about a certain company or field. You will enhance your chances of making the right choice about a company and presenting your credentials most effectively if you talk to someone who already works there.
It is a good idea to call someone you know at the company for which you are interested in working, but it is not a good idea to call the company if you do not know anyone working there. Most newspaper help-wanted ads actually specify, "No phone calls, please"—so do not ignore this request. Obviously, a company that is advertising in a major newspaper is likely to receive hundreds of resumes, so its HR department (or even its receptionist) could not possibly be able to handle hundreds of phone calls from eager potential candidates. Therefore, you should respect and honor that request, try to find information about the job through some other source, and then simply mail, e-mail, or fax your resume (however the ad specifies).
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