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You just left the job interview. Here’s what you do next.
Click here to read more at USA TODAY College
Click here to read more at USA TODAY College
Click here to read more at USA TODAY College
OPCD’s annual Advance: Intern, Job and Grad School Fair is on Thursday, February 1, from 3:00-6:00pm in the SB Hall Multipurpose Room. Some careful preparation can help you make a lasting impression and could lead to a great summer internship or even a full-time position after graduation.
Here are some tips from Abby Bird, Recruitment and Training Coordinator at The Heritage Foundation, one of the employers who will be attending the job fair.
- Dress professionally.
- Come prepared to talk to the companies that most interest you, but it’s not necessary to be an expert on every company.
- Work on your elevator pitch–give the recruiter some insight into what you hope to do and highlight one or two key pieces of your resume.
- Work on your “elevator pitch.” It should include your name, your major, your expected graduation date, and your career goals.
A few more tips from OPCD Career Counselors:
- Be prepared to talk about not only what experience you have, but also what you hope to do in the future.
- Thoughtful questions about an employer’s business will make a good impression.
- Practice your elevator pitch, but don’t memorize it. You want to come across as personable and confident. If this kind of activity is outside your comfort zone, practice with a friend.
- Bring extra copies of your resume in a padfolio or a plain folder.
- Try not to be nervous about talking to employers. They will be there to meet you, and they want to hear about you.
To view a list of employers who will be present at the job fair, click here.
The interviews are over, the W4 is filled out and it’s your first day on a new job. Now’s the time to shine.
Your early days at a company set the tone for how your boss and coworkers perceive you and can have a lasting impact on your ability to advance.
Unfortunately, many new hires fall into traps that can hurt their credibility and even jeopardize their prospects at the company. So what can you do to start off strong and gain the respect of your manager and coworkers? Here are some pitfalls to avoid.
Not asking for help
If you put on quite a show during the interview process, you probably feel like you need to prove to your manager that she made the right choice in picking you over other candidates. And in proving your worth, you might avoid asking for help to demonstrate your effectiveness.
This is common: many new hires are afraid to ask for help when facing a problem. Asking for help might reveal that they don’t (gasp!) know everything.
Newsflash—your boss doesn’t expect you to know everything from day one. Asking for help isn’t a display of weakness. It shows your new employer that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to become a valuable part of the team.
Asking for too much help
Although getting help when you really need it is a must, asking questions that you could’ve answered with independent research is lazy.
Companies need employees with critical thinking skills: people who, when faced with a problem, try to arrive at a solution by mapping their current knowledge onto new situations.
Of course, there are some processes or systems that you won’t be able to figure out on your own. Others you can look up on the company website or in training manuals. The trick is in knowing where that line falls in your company or on your particular project.
Before going to a coworker or supervisor with a question, try to find the answer on your own. If you still need to ask for help, explain what steps you took to solve the problem independently. That way the person helping you knows that you’re trying to work through the issue with minimal assistance.
Missing the big picture
In some companies, it can be hard to know how your specific role fits into the overall mission, especially when you’re at the bottom of the org chart. Ideally, you’d learn this during the onboarding process. Regardless, not knowing how your role benefits the bottom line can make your day to day activities seem pointless.
To remedy this, become familiar with your company’s mission and vision statements. Understand their products or services, even if selling or promoting them isn’t your direct responsibility. Whether you’re in accounting or customer service, understanding how you’re specifically making a difference can help you see the big picture and improve your performance.
Getting caught up in office drama
All offices have moods—some are positive and some are negative. And often, one or two people can set the tone for an entire department. If you find that you’ve been hired into a negative office environment, you must do everything you can to avoid the coworkers who are creating that negativity.
In order to make it through the day with your sanity intact, you must focus on doing your job and achieving your performance goals. If a few people continually spew negative comments or gossip about others, avoid them. If you can’t, try to steer conversations toward more positive subjects and avoid topics that tend to drift into negative territory. Do whatever it takes to remain positive. You don’t want to be associated with the office’s negative person or group. It not only hurts your prospects at the company, but it also makes each day a drag.
The first 90 days at a new job are a continuation of the interview process. Your manager and coworkers are still evaluating whether you’re a good fit for the position and the company. With a desire to learn and a willingness to work both independently and as part of the team, you can demonstrate to them that you were and are the right choice.
To make an appointment with an OPCD career advisor, click here.
Let’s face it: interviews are tough. Even seasoned professionals get sweaty palms at the thought of being evaluated on every word that comes out of their mouths. But, like it or not, interviews are an unavoidable part of the hiring process.
So what can you do to up your interviewing game? Here are 4 things to work on:
Take company research to the next level
There was a time when looking up a company’s website and memorizing their mission statement would’ve been called deep research. Not anymore. Before your interview read all of the company’s social media platforms. Check in on its stock performance. Set up alerts for any news about the company and its upper management.
Some hiring managers will test how much research you’ve done by asking questions like, “What did you think of our last social media campaign?” You don’t want to have to answer with, “I haven’t seen it.”
Here’s why: you want your interviewer to know that you want this job, not just any job. By researching the company and its approach to business, you can position yourself as a good fit for the position. This shows your interviewer that you’re sincerely interested in being part of the team.
Be honest about your weaknesses—and then follow up with a plan
When an interviewer asks you, “What’s your greatest weakness?” your tendency might be to couch your answer as a veiled strength: “Sometimes I take my job too seriously” or “People tell me I work too hard.” That’s a mistake because seasoned managers and recruiters can see right through that ploy.
A better answer is an honest one followed by how you’re already addressing that weakness.
Here are some examples:
“I sometimes get caught up in the details of a project and have trouble seeing the big picture. I’m working on that by setting intermediate goals so I can make sure my work is on track.”
“I get nervous in public speaking situations. I’m trying to improve my skills by working with a mentor who’s really good at it. I’ve started speaking up in small group meetings, and I make sure I’m always well-prepared in case the opportunity to speak arises.”
One weakness that doesn’t go over well with hiring managers is tardiness. Don’t bother saying “I’m always late” and following up with how you have a new alarm that requires you to jump up and down to make your phone stop chirping. Work on that weakness, but discuss a different one in the interview.
Be prepared for tricky questions
People tend to prep for interviews by looking up “interview questions” and then practicing their answers in front of the mirror and with friends. They walk into the interview confident that they’re ready for any “tell me about a time” questions the interviewer throws at them.
That’s a good practice, but to take your interviewing skills to the next level you should expect the unexpected. The only way to prep for a question you don’t know is coming is to be very comfortable verbalizing your resume and your accomplishments. Know your story by heart. Get comfortable talking about challenges you faced and how you overcame them.
Before the interview read over the job posting again. Make sure you really understand the job you’re applying for and be prepared to explain—convincingly—how your particular experience and achievements make you the best candidate for the position. Time spent studying what the interviewer is looking for (at least according to the job posting) will prepare you for any oddball questions that might come up.
And watch out for “Why do you want this job?” Answering with “the commute is shorter” or “I liked your website” is a red flag that signals you want a job but maybe not this particular job.
Ask relevant questions
Most interviews wrap up with this: “So do you have any questions for me?” The worst possible answer is, “No, I think you covered it all.”
The second worst answer is, “So how many days of vacation do I get and when can I start taking them?” Not that those are invalid questions—just don’t ask them in the first interview.
The best questions are questions that answer what you need to know to know to be successful: How will my performance be measured? Is there a typical career path that someone in this position might follow? Would there be the possibility of relocating in the future? How often would I be working on a team and how often alone?
And don’t ask questions that you could’ve googled before the interview. The answers to “Where are your headquarters located?” or “How many employees do you have at this location?” can be found online and don’t sound as though you put much thought into them.
It’s OK to be nervous in an interview. But the more you prepare, the better you’ll be able to be yourself. Your goal should be to come across as confident (but not cocky), relaxed (but not indifferent) and personable (but not insincere).
Oh, and keep a tissue handy for those sweaty palms.
You say you’ve applied to tons of jobs and you’re not getting any interviews. You’ve posted online, you’ve sent resumes through email and snail mail and nothing’s happening. You meet the basic qualifications for these positions, but hiring managers aren’t calling you back for an in-person meeting or even a phone interview.
Someone’s getting these jobs. Why not you?
If you’ve applied to multiple positions you’re qualified for but aren’t getting interviews, there’s most likely a problem with your resume.
Here are five resume mistakes that could cost you an interview. Luckily, they’re easy to fix.
You didn’t proofread your resume
This might be the worst mistake you can make when submitting your resume. Proofreading is more than a quick spell check–you’re looking for grammar mistakes as well as words that spell check won’t catch (their and there, it’s and its). And always make sure you’ve used the right company name in a cover letter or job objective. Use the wrong one and your resume will end up in the trash.
This may sound a little harsh. But think of it this way: your lack of proofreading shows the hiring manager that you weren’t interested enough in the position or the company to put in extra work. What does that tell them about the kind of employee you’d be?
Do whatever it takes to get grammar and spelling right. Read it out loud. Have a friend read it. Read it backward. Your resume should be absolutely error-free.
Your formatting is all over the place
Headings, job titles, bullets, fonts, indentions–these should be consistent throughout your resume. Anything less makes a recruiter have to work harder to figure out if you’re right fit for the position. Make sure your name is in a larger font size and then use boldface, underline and italics (consistently!) to distinguish each section.
You copied your current and previous job descriptions and pasted them into your Experience section
Each job title should include a short description of your position and bullet points that detail what you accomplished while you were there. A job description has too much detail–your resume doesn’t need it. Plus, job descriptions read like corporate-speak and sound awkward when used out of context.
You listed your job tasks instead of your accomplishments
Unless you have an unusual job or were assigned tasks that are not the norm for that kind of position, you don’t need to rehash your daily job duties. Most employers already know what a customer service rep does. Instead, you should include a list of accomplishments for each job. Here’s what that looks like:
Customer Service Representative, ABC Company
Task-focused: Answered phones, routed calls to other employees, handled customer complaints, filled out customer complaint forms.
Results-focused: Increased customer retention by 15% in one year by promptly addressing customer complaints and taking steps to resolve them. Decreased time to resolve customer complaints by 25% by developing a strategy designed to streamline inbound calls and emails.
You’re using the same resume for every job posting
Customer Service Rep. Marketing Assistant. Event Coordinator. The same resume should work for all entry-level positions, right? Wrong. Each resume you write should be tailored specifically to the job you’re applying for, even if it’s the same type of position at two different companies.
Go through the job description and notice words the employer uses in the Tasks Required and Skills sections. Do they want someone who’s fluent in Microsoft Excel? List it in your Skills section (if you have that skill–don’t lie). Are they looking for a candidate with the ability to analyze complex data? Make sure one of your bullets lists a time when you analyzed data and what results you achieved.
Time to clean it up…
Don’t let a sloppy resume be the reason recruiters and hiring managers are passing on you. A great resume will improve your chances of making it through to the first round of interviews. Follow these steps to get the basics down and the interviews will come.
For more information on resumes or interviewing or to make an appointment with an OPCD advisor, click here.
Working or interning in Washington, DC, may seem like a stretch goal for many students. But according to Dr. Yuval Levin, Vice President and Hertog Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington is an exceptionally open place for people who are willing to work hard. Dr. Levin spoke recently to a group of University of Dallas students about securing work and internships in the nation’s capital.
“The world of congressional staffers is quite young,” Levin said. “The typical congressional staff will consist of 7 or 8 people in their twenties who are each assigned a specific set of issues. They’re very involved in the work of legislation.” According to Levin, working on a congressional staff is the best way to learn how Washington really works. “Congress is driven by process,” he said. “Working on a congressional staff teaches you about powerful personalities and about the scheduling and tempo of legislation.”
Working for a congressional committee or for a senior member of a committee is another way to get solid policy experience. “The substantive policy work is done in committee,” he said. Many staffers working on these committees are very young as well. Levin recalled his own experience as a young staffer: “I remember sitting on the budget committee and negotiating health care issues and thinking, ‘Do they realize I’m 21?’”
Levin said that although Executive Branch staffers are generally more experienced than Hill staffers, there are many lower-level departmental positions that offer a good start for young staffers. He emphasized that a recent graduate’s willingness to work is the most important factor in securing work in Washington. “Don’t limit yourself to one office or one area of government. If you’re willing to be paid pretty poorly, there’s work out there,” he said. Outside of working on the Hill or in the Executive Branch, Levin said that the organizations that support the policy apparatus–think tanks, party committees, and PACs–are also great places for recent college graduates to gain experience that could lead to other positions.
Levin recommends that interns or recent grads think first about working as a congressional staffer. First, it’s the easiest way to get in, and, second, working on the Hill provides the kind of experience that students can use as leverage to get other positions. “You can’t pretend to understand how government works if you haven’t seen it first hand,” Levin said.
The first step to getting a job on the Hill is to contact your local congressional representatives. “Call the offices of your two state senators and your local congressional representative,” Levin said, “and offer yourself up to opening letters, doing research, whatever they need.” This approach can work whether you’re looking for an internship or a job after graduation. “DC has a low barrier to entry,” he said, “if you’re willing to do the work.”
For more information about internships and employment in Washington, DC, or anywhere else, contact the Office of Personal Career Development for an appointment.