February 25, 2009
By Armando Vega
Last Wednesday, the Career Development Center hosted a “Recession Proof Job Techniques” seminar intended to give students an edge in these tough times and tight labor markets.
The first thing job-seekers should do is to perform a self-assessment and determine what industry in which they would like to work. Whatever it is, one should be able to list at least 5 skills he or she possesses that make for a great match within that industry. Remember: when someone’s landed an interview, he is already a potential employee. The interview is a time to distinguish oneself from the pool of applicants who similarly made it in the door.
Photo by Christopher Izatt
Within the industry of choice, composing a list of about 20 companies within that industry is advisable, and students should further seize upon opportunities to network with individuals within those firms whenever possible, all the while regularly reading information on industry and career trends.
Résumés are of critical importance. A good résumé opens the door to an interview. The first two items on any good résumé should be an Objective statement, targeted toward the position sought, and a Summary statement, summarizing the skills and traits of the applicant.
A résumé, when possible, should express itself in figures such as dollar sales, percentage over quota, etc, using such language as “increased,” or “decreased,” or “implemented.” The idea is to showcase a results-oriented person who can quantify their achievements, if possible. It can similarly be a good idea to use accomplishment-based bullets. One should always be sure to lace the résumé with keywords and “industry jargon,” and to show a general career progression over the course of one’s work experience. Finally, send the résumé with a cover letter.
The last point is often an overlooked one. A good accompanying cover letter is absolutely essential for so many professional job openings. It should offer immediate benefits to the reader. Mention a referral or refer to the employer’s ad which alerted you to the opening, refer to news and headlines the company has been making, and briefly list your qualifications as a way to introduce yourself. In closing, end with cordial closing remarks, ask for a specific course of action from the employer (“I would like to be given the chance to be interviewed,”), and in turn state a specific action (“I will follow up with a call within the next week.”).
The seminar emphasized the importance of networking in finding jobs and getting noticed. Networking can be useful as a research tool, as interview practice, and as a way to generate referrals. As a job-placement technique, it is five times more effective than ads and recruiting.
Photos by Christopher Izatt
Students from area colleges and universities meet with potential employers at the Springfield Collegiate Career Fair, held on February 19, 2009 in the Public Affairs Center.
Talk to people already in the industry by any means necessary: alumni directories, job fairs, social networking sites, social events, personal connections. Briefly mention any experience held, and ask for information about the industry and some advice in general. Do not just ply for a job; it is ineffective and sometimes perhaps even tactless to seek jobs in this manner.
The point is to establish connections with people for the future. If it seems unlikely they will help, be persistent and remember: people love feeling like experts. Most will be glad to lend some guidance. If one can manage to keep in touch or even build on a relationship with a professional expert, one has a powerful ally at one’s side. In today’s labor markets, there’s not much more for which one could ask.