How to Get a Job/Internship

JobDid a presentation for high school Girl Scouts a few weeks ago and completely forgot to post the presentation online! This is especially helpful for high school and college students, but there are some good tips for job seekers of varying stages.

Feel free to share!

WordPress  incorporates PowerPoints as links: World Of Opportunities PPT

And here’s also an example resume: Sophie Bousset Resume Oct 2013

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Recruiting Lolz 2: Cover Letter for the Win

Got the most interesting cover letter at a Stanford Alum Career Fair… do have something to say for creativity catching my attention O=]

Hi my name is...

How to Make Yourself Stand Out (AKA How to Get an Interview)

First of all, let me apologize for not writing in a few weeks. My new job has been awesome and I’ve been so focused on making sure I do a good job there that a few things have had to fall to the way side. So thanks for sticking it out with me!

Now on to the good stuff =]

Recruiters, sourcers, hiring managers, etc., who does everyone you want to impress look for? Rock stars. It’s the recruiting #buzzword of the day. So are you a rock star? I bet there’s something that makes you a rock star. Whether it’s a cool hobby, some impressive expertise in a domain, or your ability to just make something look easy. I won’t write about figuring out what that special something is just yet, maybe that’ll be good for another post.

So, assuming you’ve already followed the first few common-sense steps to applying for a job… (in no particular order)

  1. Make sure you’re actually qualified for the jobs you’re applying for
  2. Follow directions
  3. You’ve got a resume and a cover letter draft ready to go (yes, you are supposed to tailor them to each job you apply to…)

…you should be ready to rock star up your resume and cover letter.

What makes a rock star? Outstanding accomplishments, deep expertise, an unquenchable thirst to learn…. oh and some crazy notion that challenges are fun and exciting. So how do you show people you’ve got a little (or a lot!) of that?

You tell them a story. Not a long, 10-pager mind you. Just enough to help them see what’s so special about you. Your story starts at the objective line.

  • Are you a recent grad?
  • Do you have 10 years of experience?
  • Do you have an unquenchable thirst for learning
  • Do you love challenges?
  • Are you just way too excited to change this industry?

Point it out! Your objective line is a great place to do that! “Recent grad with 1 year of experience in PCB design for consumer electronics looking to take on new challenges and make company XYZ’s products even better!”

Make sure whoever’s reading your resume doesn’t miss that because it’s drowned out in some not-so-glittering details about all the super technical, in-depth things you did. 

  1. Cut out the jargon. Does your mom understand what you do when she reads your resume? If yes, you’re on the right track. If not, consider changing some of your verbage…
  2. Bring out the meaning in the tasks you did. Did your technical jargon accomplish something like creating a new product for your company? And oh, you were in charge of doing everything from A to Z all by yourself? Well, make sure you write that clearly and simply! I sure as heck don’t that’s what your “oscillometer design, integration and validation” experience means.
  3. Don’t undervalue your college triumphs. Winning some cool competition or working on an electric car in college is just as valid once you graduate as it was when you were trying to flirt with the not-so-geeky sorority girls (although I would continue to do cool things after college, especially if it’s been several years since you did anything that exciting. You want to continue being a rock star!)
  4. Show off a little. There’s nothing wrong with dedicating a few lines to some cool personal/research projects you undertook or having a section where you list all of your accomplishments and awards. Heck! Have both (just stick to the 2 page rule. Less is more.)

The point is – don’t be afraid to show off, and write it all in a way that makes it easy to understand for everyone who did not sit in those mechanical engineering courses with you.

Freebie insider tip: Don’t apply to a whole bunch of jobs at one company – the recruiters and hiring managers can see the list of the 10+ openings you applied to. Let’s face it, how likely is it you’re a good fit for ALL of those roles?

*** Like this article? Check out my Job Search Toolbox for more great tips! ***

How to Apply for a Job

Professional Kitty! Photo Credit:

Been kicking around a rather mild form of writer’s block, but I’m back with more job search advice! Today’s topic: what to actually do to apply for a job in the most effective way.

  1. Update your resume. Make sure all of your recent / relevant positions are included and the start and end dates are correct, then use online tools such as my toolbox (and there are tons of other websites with great advice!) to make your resume as appealing as you can.
  2. Make a list. It won’t look like you’re organized or know what you’re doing if you apply to the same role several times. The recruiter will notice this and may think you are desperate (you never want that to come across, even if you may be in dire need of a new job.) Keep a detailed list of each position you applied for, the link to the job description (so you know what the recruiter’s talking about when they call you), as well as an updated status if you know for sure you were rejected, had a phone screen, or went in for an interview. It only takes a few extra seconds and could make you look much more professional.
  3. Read the ad carefully. Do you meet the skills and/or experience requirements? If not, by only a little or by a long shot? If you’re nowhere near what the ad asks for, you’re wasting your time applying (and most likely the sourcer/recruiter’s too.) Also, does the ad specify how to apply? Are there application instructions? Do you need to email someone your resume instead of clicking on the big red “Apply” button? Do you only need a resume and no cover letter? Paying attention to these details will demonstrate your attention to detail, ability to follow instructions, and ultimately give you a leg up.
  4. Tailor your resume and cover letter to each position. For your resume, this does not mean only add new bullet points with phrases from the ad to each position, if you do that you will end up with a 3-page resume. Instead, take out the bullet points that don’t relate to the ad (or take out whole positions — just leave the title, start and end date, and one bullet point summarizing what you did), and summarize less important points. For the cover letter, do something similar. You can probably keep your first and last line, but change the info in your cover letter to show you have the skills this specific company is looking for (not all of the others you applied to as well.)
  5. Beware of typos. Are you applying Facebook but your cover letter and resume say you want to work at Google? Small details like that aren’t going to help you position yourself as a top-notch candidate.
  6. Follow up. Didn’t hear back? Give it 4 work days and email/call/LinkedIn InMail. If there isn’t any contact info listed anywhere, then unfortunately they just don’t want you to reach out. In that case, I would assume you were not selected for interviews and move on. *Ideally, you should still have been applying to other positions while you waited anyway, and it will be an even more pleasant surprise if you hear back 2 – 6 weeks later!
  7. Research. Once you’ve applied, be prepared to get a call from someone at the company. They may ask you why you’re interested in working for them so take a few minutes to look at their website, their values, their culture… those will often showcase the unique traits that make a company more desirable to work for. Also, do take a close look at the job description. If you can sell your desire to work for the company as well as your interest/passion for the position you will be all the better off for it!
  8. Look inwards. You should eventually be invited to interview for a position, and you will have some more wonderful preparation to do. Take 20 – 30 minutes to research commonly asked interview questions (achievement you’re most proud of, strenghts & weaknesses, what you could improve on…) and come up with thoughtful and honest, but also flattering, answers.
  9. Try, try again. Very few people get hired for the very first position they apply for, so set aside 15+ minutes to apply to 1 or more positions each day. As your applications add up, you should start receiving more and more phone calls and going in for interviews. Don’t despair if you don’t hear back from the first few though, keep applying! Sometimes it takes a little while for recruiters to go through all of the candidates who applied in (especially considering most work on 10+ reqs at a time!) and you may simply not be the best fit for every position you apply for.

In short, be ready to sell yourself as soon as you are called in response to an application, and don’t despair or take it personally if you don’t hear back.

*** Like this article? Check out my Job Search Toolbox for more great tips! ***

Sophie’s Job Search Toolbox

Time to become a young professional headed for the future — cheesy photo and everything!!

I’ve written several articles geared toward helping recent grads (and anyone else, really) get a job and plan on writing several more so I thought I would gather all of them neatly in one place O=]

How to Make a Recruiter Like Your Resume

Writing a Kick-Ass Cover Letter

LinkedIn Can Help You Get a Job!

How to Apply to Jobs

Why HR Is Rejecting Your Resume

Are Social Media the Reason You Can’t Get a Job?

Will Playing Hard-To-Get Help You Land Your Dream Job?

How to Ace a Phone Screen (Or Interview!)

How to Structure a Resume

Freebie from before I got into recruiting — How to Get a Job 7 Tips

And many more to come…

How to Apply to Jobs (Very First Steps)

Don’t know what you’re doing??

Applying for jobs doesn’t have to be scary!

No worries =]

So you’ve updated your resume with all your recent positions, you’ve done some research and now know how to write a stellar cover letter… So where are you going to find jobs to apply for?

Well, that depends on the kind of job you’re looking for! Craigslist is great for entry-level type tech positions, administrative jobs like receptionist… and really a large variety of other jobs! Dice is also great for all kinds of tech jobs, and LinkedIn has a wide variety of both entry-level and more advanced positions.

I recommend you do a little looking around to see where you find the most positions you find appealing.

Now what? First, you make sure you’re not wasting your time by making sure you have the required skills asked for in the ad. If you don’t have at least 75% of them, you’re most likely wasting your time (and the HR representative’s!)

Now that you know what the hiring manager wants, make sure you make it as clear as possible to them that you have those qualifications by tweeking your resume to show off key words. Not sure how to do that? Read this article. 

Then write a targeted cover letter (yes, write a different one for each position!) detailing your most persuasive experience to entice your reader to take the time to interview you. Look here for tips on how to write a great cover letter.

Now what? Wait a week or so and follow up if you don’t hear back (unless the ad specifies otherwise.)

Be courteous to whoever you’re dealing with. * Honestly, we do what we’re told. If you don’t have the skills our hiring manager wants to see then we will be wasting both your time and theirs by scheduling you for an interview even though they will not want to speak with you, so please don’t be upset with us. In a lot of cases we are simply the message-bearer.

As always, feel free to post questions and comments =]

*** Like this article? Check out my Job Search Toolbox for more great tips! ***

Writing a Kick-Ass Cover Letter

Don’t spend hours working on your cover letter, follow these tips!

*The single, most important thing about a cover letter is…

It needs to be clear.

Clear about what? About how great of a candidate you are for this job. About why the hiring manager should give the job to you and not someone else.

So how do you do that? Here’s another handy-dandy bullet list O=]

  • Tell your reader the things you’ve done, the qualities you possess … the most important reasons you have what they’re looking for (ie. what they wrote in their job description) — this means, that first you need to look at that job description closely! It tells you everything you need to know: the qualities and experience they want. Once you know that, take a look at all your experience and determine which are most relevant. Once you’ve got that…
  • Don’t drown your most important facts out. A cover letter is not a novel, nor is it a resume. It shows your reader 1.) you have good communication skills (proofread!), 2.) you understand what they’re looking for, and most importantly, 3.) you have what they want. This is not where you list everything you’ve done, this is where you highlight your most important / relevant achievements and qualities. Keep it short — you want your reader to focus on the good stuff.
  • Use a good outline (to organize your cover letter.) The standard one goes: 1.) Why your company is amazing, and wonderful, and the bestest! (aka the suck-up), 2.) Why I’m the greatest thing since sliced bread, and 3.) Call me, maybe! Instead… let’s try this: I have what it takes to do this position because 1.) I’ve done this before, so I know what it takes, 2.) I’m hardworking and willing to learn what I may not know yet, 3.) I am free for interviews at this and this time and will follow up with you next week if I don’t hear back from you.
  • What if you don’t have previous experience? Use the key words in the job description and highlight the things you’ve done that helped you develop those skills. It can be community service, it can be a school project, just make sure you’re very clear and use an example to show you’ve got the skill(s) they’re looking for.
  • Be concise. The ONLY point of this letter is to convince your reader that a.) they should read your resume, and b.) you would make a great employee for that specific position. Stay on task: don’t go on and on about unrelated experience you have (they won’t care and may even resent you wasting their time = no interview) and don’t spend more than a few lines showing you did some research about the company. Yes, you do want to show you did research, but it’s not the most important thing you have to tell them.
  • Tailor it to each position you’re applying for. Do they all ask for exactly the same thing? Most likely not… so why send all of them the same cover letter? I know it sounds like a lot of work, so I recommend picking only the ones you’re really interested in and doing 1-3 per day. Sound feasible?

Thought you might wonder what that looks like, so here is a copy of the one I wrote when I applied to my current position (recruiting coordinator)

Details on the job description: I no longer have a copy of it, but it mentioned they were looking for someone with recruiting experience, an interest in tech / IT, international experience as well as experience working with Google Apps and SalesForce.

Now, for the cover letter ;D

To whom it may concern,

I’m writing you because I am very interested in your Recruiting Coordinator position. I read the job description on Craigslist and immediately thought it sounded like a great opportunity.

Your ad stood out because it seemed like an exciting, rewarding position with a lot of potential. As you can read in my resume, I have taken part in recruitment at Contract Live, a technology startup in Paris, France, as well as during my two and a half years volunteering for AIESEC. It was not supposed to be one of my main tasks, but I enjoyed it so much that I took care of it on the side anyway.

Your ad also caught my eye since I almost felt like it was written for me. I’ve worked for two technology startups and like to attend tech and startup events. I also have international experience: I did a summer internship in Bahrain (in the Middle East) two years ago and also worked in Paris for 6 months this year. I speak French fluently, Japanese very well, and have started Mandarin and know how to use Google Apps and SalesForce from my year doing sales for AIESEC. I hope this cover letter gives you enough confidence in my written communication skills to convince you I’m worth bringing in for an interview!

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and for your consideration. I will be available for an interview Wednesday and Friday this week.

Looking forward to hearing back from you,
Sophie Bousset

Hope this helps! Please leave questions in the comments section (I often get the same ones, so this way I can answer each one once and y’all can read my answers ;D)

*This post is not about form, you can find plenty of good resources on that all over the internet. It’s about something that’s a littler more difficult to get right, content.

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