The Perfect Job Seeker


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A step-by-step guide from selecting your major to accepting your offer.

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The Perfect Job Seeker

  1. 1. The Perfect Job Seeker A Step-by-Step Guide from Selecting Your Major to Accepting Your Offer 2014 Edition By Stuart Mease
  2. 2. Copyright © 2013 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Copyright © 2013 by Stuart Mease All rights reserved. Cover Image © EDHAR /Shutterstock No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except as permitted under Sections 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, website Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774, (201)748-6011, fax (201)748-6008, website http://www To order books or for customer service, please call 1(800)-CALL-WILEY (225-5945). Printed in the United States of America. ISBN 978-KPART-37015 Printed and bound by Courier Westford. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  3. 3. The Perfect Job Seeker: The Perfect Job Seeker: 2014 Edition 2014 Edition 1 | 1 |
  4. 4. Copyright © 2013 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by anymeans, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except as permitted under Sections 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written per-mission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per copy fee to the Copy-right Clearance Center, Inc., 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, website Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Permissions Department, JohnWiley & Sons, Inc., 111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774, (201)748-6011, fax (201)748-6008, website To order books or for customer service, please call 1(800) CALL-WILEY(225-5945). Printed in the United States of America. ISBN 978-1-118-79157-8
  5. 5. Acknowledgments This book is dedicated to all job seekers who have been, are, and will be in the unserviced workforce. It would not be possible without my wife, Allison, my daughter, Caroline, and my son, Alexander, for allowing me to serve my vocational ministry: “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” 2 Samuel 22:33 (NIV)
  6. 6. Perfect Job Seeker Accept Reject Negotiate
  7. 7. The Perfect Job Seeker A step-by-step guide from selecting your major to accepting your offer Objectives }  Articulate a clear job search mission to share with others }  Create a diversified approach to managing a career }  niquely implement an individual job search strategy to achieve a personal mission U }  Close the job search process by handling the final stages with professionalism }  the plan into action Put Overview Do you want to get well? This question is often posed to job seekers. My findings indicate some job seekers sincerely do want to be coached and mentored in the job search and career management process. While others, do not. They are lazy, offer excuses, and want someone else to deliver a job without any individual effort. This job search guide will provide a step-by-step, detailed job search plan starting with selecting a major and ending with accepting a job offer. The guide has four parts, which are as follows: 3  ission Phase — Selecting and Articulating your Major LIC (Major, Location, M Industry, and Companies) and Developing Your Branding Materials 3  trategy Phase — Designing a Perfect Job Seeker Strategy S 3  mplementation Phase — Creative Company Interaction I 3  Closing Phase — Ask for the Job This resource is based on industry data, research, personal experiences, job seeker testimonies, interviews, and over a decade of experience in connecting job seekers and employers in the higher education, government, and private sectors. The hope is this resource gives you a roadmap to start your search and that you keep returning to this guide whenever you are faced with a change in your job or career status. However, unlike the title suggests, you will not fully become a “Perfect Job Seeker.” No one is perfect. You will make mistakes. This book is intended to limit those mistakes and help you strive for being the best that you can during this process. But you have to want to get well. Disclaimer By reading this guide, we cannot guarantee or “get” you a job; however, you can create opportunities if you follow this guide. We share tips and techniques to enhance your ability to convert these opportunities into jobs. It’s hard to help someone who does not want help. You must come at least half way in this partnership. Do you want to get well?
  8. 8. Step 1: Determine your Major (Major, Location, Industry, and Companies) Before you select a major: 3  Identify which companies are hiring for that major; 3  Know what the placement rate is for that major; 3  Know the average salary for that major; 3  Know what titles or functions those majors have; and 3  Understand the demand for the major by geographical location. LinkedIn allows users to sort alumni of their alma mater in three distinct ways — location, industry, company. Specifically, if a job seeker can clearly articulate these preferences, then it will be easier to search for a job and for other people to assist the job seeker in finding their job. Where do you want to live? What regions have the highest concentration of people in your background or major? For instance, if you want to live in Omaha, Nebraska, and you want to be an ocean engineer that may not be a good fit. Resources like Chmura Economics ( and the Creative Class Group ( provide insights into the region-wise opportunities that are avail­ ble. There are 366 Metropol­tan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in a i the United States. Many people refer to these regions, and employment data is based off of these regional designations. What industry interests you? The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes ( are used by many economists to determine jobs, companies, and functions. Although the average person will not be able to recite the names, it will be useful to know yours when doing research. What specific companies do you want to work for? Name brands are important to people, especially college students. The business-to-consumer model of marketing has contributed to this fact. Unfortunately, the majority of the companies with brand names do not come to campus to recruit, and there are also fewer jobs at these firms. Everybody wants to work for the name brand. As a result, competition is greater. Therefore, you must employ tactics to differentiate yourself. Upwards of 75 percent of all new job creation is being done by small businesses (under 100 employees). These firms do not have brand names, but they do have growth potential. Identifying these small companies can be difficult, but the website helps you identify some of these emerging firms. It is important to use CareerShift because the small firms will not come to campus to recruit. They do not have the time or resources to dedicate a day to recruit on campus to hire one or two students who may not be available for another six months. If you cannot determine your Major LIC, then you cannot create a career roadmap. You must have a destination or goal and being able to answer these three questions is a must and is your first step.
  9. 9. Step 2: Develop Your Branding Materials Now that you have discovered your Major LIC, the next step is to create your branding materials. First, you should create a “30-second commercial.” Communicate who you are and what you want to do. Be sure to use your Major LIC in this commercial. The 30-second commercial should be used for information interviews, writing cover letters, and talking to people at job fairs. A sample 30-second commercial would be the following: “My name is John Doe and I am a senior, Dean’s List accounting student at Virginia Tech graduating in May of 2014. My employment preference is to work in public accounting for a Big 4 firm in the Washington, D.C., Metro region.” Second, creating an effective resume is essential. There are many different types and no one particular type is the best format. Keeping it to one page is helpful for recruiters because it forces you to condense your information and highlight the most important parts. For college students, recruiters will look for three main categories: relevant work experience, leadership activities, and GPA. For each bullet of your resume show achievement and quantify your points. Focus on results, not activities. There are many examples, just find one you are comfortable with and model it. Third, writing cover letters to complement your resume is a standard marketing tool. The best advice is making your cover letter stand out. Take a risk and show the reader you are not like any other candidate. Do not write the same boring infor­ ation everyone else m writes. Quote a famous person, highlight people you know, write a poem. Whatever it is, be unique. Fourth, create a personal business card. This is a necessity in the business world. It will demonstrate your knowledge of the unwritten and unspoken aspects of business. By distributing your card you may receive one from the recruiter, but you may have to ask for it. Vista Print is a firm where you can print business cards for free. Also, if you are using Gmail, you can add a dynamic email signature using Wisestamp. Finally, create a portfolio (both online at LinkedIn and offline in a binder) high­ ighting l all of your important accomplishments. Items to include are not limited to: academic transcripts, recommendations, resume, listing of relevant personal contacts, projects/ white papers, and presentations. LinkedIn allows you to add presentations and attachments through its SlideShare app. LinkedIn also highlights your recommendations, endorsements of skills, connections to other professionals and groups, and serves as your digital resume. Step 3: Become A Perfect Job Seeker Once you have declared a major, clearly articu­ated your location, industry and company l pre­ erence and created your branding materials, the next step is to design a diversified f career strategy called the Perfect Job Seeker. A Perfect Job Seeker invests time in four areas to maximize opportunities and to spread career risk. Specifically, the steps include Relationships, Humility, Study, and Faith. Relationships are king. Establishing and nurturing relationships are essential to the job search process as upwards of 80 percent of all jobs are never advertised and are uncovered through networking.
  10. 10. Humility is a disciplined and learned trait. If you do not humble yourself some­ ne will o do it for you. This may mean taking a job that is “beneath” you or taking on multiple jobs simultaneously for a period of time. Eliminate actions of entitlement and practice humility. Employers want humble job seekers. Study is essential to keeping your skills current. You have to invest in formal or informal continuing education in this ever-changing and dynamic world. New job titles and tasks that we do not have a vocabulary for are being invented daily. We must stay relevant and ongoing study is the answer. Faith is crucial. You need a personal Board of Directors to help you on this journey. There will be times when you must take a leap a faith in making a decision or starting a business. Surround yourself with people you can learn from. Ultimately, this approach helps you to diversify your workable hours — the time you can devote to a career. Most people invest all of their workable hours into one revenue stream for life (parents at jobs for 30+ years) and then some unforeseen, uncontrollable event occurs and the sole income stream ceases. This type of job seeker has not been actively networking, the job loss humbles them, and there is no thought given to continuing education or alternative revenue streams through business creation. Diversify your workable hours NOW to minimize the risk of an employer laying you off without any backup plan like so many people have experienced (perhaps someone you know). Plan ahead. Be proactive. Create a long-term approach to your career by becoming a Perfect Job Seeker. Step 4: Develop Your Personal Network Once you have your Major LIC identified and branding materials created, you will want to engage your network through proven techniques. Nearly 80 percent of all jobs are never advertised, and they are uncovered through personal relationships. You cannot ignore this tactic in your job search. Often, people do not know how to reach out or do not feel comfortable asking for help. Identify your network Harvey McKay says everyone has at least 200 personal contacts. In fact, you probably have many more thanks to social media. The problem with identifying our network is capturing the names and contact information in one central place. Let’s look at all the places you have people’s contact information: Gmail, mobile phone, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, business cards, written on pieces of paper, directories, or you just Google them. It takes time, but it’s worth the effort to capture all of these contacts and put them in one system. It does not matter what the system is, just select one that works for you and is easy to update and backup. Getting started You get started by conducting information interviews. The purpose of an information interview is to expand your network by identifying people you want in it. The information interview is designed to obtain information about a person, his/her company and industry. Follow this 10-step process:
  11. 11. 3  rite a handwritten note to the person. Why? When was the last time you got W one? It breaks through the communication clutter we receive on a daily basis and it stands out. 3  Tell the recipient who you are and why you are writing. 3  equest a 10-miunte timeframe to ask about their company, industry, and interests. R 3  Ask for a convenient day and time for the interview. 3  Say when you will follow up and do it. 3  repare for the information interview by researching the person, firm, and industry. P 3  Be prepared to conduct the interview at any time. 3  Keep notes during the interview and do not go over 10 minutes. 3  Ask for referrals at the end of the conversation. 3  Write a handwritten thank-you note. Once you conduct your information inter­ iew, you will need to add their contact informav tion to your electronic database. Take the necessary time for easy future retrieval. As you meet more people, it will be critical to create a systematic approach to keeping in touch. Keeping in touch may mean electronically on social networking sites, formal faceto-face visits, or anything in between. The important thing is that you do it and oftentimes this step in the net­ orking process is the most difficult to complete. Selecting a dedicated w time and schedule will make it easier. Expand your network In addition to information interviews, attend offline events, join offline groups, and volunteer for public speaking opportunities, as well as find a publisher of your written thoughts and ideas about a topic of interest. Online activities such as blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are also useful but these popular social networking techniques Ware just one avenue to building your network. Networking is the first step to becoming a Perfect Job Seeker. The next will require you to remain humble in your interaction with your network. Step 5: Practice Humility At the end of 2012, the unemployment rate of Americans under the age of 25 was 16.2 percent — the highest since the end of World War II. The unemployment rate of recent college graduates under the age of 25 is 7.7 percent and the underemployment rate of that same group is 15.7 percent. We lose sight of this known, hard-to-swallow fact — the only reason a company hires people is to make money off their time and talents. You are not entitled to a job because you have a degree. Companies are not in the business of creating jobs, but profits. Many jobs were lost in the Great Recession, and they will never come back. Automation, cheaper overseas labor, cloud computing, and the fact that someone with more experience is always willing to do your job for less than you are all reasons why certain positions will not return. Creativity, uniqueness, attitude, and relationships are keys to becoming an indis­ ensable employee. The Great Recession taught us that even the most secure p
  12. 12. jobs — government, teachers, and so on — are not recession-proof. Practicing humility is not based on your education attainment, geographic location, industry trends, or market conditions. You control it. Separate yourself from others by simply being humble. If you do not humble yourself, someone else will do it for you. With humility comes wisdom. You may have to hold down more than one job for a short-term period, or you may have to take a “platform” job. A platform job is defined as a job that pays the bills yet offers time and flexibility to go back to school, continue a job search, or start a business. Food service and retail have been the common platform jobs of choice for recent college graduates for years. The goal is to keep that platform job temporary and not long-term. This requires a lot of discipline and commitment by the individual to not make the platform job permanent. Follow the proactive steps of these humble job seekers: 3  fter being laid off a second time in 12 months, a lady decided to start a business A helping other job seekers and started taking courses in health care administration while also seeking other employment. 3  banker in Charlotte lost her job and used the severance to put herself through A nursing school. 3  fter relocating for a statewide marketing position for a major soft drink comA pany, nearly one year later, a man was driven home in his company car with his items boxed up, with no job. The man vowed to never work for someone else again and started three successful businesses in the area in which he was planning to retire. Events like these will more than likely humble you during your career, whether it is a demotion or layoff. You will realize that you will have to engage your network for help and also determine how you will update your skill sets for your next job through an ongoing commitment to lifelong learning and continuing education. Step 6: Study (Continuing Education For Lifetime Learning) The third step of becoming a Perfect Job Seeker, after networking and humility, is study or continuing education. A person attending any form of college, seminar, companysponsored training program, or simply reading a book, magazine, newspaper, blog, or website is committed to continuing education. It does not matter if it is formal education (degree) or informal education (on your own), the important point is that you are committed to it over your lifetime. Many think their college degree is all the education they will need in their careers. Sadly, that is not the case. Most graduates will now switch jobs/ careers every three years or roughly between 15-20 times in their lifetimes. (That’s why you must master Becoming a Perfect Job Seeker!) Typically, the most in-demand jobs are ones we do not have a vocabulary for 10 years prior to the demand. Think back to the early 1990s — if someone said they needed a webmaster, more than likely a person would not have thought about the Internet but rather some type of pest elimination specialist. Also, think back to 2000 and if someone said they were a social media manager, you may have thought they hosted parties for newspaper journalists instead of managing a company’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
  13. 13. When thinking about graduate schools, ask yourself if a particular degree is in demand in the region I want to live. By having this degree, will I have more employment options? Will my compensation be significantly more than if I did not have this degree? Also, if the graduate degree is pursued full-time you must account for the lost salary during the time period of obtaining the degree. Oftentimes we see far too many people seeking refuge in graduate schools rather than facing the reality of the job market and their ability to become employable. Not all degrees are created equal. No one is going to argue that more education is better, but what you are being educated in and at what time you receive this education, along with how much you pay for it are certainly factors to consider. The following chart indicates how remaining constant in your education attainment correlates to income and unemployment rate. Not all degrees are created equal. Unemployment Rate 2012 (percent) Education Attained Median Weekly Earnings 2012 ($) 12.5% Doctoral Degree $1,624 12.1% Professional Degree $1,735 13.5% Master’s Degree $1,300 14.5% Bachelor’s Degree $1,066 16.2% Associate’s Degree $785 17.7% Some College, No Degree $727 18.3% High-School Diploma $652 12.4% Less than a high-school Diploma $471 16.8% All Workers $815 Note: Data are for persons age 25 and over. Earnings are for full-time wage and salary workers. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey. The last thing you want to do is to borrow money to acquire a degree that does not give you the return on your investment and ends up putting you in a bigger hole. When getting the formal degree, make certain that the degree is in demand in the region you are living in, and that you can easily recoup the personal investment you are making. Not all degrees are created equal. Apply your mind to study. Step 7: Take a Leap of Faith The last step of diversifying your job search process en route to becoming a Perfect Job Seeker requires relinquishing control of your situation, taking risks, and trusting and relying on others for guidance. No one will ask you whether you want to work for someone else or for yourself — and then show you how to work for yourself. But that is exactly what colleges and universities must do — promote student entrepreneurship. The U.S. economy needs you to think about how you can create a business and become a member of the Free Agent Nation
  14. 14. (read “Free Agent Nation” by Dan Pink.) Approximately 70 percent of all new job creation is started by small businesses. A little over 1.2 percent of all working U.S. adults are entrepreneurs. Are you one of them? No one says your small business has to be your primary income stream. Start small and online as serial entrepreneur Cameron Johnson advises in his book “You Call the Shots.” Online businesses in particular are easier to start than ever before. Inc. magazine’s annual list of the 5,000 fastestgrowing private companies in the United States indicated that 87 percent of the companies were self-funded with a median investment of $25,000. Crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and CrowdTilt are aiding individuals with the seed capital they need to take idea to action. So what are you waiting for? Perhaps validation of your idea from a mentor or trusted advisor. It’s a good idea to get that feedback. As relationship guru Keith Ferrazzi states in his book “Who’s Got Your Back,” creating a personal Board of Directors will help you take a leap of faith in launching a business and help you make important life and career decisions. Find these people in your network (Step 4: Conducting Information Interviews). Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Victory is won through many advisors. Of course, owning your own business is not as easy or glamorous as you may think. And, it is not for 99 percent of the population. It takes sacrifice, long hours, uncertain revenue streams, high levels of risk tolerance, persistence, passion, commitment, vision, determination, luck, and the execution of an idea. Many new businesses die in the first year and most do not make it after year three. But the ride and the reward could be the best of your life. It’s worth taking the risk now, as a young adult, before other life commitments (i.e., spouse, mortgage, children, poor health, etc.) make that leap of faith much more difficult. However, self-employment is a viable and real option that cannot be overlooked or dismissed. It is another avenue on your career path and deserves careful consideration. Step 8: Research and Prepare for Company Interaction You can now articulate your Major LIC, you have developed your unique branding materials, and you understand the Perfect Job Seeker strategy. You are now ready to contact companies. But before you send that email, pick up the phone, or apply online, you need to know relevant information about the firm you are contacting and use that knowledge in your correspondence. The easiest and most common way to research companies is to visit their websites. However, this information is company-selected. It’s filtered. It’s positive information they want you to know about their firm. Another common approach is Google search. But there is too much information with this format, and it is extremely difficult to filter and find exactly what you need. Most people will do these two activities and be done with it. But if you want to get noticed and be coveted, you will do more. 3  sk your network of contacts. Remember Step 4? When conducting information A interviews ask people for information you cannot find online, from people who currently work at your desired firm.
  15. 15. 3  areerShift is a database that offers a plethora of pertinent information about C companies. You must register to use. Other services such as Hoovers, Vault, and Going Global provide similar information. Contact your local or university library to determine which databases they subscribe to and obtain access to these data sources. 3  ocial media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter provide current information S about people in the organization, products, services, and other detailed data points. You can follow companies at LinkedIn and on those pages it will show you who is new to the company or if someone has obtained a new title or position. By searching a company’s Twitter handle you can begin to see what people are saying about the firm — good and not so good. Now that you have used a myriad of data sources to assimilate a good and thorough understanding of your target company, you are now ready to apply that knowledge in your initial interaction with companies. Step 9: Be Unique in Applying for Jobs Now that you have researched your companies, you need to respond by contacting recruiters. The common practice is to apply online, and many recruiters will tell you that’s the only way, but it is not. The reason you are given this information is that the online application provides an easy way for them to monitor, search, and report on their recruiting activity. Find another way to apply, such as: 3  student walks into a job fair wanting to impress his top employer, Philip Morris. A He has nothing to lose. When he walks into the room, he is not dressed in a suit like everyone else, but he is wearing a cowboy outfit identical to the Marlboro Man — white t-shirt, jeans, boots, belt buckle, and hat — and is smoking a cigarette. He clearly articulates his desire to work for Philip Morris, submits a resume and walks out. It stopped the fair. It was the best unique first impression ever. 3  s a lifelong UNC basketball fan, I wanted to use a similar technique to apply for A the current Director of Basketball Operations job that became available with my favorite sports team. I sent a Carolina blue and white basketball overnight FedEx with pieces of my resume pasted on each leather strip and a cover letter outlining everyone in my personal network who would be a reference and had ties to the university and the key decision maker. 3  s a longtime academic probation student, Chris eyed IBM as his employer of A choice. Far below the required 3.0 GPA and preferred 3.2 GPA, he figured he had nothing to lose and decided to go for it. Through careful preparation and a resume and cover letter geared towards IBM and the job duties that entailed, Chris marketed himself as best as possible. Walking directly to the recruiter, he handed his resume and explained for several minutes about how he and IBM were a perfect match. After going to a company-sponsored dinner after the college job fair, Chris got exact contact info for the recruiter to keep in touch. Only a couple of weeks later, Chris was contacted with a verbal and eventual written offer from IBM with a salary paying well above the average for his major. These stories illustrate how you should make your first impression with your number one employer. You cannot and should not do it for every application, but reserve for jobs you really, really want. Here are some more suggestions:
  16. 16. Essential basics 3  onduct Informational Interviews — See Step 4 on Networking. It is better C than applying online. 3  ontact Staffing Agencies and Headhunters — These people work with dozens C of recruiters. 3   Volunteer — Many influential people serve on nonprofit boards. Show them your skills as a volunteer. 3 C   offee Shop Job Searching — Set up your office there, schedule appointments, and meet others. 3 B   e a Voracious Reader — Through local/industry publications you can be educated on current trends. Bold basics 3 O   vernight FedEx — Anyone can apply online. People open these immediately and must sign for it. 3  rite Your Own Job Description — If the job is not advertised, then tell them W what you can do for them. 3 O   ffer to Work Part-Time, Short-Term — Solution to company budget constraints and it’s a differentiator. 3 S   top and Drop — Drop your application in person, and perhaps you meet the recruiter face-to-face. 3  uction You — Design a public relations stunt with a local media outlet to A benefit a charity. Social media basics 3 B   log About an Expertise You Have — Show your skills and talents about a topic online for others to view. 3 S   ocial Media Bounty Fee — Motivate your social media friends with a cash bounty for help in landing a job. 3   Monitor Mentions on Twitter — Use Hoot Suite to connect with and follow recruiters. 3 G   oogle Job Experiment — Watch this at wCs99DWg. Not all of these tactics will result in an immediate response. You must follow up, again and again. Step 10: Following up You have just created the most unique initial interaction with a company recruiter ever. You are feeling pretty confident. Time passes and you have not received an immediate response. Do not be discouraged, this is normal. Recruiters workload  Recruiters are not online every minute of the day like you are. Recruiters are in meetings, interviews, handling employee complaints, on the phone, traveling, dealing with personal
  17. 17. business, on vacation, and are hiring for more positions than the one you are applying for. Bottom line: they are busy and interact with many people on a daily basis. It is easy for a recruiter not to follow up in a timely, personal fashion. It’s okay, it does not mean they have rejected you. Sometimes it takes persistence on your part. My unique application for the UNC basketball job never received a response, but I realized that I never followed up. I thought the idea was good enough to get a call back, but it did not. Therefore, what should I have done? Ideally, you want to give enough time for a person to respond, and without knowing their schedule, a week to 10 days would be ideal. When you do follow up, make certain that you use a different communication vehicle than the one used initially. So, if you wrote a letter, then you may want to call this time. If you did a stop and drop, then maybe an email will suffice. What if I do not receive a response after the follow-up?  You must decide how badly you want the position you have applied for. This is where determination and persistence can differentiate you from everyone else. If you really want the position, then wait another seven to 10 days and respond differently. If not, let it go and move on to the next opportunity. You cannot fixate on one job. You must have multiple options available at all times (See Extra Credit — Your Job Search Drive Chart). Do not stop prospecting. Do not put all of your eggs in one basket. Tip to get a response or to schedule a meeting Earlier you were given a step-by-step process of conducting an information interview. Step five of that process is “Say when you will follow up and do it.” This step is where you can almost guarantee a follow-up from the receiver. When you write your information interview handwritten note, cover letter, email, phone call, and so on, state that “if I do not hear from you by ‘x’ date (i.e., January 3), then I will call you on ‘y’ date (i.e., January 5 at 11 a.m. EST).” If they respond before January 3, then it is a moot point. If they do not respond by January 3, then perhaps they may be testing you to see whether you will call. Maybe they have put the “meeting” on their calendar and are expecting you to call them. When you do call asking for the person, reference the letter. If they are not prepared or their assistant did not put the “meeting” on their calendar, then they will feel like they made a mistake and more than likely will want to try to make up for the mistake by taking your call. It works. Try it and find out. Ultimately, you are trying to get a response. You want that response to be positive based on your follow-up techniques. You are hoping that a positive impression of your style and technique has been formed by the recruiter and it will be just enough for them to ask you for a formal interview. Step 11: Interviewing After successfully contacting and following up with companies to secure an interview, you must repeat Step 8 by researching the company before your interview. During your research, list some questions you may have about the position, the company, and its culture — anything showing that you are prepared to seriously consider this firm as your future employer.
  18. 18. Interview Stream is a wonderful interactive tool to help you prepare for your interview in front of your own computer. Also, watch this video to see a sample interview ( /localproductions/jobquest/jobquest-video-archives/223-job-interview-pointers). You may even get a friend to ask these or other questions in preparation for the real thing. Dress in professional attire or one level above what you would wear every day to work. If you do not know the dress culture of the company, then play it safe and wear a business suit. Arrive early for the interview. If you are able and willing, go to the site before the interview to know exactly where you need to be. If possible, ask before arriving what your itinerary will be on the day of the interview. This information will show whether you will have a one-to-one individual and/or a group/ panel interview. If names of the interviewers are listed, then Google your interviewers. Try and find a nugget of information that you can casually bring up and that will build instant rapport with the interviewer. You will more than likely receive some questions that start out “tell me about a time when . . .” These are behavioral interview questions. Recruiters know that past performance is the best indicator of future behavior. That is why these questions are asked. If you respond to one of these questions with a story exposing a weakness, then be certain to share what you learned from the experience and, if possible, tell a short second story about how you applied the lesson learned in a similar situation. Further, answering behavioral interview questions can be done prior to the interview by having a repertoire of life stories ready to share. These stories can answer multiple questions. For instance, let’s say you have a story of working with a classmate in a group project and that classmate did not carry his or her weight on the project. This story could be used to answer any of the following questions: “tell me about a time when someone disappointed you . . . .” “tell me about a time when you had to confront a person who was acting inappropriately . . . ,” “tell me about a time when you overcame an obstacle to achieve a goal....” All of these questions could be answered with your sample story. Of course, in the interview, you are not going to use the same story to answer multiple questions; therefore you need multiple stories ready to share. If you are asked a question you do not have an answer for, use one of the following three stall techniques: 3  sk them to repeat the question — perhaps you now better understand it. A 3  rink some water — it will give you a couple extra seconds to think of a response. D 3  Ask them if they want a personal, academic, or work example — this is risky, but can give you some more time and it shows them that you have many experiences and you can think on your feet. Never bring up compensation until the company mentions it first. Ask for the job. If at the end of the interview you know that you really want the job, then ask for it. At the end of the interview, be certain to send handwritten thank-you notes or emails to those who interviewed you. This simple follow-up technique is done by fewer than 10 percent of job seekers. After your interview, your patience will be tested. So be prepared.
  19. 19. Step 12: Accepting, Rejecting, and Negotiating Your point of contact with the company you interviewed with may not be the final decision maker. Typically, it is the hiring manager. Uncontrollable market circumstances can derail hiring plans in an instant. There is nothing you can do about it. Things change within the economic market of your potential future employer. So you must be patient. Realize that you are not the only one being interviewed for the position. It takes a lot of time and coordination to get calendars, travel plans, and changing schedules to come together perfectly. Most recruiters are not working on filling only one role but many roles simultaneously, so the process can be very tedious. Again, hiring managers and recruiters have many different tasks that may be more important than filling an open position or filling a newly created position. Using the techniques in Step 10 on following up is essential. There will most likely be unexpected and awkward twists and turns from this point forward. Just know that this is part of the process. Not every recruiting department is as organized as you may think. So you must be patient. Handling rejection If you are contacted and the mes­ age conveyed is that you did not get the job, then s politely ask why and gather that feedback for future interviews. Additionally, a classy move would be to send another thank-you note to the company recruiter showing your appreciation in making it that far through the process. Also, three to six months from the time of the rejection, follow up with that same contact and ask them how the new person is doing. You may be surprised that their first choice was a mistake and by simply following up you may get another chance at the position. So you must be patient. Accepting You get the call or email, and there is the formal offer. Do not accept the position on the spot. The offer is usually valid for about a week. Use this time wisely by carefully reading the employment contract (perhaps seek a legal review), consult with your personal Board of Directors (see Step 7), and use the offer as leverage with other com-panies that have interviewed you but who have not extended an offer (tell them you have an offer with another company that ends by “x” date). You must be patient. Negotiation Typically, the first financial offer extended to you is their base, low amount. They probably have a high amount and another amount in between. Most people take the first offer and do not ask for more by building a logical case. During the week provided to you for considering your offer, it would be very wise to construct data for why you should receive more money, vacation, or other benefit. Cost of living websites, your network of contacts, and existing employees can provide bits of data to provide a range of pay for your services. It would be wise for you to create similar low, high, and in-between amounts. Some larger organizations who hire many, many college graduates will not budge. It is what it is. You do not want to push them too much or they will push you away. This tactic works better with smaller firms, so you must be patient. Once you accept the offer, the proper ethical job search etiquette is to cease all other interviewing by notifying any other companies you are actively pursuing. Those students
  20. 20. not compliant with this etiquette damage their own reputation, their school’s reputation, and can adversely affect future students’ chances of working for that company. Step 13: Gain Experience through Internships, Externships and Volunteering What is the next step? If you are currently in the job market, it is time for you to act! Put this information into action. If you are a college student, read this final step. The methods and techniques to get full-time jobs are the same for internships. Experience is the number one factor employers look for when seeking out college students — not just GPA. Paid internships are the desired outcomes, but only 50 percent of all internships are paid. You must ask yourself, what skills can I possess that a company can make money off of me by paying me an hourly rate. This is why only one in two internships is paid. Therefore, volunteering or unpaid internships will be done by the other half. It is important to have some experience on your resume before your senior year in college. If possible, try and get academic credit, but do not pay summer tuition for it. Academic departments may have an internship program during the semester to help with credit and obtaining an unpaid internship. If volunteering is the only way, then do it. No one is asking or expecting you to work full-time for free during the summer. As a result, I often recommend hybrid internships. These are work situations where you volunteer half-time for the company in your field of study and the other time you are making money working in retail, food services, or on the golf course. A future employer will not care if that summer experience is 20 or 40 hours a week. The main goal is that you had that experience. An emerging trend for underclassmen, especially for accounting majors who want to work for the Big 4, are externships. These are one-day to one-week sessions with employers for you to learn about their profession and company and for them to learn more about you. It is a great resume builder. Cooperatives are internships that last for a summer and a fall or spring semester. They are almost always paid, but it does usually delay your graduation date. Schedule wisely. One of the biggest deciding factors in determining your summer internship plans revolves around housing for the summer. Typically, a student will want to work at home where they can live with parents or in their college town where they have a lease. Those students who are willing to go elsewhere during the summer, and are willing to secure their own short-term housing, may have more opportunities and also differentiate themselves from other students. Some companies also provide housing assistance and it would be appropriate to ask that question to an employer. At the end of the internship, a company may ask your plans for next summer or postgraduation. If the firm is interested in you, then they will extend a full-time offer after the internship. Upwards of 50 percent of interns will receive such an offer. Many students accept full-time jobs with companies before they start their senior year. Finally, remember that there is no such thing as a bad internship. Each experience is short-term and helps you determine a career path you do not want or validate a desire that
  21. 21. you do have. Again, the main goal is getting experience in preparation for graduation and the full-time job search process. In closing, “act according to whatever they teach you, do not turn aside from that they tell you.” It’s time for you to act! Discussion Questions 1. Which step of the Perfect Job Seeker is the most challenging? How are you going to overcome this challenge? Do you believe this step is preventing you from obtaining an offer? 2. hich step of the Perfect Job Seeker is the most critical to master? Why? W 3. s Location, Industry, or the Company most important in setting your mission? Why I or why not? 4. o you want to work to for someone else or for yourself? Why? D 5. ho do you know in your network of contacts that could help you achieve your job W mission by presenting your 30-second commercial? 6. How are you going to invest in lifelong learning in the short-term and the long-term? 7. What is your first action step to becoming a Perfect Job Seeker? Extra Credit — The Unserviced Workforce “There just aren’t any jobs. Where are the jobs? We need to create jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs. This is all we hear today in mainstream media — the lack of jobs. Let’s dispel this myth now. There are jobs and plenty of them. What we must be asking job seekers are: What are you doing to acquire skills that are in demand by employers? Are you willing to humble yourself to take jobs that are “beneath” you? There are three distinct job seekers in today’s labor market — white collar professional workers, blue collar skilled workers, and the Unserviced Workforce. White collar professional workers are being serviced by private third-party groups (headhunters). Typically their skill sets are in high demand and companies are paying a premium for their services. Professions such as health care, engineering, information technology, and accounting are all in high demand regardless of region. These workers are coveted because they will most likely drive the regional economy forward. The blue collar skilled workers are being serviced by public third-party agencies (community colleges, workforce investment boards, employment commissions, staffing
  22. 22. agencies, etc.). Typically their skill sets are in high demand and companies try to create a pool of candidates to become trained to perform these jobs. Professions such as manufacturing, trades, and technicians are all in high demand. These workers are coveted because they can stall the regional economy from moving forward. The Unserviced Workforce is caught in the middle. Neither the public nor private sector is serving this group. This segment of the workforce can be characterized as: younger with potential or upside; has some form of higher education; has good skill sets, but not billable skill sets, which are in demand; and are looking for a “professional” job paying a salary between $25-$50k depending on the region. This is the critical mass of knowledge workers who are underemployed, overeducated, or who are leaving smaller regions for larger metropolitan areas for better employment opportunities. Here are seven probable outcomes of these job seekers in the Unserviced Workforce. Outcome #1: Acquire new skills to move up This will require continuing education and a commitment to the acquisition of these demanded skills. Outcome #2: Humble oneself and move down This will require performing multiple jobs moving forward, accepting a lower standard of living, and realizing there is a surplus of people with my same skills sets in the market. Outcome #3: Start a business This will require taking more risk by starting small while still looking for a job, going to school, or working a platform job, and identifying many government programs to assist you. Outcome #4: Move laterally between jobs in the unserviced workforce These people will most likely not make an investment in continuing education or start a business. They may think they are better than blue collar jobs. Typically younger, these workers will bounce from job to job and not “get ahead.” Outcome #5: Remain unemployed These people are still not humbled or motivated to get out of the unserviced workforce because they are waiting for the economy to turn around and/or are family/spouse supported. Outcome #6: Move or leave the region These people believe “it’s not me” but the place I live that’s the problem. They are typically unattached or younger and are more capable of leaving or are forced to leave due to the severity of the regional economy. Outcome #7: Retire early, if able These people are focused on years of work experience rather than result-based metrics. They are frustrated by perceived age discrimination in the recruiting process. They will re-enter the workforce at a later time, perhaps working only part-time. Their decision depends on their nest egg and lifestyle.
  23. 23. I challenge you to get out of the Unserviced Workforce by seeking Outcomes #1, #2 or #3. Inaction will leave you in Outcomes #4 and #5, and poor attitude results in Outcomes #6 and #7. There are jobs available and plenty of them. No public or private-sector program is going to create a job market equilibrium. It’s solely up to the job seeker to stay out of the Unserviced Workforce. Extra Credit — Three Types of Jobs Much attention has been placed on the job outlook for recent college graduates by media outlets. Most reports paint a bleak future. However for college students, there are plenty of jobs available, if students are willing to acquire the skill sets in demand or are willing to take a position that is perceived to be “beneath” them. If they are not willing to do those two things, then, yes, they may struggle. Here are the three types of jobs facing current college students. Jobs with billable skills Job seekers and students forget that the primary reason someone hires them is to make money off their time and talents. Employers are looking for a return on investment in paying a recent graduate a salary. So, how does the student provide a good ROI? Accounting, Business Information Technology, and some Finance students are in high demand because their billable skills are demanded by companies and consulting firms, not only for themselves, but also for their clients. Firms can “acquire” recent college talent for $60,000 a year and bill out their time for several times greater than that to their clients. This current war for this talent is only intensifying around certain skill sets. Jobs in sales and business development If a student does not have a billable skill in demand, then the next alternative is generating revenues for a company through selling. Companies will pay a base sales salary of $40,000 a year and offer commission at 5% of sales. Therefore, if a recent graduate sells $200,000 of products, then the student will earn $50,000 for the year, but the company will make $150,000. That’s a nice ROI for the company and therefore the student is in demand because of sales performance. Jobs with everything else Sure there is some supply, but the demand has fallen off since the recession. There is a surplus of students entering the workforce without billable skills and do not want to be in sales; therefore, these students are commodities and may not have an easily recognizable differentiating quality. As a result, students must be highly skilled in the nuances of the job search process (and be a Perfect Job Seeker) in order to distinguish themselves from the masses. College students recognizing and understanding the larger labor market and the supply and demand that exists can take advantage of this knowledge and incorporate it into their job search strategy and techniques. The sooner this reality is learned, the quicker job offers will be received.
  24. 24. Extra Credit — Being Successful at a Job Fair The job fair is your single best job search activity. Companies spend money and send multiple people to stand at a booth to talk to you all day. It would take them months to re-create the face-to-face interactions with all attendees. Therefore, your job search success is directly related to your success at a job fair. Being successful at a job fair is less dependent on your performance the day of the fair. It’s more important how you prepare prior to the fair and how you follow up after the fair. Follow these 10 steps to nail a job fair. Before the job fair . . . Step #1: Identify and Research Companies Attending Find the attendee list and see what firms are coming. Research each firm to determine if you want to work for them or if they would be interested in your skill sets. Step #2: Prioritize Companies: ABC Method Usually, you will not have enough time to visit every company at the fair. Therefore, you must prioritze. In Step #1 you will know which companies to visit. Rank those companies. A firms are ones that are at the top of your list. B firms are ones you can see yourself working at, but you just do not have the same level of passion as the A firms. C firms may be ones who want your expertise, but you are really indifferent. You should have fewer A firms than B firms, and fewer B firms than C firms. Step #3: Update and Personalize your Resume Make sure it is updated, crisp, and clear. Bring ample copies with you. If you decide to personalize your resume to a specific company or create different versions based on different experiences, then please make certain you are organized and do not give a recruiter the wrong copy of your resume. Review Step 2 of the Perfect Job Seeker. Step #4: Create a Unique 30-Second Pitch Get to the point. Tell them exactly who you are and what you desire. Refer back to Step 2 of the Perfect Job Seeker. Step #5: Dress Professionally Now is not the time to show off your stylish fashion sense. Be conservative and wear business attire. Make certain shoes are polished and tags on new clothing are removed. Do not wear any revealing clothing. At the job fair . . . Step #6: Get a map and walk the room If you are nervous, this will help you settle down. Just walk the room and aisles up and down, making eye contact, smiling, and taking mental notes on who is at each table and where they are located. A basketball player does not come out of the locker room at tipoff; instead they warm up before the game stretching and shooting baskets. Neither should you walk into the facility and go directly to an employer and make your first pitch.
  25. 25. Step #7: Try your 30-second pitch on a C firm first If you are nervous and need to practice your pitch, go to a C firm to deliver it first. If it does not go well, then at least you practiced on a C company. Step #8: Deliver your 30-second pitch to A, then B firms Once you are comfortable with your pitch, go to A firms first and then B firms. You want to make certain you have enough time to visit with the A firms before moving to B firms. Your options could be limited based on a series of factors such as, your time, number of job seekers attending the fair, the duration of the fair, and the number of firms on your list. Make wise use of your time at the fair. Do not waste it talking to friends and colleagues. You can visit with them any time. Step #9: Ask specific questions about the firm/job From Step #1 there will be some nugget of information during the research phase you may interject showing firms you did your homework and are really interested in their company. It does not have to be in-depth analysis of the firm, just a tidbit showing the recruiter you are legitimate. After the job fair . . . Step #10: Follow Up During your interaction with employers at the fair, it’s wise to obtain their names and contact information to follow up after the fair. A phone number, email, or mailing address is all the information needed. It would be appropriate to ask for a business card, and in exchange, give them your business card too (Review Step 2 of the Perfect Job Seeker).Also, re-read Step 10 of the Perfect Job Seeker. Following these steps before, during, and after the job fair will give you confidence to succeed at the most important job activity in your search process. Extra Credit — Your Job Search Drive Chart Always prospect. Continuously identify firms. Failure to persist in researching firms results in a prolonged job search process. Many job seekers will start strong. They will apply to a lot of companies hoping for a response. Both positive and negative responses come over time. However, what happens if your future employer is not in the initial batch of companies? It results in a prolonged job search. Time is money. For instance, let’s say the average starting salary is $60,000 annually. For every month a job seeker takes to secure the job, $5,000 in revenue is lost. Always prospect because the future employer may not be in that initial batch of employers. Continuously identify firms daily and have a pipeline of possibilities. Failure to do so will result in a lengthy job search costing future income. There are roughly 10 steps to accepting a job offer. Using a football analogy, making first downs keeps the drive going. The object is to “move the chains.” The more drives or possessions in a football game, the more opportunities to score, or in this case score a job offer. Some drives end prematurely due to unexpected events or “turnovers.” Others never materialize due to poor execution. The chart below is a scorecard of how the job seeker is performing by firm.
  26. 26. The important takeaway is to continuously prospect new companies until an offer is accepted by the job seeker. Once a verbal or written offer is accepted all other recruiting activities must cease. Jibber Jobber Manages Your Job Search Process Another Web-based service to help you manage your job search is Jibber Jobber. It is a job search organizer and relationship manager. It’s designed to help job seekers manage the complexities of tracking how they are networkiing into target companies, all the networking they are doing, where they were at each job they applied to or were interested in, and ensuring they follow up their contacts. It’s an automated system reminding you of what to do next. About Stuart Mease Stuart Mease’s primary focus is “connecting people” to create mutually beneficial relationships. This mission is currently being filled as the Director of Undergraduate Career Services in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. Prior to his current role, Mease served as the Recruiting Leader for the publicly traded Blacksburg division of Rackspace Email and Apps. Mease previously worked for the City of Roanoke, Virginia, to create programs and events aimed at attracting and retaining the creative class workforce for the RNR (Roanoke and New River Valleys) region. These activities and programs have been uniquely recognized by many local, state and national media outlets and organizational groups, including the International Economic Development Council annual conference in 2008. His strategy was to implement new Web technologies in the traditional industry of economic development to highlight people and place generating thousands of contacts, friends, connections, followers, and subscribers. This style and strategy was recognized by the Creative Class Group as it selected Roanoke as one of only three cities globally to partner in their Creative Community Leadership Project in 2008. Mease’s work in “connecting people” has been recognized over 100 times in various news outlets. Nationally, he has appeared in Tech Crunch, Staffing Management Maga­ zine, Florida Times Union, Providence Journal, St. Petersburg Times, Strengthening Brand America, Innovators Traction, and Blue Ridge PBS also recognized Mease’s work and invited him to be a content contributor to the Emmy Awardwinning “JobQuest,” a live monthly television show assisting job seekers in the RNR. Mease is married, has two children and enjoys spending time with his family, studying Christianity, playing golf, watch­ ng sports, following politics, and engaging in the i community. Speaking and consulting Stuart Mease’s expertise with connecting people is evidenced by the number of organizations that have asked him to serve as a speaker. He has presented keynote speeches on areas related to his core expertise (e.g., career development, personal networking,
  27. 27. Jibber Jobber
  28. 28. generational differences, and workforce development) to over 150 diverse audiences in the private, educational, and government sectors. To request Stuart Mease to be a guest speaker for your organization, email E-mail: Twitter: @stuartmease LinkedIn: Facebook: Stuart.Mease Blog: Praise for the Perfect Job Seeker My youngest son followed the suggestions of “The Perfect Job Seeker” and not only did it help him develop a plan for his job search, he was also able to get numerous interviews, landed multiple job offers, and is starting his career with a highly sought after company. This is a must read not only for students, but also for parents hoping to give their children the best tools to succeed in their search for a good job in this competitive job market. — Bruce Knight, Parent “The Perfect Job Seeker” is exactly what I and many other parents have been trying to tell their collegeaged children about the job search process. Except, my son listened to Stuart and got a great job after graduation — your kid can too! — Steve Raikin, Parent Being a successful job seeker is like playing sports: you need a great offense! The plays called in this book will prepare you to win the job search game for life. — Autumn Drane, National University Relations, TEK Systems “The Perfect Job Seeker” is the perfect, succinct guide for any young professional embarking on their job search. It’s like the reader’s digest for job seekers—compact, insightful, and easy to reference. I wish something like this had existed when I was a student. I will surely recommend it to the many college students I counsel on the job search process. — Yolanda Owens, Lead College Recruiter, AOL, and author of “How to Score a Date with Your Potential Employer” “The Perfect Job Seeker” gives readers a useful road map in order to successfully navigate the job search. This book not only delineates practical benchmarks of when to get things done, but it also provided me the how-to insights in order to obtain my dream job. — Kristina Westernik, Student I did not really know how to look for a job while in college, but as I read “The Perfect Job Seeker” I found it prepared me for every step of the process. I became a believer in this model and plan to use it in every job transition. — Zack Helmintoller, Student
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