Job tips for college grads, and anyone else with nose piercings
And with the Pew study finding that one in five Millennials have posted a video of themselves online, and nearly one in four have a piercing somewhere other than an earlobe, and nearly four in 10 have a tattoo -- job hunting could prove to be more difficult as picky employers look for new hires to appear before the public.
To help college grads find a job, Ellen Gordon Reeves, author of "Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? Finding, Landing, and Keeping Your First Real Job," offers 10 "deadly sins" for job-hunting grads, and a list of important things students need before graduating.
In a telephone interview with WalletPop, Reeves went over some of the "deadly sins." Before we get to some of them, and her tips on what to have in hand before graduating, let's quickly get to the nose ring referred to in her book title. Wearing a huge one isn't a good idea, and even a small one can be too much, depending on the company you're applying at, Reeves said. Know the company and the position you want, and what employees should look like when serving the public. The same goes for tattoos, and cleaning up your online profile is a good idea.
Here are some of her tips on "sins" to avoid as a graduate looking for a job:
Stop looking for a job and start looking for a person.
The right person will lead you to the right job. People are a lot easier to find than jobs. Have you ever seen a job walking down a street? Talked to a job? E-mailed one? People are how people find jobs and opportunities. Stop sending resumés into the black void of cyberspace. Find someone inside the company or organization you're interested in to talk to. Use social networking tools to leverage the power of your network. Ask for informational interviews via Facebook status and Twitter.
Don't Say "I'm Clueless" or "I'll do anything."
When people ask you what you're looking for, please don't say, "I'm clueless" or "I'll do anything." If you say this, we can't help you. You might think you're being flexible but all you're being is vague. We need you to narrow your focus even if you have to fake it. Identify an area that floats your boat, and be as specific as you can. "I'm interested in sports marketing." "I love music and I'd like to get into the industry." "I want to work for XYZ Company." You see? We want to help you, but you have to help us access our networks on your behalf.
Stop wasting valuable resumé real estate on meaningless conventions like Objectives.
Your only objective is to get the job you're applying for, or another one at that company. Forget your GPA (unless you are asked specifically). Do you really want to work for someone who cares what your GPA is? If you have a a really high one, there's usually another indicator like Dean's List or magna cum laude. And if it's really low, all that says is that not only did you not do well academically, but that you lack the judgment not to highlight it. Don't waste a line with "References Available Upon Request." What's the alternative: your references are NOT available upon request? Why not? Did you kill someone at your last job? Instead, fill these lines with measurable deliverables that prove what you can do for the employer.
Don't forget that employers really are looking at your Facebook page.
Good use of Facebook: a discreet status update: "Does anyone know someone at XYZ company? I really would love to talk with somebody there." Bad use of Facebook: posting pictures of yourself doing belly shots in a bar. I don't care what you do with your free time (as long as it's legal) but the lack of judgment and maturity you reveal in posting this kind of stuff in what has now become a professional and public space is scary. Now I can't trust you with confidential client information.
Don't leave home without a business card.
You need a business card before you're in business. While you're job hunting, you've got to be ready for leads from anywhere-on the bus, at a birthday party, in your dentist's office. The card should have a professional e-mail address (no firstname.lastname@example.org ) and a phone number with a professional message (not: "Yo, what's up dude? Leave a message or else!").
Stop, like, talking like a teen.
Nothing is "awesome" or "sweet" when you're job-hunting. Lose the valley girl up-talk. You know what I mean? When every sentence is inflected up? As if it's a question? And lose the "like" habit. One student had a friend ring a bell every time she said it and trained herself out of, like, saying it, like, every other word.
Don't leave jobs like babysitting and dog-walking off your resumé.
They might not seem related to the job you're applying for, but if I know that people trusted you with the care of their most important loved ones, you are probably reliable and mature -- unless you put the dog or baby in the microwave. Learn how to talk about your current skill set in the language of your target job. You sold Girl Scout cookies? You're a fundraiser. You made phone calls for your youth group? You know how to cold-call.
The world is not your phone booth, despite what cell phone culture would lead you to believe.
When you're in the waiting room for an interview, stay off your cell. The receptionist IS listening, and she IS fascinated by your exploits of the night before -- so fascinated that she will be sure to mention it to HR and your prospective employer. Game over.
Don't forget to send individual e-mail thank you notes immediately after your interview -- to everyone with whom you interacted.
Make sure you get the correct names and titles of everyone you meet, including the person who set up the interview. When you get home, send a hand-written note-but not if your handwriting makes you look like a psychotic five-year old. (In that case, type it.) If you want the job, let the employer know. You won't get a job you don't ask for.
Reeves also recommends some things that grads should have before leaving school while your student ID is still in hand. They are:
- A transcript from the registrar's office. You might not think you need this, but it's always good to have a current copy in case you are asked when applying for a job, grant, fellowship, internship or travel program. It may take some time so it's good to order them before you need one in a rush.
- A letter of recommendation. While your professors, TAs, or campus supervisors still remember you, ask for a letter of recommendation or offer to draft one for them. Ask if they're willing to serve as a reference for you and then this letter may serve as the basis for a recommendation.
- Samples of your work. Don't throw out the papers you wrote or the fliers you created for your extracurricular activities. These are great samples of what you're capable of. You should be compiling a portfolio of your work, both academic and "professional"/ extra-curricular.
- Copies of career guides and publications from the career office. Many career offices have free or inexpensive guides they've prepared on job-hunting, fellowships, internships and so on. At the very least, check out their website. I've been so impressed with the amazing resources compiled for students. Don't limit yourself to your own school!!! Browse the sites of any college or university you can think of. Since you're not a student there, you won't be able to access everything, but there's lots of great material available to the public.
- Names of alumni in your home area or wherever you're moving. Alumni can help you establish a community and perhaps do some informational interviewing.
- Student perks and discounts that will expire with your ID. As summer looms and exams end, spend more time on campus or on-line finding out what you're eligible for. As a student, you are eligible for grants, internships, jobs, career advice from alumni, housing leads and things like travel, computer and other discounts. You may have access to free or reduced-fee career and psychological counseling; sports facilities; art, music, and dance classes; theater subscriptions and movie tickets; museum entrance; and maybe even health care (including annual checkups, inoculations, and glasses.)