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Have any career tips for new college grads? I'll be participating in a School of Management mentoring event at Binghamton University and thought I'd pull together some tips and observations for those participating in the events. Many are based on resumes and interviews received this year.
Here are some of my initial thoughts:
Multiple resumes are received for every position. The first thing an interviewer thinks when reviewing a resume is "give me an excuse to reject this person" while at the same time hoping that they'll find the perfect candidate. Don't provide that excuse.
Advice for Grads:
Preparation/Getting the Interview:
1. Create a keyword rich Linked in Profile. Only use a business photograph that best reflects who you are in business.
2. Use technology to your advantage. New sites are being launched every day that can provide an edge when looking for an entry level job in marketing or one that requires more experience.
LinkedIn: Create a keyword rich profile. Monitor who is looking at your profile and adjust to align profile with desired job search.
Jibe, which matches your connections on social networking platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn
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3. Be the job before you apply for the job. Do you have a blog that focuses on your area of interest or at least demonstrates the ability to write. Build your blog with interviews via services like HARO to interview key executives and build your editorial. If applying for a marketing position, read the blogs of thought leaders such as Seth Godin, and follow trends in the industry via Advertising Age, Mashable and TechCrunch. Read the great authors such as Ogilvy, Aaker, Trout & Reis, Hopkins and the many others listed on this blog.
4. Market Yourself. One candidate that wanted to work for Harper Collins published Facebook ads that targeted individuals that mentioned publishing in their profiles.
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5. Tips When English is a Second Language: Have a native English speaker review your cover letter and resume. First, if applying for a job in the United States, try and craft your letters to American English. While this may not be a problem, there is no downside to a well written letter.
Also, understand that Americans use different criteria for interviewing than may be used in your native country. For example, average and academic achievement may be all that matters in some countries, while in the United States, academic achievement is balanced with personality and cultural fit into the organization.
6. Don't rely on your academic major alone - companies are looking for skills such as literacy, your ability to lead, the ability to have a conversation with a customer and the ability to understand a customer. Analytical skills are particularly valued with those that have a combination of analytics, and the ability to interact with customers rising to the top. If your major doesn't match the job, explain why - such as majoring in sports marketing when applying for a mainstream marketing position.
What ever you do, don't look like you just happened to decide on your major, and you just happened to apply for the job because it is similar to your major.
7. Avoid language that is over used in cover letters: Every candidate is "eager" and "ready to hit the ground running." Candidates all have marketing classes, or those that are switching fields will give it 100%. The answer to all this is so what. Answer the question as to why you are uniquely qualified for the position. If you can't answer the question, work on your credentials.
Great cover letters differentiate the candidate. Does it reflect the research you did on the company and the position? Are there links to things you may have done that distinguish your application from other candidates? Keep it short, to the point, and remove any language that just takes up space. Also, be sure to sell yourself on both your cover letter and resumes. It is common for companies to ignore the cover letter in favor of just the resume.
8. Use the 3/30/3 rule: The interviewer will take 30 seconds to decide if your resume warrants top of the pile status for further review. Intrigue at the beginning of your cover letter and resume. The reviewer will then re-review the resume for about 30 seconds to see if their first impression was right. If it was, they'll take another 3+ minutes to decide if you should move on in the process. Plan with this type of thinking in mind.
During the Interview
1. Be Prepared. Although cliche, review the company's website, the interviewers background on LinkedIn, and anything the interviewer wrote.
2. Do a keyword analysis of the company's home page and pages that link off the main navigation. The terms used in the keywords (on Firefox, you can see the keywords by clicking view - source) should be at minimum understood and at best, worked into the conversation. Type these keywords into Google and see what competitors appear. (A good interview question is to ask why the company ranks lower for certain important keywords). If applying for a position, integrate some of these keywords into your resume and LinkedIn profile.
Google also offers a free keywords tool where you can enter a website URL.
1. It's not all about you, it's about the company that is hiring you.
For example, don't start with:"...seek an opportunity that can challenge me as an asset and augment my ambition with fruitful diligence", "this would be a dream come true",
2. If using email, provide 1 or 2 lines that can be read in under 5 seconds as to why the reader should review your background. Attach both a resume and cover letter which states your case.
3. Make sure files have uploaded properly and are not currupted. Be careful how you label resumes, avoid using words like "new", "newest" (both are real cases)
4. Followup Frequently: People are busy and easily distracted. Followup frequently to determine where you are in the process. If you can, use each follow-up as an opportunity to reinforce the quality of your credentials and your fit for the position and company