By Janet Beach, Chairman of The Job Forum
Tips for Initial Job Hunters
Beginning your career is a confusing time since so much is at stake:
• validating all your educational efforts,
• proving your past achievements are relevant and important,
• showing yourself and others that you are worthwhile and valuable.
Many people starting a career feel overwhelmed, fearful, excited, exhilarated, and defeated — all at the same time.
Here are some basic steps that will increase your chances for success in finding early career employment.
Be Prepared for Each Step
Identify what you want to achieve by pursuing any step in your job search process.
Understand who might attend and what will occur before you go to meet others and before going to a networking event.
Use the Internet to:
• study a company, or learn what is in a job description
• learn about a person you are going to meet,
• prepare for a rich and satisfying conversation.
Your preparations will yield lots of enjoyment, confidence, and learning, so meeting with you will be satisfying and actionable!
Know What You Want to Learn
Do not go to meet people or companies, or even have telephone discussions, if you can’t find aspects of the interaction that you are genuinely curious about.
Get ready by thinking up questions you want to ask to provide you with information you want to know.
To find authentic questions, think about the person, the job, the company that you’re meeting and put yourself in their shoes and imagine all that they really know.
Then you can ask useful questions for which you want to know the real answer.
Here are some examples of such questions:
1. How does this company or product make a profit?
2. How was this product designed or how is it built?
3. Who are your company’s main competitors? What have they got going for them?
4. How do the staff and the managers get evaluated on their achievements or job performance?
5. When you talk to colleagues and friends, how do you describe the company culture?
6. What characteristics do you think one ought to have in order to be a successful contributor?
7. What was challenging for you at first when you were at my career stage?
8. What sorts of things are you particularly good at now and how do these currently help you in your job?
Others will find you and your questions interesting, which will establish a connection with you and you will have an enjoyable experience, learn something, and differentiate yourself from others who do not offer many well-considered questions!
Personal Character Traits Matter
You likely will not have had substantial work experience to point to as evidence for why to hire you.
Internships do matter and the more of them you have had, the stronger a candidate you will likely be.
Discuss your qualities like timeliness, reliability, honesty, hard work, ethics, good humor, being a team player, excellent follow-through, humility, not being ‘a know it all’, a real sense of humor, strong listening skills, and the ability to be flexible.
Such qualities can be referenced by you, very comfortably, by saying things like:
I’ve often been told that I am… , or My coworkers at XYZ internship gave me this feedback that I am … , or My past supervisor mentioned he especially appreciated my ABC traits.
By referring to a third party who complimented you, it will not be viewed as bragging and you will make a good case for why it is a good idea to hire you.
Talk about your habits and personality that show your character and build trust in you as a person who is a real positive to have on a team!
Be Grateful and Respectful Rather Than Pushy
• Smile, say thank you, and show your positive personality.
• Look people in the eye and stay genuinely interested in and focused on what they’re saying, showing you are a good listener and worth talking with.
• Be interested, eager, and enthusiastic.
• Certainly send an immediate thank you that includes reference to something substantive in your discussion.
You will always get more positive results via appreciation and good grace than by using an aggressive or demanding attitude!
Nobody Is Working at a Company Primarily to Train You or Manage Your Growth
If you’re lucky, you’ll have a manager who will generously share his or her experience and yes, you can learn many things. It is more likely, however, that you will have a busy, overworked manager. So you’ll be left on your own, often confused, often fearful, and needing to figure things out and quickly.
That is not something to resent and rail against; instead it is your opportunity go find information, find people to ask, learn to look to colleagues or other departments for input and try to stand tall, grateful for the chance for “on the job training”.
One big mistake often made when starting our careers is to confuse a manager with a teacher. The truth is your manager is not really there to teach you nor to develop you!
At The Job Forum, you can network with San Francisco Bay Area managers who will help you in your search for the next step in your career. Our Job Forum panel of volunteer managers come from most of the SF Bay Area industries and work in numerous companies: large, small, startups, and growing. These companies include Visa, Facebook, Google, UCSF, Autodesk, Levi Strauss, Zillow, EverLaw, Splunk, Twllio, DocuSign, Intel, US Bank, Bank of America, Nektar Therapeutics, and more.