The Career Doctor: Career Advice for All
A Career College and Job-Search Advice Column
Readers: Dr. Randall Hansen a nationally recognized career expert is the Career Doctor. Discover more about Dr. Hansen read about the purpose of this column and find previous issues of this column at the home of The Career Doctor.
Dr. Hansen writes this column on a biweekly basis. If you have any college career or job-related questions or comments that Dr. Hansen could provide valuable assistance with please feel free to email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Readers can find other columns from this year in Current Year Archives of The Career Doctor Q&A.
In This Issue (11/17/06):
- Explaining the relevance of career storytelling in a job-search
- Tracking down the best internship opportunities for college students
- Getting your foot into the door of company you want to work for
- Uncovering great career networking Websites for job-seekers
|Q:|| Pat writes: I heard you and your wife speak the other day and while I wanted to stay around and ask this question I just didn’t have the time to do so.
Can you explain again the importance or relevance of storytelling as it relates to me as a job-seeker?
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Thanks for attending one of our workshops! Hope you received some useful and practical information that will empower you to the next step in your career.
I should probably let Katharine answer this question since she is the one who conducted research on career storytelling for her doctoral dissertation but let me take a quick stab at it because the topic is near and dear to me as well.
We’ve always known from talking with recruiters and hiring managers that the job-seekers who are evaluated the highest in job interviews are the ones who provide the best and most compelling answers. As you dig a little further you discover that these best answers are all basically stories that job-seekers tell to describe a situation task and accomplishment. We’ve also found that job-seekers better remember details and respond better to interview questions when they have developed stories in response to specific interview questions.
And having these stories gives job-seekers more confidence in the interview which also leads to a more positive review by hiring managers. Stories can also be incorporated into your resume and career portfolio providing employers with solid proof of your past performance something especially important when lying on resumes continues to make news.
One final benefit of career storytelling (though there are many more that don’t fit this column space): using stories to respond to interview questions showcases your communications abilities one of the skills that employers constantly rank as a vital skill necessary of employees — and often sorely lacking among job applicants.
Read much more about storytelling in this excerpt from Katharine’s forthcoming book Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling that Propels Careers.
|Q:|| Allison writes: My professors keep telling me I need to get at least one internship before I graduate and I am thinking of trying to get one for next summer. I was planning on waiting to look for internships until like Spring Break but one of my friends told me that I should start looking like sooner. Also what are the best sources for internships?
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: All college students should complete at least one internship and ideally several while you attend school. I actually encourage my first-year students to consider an internship after their first year of college (even though the most sought-after internships usually require junior or senior standing).
Internships give you valuable work experience help you learn more about your intended career and can help you decide on a specific career path. Internships also help you expand your network of contacts and in some cases can make you drastically rethink your career focus if you have a really bad experience.
Your email comes at a good time because I would actually start looking for internships NOW. Hot internships (with companies like Nike) have very early deadlines because they receive so many applications for so few internship slots. Start now but keep working on it over the next few months and try for at least a couple of internship offers so that you can choose the one that best fits your needs.
Here are my top sources for uncovering internship leads:
Here are three tools for you to consider using as you move forward with your internship search — and then when you actually intern:
|Q:||Sarah writes: I have always wanted to work for a certain company but they are currently not hiring how do I get my name to their HR person so they may consider me for a position later?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: First let me say that in some ways job-hunting is easier when you have a specific geographic location or a specific set of companies in mind. While your options are limited by the number of employers it also allows you to have a more focused job-search — giving you the ability to direct your time and energy to getting your foot in the door at one or more of them.
Let me offer you several pieces of advice.
While I won’t advise you not to try and get your name and resume to the human resources department I will say that unless you are trying to get a job in HR sending your resume to that department is not going to do you much good. Do it because in some companies it is standard procedure but certainly do NOT stop there… and do not expect much to happen as a result of doing so.
Instead turn to your network of contacts and see if they know anyone who works for the company. If you find one or more who do see if you can leverage their inside position to get your name and resume into the hands of the right people. Remember that network contacts can’t get you the job but they can help get your foot in the door. If you have no network contacts within the company consider expanding your network (which you should be doing anyway).
Another approach is to target the prospective hiring manager such as the marketing director. If you do not have a contact within the company call the main number and ask for the name of the hiring manager in the marketing department. Get the person’s name and title. Then write a dynamic cover letter explaining why you should be considered for a marketing position at the company. When writing your cover letter and editing your resume be sure to use some of the same words to describe yourself as the company does in describing itself.
Most larger companies have put their career center on their Websites and some of these career centers give job-seekers explicit instructions for applying for posted openings. Even though they are not currently hiring check out their Website and follow the advice they have posted.
Finally whichever of these techniques you used (and hopefully you used several of them) take the time to follow-up. Do so politely and professionally — and do so more than once if necessary — by simply calling or emailing the person and asking about the status of your resume or application.
For more suggestions please read this article published on Quintessential Careers: 10 Ways to Develop Job Leads.
|Q:||Muhannad writes: I was wondering if there are websites or organizations which allow networking online. This came to me from all the student or teenage networking sites like Facebook or MySpace. I was wondering if there is such a thing on a more professional level where by job seekers and employers have to opportunity to network and connect.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: The funny part about Facebook and MySpace is that the people using those sites for the most part do not even realize the power of the tools as their disposal. These sites — and the ones I am going to mention in a minute — offer users an amazing opportunity to build both personal and professional contacts that could help them in a plethora of ways.
First let’s be clear about networking. Networking is not using people or asking people for jobs. Networking involves developing a broad list of contacts — people you’ve met through various social professional and business functions — and — at a time you are in need of career assistance — asking them for help and guidance. People in your network may be able to give you job leads offer you advice and information about a particular company or industry and introduce you to others so that you can expand your network.
Online networking is an interesting opportunity for job-seekers to greatly expand your network — certainly greatly expand it geographically. And many of these sites have existed much longer than the trendy ones for teens and college students.
Some of the best online networking sites include: Company of Friends Ecademy Friendster hi5 LinkedIn Meetup PowerMingle.com and ryze.
For links to all these sites — and many others — go to this section of Quintessential Careers: Tools for Networking on the Internet.