Questions and Answers with Career Expert Ellyn Enisman
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Ellyn Enisman is the author of Job Interview Skills 101: The Course You Forgot to Take
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Why are recent college grads not better prepared for job interviews?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Colleges do an excellent job of educating students; however, they need to devote more focus and concentration into preparing each student and grad to compete in the job market. After all, students go to college to enhance their education so that they can begin a career. So the real goal is to get a job! It is my opinion that students should be required to take a full-year course that guides them to understand the knowledge, skills, and attributes that they have attained from their education, internships, employment, community service, and life experiences and then teaches them how to apply strategies and techniques to articulate this background to a potential employer in an interview and successfully navigate the entire job-search process. For example, when students complete a group project in class, they need to be debriefed on what strengths they discovered about themselves, what they learned, how those skills and strengths transfer to the real world, and how they can use the concept of story to articulate this and sell themselves to a potential employer.
Networking skills and practice applying them also needs to be incorporated into this course. I am putting the finishing touches on a course designed to accomplish these goals. Career-services departments are doing some of this work now, but not every student takes advantage. Many colleges use interactive online tools for students. These skills cannot be taught online. Interviewing is a face-to-face, live event, and teaching it online defeats the purpose. Having a required course taught by professors who are experienced in recruiting and hiring, and capable of building out a program that connects students and new grads with potential employers is the answer. It is my goal to bring awareness to this approach and champion this change.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||You talk a lot about the importance for job-seekers to create a memory in job interviews. What are some of the best ways for doing so?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Prepare in advance by reading the job description to determine the knowledge, skills, and abilities the company is looking for. Next, identify the experiences you have that prove that you have those skills and describe those experiences in your interview. The job description provides clues to the questions you will be asked. Practice your answers to those questions using your stories of your experiences. The interviewer will be completing a mental checklist of your competencies as they listen to your answer. When you answer questions incorporating examples of your experiences, the interviewer gets to know you and you will create a memory.
When the interviewer asks, “What questions do you have for me,” ask well-thought-out questions that reference what you have learned about the company, the job, and the industry. Prepare these in advance. Remember to make eye contact with the interviewer when you speak. The interview should be conversational.
Most of all, remember that interviewers are excited by answers that tell them about you. Whenever I interview a candidate, I remember their stories first because that is how I know they have the skills and qualifications that I am looking for. A prepared candidate who demonstrates why he or she is a great fit is a memorable candidate.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What is the most important interviewing advice that all job-seekers should follow?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||If I had to choose, the most important advice is to identify your knowledge, skills, and attributes and develop stories about your experiences that prove it. Practice and then prepare for each interview using the method and strategies in my book, Job Interview Skills 101. Remember that the interviewer has a short time to get to know you. You must help him or her hire you by showing that you have what the employer is looking for. In addition, prepare your answers to the questions you fear most, before the interview — questions such as “Tell me about yourself,” “What are your strengths,” “What is your weakness.” This preparation will allow you to relax a bit because you have those questions covered.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What are the top skills that most employers are really looking for these days?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||When it comes to new grads and college students, I believe that employers look for attributes first and technical skills second. They don’t expect you to have a tremendous amount of experience in the career you have chosen. I believe some of the most sought-after attributes are the ability to think critically, a sense of urgency, emotional intelligence, problem-solving ability, the ability to relate to others, flexibility, resourcefulness, tenacity, the ability to see the whole picture, a curious mind, a strong work ethic, the ability to work individually and in teams, and the ability to write persuasively.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the best way to uncover job leads — or do you advise multiple methods? What’s the best combination of methods and what percentage of a job-seekers time should be spent on each?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Students and new grads should think of their job search like a funnel. The more you put in, the more comes out. Multiple methods are best, and most of them involve networking. Networking is the No. 1 best way to uncover job leads. I believe that 80 percent of jobs are filled that way, and many jobs never make it to the job boards because candidates who are referred to the interviewer are hired before the job is even posted. When I am recruiting, I rely heavily on referrals and will seek them out if they do not readily cross my desk.
Lots of sources are available to network through. They include alumni, friends, family, professors, relatives, social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, and more.
I always have my clients make a list of everyone they know and have their parents do the same. Then we sift through the list and identify whom to contact and how each person will be contacted. Students and new grads must be clear on what type of opportunity they are looking for and know why they are qualified for it. Then they must communicate to everyone on their list that they are in a job search and would appreciate any help.
I like broadcast letters. If a job-seeker is interested in a specific company, he or she should contact someone there, and LinkedIn is a great avenue. Each student/new grad should have a LinkedIn profile with a professional profile picture. That goes for Facebook, too.
Start out by asking for advice on your job search, especially when contacting alumni. Make sure the alumni are working in the industry you want to be in. People like to give advice and help. Another avenue is to go to a conference for the industry you would like to be in. This approach can often be expensive, but if you call the association and offer to volunteer your services, many times you can go for free. There you will make some very good contacts and make it a point to meet as many people as possible. Tell them you are in a job search, and have your 30-second commercial ready. If it’s inexpensive, join the organization in your junior year. Many associations have their own job boards for members.
I would recommend that 75 percent of your time be spent on the activities I have described and 25 percent be spent on the job boards. Use a job board that captures many job boards, like Indeed.com. Look at the results of your searches and identify specialized job boards that may prove more fruitful. Those who put in the effort will succeed. Leave no stone unturned. Whether you are looking for an internship or your first job after college, finding a job is your job.
Ellyn Enisman is the author of Job Interview Skills 101: The Course You Forgot to Take, book written just for college students and new grads. For more information go to her Website College to Career Coaching or contact Ellyn by email.
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