Questions and Answers with Career Expert Lindsey Pollak
Please note: On a somewhat infrequent basis, Quintessential Careers asks noted career experts five questions related to their expertise and publishes the interview in the current issue of QuintZine, our career e-newsletter. Those interviews are archived here for your convenience.
Lindsey Pollak is author of Getting from College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||In your book, Getting from College to Career, you advise upcoming college grads both to “embrace” and “overcome” their stereotypes. Can you explain these concepts?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| “Embracing your stereotype” refers to the fact that the “I Am Ready To Take On The World Just As Soon As I Figure Out What I Am Going To Do Next Year And For the Rest of My Life” graduating college student is a well-known American stereotype. Students will hear lots of people saying, “I remember when I was in your shoes.” My advice is to take advantage of their recollections. Whenever someone asks about your future plans, you can ask for some advice (What do you wish you had known at my age? What’s your best job-search tip?). As long as you ask politely and with genuine interest, most people will take a few minutes to help an earnest young person.
“Overcoming your stereotype” refers to perceptions about members of Generation Y. I’ve heard them called “entitled,” “overly confident” and “more interested in Facebook than doing their jobs.” Of course this stereotype isn’t true for everyone, but it is definitely out there. And, just as you can use the more positive college grad stereotype to your advantage, you can turn the negative impression of your generation into a huge advantage as well: by not reinforcing this stereotype. If most people — recruiters especially — believe that young people are overconfident and somewhat rude, then you can stand out by being hardworking, respectful, and well-mannered. In fact, one recruiter I interviewed for my book told me that the number one way entry-level candidates distinguish themselves is simply by being polite.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What inspired you to write your book? Was there something about your own experience and observations that led you to believe you had unique ideas for college students entering the “real world?”|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| My goal was to write the book I wish I’d had when I graduated from college! I wanted to answer all of the questions I remember having, all of the questions my younger sister and brother asked me, and all of questions students ask me in my current business as a career advice writer and speaker.
I was also inspired by my senior year of college when I was a freshman counselor (resident advisor), living with and advising a group of freshman students. To this day it was my favorite job I’ve ever had — and writing my book provided the opportunity to continue this work. As a counselor, I learned that helping students build confidence and a sense of themselves is just as important as teaching them specific skills. That’s the attitude I brought to writing Getting From College to Career — compassion for this scary time of life and a desire to help each reader find his or her own path and not fixate on what a recent graduate “should” do. I think of the book’s readers as extensions of the freshmen I counseled in college.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the one new-grad job-hunting secret you share with students/clients but that may not be widely known?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| My favorite job-hunting tip applies to job hunters of all ages, but is especially important for recent grads. The biggest complaint I hear from recruiters is that students don’t know enough about the companies to which they’re applying. It’s crucial to be extremely knowledgeable about any company you want to work for, so you can show that you are a great match for the job you want and ready to jump right in.
So, my advice is to set up Google news alerts for any companies on your target list. You will then receive an email whenever that company is in the news, which will keep you in-the-know about new products or services, company announcements, stock changes, industry issues and, of course, opportunities. This info is also great to have on the tip of your tongue while networking in your industry. Bottom line: Today’s job-seekers need to be expert researchers. Thanks to the Internet, there is no excuse not to be!
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the biggest mistake new-grad job-seekers make that your advice could correct or prevent?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||I believe that the biggest mistake a job-seeker can make is not to take any action at all. Lots of students begin to get frustrated or bored, so they sit back, wait for opportunities and hope for the best. My recommendation is to take at least one action every single day on behalf of your job search. You never know exactly what action will get you a job, so you have to try a lot of things to maximize your chances. This mindset will serve you well at every stage of your career. As long as you’re not standing still, you can rest assured that you’re moving closer to your goals. Remember the saying that luck is when preparedness meets opportunity.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||We frequently hear from frustrated job-seekers who have submitted lots of job applications and resumes/cover letters, been called for minimal interviews and received no job offers. What’s your advice for this type of job-seeker, who is growing increasingly anxious? What can she/he do to improve chances of landing a new job?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| It’s important to step back and reassess if your job hunting efforts don’t seem to be yielding results. Here are some ideas for discovering the problem… and fixing it!
Lindsey Pollak is the author of Getting from College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World (HarperCollins). She is the coauthor of two previous career advice books and is active on the college and corporate speaking circuits. Her work has appeared in Marie Claire, Metro New York newspaper, and DowntownWomensClub.com. Her media appearances have included The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s, NBC Early Today, and Martha Stewart Living radio. Lindsey is a graduate of Yale University. For more information and advice, please visit GettingfromCollegetoCareer.com.
Check out all our interview with career experts in Quintessential Answers: Q&A’s with Career & College Experts.
Maximize your career and job-search knowledge and skills! Take advantage of The Quintessential Careers Content Index, which enables site visitors to locate articles, tutorials, quizzes, and worksheets in 35 career, college, job-search topic areas.