Questions and Answers with Career Expert Louise Giordano
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Louise Giordano is a career counselor at Brown University.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||We are hearing increasingly from job-seekers about frustrations with Internet job-hunting. They complain that they never hear anything from employers, and that employers increasingly put up impenetrable barriers to keep job-seekers from following up and being proactive. Are the old rules of job-seeking and follow-up changing? How will job-seekers need to adapt to the new rules of Internet job-hunting? Are there ways to follow up after responding to an online ad, and if not, what can job-seekers do in lieu of following up to increase their odds?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| I hear this lament increasingly, too. The technology that allows job-seekers and employers to interact cannot be solely relied upon to produce the desired results. It is just one of many tools for an effective job search. A Providence Journal article (Jan. 20, 2002) reports that the major job-posting Web sites are proving enormously frustrating for job-seekers who post their resume and apply online for literally hundreds of jobs that result in only a handful of interviews. Clients tell me they are contacted by recruiters representing industries for which they have no interest and/or skills, which is an infringement of one’s privacy. They report, too, that they don’t know how to follow up effectively. And they can’t when there is no indication of the company name or an email address or phone number. However, in many cases, there are devious but ingenious ways to learn more about a company, utilizing the very tools that often prove so frustrating.
This question prompted me to check out some online job postings on monster.com and careerbuilder.com. In most cases, I was able to find information about the company or organization — from a link on the page directly to the company, or by using the part of the email address after the @ to search for the company itself or for information about the company. (I use Google as my primary search engine; it almost never fails me!) I use AnyWho.com and Reverse Look-up to find the name of the company or person.
A company Website can provide background information about the company, location, top-level management, contact information, products and services, other employment and career opportunities, among other information of interest to the well-informed job-seeker. Keep in mind, of course, that what a company produces in print and online is precisely what it wants the public to know. Therefore, I suggest using financial websites — if the company is publicly traded — to research current and timely news about the company and its competitors.
To research both company and industry profiles.
or Experience eRecruiting Network — if one’s college or university is affiliated with an online recruiting organization
To research private companies:
To research non-profit organizations: Nonprofit Research on the Web
[Editor’s Note: Don’t forget to visit the comprehensive researching guide at Quintessential Careers. Go to our Guide to Researching Companies, Industries, and Countries.]
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What do you feel is the most disturbing trend in job-hunting today?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| The most disturbing trends in job-hunting today include relying too heavily on the Internet, not effectively utilizing its full potential, and not being resourceful in proactively using other resources. I always ask clients what they have been doing toward their job-search; they frequently reply that they have posted their resume on one or more of the job-posting websites and/or applied online to numerous positions. And they wait! Most disturbing to me is that they have not been proactive in developing strategies for a successful search prior to contacting me. Many of today’s job-seekers have never before been in the frustrating position of searching in a recessionary period. Consequently, they simply don’t know what works and what doesn’t. They fail to realize that the skills they need are close at hand. The trick is to maximize available tools and resources and to subscribe to a process that keeps the job-search moving in the right direction, with technical as well as people resources to guide that process.
The first resource is oneself! The first step in job searching involves self-knowledge. But what reluctance there is to completing a thorough self-assessment — of personality, skills, interests, and values! I ask clients to imagine helping someone who cannot express what he or she needs or wants. If a job-seeker cannot articulate to a prospective employer or to a networking contact what s/he is seeking or can offer to a company or organization, it is almost impossible to help him/her. Most networking contacts are eager to help. The client’s role then is to help his or her contacts provide the needed help, which means having gone through a thorough self-assessment. This critical piece of the search process is too often overlooked. The tendency is to jump right onto the Internet, post a resume, check the job sites, and not move the process forward. Since 10 percent of jobs are posted on the Internet, and 10% of jobs are advertised in print, the remaining 80 percent are found via networking and informational interviewing.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What do you feel is the most exciting or hopeful trend in job-hunting?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Ironically, my answer to this question is exactly the same! The Internet provides the most powerful tools available — if you know how to use them and then use them proactively.
The self-assessment process can be largely accomplished through online resources. [Editor’s note: See our Career Assessments section.] A career coach, counselor, or advisor is crucial to the interpretation of results, however. So while the Internet is exciting as a job-search tool, it is easy to overlook the human interaction that moves the process forward.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||How are you preparing your students/clients for job-hunting in a recession? Do you feel the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks brought about a kind of paralysis in the job-hunting world? Have most job-seekers gotten past the psychological barrier brought on by 2001’s recession and attacks?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| I do believe that Sept. 11 created a kind of paralysis in the world — including the job-hunting world. It pushed a down-turning economy down much faster, forced many new lay-offs, rescinded offers, and far fewer opportunities for recent graduates, career-changers, and anyone who had already been down-sized or unemployed. For most college students, it created the numbing reality that the world had changed, the effects of which would play out in ensuing months and years — and they had no idea how the change would impact them. So, for many, trying to maintain their status quo and reconnecting with family and close friends were more important than anything else. Then they began to return to a new reality — which meant catching up with academics first, and placing job searching somewhere else in their order of priorities. Parents no longer seemed to be pushing for that high-powered job; rather they pushed for coming home and worrying about the job search later. Some were panicked, but all seem to be accepting impending graduation as a fact and that their job search was about to take on new dimensions — the results of which remain largely unknown and probably with lower salaries and expectations.
We are preparing students/clients for job-hunting by providing the usual tools, techniques, strategies, workshops, programs, counseling appointments, resources, on-campus recruiting that we have always provided. However, we are encouraging focused job searches and the use of independent resources more heavily. We emphasize networking and informational interviewing through alumni networks as well as through every personal, academic, and professional network they might have available to them. We teach a process for cultivating those networks. We are finding that students want us to do the work for them, but we feel quite strongly that they must learn to apply the process we teach. The key to job searching is conducting that "focused" search, meaning that, especially now, students cannot indiscriminately look for work without knowing what they really want in a job/career. I emphasize the need to know what they want and go after it. Knowing involves doing extensive research on self and occupations. They must be willing to do the "work" necessary to make a job happen.
I believe most graduates are moving in the direction of overcoming the psychological barriers exacerbated by Sept. 11. They — like the world — are undergoing the stages of loss and death. Some have been personally struck by loss and death; most are dealing with the loss of expectations. And we, as career counselors, are struggling as well with the changes taking place, both personally and professionally.
Louise Giordano has been a career counselor at Brown University since 1992 and solely staffs the Providence College Alumni Career Advising Program. She served as director of business placement at Johnson & Wales University from 1987 to 1989. Prior to and concurrent with these activities, she was a secondary foreign-language teacher in public and private schools in CT, MA, and RI.
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