Questions and Answers with Career Expert Peter Fox
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Peter Fox is the Director of MBA Career Services at the University of Tennessee College of Business Administration.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Obviously, researching companies can be a very time-consuming process. What advice do you have for streamlining the process or getting the “most bang for your buck,” i.e., the most information in the least amount of time?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Unfortunately, research is exactly what it says it is — research. The more time you spend researching, the better information you receive. When you are short on time start with the company’s Website, which will talk about the firm’s performance, its team, products, services, clients, and sometimes about its culture and other employment info. If you don’t like what you see, move on to the next site. When you are on the company’s Website, start with the products and services section and follow up with the client section, if applicable. If a company specializes in manufacturing a product or service you have no interest in, you are less likely to enjoy working there. If you like the product and use it at home or in your current job you are not only more likely to enjoy the work but you’ll relate to the people in the market research studies. If you are still on the company’s page after reading this section, go to the client section. Most vendor selection processes will be pretty grueling, these are the other companies that said “I want to do business with your firm.” That should say something. Keep an open mind when looking at the client list. You never know the level of services provided. Job searching is something like the stock market. People don’t like making decisions using bad or little information, so use as many sources (previous employers, third-party Web sites, vendors, clients) as possible before making that life changing decision to accept a new job.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Is company research all about the Internet exclusively these days? Or are there still valuable print resources that have not been supplanted by the Internet?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||Walking into a library, most people will get frustrated to find literature that is not written after the year 2000. If the last newspaper you read was on September 10, 2001, would it accurately describe what was happening in the world? NO. Whether the research you use is online or offline, you still want to get the most up-to-date information, regardless of the topic. Luckily most of the information that is printed is also published online. Easy access to the Web means that those resources are available to the public — most times for free. Some books are worth their weight, but rarely will you get your hands on a version that stays up to speed in such turbulent markets. The online editions of the good books are usually edited more frequently to take major developments into account. The publishers who revise their books every year are great because they follow the activity of a whole year and can most often show how that activity translates into trends or cycles. My favorites are those that offer annual publications with Websites that support new information between publishing dates.|
|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:|| Job-seekers, college students in particular, have more opportunities today than they have in years. Even in a down job market, companies are still coming to college campuses nationwide to hire students. Companies that weren’t the “employers of choice” in the past are recognizing their weaknesses and shaping up their acts to make their opportunities more attractive by raising salaries and offering big perks (like company cars, and relocation packages). Employers are also recognizing the changing needs of Generation Y workers and shifting their organizational practices to accommodate this different group of employees.
But the disturbing trend is that the students are the ones who are not recognizing these changes. These redefined companies storm campuses to interview students, and their schedules aren’t even filled. Some of the most underrated (by popular opinion) companies can provide the best opportunities for students, if the students just gave them a chance. Students aren’t passing over these opportunities for other opportunities either; they are just letting them slip away based on outdated stereotypes of the company or the old roles. It all goes back to researching companies. If you are using old information (stereotypes especially) you can’t make good decisions.
|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:||Using the Internet is a great way to get the most up-to-date information on a company, whether it is stock performance, press releases, corporate information, or other job-related research from the organization itself. Only so much of the job search process can be done online. At some point before, after, or during the cycle you will have to let go of your mouse and go shake some hands and have some conversations with employers or recruiters. I wouldn’t recommend that a job-seeker sit back and wait for a company to follow up, even after submitting your resume through an online service. Take the recruiting process back into your court! By doing your homework and research in advance you should know the person who will eventually receive your resume (if you haven’t already sent him or her a copy of your credentials), and the job-seeker can follow up appropriately with the right person. Resumes and emails from job seekers can always be overlooked, misplaced, “accidentally” deleted. People cannot. Make the extra effort to become an individual through personal contact and relationships. Most companies utilize many methods to identify qualified candidates. The Internet has substituted for the method previously held by the Sunday help-wanted section. Many of the old rules of recruiting will still apply; the speed with which they are implemented has just sped up.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the one job-hunting secret you share with students but that may not be widely known?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||If you work on something you love, it isn’t work. Most people in their job search overlook their own interests and passions in life. Find what you love in life (food, music, reading, decorating, babies, pets, ice cream) and find the businesses that surround those interests. Here’s an example — if your passion in life is rock climbing, but you studied finance in school, consider applying your skills to a company in that industry. Think of all the products that go into that area (rock climbing gear, shoes, ropes, clothing, equipment, indoor gym equipment) then think of all the businesses that benefit from it (outdoor magazines, travel companies, equipment vendors), and guess what? You’ve got a growing list of companies that surround the industry of rock climbing. Now look on their Websites, find out who would hire the new personnel, give them a call, and find out what opportunities are available. If nothing is available, call back in a few months. Sooner or later, you will have developed a network of people in the industry who know you are looking for a finance-related position in the rock-climbing industry. When something does come up at their company or one they might work with, there is a good chance you’ll hear about it.|
Peter Fox is the Director of MBA Career Services at the University of Tennessee College of Business Administration. Prior to joining Tennessee, Fox has been on both sides of the campus recruiting equation as both a Career Counselor at Tulane University’s A. B. Freeman School of Business in New Orleans, Louisiana as well as Campus Recruiter for Deloitte Consulting in San Francisco, California. Peter graduated from Fairfield University, in Connecticut with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication. Contact by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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