Dear MaD advice:
I am a new college grad and have been interviewing for professional positions, but not seeming to get a job offer. Although I thought I was prepared, I don’t seem to be the first pick. My parents are hovering and asking too many questions, always seeming to end in a fight. I need advice on the job interview and on the parents!
Job searches can be a hot, volatile topic or they can be a supportive on-going conversation. To Parents: it is not your life and so long as your children are supporting themselves or you have had the conversations about that up-coming reality, they need to find their own place in the world. Being a little hungry and short on cash is what drives all of us to seek something bigger and better. I recommend a more formal approach to talk about the job search by planning to and then sitting down to intentionally have these discussions. Ask, listen, and add to their plan, don’t lecture or tell them what to do.
To Young Adults: Having an ultimate goal and then pointing your job search in that direction, gets the stepping stones to success in line. It means being logical, but a little flexible in what you are willing to take as your initial job. As for the job interview, having your own strategy going in is what makes you successful. You are somewhat at the whim of how the business conducts their interviews, but doing your homework by researching the company and job description is where you start. Research other similar jobs to expand your knowledge. Never “wing it”, always prepare. Know how your work personality, education and experience relate to this job. Don’t assume that the employer will make those connections, as it is your job to align your skills to their needs. And lastly, it is all about THEM and how you can make THEM successful, not about you…until you get that job offer!
The stress of finding a job to assume after college is a whole new experience in stress. I felt like I was in a rat race – the faster my peers took on jobs, the more pressure I felt to get my own. I also felt the pressure of the bystanders – parents, professors, and loved ones. Though they were rooting for me, I really felt like they expected it to be easier, and their frustration only grew with mine. Looking back, I have realized there is a big lesson to be learned in this type of rejection. There is no shame in sticking your toes in the water. I reached for things that, honestly, I wasn’t qualified for, or there was someone far more qualified than me to take that position. Consequently, writing cover letters became a creative outlet. I learned how to cater my strengths to fit any mold, and I did it honestly. I took the first job offered to me out of college, in Los Angeles, CA, and it was a good one. Worth the stress and initial rejection. I was lucky enough to not have an interview, but I have had plenty since then. First impressions matter, BIG. A strong handshake and direct eye contact goes a long way when meeting your interviewer. I have noticed that even those around you are watching, so look put together, look alert and be positive. Smile. The hiring process for companies takes time and money. This company wants you to be it. Their fingers are crossed just as tight as yours.
Preparation is also key. Research your own strengths, re-read your cover letter and resume. Also research the company – if you walk in there comparing their strengths and successes to your own, that is memorable. If there is a question that stumps you, don’t be afraid for a little silence, conscientiously think before speaking. Answer questions honestly, while catering to your strengths. I have been to several interviews where I have said, “I’m not trained in that area, but I am trainable” – always end with a positive quality of your own to counteract what you’re lacking as a potential employee. Remember, they’re also looking at you as a person – they want to work with someone approachable, motivated, friendly and assertive.
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