In response to Monday’s post about how to get hired when you’re just starting your career, commenter Chris left a response that I thought was so helpful and insightful that I wanted to share it here. Here are the parts I liked best, but you can read the full comment here.
Recent grad here. And when I say recent, I mean graduated 17 months ago recent. Some disorganized random thoughts:
a) Find someone in your circle that does hiring and get them to check your resume. When I was in college, I had about 5-6 career counselors and professors look over my resume during my Jr and Sr year (when applying for research and internships), and the feedback was always “this looks good. I’ve got nothing to add.” Since graduation, I’ve regularly gotten my resume checked by people at the unemployment office, by networking people, and by professional engineers, and only one person has given meaningful improvement advice (stuff other than “use a sans-serif font or switch from a 10 to 12 pt font in the descriptions”), and she actively hires at Hexcel and teaches people how to deal with Boeing’s notorious filtering software. The point: you’ll probably get much better feedback from people that actively hire in your field than from anyone else sadly.
b) Grown-up career fairs are your friends. Here’s the thing:
-College career fairs have about 600-700 people show up, each with a resume in hand. The other part: college students are very high energy, and have been taught how to network career fairs via the Internet, classes, or workshops. And everyone there is willing to talk about in-field developments. And the lines for SpaceX and Tesla are slightly longer than the line for Splash Mountain.
-Grown-up career fairs are a very different animal. There are a lot less people and that element of hyperness in college fairs is missing. At college fairs, you’ll hear in-line talk of Falcon 9’s and Elon Musk’s amazingness. At grown-up career fairs, the nouns “Falcon 9” and “Elon Musk” will be replaced with the noun “ex-wife.”
The short answer: at college fairs numbers are not on your side, everyone has been trained to talk at these fairs, and energy is high. It is a lot harder to leave an impression on anyone if you aren’t already Jesus. At grown-up fairs, there’s a lot fewer numbers, and the atmosphere can get more dreary than a swampland graveyard. High-energy & optimism makes it easier to leave an impression and the less numeric competition plus the less likelihood that the other people there have been trained to commericialize at fairs can get you more interviews. Personally, in 5 years attending college career fairs, I’ve never gotten an interview. Meanwhile, I’ve netted 2 in fairs post-college.
f) Networking is good. If you went to a networking seminar in college, you were probably told to send networking emails, “develop a relationship with your networkee,” and “network for hidden job opportunities” or what-not. In real life, people are busy, and many many emails you send out will not get a response back. And if you do get a response back, it won’t be about a “hidden-job opportunity,” it’ll usually be some basic hiring information with a “times are tough, good luck” tag at the end. Unless you are asking about what it’s like to work in field X. Some people write really well crafted responses to these.
g) The hardest part of this whole thing is being lost in the fog. You will have 10-20 people telling you that you’ve been doing everything right, and yet nothing falls through. And since, according to every online source and every person at your career center (city and college), you’ve been doing “everything right,” figuring out where to improve becomes an impossible nightmare. When this feeling hits, relax, and grab an IPA. And remember that you’re not alone.