I had the recent pleasure of playing e-mail tag with a great writer and job seeking resource, Lindsey Pollak. What occurred was a great interview and a conversation starter for college students, young women and actually job seekers of all ages and genders. We got to talking about how colleges have untapped gold mines for job seeking information, the struggles of finding a job when 10,000+ other college grads are looking for the same position and how social networking has played a toll in the job hunt. I hope you enjoy, because we sure did.
And to all the readers of the Orlando Employment Guide paper, you might have noticed a new feature that we implemented this week. It’s called Best of the Blog and will feature highlights of the previous week as well as topics to look forward to this week. For those that haven’t picked up your FREE copy yet, here is a quick snapshot of the Best of The Jobspot Blog!
I always love doing interview intros, so instead I’ll be cliché and give some background on Lindsey. Lindsey Pollak is a writer, speaker and consultant for career advice and women’s issues. She has some great titles under her belt including, “From College To Career” and “The Savvy Gal’s Guide to Online Networking.”
Here is Part One of our conversation. (Look for Part 2 tomorrow
Greg: You have 2 books available now. We’ll start with some topics from the “Getting from College to Career” era!
Greg: What do colleges, universities, etc need to do to prepare students for the oncoming ‘real world’?
Lindsey: College career services offices generally have great resources—alumni databases, resume critiquing, mock interviewing, networking connections, etc. The problem is that students often don’t take advantage. A big regret of mine is that I never used my college’s career services office. I encourage students (and alumni—most universities offer free career services to alums as well) to take advantage of these resources.
Beyond that, I wish that every college gave students the opportunity to take a career planning course or workshop. Job search skills are essential in today’s economy, where the average student will have many, many careers over a lifetime.
Of course I hope that all colleges and universities encourage students to read career advice blogs like http://orlandojobspot.blogspot.com and my blog, http://lindseypollak.blogspot.com. Our blogs and many others are free online!
Greg: How can college students better position themselves to get ahead of the other 10,000 kids that just graduated and are looking for the same job?
One way to stand out is to avoid making the common mistakes that many recent grads make. Make sure you have an appropriate email address (too many recruiters talk about getting messages from addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org) and be sure to write grammatically correct and spellchecked email messages (this means no im speak with all lower case letters and run on sentences and lots of exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Little mistakes can really cost you big.
The recruiters I interviewed for my book also told me their biggest pet peeve is when students don’t know anything about their companies when they come in for a job interview. This means you can really stand out by doing your homework and knowing a lot about the industry and company where you’d like to work. My advice is to:
· read the essential publications and blogs for your industry (ask people in the industry what they read every day and subscribe to the same publications and sites)
· scour the company’s own website
· subscribe to Google alerts about the company so you’ll receive all recent news
· talk to as many people as you can who have worked for or with the company.
The more intelligently you can talk about an industry or company with an interviewer, the more you’ll seem like you’d fit right in as an employee.
Greg: The cool Gen-Y thing is to start their own thing and stick it to the man. What happens when that plan doesn’t work and they have to go begging back to the man?
Lindsey: I think the situation you’re describing above is happening all the time and young people have the upper hand because baby boomers are retiring and companies need young employees. Gen Yers understand that you have to be the CEO of your own career in the 21st century. The days of working for the same company your whole career are WAY over. Gen Yers are building careers that might include stretches of corporate employment, entrepreneurship, school, freelancing, public service, small business, nonprofit and whatever else comes along. These types of career paths are bound to become more and more common.
However, it will always be important for job candidates to demonstrate their skills and relevant experience and to show an organization how they can contribute to its success. I believe that being gracious, hardworking and humble will always be in style.
Thanks Lindsey. Look for part 2 on the Orlando JobSpot tomorrow and be sure to visit Lindsey's blog at http://lindseypollak.blogspot.com/