Doostang News June 14 – Three Important Interview DON’Ts (DO Read This!)

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Here at Doostang we like to advise you on all the things you should be doing during an interview.  But it’s also important to know what sort of actions you need to avoid.  Some of these may seem obvious, yet jobseekers often make related missteps along the way.  So let’s revisit the basics:

Don’t Under-dress

If you are familiar enough with a company to know that the office culture is very relaxed, it may feel silly walking into an interview in a suit and tie.  Nevertheless, it’s important that you dress up for an interview.  Putting effort into your wardrobe shows that you take the company and the job seriously.  And even if the rest of the office is in shorts and T-shirts, they’ll appreciate that you care enough about the interview to dress up for it.  No one will judge you if you show up looking polished and professional – they might if you dress like a slob.

Don’t Talk on the Phone

It’s obvious that you should, by no means, answer your phone during an interview. But take that a step further and don’t talk on the phone at all while you are visiting a company. Before you even enter the building, switch your phone to silent, or, better yet, turn it off. Not only is it important to do this in order to avoid the temptation of answering it, but also it ensures that your cell won’t go off while you’re speaking with the hiring manager. The interview lasts from the moment you step foot in the door until the moment you leave, and it’s imperative that you show respect and remain alert. Silence is golden!

Don’t Get too Relaxed

While you want to give off an air of confidence, don’t get cocky and start slouching in your chair during the interview.  It’s wonderful to have a fluid, easy-going conversation with an interviewer, but if you are too much at ease, they might think that you don’t really care.  Remain alert and engaged, appearing more eager than cozy.

Stay tuned for more interview “don’ts”, and make sure to brush up on your interview “do’s”.  Now go get ‘em!

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

Doostang News: Job Search Oasis – Achieving Career Success in a Tough Market

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Whether you’re set in your field or just aiming to break into a particular industry, moving forward in your career in this job market is no easy task.  Fortunately, there are resources out there that can set you on the right career path and guide you along the way.

And here at Doostang we’re bringing you some insider tips from one of these.  Read on for some career wisdom about finance, online businesses, resumes and more.

Doostang News October 26: Q&A with Patrick Curtis.

Doostang has recently partnered with Wall Street Oasis, an online community for finance professionals and those trying to break into the industry.   We got a chance to speak with its CEO and Founder, Patrick Curtis, who singlehandedly combined two seemingly unrelated industries – finance and web 2.0 – and created this informative resource.  And he has some invaluable insight on how to achieve success in today’s tough job market.

1) Tell us a little more about Wall Street Oasis. What inspired you, what is it’s purpose and what were you trying to accomplish with this site?

WallStreetOasis.com is an online community of finance professionals and students trying to break into Wall Street careers.  Our main purpose is to provide a place where young finance professionals can plan their next career move, let off some steam and help give advice to college students trying to follow in their footsteps.

I was inspired to start the site because I didn’t see any social networks that specifically addressed my questions when I was an investment banker.  I was looking to jump to private equity after two years and all the information I got (whether that was a list of recruiters, a compensation database or interview tips) was 2nd hand through co-workers and hearsay.  I felt that if I could establish an online community that took a more lighthearted and fun approach as well as start publishing guides that were more specific to this market, that I could fill a need.  I also knew from experience what some of the young bankers were going through (working 100hr weeks, a lot of stress and an uncertain future) and enjoyed providing a platform for them to speak their mind.

The community has continued its strong growth since 2006 even through the financial crisis.  We’ve built a loyal community that gives great career advice and insight into specific firms.  So far, we’ve released nine guides aimed at investment banking, private equity, venture capital, sales & trading and general career advice.

2) You have extensive investment banking and private equity experience. Why did you decide to shift from a more traditional finance route and focus on running an online community? What has this experience been like?

I made the shift from a more traditional finance route with the help of the entrepreneurial community here in business school.  I knew I really enjoyed running Wall Street Oasis but without the help from my classmates at Wharton and the entrepreneurial programs here, I would not have been able to make this a full time job.  I’m really excited to be able to work on the community full time when I graduate this May.  I was working on WallStreetOasis.com full time (without a full time job or classes) this past summer for the first time and we made a lot of progress — so I am confident that we can keep improving.

3) What were some challenges and what helped you along the way? What recommendations do you have for someone who wants to start a successful online community?

The primary challenge was finding the time to keep the site alive when times were tough and finding the right people to outsource some of the work.  There were several botched launches / upgrades, many attacks on the site and growing pains I had to manage while working 70-80 hour weeks.  I had no background in social networks so every day was a learning process.

If someone wants to start a successful online community I would give three main pieces of advice:

1.  Start early, stop planning.  What I mean by this is you don’t have to have all the bells & whistles that other more mature community sites have.  You can save yourself a lot of time and money by making sure there is enough interest first…most niche communities will be happy there is a place for them to go and will cut you some slack early on.

2.  Always Get Feedback and have an open dialogue.  I always try to get feedback from my users and they are brutally honest with me.  But that is what I want because a lot of our best ideas have come from my users.

3.  Find a Hook.  For Wall Street Oasis, the primary hook we used was a Compensation Database.  We keep this free but require a visitor to register to see it.  It is one of the ways we grow our community and I think it was one of the primary reasons we were able to achieve a critical mass early — which is crucial to any social network.

4) Wall Street Oasis claims that its ultimate aim is to inform. What would you say are the key points that someone with an interest in finance needs to know?

I think a lot of college students get wrapped up in rankings and prestige of Wall Street when they should really be focused on the type of job that will suit their personality best.  Yes, brand names have value on Wall Street like everywhere else in life, but if you come from a “non-target school” or don’t end up at Morgan Stanley or Goldman Sachs straight out of undergrad your life will go on and you can still be very successful.

It’s tough when you’re 22 and you see all of the talk about compensation and exit opportunities and X group vs. Y group.  I think sometimes this leads to information overload for these students and they have a skewed perception of what the industry is like.  I think in any highly competitive field people will occasionally romanticize the reality.

Other things being equal, obviously a high GPA and strong extra-curriculars will give someone an advantage in recruiting, but I would argue that finance is no different than any profession — those that learn how to network effectively and are the most persistent will ultimately rise to the top.

5) One of the services Wall Street Oasis provides is resume reviews where you personally review and give feedback on people’s resumes. Having seen thousands of resumes, what would you say are the most common resume mistakes people make and what are some ways to fix them? What makes a stellar resume?

We actually have a very famous discussion on our forums related to this exact topic titled More Classics from Resumes and Cover Letters. While somewhat harsh, this is the reality of the resume screening on Wall Street.  Analysts are often in charge of the initial screen and overselling, over-embellishing, or trying to “sound smart” can push your resume to the trash pile very fast.  Sometimes, in an attempt to impress, students cross a line and actually hurt their chances.

Other common mistakes are simple formatting / spelling errors.  Every resume needs to be printed out and reviewed several times in hard copy to make sure everything is aligned (just like a banker would).

A stellar resume is when the candidate is strong (high GPA, target school, good scores, relevant classes) and they also get involved on campus and hold a few leadership positions.  It is more important to have a few extracurricular activities that you excel in rather than being a member of 10 clubs where you play less of a leadership role.  Another attribute of a stellar resume is that each and every bullet should have a purpose and communicate an accomplishment or a responsibility held by the candidate with concrete facts / numbers / figures.  Come interview time the candidate should be able to elaborate on each of these bullets comfortably.

6) Many Doostang members are seeking a career in finance. What advice would you give to someone looking for employment in the financial sector? Can you provide some insight into the industry or the hiring process?

This is THE most difficult year I have ever seen recruiting wise.  So my main advice this year is to be patient and look for a backup.  It is important to realize that a lot of firms have a hiring freeze on or are only hiring a few candidates.  Even at target schools, where investment banks and consulting firms traditionally hire most of their work force, the competition this year will be fierce.  If you don’t get something immediately make sure you keep working your contacts, the alumni network and think of creative alternatives.  Can you go back to school for another degree?  Can you do some work abroad?  Can you work on a family business or try a start-up?  I would also highly recommend using services like Doostang to expand your network and stay up to date on opportunities that are a match for you.

And there you have everything you need to make your career prosper in this economy – some exceptional inside advice on achieving success in today’s market and Doostang to give you the best career opportunities.

Now go out and get them!

Team Doostang

Outsourced Employees: What to Expect When Working Abroad

There has long been a stigma regarding Americans outsourcing American jobs abroad – but now it seems that we are outsourcing our employees as well.

Hannah Seligson of the New York Times reported earlier this week on a growing trend among American graduates: finding jobs in China when there seem to be no jobs to be found in the U.S.

“Shanghai and Beijing are becoming new lands of opportunity for recent American college graduates who face unemployment nearing double digits at home.” She reported, adding “They are lured by China’s surging economy, the lower cost of living and a chance to bypass some of the dues-paying that is common to first jobs in the United States.”

To get a first hand opinion on the topic, we decided to talk to Matt Hidayat, a 2007 graduate of UCLA with a B.A. in International Development Studies, about his experiences working abroad shortly after graduation. One year ago, he decided to take on a temporary position at a private educational company in Korea.

Hidayat cites lack of jobs at home as the main motivating factor for agreeing to work overseas. “After applying for jobs in the U.S. for 3-4 months, I decided to look elsewhere. I just couldn’t find a job here that would pay me the kind of starting salary I needed to live on my own.” Hidayat says he had reservations about going abroad, but when he found a job with a promising paycheck, he jumped on the opportunity.

This trend for recent graduates to broaden their career search outside of the realm of their homeland is understandable, and many would call it a smart approach to a pressing unemployment issue. For some, embracing a job opportunity abroad has the potential to turn into an invaluable experience, allowing them to grow personally and professionally. The benefits are obvious and will often include enhanced skills, a wider perspective, and a stronger resume.

According to Hidayat, his work experience in Korea greatly enhanced his basic managerial and organizational skills – clearly useful traits for the job market. Another benefit is that working in a completely different culture forces people out of their comfort zones, and employers will likely recognize that and applaud them for it.

Interviewing for the New York Times, Jonathan Woetzel, a partner with McKinsey & Company in Shanghai, said that while work experience abroad was not an automatic ticket to a great job back at home, “At McKinsey, we are looking for people who have demonstrated leadership, and working in a context like China builds character, requires you to be a lot more entrepreneurial and forces you to innovate.”

But don’t pack your bags and work clothes just yet. While there are clear benefits to taking up work opportunities abroad, there are potential drawbacks as well. While at first glance overseas jobs may seem like a perfect replacement for lost employment opportunities at home, it’s important to keep an eye on the differences between the two. Each country has its own employment peculiarities, and career specifics that are standard in the U.S. may not apply elsewhere.

“One piece of advice that I would give to people looking at jobs overseas is to review your contract before you decide on a job.” Warns Hidayat, “Cultural differences abound and you should make sure of the benefits that you may take for granted in the U.S. Being familiar with the vacation time, sick days, and reviewing the policies of the company that you are planning to work for is a good idea, no matter the country in which you plan on working.”

Another thing to keep in mind is the economic climate abroad. A foreign job implies a foreign wage, and sometimes quite a lot can get lost in translation. In Hidayat’s case, the difference worked against him. He started out making a very decent salary by US standards, but the Korean won depreciated while he was still working abroad and Hidayat lost 20% of his wage in the process.

When asked if he would repeat his foreign work experience, Hidayat gives a clear and simple “No.”

However when asked to elaborate, he sounds a bit more optimistic. “There are definitely some good, high paying jobs abroad and it is possible to have an excellent experience.” Says Hidayat, “But the reality is no one wants to go outside the country for a job unless they have to or unless they’ve never been abroad. And I’ve had a chance to travel quite a bit before this so that wasn’t the case for me. But if it’s the first time you’re leaving the country, then you can and should take it as an adventure, rather than a career opportunity.”

Here at Doostang we agree that career experiences abroad can be very beneficial when searching for employment in the U.S., whether you decide to head for China, Korea, Europe, or to another part of the world. Just make sure you do your research ahead of time and consider all sides of such a daring career move. So if you’ve in the mood to expand your horizons, you can always check out some of the jobs abroad we have posted on Doostang.

And sometimes it’s not necessary to make that intercontinental leap. Doostang successfully matches top university grads with some of the best positions in finance, consulting, media, technology, and advertising every day, and new jobs are constantly being added. So if you’re feeling fed up with the job market and are about ready to skip town because of it, give Doostang a test run and let us know what you think. With over 7,500 premium jobs and 550,000 members, we’re confident that we can help you create meaningful connections and discover jobs that help you to get hired and stay ahead.

Happy Job Hunting,

Your oh-so-multicultural Doostang Team

Doostang Success in San Francisco!

Evan
Harvard, 2008

“I first started using Doostang right after graduation, without any real idea where I would go or what I would end up doing. Pre-crash, there was a bit more opportunity, and while I ended up finding success originally through a friend of a friend at a boutique branding and design firm, I stayed connected to Doostang just to see what else was out there. I knew that once I had been at my branding job in New York long enough, my connections and experience would open up some more doors. I hoped that Doostang would help me out as well.

Unfortunately for me, the economic crisis coincided with a real crisis of faith at my old job. In February 2009, I restarted the job hunt in earnest, having realized it was necessary for me to move on from my current position. It’s an understatement to say that jobs in advertising and marketing in New York were scarce; basically all the old channels I had employed previously in my job hunt had dried up.

The only place I could find any interesting (or available) jobs was Doostang.

I began checking each day and sending out resumes almost exclusively through Doostang by the end of February.

About a month later, I sent out my resume for a social media consultant position in San Francisco. I received an email from the firm a week later – which began a very intensive and successful interview process. I flew out to San Francisco soon after and received an offer within a week. I’ve been working at Page One PR now since the beginning of July, and I couldn’t be happier with my experience.

Looking back on it, I think Doostang was the best job search tool I could have asked for to get me here.

Because the community is of such high quality, it helped me find the job I was best suited for. It just shows that patience and focus, even in a down economy, can still yield some pretty great results.

Congratulations, Evan!

If you are interested in sharing your Doostang success story, contact Chelsea at chelsea@doostang.com

Happy Job Search,

The Doostang Team

How Doostang Helped Me Land My First Job Out of Grad School

This success story comes from a 2008 graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Aftering finishing graduate school in Fall 2008, I spent about 6-7 months searching for a job. As everyone knows, the job market was not kind to recent graduates, and I was trying anything and everything to land a job - from attending conferences to cold calling people. I was convinced that the traditional method of sending a resume and cover letter through a job search engine was not going to cut it in this environment. However, Doostang was the remarkable exception to this rule. I was beginning to find myself receiving more interviews through positions I applied for on Doostang than via any other means.

“…the epic long search ended with me finding an amazing position, in the exact field I wanted through simply clicking ‘Send’ on Doostang!”

So of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised when the epic long search ended with me finding an amazing position, in the exact field I wanted, through simply clicking ‘Send’ on Doostang!  I think the true value in this site is that you can be pretty confident that someone is reading your application – and you are always given a real person to follow-up with. In true social networking fashion, you are connected to recruiters and employers in a reliable way. When people ask me how I found my job, I always love to tell the story of how I was trying everything in the book – and in the end it was Doostang that faciliated the opportunity that I was looking for!

If you are interested in sharing your story, please contact Chelsea at ckemp@doostang.com!