The Importance of Your Alumni Network in Your Job Search

Summer Associate, New York, NY
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You’ve probably heard that your alumni network is an invaluable resource for finding a great job or getting your foot in the door at a great company, but has that really sunken in?  Many people turn to a plethora of other resources before they consider hitting up their alumni networks, when this may be the first place they should start looking.

An alumni network is an ideal source to start your search because this is where you have access to the individuals who came before you, and who had an experience as close to yours as you can probably get.  They lived in the same dorms, were a part of the same organizations, took classes from the same professors – in short, they were in your shoes before you were.  Because of this, even if they can’t get you a job, they can give you very valuable advice on where to start looking, or introduce you to the people that can do more for you.  They can also warn you against making some of the same mistakes that they did.

Don’t feel awkward about reaching out – given your similar background, alums will likely feel a strong personal connection toward you, and most will love an opportunity to give back to their school.  The bottom line is, alums from your school will probably be eager to help you, and you should take advantage of this opportunity.

To track down the appropriate person to speak to, start with your college career center.  They will likely have a directory of individuals who are ready to help out.  Bear in mind, too, that any person you find in a directory is someone who has probably given permission for students to contact them, and so they won’t be surprised when they receive your call or email.

Another strategy is to look online or turn to alumni chapters in your city if you are already out of college.  Again, it’s reasonable to assume that if someone’s contact information is in a directory, then they are fine with you getting in touch with them.

When you finally establish contact with an alum, it’s important to treat them with the respect that anyone else deserves.  Remember to be gracious, send thank you notes, and drop them an occasional line to let them know how you are doing and what progress you have made – alums get excited about helping out because they are interested in hearing about the cool things future classes do with their lives!

So go out there and start networking!

The Doostang Team

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How to Leave a Job on a Good Note

1st-Year M&A Analyst, New York, NY
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Saying “sayonara” to a job can be a tearful transition or the greatest day of your life.  But no matter what your thoughts are on leaving your job, it’s important that you leave on a good note.  Here are a few things you can do to ensure a tactful farewell:

Give Appropriate Notice

Make sure that you give at least the standard two weeks notice when you are resigning your post.  Quitting in a huff may feel like the right thing to do in the moment, but it will come back to haunt you in the future – there’s no need to burn any bridges or risk having a former bitter boss badmouth you to a hiring manager.  If you can give more than two weeks notice, that’s great, and only leaves more time for the company to take the necessary steps to ensure a smooth transition on their end.

Write Thank You Notes

It’s a nice touch to write thank you notes to people such as your boss, peers you worked closely with, and others who made an impact on you at your job.  These are the people you spent every day with, collaborating on projects together and learning from.  Thank them for what they taught you and for the time you spent together – they’ll really appreciate the gesture and will be excited to see you succeed in the next phase of your career.

Tie Up Loose Ends

In your remaining time at a company, make sure to work hard through your end date.  While it may be tempting to slack off given the lack of immediate repercussions, it demonstrates that you don’t care and can tarnish your office reputation.  Do what you can to finish up projects, hand off remaining work to other individuals, and help set up the person who will be replacing you.  If you can, offer to train your replacement.

Celebrate

Do something on your last day to mark your farewell to the company – and to the individuals with whom you spent so much time during your days there.  Go out to lunch, bring in cupcakes, make a toast… do something to recognize that you appreciate the people around you and are leaving on good terms.  That way, your farewell will feel more like a celebration of your time there, rather than like an awkward goodbye.

Some of us just hate goodbyes, but don’t let your distaste for them leave a bad taste in your company’s mouth.  Follow the proper etiquette, be gracious, and have a little fun, and you’ll be sure to make a grand exit!

Hasta la vista, baby!!

The Doostang Team

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Fire Up your Job Search by Broadcasting Strengths!

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

Operations Analyst, New York, NY
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Think in Terms of Strengths

Being unemployed, under-employed, or under-appreciated in your current job can erode confidence.  In order to “fire up” your job search, you may need to re-assess the strengths you are emphasizing.  Follow these simple strategies to shift to a position of strengths.

1)    Brainstorm about what you love to do.  This first list should be exhaustive, including strengths from work and personal areas of your life.

2)    List specific skills developed throughout your work history.

3)    What results did you achieve from strengths listed in the first 2 steps? Review positive comments, good performance evaluations, or actual awards to jog your memory.

4)    Think of job requirements for positions in which you are currently interested, and combine the top 2 or 3 items from each of the areas above that you want to emphasize. Use this information to create an “elevator” speech for yourself – a brief, 30-second to 1-minute summary to describe your assets, not a laundry list, but a mini-story. Consider the director pitching his new movie project to a potential producer, or the inventor describing her idea to a potential investor. This becomes your “pitch” – a brief overview of strengths that set you apart from the crowd by outlining what you can do for the potential employer.

Write it Down

Why write it down?  It helps you own the statement.  Not only does seeing the statement in writing help you feel more confident, but it also helps you begin to believe it more strongly yourself.  However, if you notice what you have written down actually rings false or makes you question strengths you have identified, then something about what you have written “doesn’t fit”.  Stretching yourself to fit a particular job opening can be positive, but stretching the truth is never wise. If you can’t believe it yourself, the hiring manager will struggle, too.  Compare your “pitch” with what you created for the first 3 steps above.  Pay attention to how you feel in reviewing the lists and you will be able to fine-tune your pitch into an authentic statement of your strengths.

Practice

Making a brief statement of your strengths isn’t easy.  Practicing the statement will make you feel more comfortable and help you prepare to use it whenever the opportunity arises.

1)    Use the old “in front of the mirror” technique to help you own your new view of yourself, just like you did in speech class or for that first presentation at the office.

2)    Ask family and friends to serve as an audience – request honest feedback about your delivery – how believable are you?  If you don’t believe what you’re saying, it will show. They may notice it even if you didn’t.

3)    Use your network to practice.  Perhaps a small group of job seekers – whom you trust – can try out elevator pitches on each other and incorporate comments to improve the approach.

Networking Contact Follow-up

Remember to follow up after any type of networking contact, whether casual or formal. Incorporate your “pitch” into the follow-up correspondence.  You can send a “thank-you”, “nice-to-see-you”, or “I believe we have a mutual acquaintance” note – all of which can include a comment about your strengths.

Examples of situations where you might send a follow-up note include:

1)    Casual contact (“nice to see you”)

2)    Initial Meeting (“nice to meet you”)

3)    Job Fair Follow-up (“I enjoyed learning about your company and how closely my experience aligns with your needs.”)

4)    Introduction from a friend (“I believe we have a mutual acquaintance, Bob Smith, who suggested I contact you as my strengths could benefit your organization.”)

5)    Thank you (for any suggestion of an opportunity). Even though thank you letters may seem old-fashioned, they can be effective for that very reason – they set you apart from the crowd!

You can be sure the competition isn’t shy about broadcasting strengths and achievements, and their boldness could walk them right into your dream job! You have golden embers smoldering in your work history that, if stoked, will “fire up” your job search. Write down those strengths, practice your “pitch”, then confidently broadcast it!


About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

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Add Punch to Your Follow Up Letter

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC GetInterviews.com

follow-upPrivate Equity Analyst, New York, NY
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An effective job search includes many facets and different steps. Most people know to submit their resume to job ads and some even make sure the resume is accompanied by a cover letter. Unfortunately, that is where the process stops for most job seekers. Few go the extra mile and use a powerful follow up letter to further market their career experience. Because it is a step rarely taken by job seekers, it makes those who do send a follow up letter stand out all the more. A great follow up letter can be the deciding factor in winning the interview or the job!

A follow up letter is generally sent one or two times in the job search. First, a follow up letter can be sent within a period of time after the resume and cover letter have been remitted to the employer. In this case, the follow up letter works to achieve branding or name recognition for you in the mind of the employer. The more contact you establish with the employer, the more likely you are to receive attention. Getting attention in this overheated, crowded job market is vital!

For this use of the follow up letter, don’t simply restate or rephrase what you said in your cover letter. Make sure to reiterate your interest but be more proactive. Provide an extra tidbit of information you did not mention in your first cover letter. Maybe draw a quote from a recent news article that relates in some way to the company in order to show you are paying attention to its needs. You could also reference the latest press release from the company website. Anything to show you are not just another job seeker making the rounds of resume distribution. Show you know something about the company and are interested in its success!

You can also take a more proactive approach to contact plans in the follow up letter. If you closed your cover letter with something along the lines of “I would like the opportunity to meet with you. Please feel free to call me”, you are taking a passive, reactive stance to communication. Take the opportunity within the follow up letter to be more proactive and state you will be contacting them again on a certain date. Be careful to follow through with that statement, though! Don’t say you are going to call or email and then not do it; it will reflect badly on your candidacy.

A second use of a follow up letter comes after the interview and can really make a huge impact on the likelihood of being called for a second interview or even being offered the job. In the follow up to the interview letter, don’t just thank the interviewer for his/her time and information. Bring up something specific that was discussed about the company or position and offer constructive comments. For example, if the hiring manager noted they were experiencing difficulties in the department with turnover, comment upon some possible solutions or approaches to resolving that problem. Demonstrate to the hiring manager you were paying attention, have given the problem some thought, and have some fresh ideas to bring to the table. Remember, employers are looking for problem solvers!

Whether you are sending a follow up letter to your resume submission or a follow up letter to an interview, you need to bring new material into the document. You are already going a step further than most other job seekers so really make it count. Customize the follow up letter with fresh information about your qualifications or something about the company. Discuss a topic covered in the interview that relates to the company and not just to you. Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. The extra effort will pay off!

About the Author:

Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

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New Year’s Guide to the Job Search – 5 Steps to Landing a New Job

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A New Year marks the beginning of a new and improved you. It also marks the beginning of a new job search season, meaning it’s time to leave your old job-seeking ways behind and embrace the new, more organized, more prepared you – someone who lands a new job with ease.

So here at Doostang we composed a check-off list of vital job application steps for all job seekers to consider. Make sure you have these 5 steps down and you’ll be fulfilling that “New Job in the New Year” resolution in no time.

1. It All Starts with the Resume

The first step to securing an interview (and hopefully a job) is having a superb resume. Begin by proofreading your resume for any grammatical and spelling errors, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What’s more important is that the skills and experiences you’re listing are relevant to the specific job you’re applying for, so that the hiring manager can be convinced that you’re capable of doing the job he or she is hiring for. That means every resume you send out needs to be tailored to the position you’re trying to get.

You may think your resume is top notch, but getting a second (and third, and fourth) opinion never hurts, so get some input from your friends as well. And if you want to be absolutely sure in the quality of your resume, get feedback from an expert and get a professional resume critique.

If you need more in-depth guidance on resume-writing, you can find our collection of resume tips and advice here.

2. Always Include a Cover Letter

Every resume you send out should be accompanied by a cover letter. And just as you would personalize a resume, a cover letter should also be custom-tailored to the job you’re applying for. This is your chance to expand on your resume and prove to the person reading that you have the skills necessary to do the job they’re hiring for.

Keep the length under one page and take the time to proofread, as spelling errors can quickly disqualify you from the race. And make sure you’re not making any of these deadly cover letter errors.

3. Pick Up the Phone

Phone interviews are commonly used as the preliminary step to weed out unqualified candidates, so chances are your first actual conversation with the company will be over the phone. This step should not be taken lightly, so do your research ahead of time and be as prepared as you would be for an actual in-person interview.

Use the fact that the interviewer can’t see you to your advantage and have your materials in front of you – your resume, company info, questions for the interviewer, and whatever else will aid you in that initial conversation.

Always answer with a professional greeting. “This is John Smith speaking” will impress your potential employers much more than a puzzled “Hello?” The same goes for your answering machine, so while you’re in the process of applying to jobs, replace that quirky voice-mail you recorded back in high school with a professional-sounding message.

Another tip – stand up while you’re speaking on the phone. Your voice will project louder, making you sound more energetic and positive.

4. Questions Questions Questions

Although there’s no way to know for sure what you will be asked in any given interview, there are ways to make sure you’re as ready as you can be. Be prepared to go over your resume and explain every point in detail – that’s almost a given in any interview.

Examples speak volumes, so have some stories ready that highlight your achievements. When you’re asked a seemingly random question about how you handle challenges or your work style, use a relevant back-up story as a supporting point – your interviewer will be impressed.

Keep in mind – what the hiring manager is really trying to find out is (1) do you understand what the job entails? and (2) can you actually do the job? Prove to them that both of these are true and you’ll can be sure you left a positive impression.

And make sure you have a set of questions ready to ask as well. Remember you’re interviewing the company too, so use the chance to see if the job is a good fit for you.

5. Giving Thanks (And a Reason to Hire You)

The Thank You Note is the final step to securing that job. It’s not just your chance to be polite and thank the interviewers for their time (please do) but also your chance to remind everyone you’ve interviewed with why you’re perfect for the role and seal the positive impression you’ve made on them.

As with everything else, make sure to personalize your note and reference some of the things you and the interviewer talked about so that he or she can easily remember who you are.

For a more thorough look into what you should include in your Thank You Note, you can read all the details here.


So once you’re ready to apply to that fantastic job on Doostang, go down this list and make sure you have every step down. When you’ve mastered all the steps in the process, you should have no trouble fulfilling the career portion of your New Year’s resolutions.

Happy New Year!
The Doostang Team
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10 New Year’s Resolutions to Help You Land a New Job

land-a-jobWith this year coming to an end, it’s time to make some New Year’s resolutions. And if you’re looking for a new job in the new year, here at Doostang we composed a list of job search resolutions all job seekers should take to heart.

1. I Will Apply to More Jobs

This is logical – the more job applications you submit, the greater the chances that someone will actually review your resume, invite you for an interview, and offer you the spot. Creating simple rules for yourself, such as “I will apply to at least 3 jobs a day” or “I will average 15 job applications a week” is the first step, so start spending more time on Doostang.

2. I Will Focus on the Jobs that Matter

Don’t just amp up the quantity of job applications, do it strategically. Don’t apply for positions you’re blatantly underqualified for, and – this goes without saying – don’t apply for positions you’re not interested in, just to fill your daily quota. The less time you waste applying to jobs that are out of your league, the more time you will have to focus on the opportunities that really matter.

3. I Will Perfect My Resume

You may think you’ve perfected your resume already, but is it really at its full potential? Doubtful. Remember that your review is bound to be biased and try to look at your resume from the perspective of someone who’s never met you. Can a stranger get a good reading of what you can bring to the table? Can they tell what you actually did at your last job? Are all the jobs and responsibilities you have listed relevant?

4. I Will Have Someone Else Review My Resume

A fresh, outside perspective can shed light on things you may have missed in your review, so ask a friend to go over your resume with you. Or better yet, get a professional resume critique and you can be sure nothing gets overlooked.

5. I Will Personalize Every Application

Make sure you personalize your materials to the job you’re applying for. No need to make massive changes to your resume every time, but it is important that the experiences and skills you’re listing are highly relevant. Make a separate list of all of your accomplishments and responsibilities. For every job you’re applying for, go down the list and pick the most relevant ones – those are what needs to go on your resume, the rest you can leave out.

6. I Will Write a Cover Letter for Every Job

Always include a cover letter with every resume you send out. It will give you a better chance to elaborate on your experiences and skills as they relate to the position you’re applying for. And as with resumes, make sure each cover letter is targetted to the job you’re applying for.

7. I Will Come Prepared to Every Interview

Do the research before every interview and get as much detail about the company and the position you’re applying for as possible. Try to figure out ahead of time what kind of person the employer wants to hire for the spot, then show the interviewer that you possess the desired skills.

8. I Will Have Better Answers for the Interviewer

Odds are your interviewer will ask you to elaborate on your employment history. Prepare this summary ahead of time and make sure it supports and enhances everything you’ve listed on your resume. When answering questions, give concrete examples that prove your point. Take some time to think of stories that illustrate some of your strengths: an example of you skillfully handling conflict, a story that shows that you’re a dedicated worker, and so on. Write these down and study them before your interviews, so that when you are, in fact, asked if you’re a team player, you can not only answer affirmatively but have a supporting story ready as well.

9. I Will Prepare Questions for the Interviewer

Don’t forget to have a list of insightful questions ready for your interviewer. Ask things that show that you’ve done your research and are eager to know more. Perhaps the most important question to ask is what problem the employer is trying to solve by hiring someone for this spot. Once you find out what the challenges are, show the interviewer how you’re the right person for the task. And remember, this is also your chance to get more details about the position and see if it’s a good fit for you.

10. I Will Always Write a Thank You Note

This is a vital but sadly, often overlooked step in the application process. A Thank You note is your final chance to make your mark on the interviewer, so don’t take this step lightly. Try to send it within 24 hours of your interview and reference some of the things you’ve discussed during the interview so that the interviewer can easily recall who you are. And of course, use the Thank You note to remind the interviewer why you’re right for the job and what you can bring to the company.


And there you have it job seekers, if you take these 10 Doostang resolutions seriously and make them your own, job search in the new year should be a breeze. Good luck!

Wishing you much career success in the new year,
The Doostang Team!

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