Previously I wrote several articles on job hunting and career advancement but today I would like to share with you a couple of new insights that I have gathered over the past few months that particularly address HOW NOT TO FALL INTO THE TRAPS of so-called job hunting tips. You probably know many of these already, or you may be doing exactly the opposite of these, but it’s okay. These ideas should become common sense to you after you finish reading this piece, so bear with me.
Recruiters are only helpful when they need you, not when you need them!
The No.1 myth about job hunting is that “headhunters are angels and they will help you to land your next dream job”. Not exactly. First you need to understand how they actually profit from their job. They don’t earn any money from you directly but if the firm decides to hire you then they get paid by the firm. Which means, they will ONLY WANT TO HELP YOU if they think (or better yet, are certain) that you have a very good chance of getting the job! So if you are desperately in need of a job or you don’t necessarily have a strong profile or you behave as if you are hesitant, insecure, and not-that-confident, then the recruiters have absolutely no incentive to help you get connected (it’s sad but that’s the hard truth). This is exactly why you will ALWAYS get the most headhunter calls when you are still at your CURRENT JOB. If you already have a job, which means you are hirable, it immediately makes you more attractive. Does that make sense?
So if you have quitted your previous job or that you just graduated from b-school, you should honestly focus your time, as much as you can, away from recruiters. The only exception is that, i.e. on your LinkedIn profile you have already exhibited a proven strong track record of consistent top performance at multiple big firms, then whether or not you are currently employed is less of an issue.
Nice blog! Very informative and definitely helpful to me who is approaching graduation in a few months.
I read several articles of yours and wonder if you have talked about how to stand out in a conversation/info session where people are beyond talkative. I mean, I don’t think I’m a quiet person but I got frustrated at times when I couldn’t break into a conversation because they talk non-stop. Any tips to out-talk these people or be memorable in a good way (through talking etc)?
Thanks – K
I received the above message through Ask Danye a couple of days ago. Great great question, and probably quite a popular concern among many us young professionals and particularly women and internationals. So let me go through my thought process with you regarding this issue, and share some practical tips you can apply to your situation right away.
5 Practical Tips on BREAKING INTO A CONVERSATION
1. Understand your goals
It is important to understand, first of all, that you don’t always have to break into a conversation, especially if this very process gives you mental pressure. You should only focus on the situations when people are discussing important stuff (of course you need to decide what is important for you), and you should only even TRY to break into it when you actually have something important to say. Read more…
Let’s get started, and if you miss anything else on my blog, this is a MUST READ for 2011!
1. Success is a by-product.
Very few people start off their career knowing what they really want to do. But those who eventually become wildly successful are usually the ones who started off “having fun” with what they do. Having a genuine interest to “play with it” makes it so much easier for you to put passion and efforts into it, and gradually you build up your expertise along the way and naturally you become successful in due time.
2. It’s all about reactions.
Sometimes it may have to do with luck, but it’s very rare and almost impossible that luck is always on your side. I know it’s been several years, but Stay Hungry Stay Foolish by Steve Jobs is a must read. You don’t need to get cancer yourself to realize what’s important in life.
Apparently I was randomly selected from my college to participate in the 2010 National Survey of Recent College Graduates conducted by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and in the email it specifies that they cannot substitute another person for me given the process. I was also told that this important national study is the only source of data on the post graduation plans and experiences of recent graduates with bachelor’s or master’s degrees in natural sciences, social sciences, engineering, and health fields.
All sounds very interesting. But I want to direct your attention to one of the questions they asked me during the survey:
How much are you satisfied with your current job in the following respective aspects? And also, with a scale of 1-5, how would you rate the importance of each aspect to you?
In case you are one of those debating over several options, I want to list the 9 aspects below and my personal takeaways for each aspect, and to give you an idea of what questions you should ask yourself and your potential future colleagues, before making a decision on joining the firm/or switching to something else.
- An entry level base of 65,000 vs. 70,000 may not be a big difference, but a base of 45,000 vs. 70,000 would much likely raise a bigger question mark.
- How much is the rough increase every year?
- What is the industry-level pay for this type of position? Is the pay scale above or below average? How about bonus level?
I once had a banker friend who told me about his three magic words on his characteristics and qualifications for a banking position:
1. Good Attitude
2. Attention to details
3. Team player
And the next day, I randomly found a blog post by Investment Banking Interview Prep coming up with EXACTLY the same three qualities.
I was amazed but at the same time very disturbed. I wonder if these are really the answers an interviewer would be looking for; I wonder if it’s just for banking; I wonder if it’s THAT typical, and I wonder if these are really convincing enough, because I had a hard time being convinced!
I never held a position in banking, so I am not in a position to comment on this but a few of my close friends who claimed to excel in all the three above qualities have either left banking already, or have constantly complained about the long hours, the hierarchy, the shitty work they were dumped upon, and the criticism they got from their Associates/VPs. Yes, maybe as Seth nicely put it in his recent blog post: It’s unreasonable to treat your colleagues and competitors with respect given the pressure you’re under.
People still kill to get into banking, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong about that; but this is not a situation in which I want to put myself, and although I believe I am decently good with the three above qualities, I don’t think they really differentiate myself from anyone else and to some extent these three qualities don’t really address the fundamental issue of who I am as a person. So I came up with the three words below and let me explain why they are profoundly more powerful:
Firstly some updates from me: I know I have been writing about job hunting/networking a lot these days, but coming up next~~~ a post on writing new year objectives for young professionals, and then another post on some exciting advancement in my own career and how I managed to get there!
Also if you like what you see, you might want to consider “subscribing” to my blog via RSS or email, see top right on this web page! And help me to share or tweet the posts you enjoyed reading!
Now back to job-hunting~~~
It’s about the time of the year that college students start to get super worried about their “future”, and I feel obliged to write another article on job hunting. A few ladies recently reached out to me for more advice on getting an internship or full-time job (thanks again for complimenting on my blog btw, I am glad if my posts did help you in any way). And before you reach out directly to me again, READ THIS POST!
Please go directly to No.3 on the list if you are in a hurry.
I was at this Womensphere Summit on Emerging Global Leaders this past Saturday and the beautiful lady sitting beside me is a junior at Brown University majoring in International Relations (no surprise), and she is freaking out about what she is going to do for the rest of her life, especially when everyone starts talking about passion and building a solid career path.
This may be the stage you are at in your life and you are thinking about the same issues and you may be freaking out too, and if I were right, you actually go to a great school with top programs and your grades are decent. But you are still freaking out. Why? I know. I’ve been there before: There are simply too many options, and you could potentially do anything and everything. But you have no clue what you really want and how you should make such decisions.
Ok so here are some well-tested advices (by my own experience and by many others) on how to figure out your passion and make decisions on your junior internship and more importantly, your first full-time job. Bear with me.
Find a good NAME for your internship