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.
I know I have been away for a while. I have been traveling for business (and leisure) in Asia for the past 4 months. I was in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Macau, and multiple places in Mainland China. I met many interesting people, faced many challenging situations, and there are things that I like and not like about this whole experience, which I will gradually share with you later on. I am also in the process of building a brand new website that will EXPAND the topics of my writing, the bandwidth of knowledge that I am sharing, the broader audience I can reach out to, and the ways how I can communicate to each one of you. I look to launch my new website in the near future by which time my wordpress articles will be migrated. So please stay tuned and I would love to celebrate together with you when that becomes official.
But one thing that has been on my mind for the longest time is: Why am I not relocating back to Asia? I had multiple conversations with senior managers from different teams in our Asian offices, and one of the really senior guys gave me this look when I told him I was born and raised up in China, went to college in the US and have been working in NY ever since, and he almost started yelling at me:
What the hell are you still doing in New York?!
I really want to hear your insights on how to follow up with people I just met with such as alumni or high profile people. After the first acquaintance, I usually don’t know what to say to them through email or phone since we barely see each other. At the same time, I’m afraid that too many emails of questions or holiday wishes would annoy them. But I want to make a good impression because I may need their help at some point. Would you please elaborate how you maintain the relationship with your contacts?
Thank you – N
Another great question from Ask Danye, you guys are really awesome awesome inspirations! And I want to reassure you that the very fact you are writing this email to me means you take initiatives and that you are on the right track: yes, you do need to reach out to people BEFORE you actually need help from them. And here’s how to do it:
- Make it extremely easy for them
- Keep it very short (the 3 steps)
- Watch your tone (some do’s and don’ts)
- Write it already
Make it extremely easy for them
Senior people are busy people, so if you want them to do just about anything in the world, you need to make it super easy for them. I recently coordinated with HR, Yale Alums at my firm, and Women Initiatives for an informational/networking/recruiting event with Smart Woman Securities, a women organization from Yale. I pushed very hard for the event to happen obviously since we don’t really recruit on campus, and there’s tons of coordination work. But I got affirmative response from EVERY SINGLE person I reached out to and everyone is super excited to help me, even Harvard alums!
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…
So this is bonus season again and despite how much you DON’T want to hear discussions about it, people talk about what they are getting, people express feelings of dissatisfaction or content, and people start thinking about other options.
Especially for young professionals who just entered the workplace in the past one or two years, this is a crucial question you might want to ask yourself: should I stay? Or should I go for another firm?
Wait ~~~7 Key Reasons to hold off jumping to somewhere else!
1. You have been there for no more than 6 months
You typically need 6-8 months to get used to a new job anyway. It is hardly a smart decision to leave already before you give yourself enough time to get comfortable with the day-to-day work.
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: