Think Critically About Job Applications

Applying to jobs doesn’t mean finding a cool company name and just sending in your resume. That might be a good way to get your foot in the door, but actually reading the job description, listening to the full offer, and really getting into the interview can determine if the job is right for you.

Reading a job description sounds so simple. I’ve read hundreds of job descriptions on my current co-op search the past month or so. But reading them critically and focusing on what you will be doing is super important. Having had a few jobs previously, I find that I know what I want (and what I don’t want) when applying to jobs. Furthermore, if the job description is unclear, and you have an interview, ask at the interview! Just explain that you’d like to know more about the day-to-day activities of your potential job. This is what you might be doing for quite some time, so take that into thought! Use an interview to analyze the employer, the job, and the interviewer. As much as you are being interviewed, you are also interviewing the employer. Ask yourself: “Is this right for me?” and carry that thought throughout the interview.

When you receive a job offer, consider all aspects of it. From the benefits to the hours to the pay to the time commitment, all of it is 100% relevant. Honestly, I’ve turned down a job offer because it wasn’t what I wanted or needed that time. And I’ve accepted a job offer because of the benefits that came along with it (and of course, the job itself!). If you aren’t sure what something means, write it down and do some research. You aren’t the only one with these questions and delving into that offer is important.

Job Searching: Staying True to Your Values

This post was written by Michelle Dubow

Values. The core beliefs that drive every decision you make. This includes deciding on your next career opportunity – whether co-op, a full-time position post-graduation, graduate school, or another path on your vocational journey.

Many of us have been guilty of succumbing to the notion that a job offer is the ultimate goal (myself included). Here in Career Development, we support you through academic major choices, building your resume and cover letter, creating your professional brand through LinkedIn, searching and applying for jobs and continuing education, networking strategies, and mastering the interview that gets you an offer. But our role and your job DOES NOT STOP THERE!

When a company offers you a job, THEY have chosen YOU. To them, you fit into their organizational structure and would be an asset to the company. Congratulations! This is something to be very excited and proud about. But I encourage you to take a moment and think before jumping at the “yes.” Remember this: Job searching is a two-way street. THEY chose YOU and it is equally as important that YOU choose THEM as the professional organization to devote your time and energy into.

Why is this so important?

You spend the majority of your week working for or talking about the job that you hold. As an adult, it is often how you first identify around friends, family, and new connections. If you are working for an organization that makes you happy, your morale will be higher in all aspects of your life in and out of the office. I am a firm believer that you work to live, not the other way around. If you are not invested in the work that you are doing or the morals of the company you are employed by, it can easily drag you down and have you hopping from job to job before you expected to transition. Evaluating the company as a match before you accept the offer can help you achieve fulfillment in the long term – even if that means taking the risk to wait for a better offer.

How can you decide if it’s a professional match?

Take a hard look back at your values – we can help you with this through some self-assessment if you are having trouble realizing what is of utmost importance in this decision-making process. To start, you can ask yourself where you stand on:

  • Work conditions (change vs. stability in your position, autonomy vs. teamwork, flexibility vs. structure)
  • Purpose (ethical standpoint, helping others, role in society, importance of political/global issues such as diversity & inclusion, sustainability, etc.)
  • Lifestyle (work-life balance, friendship in the workplace, family-friendliness, importance of health and wellness)

Once you identify where you stand, you can see if the company aligns with your greatest values.

Where can you find a company’s values?

Uncovering this information starts when you begin researching a company before you apply, continues through the interview process, and is presented upon receiving your offer. A company’s website often shares its mission and values on its “About Us” section. You can also gain some great information by conducting informational interviews with employees at your company of interest that fall in your network – for example, Northeastern alumni who are or have been employed by this organization. If you are still unsure of the company values, you can incorporate a question about this at the conclusion of your formal interview.

Now that you understand yourself and the company a bit more, you are in a place to make an informed decision. I hope YOU are empowered to choose THEM. Job searching is a two-way street. Look both ways and you will be much happier making it to the other side.

Michelle DuBow is a Northeastern alum excited to be giving back to her fellow Huskies as a Career Advisor at NU. She has a passion for empowering students from academic major decisions through the job search, with great interest in multicultural counseling. Outside of work, she loves the performing arts and is always searching for a new adventure in her favorite city of Boston. Tweet her about this article at @CareerCoachNU

Pre-Interview Work

Applied to job(s)? Check. Phone call for an interview? Check. Interview? Not yet.

Pre-interview prepping is crucial and can make you a standout applicant in the pool. This can seem tedious and you may not think you have time for it with everything else already on your plate. However, it shows the interviewers that you are educated about the company, what they do and stand for, and what’s to come.

Where to start: the “About Us” section. This is where I’ll first get an idea about the company, their mission, and leadership. You can learn a lot about a company from these few paragraphs. This is also good to look at before even applying to decide if you might even be a good fit for the company. For me, if I don’t stand with the company values, I might find it hard to see myself working there.

Next up: research. For whatever type of job you’re looking for, whether it be management, research, clinical work, or design, look at what the company is currently doing. As someone looking for bio-based research, I’ll do this by reading recent publications by the particular research team. It’ll show the employer that you know what they are focusing on, what they found, and it’s a good point to ask questions about the research. Asking questions is always a difficult thing to do, but this at least gives you content to ask about.

These two points of “work” before the interview will make you more prepared going into the conversation. You’ll learn about the company and the kind of work you might be a part of, while showing the interviewers your interest in the work.