This guest post was written by Heather Carpenter, a Faculty Co-op Coordinator in the College of Engineering.
It was only a few years ago that I myself was on the dating scene. Often the case one of my friends would say, “Do you know [insert name here]. You would love him! Want me to set you up?” Before I would commit I knew I had to Google the guy. What was he all about? Who did we know in common? Why was he single? And most importantly, did he have a job?
Dating is very similar to finding a job or co-op. There have been great books written about the subject (Courting Your Career by Shawn Graham) but people often don’t see the parallel. I hope the following tips will help with your career dating life.
- Change your attitude. After being on the dating scene for a while it can start to feel discouraging when dates do not work out, and the same is true for the job search. You may wonder why people aren’t calling you for an interview or why you never get the offer. If this is happening to you, you should definitely ask for some advice. Have someone review your resume and practice an interview with you. If you go into the search with a bad attitude you will get bad results, so re-engage, get re-energized, and re-align your tactics.
- Know who you’re going to meet. Anyone who has been on a blind date knows the importance of internet stalking. The same is true for prospective employers, except you’re allowed to say you researched the company without coming off as a creep. Once you find a good company figure out who you know there that might be a good person to meet, and who might be able to introduce you. LinkedIn is a great tool to use to do this, and so is the Career Development Office. Find out when employers will be on-campus and take advantage of this face-to-face time!
- Help them get to know you. Chances are they are going to check you out at some point too. Give them something that displays all your accomplishments and hides your faults. Build a great LinkedIn profile and protect or clean up the rest of your online image. Your skills are the most important thing to display, so upload samples of your work or create a professional (and well proofread) portfolio that demonstrates your abilities to do the job.
- Ask questions. The best way to have a successful date is to show the person you’re interested in them. This works great with companies too, so be prepared with what you want to know – and asking how much they pay or if they are going to hire you does not cut it! Show you are engaged in their work, and that you have done your research.
- Find out about a second date. Career fairs are a great place to meet employers for the first time but are best used as networking tools, not necessarily to find a job that day. Ask for an opportunity to sit down with a recruiter or to meet a manager for an informational interview. This is your chance to really learn about the company in a 20 minute meeting, and potentially also get your foot in the door. This technique can be used to access people within your network as well.
- Be ready to give your number. You never know who you are going to meet where, so get a business card to be ready. It should have your name, major, Linkedin profile url, email and phone number on it. It doesn’t need to be pretentious, just professional.
- Tell them you had a great time. After you have the business card or the contact information or that first interview – DO SOMETHING! Write a nice thank you email that tells the employer how excited you are about the company, ask for the informational interview, or follow-up in any manner they may have requested of you when you met in person. Don’t drop the ball here or you may never have a chance for a second impression.
Dating and finding a job can both be stressful – but imagine the relief when you say yes to that offer and are in a committed relationship for the next couple years. Doing all of the work up front will ensure you find the right match for you so you don’t have to be back on the dating scene anytime soon.
Heather Carpenter is a Faculty Co-op Coordinator in the College of Engineering. In her previous lives she has worked in career services, non-profit, mental health, and criminal justice. She strongly believes in the value of experiential education and is pursuing her EdD to investigate the topic further! Connect with a witty message on Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/hmcarpenter.