Monday, April 18, 2011

How to land a job in Philly: Panel discussion with local employers

Bonnie Sermons
Career Development Services hosted its second annual job search panel on March 24, "How to Land the Job: A Panel Discussion with Area Employers."

Peirce students and alumni had the opportunity to speak with seven panelists who have extensive experience the hiring process and understand what it takes to get a job today:
The panelists spoke about their experiences in the field, what they look for in potential candidates, and pitfalls to avoid during a job search. They fielded questions about interview preparation, resume writing, and transitioning into new careers. A few tips stood out:

Don't rely solely on the Internet. Eric Birkelbach stressed the importance of networking and making relationships. He said, “five minutes of networking makes more of a difference than five hours on Monster.com.” Look for local networking events where you can rub shoulders with professionals in your desired field.

Use your cover letter wisely. When transitioning to a new field, it's crucial that you're candid with potential employers about the change. This is often done in the cover letter, where you have an opportunity to discuss your background, highlight skills that are transferable to a new career, and explain why you want to make a switch.

Review your resume as if you were the one doing the hiring. Read the document critically. Is it free of spelling mistakes and typos? Is the structure pleasing to the eye? Is it easy to find relevant experience and impressive accomplishments? Does the objective match up with the job you're applying for? If you wouldn't be interested in meeting the person behind your resume, neither would employers.

Dawn Bruno
Hiring managers are looking for responsible, enthusiastic adults. And all communication with a potential employer should convey as much. Be prompt in your responses via e-mail and phone, and when you meet in person, be respectful, friendly, and show that you're willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. If you seem lackadaisical about your job search, you won't be a "go getter" in the position either.

Never plan to "wing it" in an interview. Just because you know what experience you have, doesn't mean you know how to talk about it. Practice very specific, concise responses to interview questions like: What were some of your accomplishments in your previous position? Why are you interested in this opportunity? And where do you see yourself in 10 years? Racquel Kelly suggested the acronym S.T.A.R. to discuss your accomplishments: Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Refer to a situation that reflects your work experience, the task that was set before you, the action that you took to achieve it, and the end results. The more you practice your answers, the more confident you'll be during the interview. Also, research the company and prepare your own set of questions. If you have nothing to ask the hiring manager, you might not seem very interested in the job.

Even if you have a ton of experience, a great GPA, and the degree employers are looking for, you can compromise your chances of landing a job if you don't take these tips to heart. Is there anything about the interview or job application process that you didn't get to ask the panel? Leave your question in a comment here or visit CDS for a one-on-one counseling session.