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Freelance Girl Working at Home Sitting on Sofa with Laptop and Cat
Illustration by Irina Strelnikova from Shutterstock

As the spring and summer months are racing towards us, many of you may already be looking for job opportunities and applying for open positions. I have asked a successful, driven, and dedicated young professional – who happens to be my sister-in-law – a range of questions regarding her job search experience, as well as her advice on everything from CV/resume writing, to interview etiquette.

Where do you live?

I live in Manhattan, NYC. 

What is your current job?

I am the Office Manager at a fertility center in NYC – I handle all the administrative tasks such as staff scheduling, hiring, training; payroll; financial advising for patients and insurance verification; laboratory compliance; relations vendors, etc. 

How long did it take you to find the job you are currently at?

It took me three months – from the day I started applying to the day I got hired. 

What have you found to be the most surprising aspect of job hunting?

Two things: 

The number of “fake ads” out there – not real jobs; just recruiting agencies trying to get you as a candidate that they would find a placement for. The agency gets a cut or a hiring fee from the company that would hire you, so they are trying to play intermediaries. So you’ll find an amazing job offer, you apply and get a response right away (which is already a red flag, to be honest), you show up to the interview only to realize that it’s not a REAL job, just an agency. It happened to me a couple of times, I felt slightly “ripped off”. Nothing wrong with agencies though! I did not find my job through an agency, however, recruiters did give me good advice and helped me rewrite my resume so at least I got something out of it. 

The lack of responses. Sorry to be brutal but it’s the truth. You apply to a few jobs that you think you’re the PERFECT fit for – how could they NOT hire you, you’re practically doing them a favor applying for that job that clearly has your name written all over it… Then radio silence. Not even a “thank you for applying”. And that happens time and time again. It’s actually a good lesson on humility, don’t overestimate yourself, keep pushing, and don’t take anything for granted. 

What is your advice to someone who is struggling to find open positions that they are interested in? What should one do in the meantime?

You have to be open-minded! If you are young, just graduated, barely have any work experience, how do you even know what your dream job is? How can you want something you know nothing about? Obviously, you have areas of interest, maybe a specific degree… But we are no longer in an era where your degree in X will get you a life-long job in X. And there’s nothing depressing about it – you can do absolutely anything that you want! My original field is languages, and I ended up in the medical field. I never expected it, but I absolutely love it. But also, if you get a job and you realize that you don’t actually enjoy it after a while, then look for another, simple as that! You’re never stuck in time, or in a particular field/area, or at a certain level… You decide what you want to do with your whole career from A to Z.  

In your opinion, how important is networking? What advice do you have for someone who is afraid to reach out to others?

It’s not essential. If you’re afraid of networking, then don’t do it. It’s more useful to network with people in your industry when you already have a job. There’s nothing wrong with networking either. My husband found a fantastic job opportunity because of networking and he ended up getting the position. But at the end of the day, YOU get yourself the job, not anyone else. Go for it if you want, but if you don’t like it, skip it and you’ll be just fine.

At your current job, how are you involved in the hiring process?

Whenever my boss (the Medical Director) and myself decide we need to open a new position, or we need to replace someone, I type up an offer and have my boss okay it (at this point I have templates to make it easier). I’ll post in on the relevant job pages (LinkedIn, Indeed, medical portals), sort out the resumes and keep the good ones, line up interviews, usually a phone interview with myself first; then set up a face-to-face interview with my boss and me. From there, we decide what we do with the candidate. 

What is something that you look for or like to see when reading cover letters?

I don’t read cover letters! No time for that in NYC. You better have a good resume that catches my eye instead. 

What advice would you give to someone who is preparing themselves for an interview?

A very important thing to me is being punctual. Do not show up late, and if you can’t help it because you are stuck on the train or something, call the place and let them know! Also, don’t do anything extravagant with your outfit. Nobody will pay attention really unless you make a fashion faux pas like wearing leopard sneakers (true story). Dress appropriately for the location and job type.

Another thing: don’t overthink the fact that you are going to be nervous, because you will be no matter what. Embrace it, stress is normal. Personally, I don’t care if a candidate is a bit stressed out during an interview, I don’t expect anything different, as long as they can remain articulate and answer my questions and show me who they are, I’m happy!

In your opinion, when you are interviewing a candidate which characteristics capture your attention, positively or negatively?

At the risk of sounding cliché, a smile goes a long way! I want to see someone with the right attitude. If I ask them if they would be able to come very early in the morning if ever needed, I expect a resounding yes, not an “eh maybe” (true story again). At the same, don’t lie, because if you have family obligations for instance that would prevent you from coming early, then that’s understandable. 

Don’t spend hours studying the company’s website in case they quiz you, there’s a good chance they are not going to, but be prepared to showcase your knowledge/expertise/experience on the position you’re applying for.

If someone may not fit all of the criteria for a job posting but could really see themselves doing the job well, should they still take the chance and apply?

I would say it depends on the “missing criteria”! If it’s going to be a real issue, don’t bother. If it’s a detail that could be adjusted with time, go for it. For example, if you are a newly graduated medical assistant, you don’t know yet how to draw blood but you have good soft skills from working retail, you are still a good candidate. But if you don’t know how to draw blood, and you’ve never handled patients or customers before, not so much. 

Do you have any advice for those looking for a job during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Don’t think about Covid when applying, at the end of the day the process is still the same. The good thing is, there are a lot more remote positions now, so you’re not stuck to one area (that being said, I don’t recommend starting applying internationally, pick your country, international candidates are rarely considered). Another good thing, you don’t have to worry about the clammy handshake at the beginning of an interview since we don’t do that anymore :)

What are your tips on writing a resume? 

  • NO TYPOS, NO PUNCTUATION ERRORS PLEASE! A sloppy resume is unacceptable, proofread it a million times (and more important have someone else read and edit it).
  • Don’t think that a long resume is better than a short one, and don’t fluff things up too much. If you worked at a fast-food restaurant, I don’t need a whole paragraph explaining that you were an Executive Burger-Client Relationship Development Expert. No. You won’t fool anyone. But it means you know how to work in a fast-paced environment and you can keep up with pressure, that’s the key point. 
  • Don’t waste time with the obvious in your resume. You might think it’s cool to put in there that you have an online certificate for Excel or Word – don’t bother, every company expects you to know how to the major platforms (G suite, Microsoft Office).
  • Don’t put your date of birth or picture (at least here in the U.S. it’s a no-no).
  • No hashtags of any kind, way too corny! 
  • Only put the RELEVANT stuff in your resume. It means you WILL need different versions of your resume depending on the job you’re applying for, don’t send out the exact same one every time. 

Good luck!

*For all of those at KCL, don’t forget to check out the KCL careers and employability page for the latest job postings. Numerous positions we have access to are not advertised on other sites, such as Indeed or LinkedIn*

 

Julia is a postgraduate student studying International Conflict Studies at King's College London. Originally from the Greater Boston area, she enjoys English weather but will always be a sucker for the cold, snowy winters and hot, humid summers of New England. She wouldn't mind spending her career behind a computer, whether researching and writing about past and present events in the international sphere, or writing more fun and creative lifestyle pieces.
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