Job hunting skills
Dietmar.Tietz at agrar.uni-giessen.de
Fri Jul 29 07:37:18 EST 1994
>From: Deepti Pradhan <PXH at psuvm.psu.edu>
>To: "bionet.jobs mail newsgroup" <bionet-news at dl.ac.uk>
>Subject: Job fair related question
>I'd like some information regarding job fairs - viz., how
>useful have they been in your obtaining a job; if you choose to go, how
>formal are the interviews (attire-wise too, please :) ); what is the
>protocol once you get there [I've been told all you have to do is show up
>with 10 copies of your c.v. - then what???]; if they are held over more
>than one day, do the same employers show up each day or is it
>some way; any other helpful/useful pointers if one goes for a job fair.
>Please post answers here if possible. If I receive replies by mail, I will
>be happy to summarize them here.
>Thanks for your help,
Dear Deepti Pradhan:
It certainly cannot do any harm to go to job fairs, but don't expect too
I have been told about a USA Government job fair that they received
about 10,000 (!) resumes for just a few vacancies. Since they could not
read them all, they decided not to read any (equal opportunity
Going to a job fair, you should dress the way people dress in the job you
want. Keep on the more conservative side (unless you want to be an
artist). Try to contact as many people as you possibly can.
You should bring a number of resumes. Avoid spelling mistakes. Use a
high quality laser printer. Test your resume with some friends to find
out whether they can get the message really fast. Personnel
administrators will probably give you 10 to 15 sec. to read your CV.
Therefore, the top portion of your resume should have an attractive
summary highlighting your qualities. Limit your resume to well
organized 1-2 pages, otherwise, job recruiters will believe you cannot
focus on what is important. Government positions may require that you
type (no handwriting please) your career information on a special
form, i.e., SF-171 in the USA. Such forms are also available for
Macintosh and PC (use veronica to search gopher) and that makes it
much easier to produce many of them and adapt them for the position at
There are many more effective ways to get a job. This is how people
get a job (approximate numbers):
5 % responding to an ad
5 % headhunters
5 % job wanted ads
5 % other initiatives
80 % networking
What is networking all about?
1) Tell all your friends that you are looking for a job and what you
2) Talk to people who have a lot of contacts to other people, i.e., your
hair cutter, physician and dentist, priest, insurance agent, etc. A
friend of mine mentioned to an old lady on the street that he cannot afford the
fees to study at a reasonable university. Well, that lady's daughter
happened to work in the grant department of a famous university...
3) Informational interviewing: Talk to professionals in the field you
want to be. You can do this in person, by phone, by email, etc.
Important rule #1: Be polite and never take more than 20 minutes of
that person's time unless THEY want to talk longer.
Important rule #2: Don't ask them for a job. Such a job "threat" turns
off most people. Anyway, they will realize themselves that you are job
Important rule #3: Be prepared to talk about yourself. "Do you want
me to talk about myself?" is also a good way to get such an interview
going, if your partner does not talk at all. Concentrate on your
achievements, do not mention failures. No self-pity please! Such a self-
presentation should never last for more than 3 minutes. At the end of
these three minutes you may ask: "Do you want me to elaborate on
certain aspects?" This phrase is also great to break "minutes" of silence.
Important rule #4: Your interview partner should do most of the
talking, since YOU are the one who wants information. Ask him about
his profession, what he likes or doesn't, whether he could recommend
this career to a newcomer and what the prospects are.
Important rule #5: Before you leave, ask for the address of three
people who could give additional advice. This way you can build your
network and continue informational interviewing.
Important rule #6: Write a thank-you letter the same day (most people
don't bother). Something may come to their mind later and in such a
case they may remember you.
>> Informational interviewing is a great way for people with no <<
>> connections to eventually have good connections <<.
Informational interviewing brought me my job at the NIH in the USA.
One of the scientists I met in Germany just returned from the States.
Over there, he happened to meet a friend who had a vacancy. This
German scientist even wrote a nice recommendation for me to get me
A general rule of job hunting is to seek the personal contact. In the
famous job hunting guide "What color is your parachute?" they give the
following advice: "Paper is an insulator. Never let it get between
you and a future job opportunity".
There is much more to successful job hunting. If you live in the USA,
you may want to join Forty Plus, a nationwide non-profit career center
for professionals. There are over 20 locations. I am a former
President and still a life-time member of the Greater Washington DC
chapter. Norman Vincent Peale and some IBM people started this
organization more than 50 years ago in New York. Forty Plus gives
you a marvelous initial training (2 weeks 9 to 5) on writing resumes,
interviewing, networking and finding job leads. Many companies mail
or fax their job openings to them. They have lots of other helpful
resources (plus computers & laser printers). Also important is that you
will find many people sharing your interest: getting a job. You will
make new friends and they are a good networking source too. The only
"catch" is that you have to pay an initial fee and monthly fees (very
reasonable, about 10% of what a for-profit agency would charge you).
In addition, you have to work one day per week as a volunteer to keep
this organization going (nobody has a paid job there). However, you
can avoid volunteering by paying a little more money.
The skills I learned at Forty Plus continue to be very useful for me, not
only for job hunting.
I wish you good luck!
* Dietmar Tietz, Ph.D., Research Scientist *
* Biostatistics, Justus-Liebig-University *
* Ludwigstr. 27, D-35390 Giessen, Germany *
* Phone: +49-(641)-702-6015 *
* Fax: +49-(641)-702-5995 *
* Email: Dietmar.Tietz at Uni-Giessen.de *
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