Latest update: December 31st, 2012
“I need a professional-looking resume and great interviewing skills, how long will it take to develop them?” “I’ve just been downsized, I need to update my resume and start looking again; can you help me?” “I received an offer that is lower than I expected, how do I negotiate a better salary?” “I graduated several years ago and want to change careers; where do I start?” “You say an internship in my field will put me ahead of other job seekers when I graduate, how do I get one?”
These are just a sampling of the types of questions we in Touro College’s Career Services office deal with on a regular basis. And we are thankful for the opportunity to offer our expertise to the larger Jewish community, especially with regard to the unique workplace challenges Orthodox Jews encounter.
Career advisement is much more of an art than a science, and there are different perspectives on virtually all career-related questions, even among our office staff. You will see this as different members of our team respond to your queries. Our hope is that this column becomes a valued resource for a broad spectrum of the community.
By way of introduction, our team is comprised of the following individuals:
S. Ronald Ansel, MBA, CPC, Director of Touro’s Career Services, is a certified career/life coach. As a former VP in Human Resources at JP Morgan Chase, he coached executives, managers and teams. He also maintains a private practice specializing in career, life and executive coaching and organizational consulting.
Chaim Shapiro, M.Ed, Assistant Director of Career Services, is a specialist in social media and the job search. He has done one-on-one coaching and given workshops on the online networking site, LinkedIn, in various forums, including the Orthodox Union. He is the founder of the largest online Orthodox Jewish networking group, the Frum Network, on LinkedIn.
Sarri Singer, Assistant Director of Career Services, is a networking and internship expert. Her focuses include the non-profit and for-profit sectors, public speaking and the political arena.
To give our readers an idea of the kind of questions we will address, we have chosen a question that we often receive from students:
“My resume looks professional, and I’ve done mock interviewing to enhance my interviewing skills. But I have not had much luck in getting an actual interview. What else should I be doing?”
The simple answer for everyone, from college students to those who have been in the workforce for many years, is to network, network and then network some more. We recommend a multi-modal approach to networking that includes Informational Interviews, social media presence and securing an internship.
Ron Ansel: You need to be doing the form of networking called informational interviewing. It is touted as the best way to find out what a career/job is really about, add a contact to your network and to secure a job. In this type of interviewing, the job-seeker interviews someone who is already doing (or managing) the type of job he/she is interested in pursuing.
There is an excellent tutorial on this subject at www.quintcareers.com. QuintCareers reports that “1 out of every 200 resumes (some estimate as high as 1,500 resumes) results in a job offer. However, 1 out of every 12 informational interviews results in a job offer. That’s why informational interviewing is the ultimate networking technique.”
The basics of informational interviewing include finding someone who is doing the type of job you are interested in researching and requesting a 20-minute meeting to ask them (not for a job!) a number of questions related to their view of the job, their career path, what they like/dislike about the job, etc.
The most important questions to ask are: (1) what other actions should I take and (2) who else should I interview. The answers will guide you to the next step in your job search. Often the individual will ask for your resume – either to pass along to a hiring manager or to offer their critique. Conduct these interviews with 10 people in order to ensure that you get a balanced view of the profession.
Informational interviewing has the potential to reap huge rewards. It is vastly superior to emailing your resume or giving it to someone already working in the company in which you are interested. It gives the interviewee an experience of who you are, how you express yourself and the degree of professionalism that you exhibit.
Chaim Shapiro: I would like to focus on the social media aspect of networking, specifically the opportunities that the professional networking website, LinkedIn, affords. We all know or are acquainted with many people. While we may or may not know where they are employed, we almost certainly do not know the full extent of their range of contacts and acquaintances.
LinkedIn reveals those secondary connections. Connecting to a community member will open up his/her LinkedIn contact list so you can see if they are connected with someone at your company of interest. As a result, a simple request for an introduction can transform your cold resume from one in a stack of thousands into a direct referral by a respected member of that company.
Chesed is a foundation of our communities. I have found that most people are very willing to help if, and when, they can. The most common impediment is simply not knowing how they can help. LinkedIn can help reveal those opportunities and provide the avenue for fulfilling them. As the founder and owner of the Frum Network on LinkedIn, I have seen this scenario played out multiple times.
If you are not on LinkedIn, I advise you to join right away. Even if you are not looking for a job, create an account because the best time to build your networking capital is before you actually need anything – and there is always a chance one of those connections may be the key to a job for one of your friends and neighbors. We are all in this together.
Sarri Singer: Internships are key. They provide the opportunity for college students to determine if a career is right for them and to gain practical experience in that field. It is also a chance to network and build relationships with professionals who might be able to assist them in their job search.
Building a strong network of contacts is crucial in landing a job. On May 18, 2011, The New York Times published an article in which an unemployed college graduate said, “I have friends with the same degree as me, from a worse school, but because of who they knew … they’re in much better jobs…It’s more about luck than anything else.”
It isn’t all about luck! According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers nearly 58% of new college graduates who had internships, turned those internships into full-time hires. That’s the highest percentage that they have seen since 2001 when they began tracking this information.
Classroom learning can only do so much – hands-on experience, whether it’s in the office or in the field, is extremely important to many employers. My advice to students is to complete as many internships as possible. You can make that happen by talking to friends, family members, work colleagues or professors. An internship gives an employer the chance to get to know you in the work setting and see you as someone that they could potentially work with in the future. Remember that employers want to hire not only competent and productive individuals, but also people who will fit into their work setting. Internships give employers the opportunity to see your value and fit. They are the best investment in your future.
We welcome your feedback. Please email your career-related inquiries and/or feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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