Working for Smaller Companies Can Pay Off Big

By Lisa Correu, Principal/Job Search Advocate, AfterSchool Career Workshops

As you get closer to graduation and sourcing your first job consider the small company. Employees at large companies stay away from the front doors in June to avoid the stampede of new grads that would flatten them like a herd of wildebeest.  And if you do manage to land a spot you may find yourself one of many, with very defined job duties and little room for growth within the position. Yay.

So consider the small company, the mom and pop, the start-up or the up-start. Do your homework and target the organizations with 50, 25 or even fewer employees.  Why?


Need a Job? Join the Club. No Really, Join a Club

By Lisa Correu, Principal/Job Search Advocate, AfterSchool Career Workshops

I'm asked a lot by our attendees or other students, “So how do I meet people to network with? I don’t know anyone in marketing (PR, accounting, business, basket weaving, etc.)” I tell them to hang out at the bus station and when they turn to head downtown I almost always stop them. It’s one of those million dollar questions with a completely doable answer. For a highly social group like college students and recent graduates reaching out to people who can help you doesn’t have to be a chore.


Internships and How to Manage Them

By Lisa Correu, Principal/Job Search Advocate, AfterSchool Career Workshops

These days it’s practically required that you have at least two internships during or right after college. Employers will always go for entry-level candidates with productive and relevant intern experiences over those who just didn’t bother and more and more are hiring from the intern pool. So let’s assume you got a fabulous spot with a great company or organization. How can you milk this puppy for all it’s worth?


Volunteer to be Hired

Were you a volunteer on every committee for your sorority, fraternity, student paper, glee club, forestry club or World of Warcraft bake sale? Are you missing your days of planning, hitting on people to help or setting up the tables for the Q and A? Well grieve not young person; this is a great way to network for your first job without feeling like you’re in a room full of strangers in your underwear.


Knowing Job Titles Makes You Look More Smarter

By Lisa Correu, Principal/Job Search Advocate, AfterSchool Career Workshops

So what do you want to do with your life? You’ve just graduated from college or maybe you’re about to enter your final year. Hopefully (definitely) you’re working on a job search and reaching out to build your network. In a perfect world you know tons of people who can help you, you’re perfecting your communication skills and your resume reads like Tolstoy. Well maybe not Tolstoy because that would mean it’s really long and no one ever finishes it. But you get what I’m saying. The entry-level job world is out there waiting and so you gather your courage and apply for…? What? Do you know the job titles and duties of the positions you’re qualified for? No? Do you know the diff between a communications coordinator and a communications manager? A documents administrator and a documents liaison? I made those last two up but they probably exist somewhere. It’s tough to network and speak about yourself if you’re unfamiliar with what you’re qualified for or know the job titles that exist in your chosen profession. Just throwing a resume out there with a cover letter saying, “whatever you think I’m qualified for” is asking for an eye roll and the electronic version of oblivion. You are in charge of what you’re qualified for.


Top Ten Job Interview Tips (Or why it’s not a good idea to hug the hiring manager)

By  Lisa Correu and Kathryn Lorenzen, The CareerMongers.

Let’s be honest, interviewing for a new job can be a nerve-wracking and intimidating experience. You’re nervous, anxious, vulnerable and one step away from running for the door. On the other hand, if you are prepared and confident it can be a positive encounter with a potential new boss or co-worker. These tips can take some of the anxiety out of the interview process and make the experience suck a little bit less.


Just an Old-Fashioned Interview If You Please

By Guest Blogger Phil Bressler, Owner/Partner at Muller Bressler Brown

In our business, one driven so much by people and talent, it makes sense to always be on the lookout for creative and passionate candidates. Not that we don't have an incredibly talented team at the agency (we do!), but it just makes sense to be prepared for little things like the next big account win or normal changes that life brings.

As a partner in the agency, I also feel that it's my responsibility to give back in a small way by meeting with students and those starting out in the business as much as I can. I'm pretty sure by now I've mastered the art of the "informational interview." However, what strikes me these days, and I feel this way a lot, is either how old-fashioned I am when it comes to interviewing skills or how unprepared a large number of these kids really are. Believe it or not, by doing what I always thought were the normal and expected things in an interview, you'll actually stand out these days if you pay attention to the basics. Several things that always stand out:

  1. Be on time. In my book, early is the new on time. Sit in your car if you have to. Text your mom and tell her how pumped you are for the interview. Read a newspaper before they're extinct. Do anything. Just don't be late.
  2. Dress professionally. It's advertising. We wear jeans, we wear black, we often times don't even really match. But don't forget, you're still interviewing. Dress for success and make a great first impression.
  3. Sit up tall. I can't tell you how many interviewees slouch down in the chair and talk like we're just hangin' at Starbucks. Is this how you'll be with our clients?
  4. Have questions ready. Think on your feet and come up with related questions during the interview. How about, "where do you see this company in five years?" Anything. Please! The number one response I get to "So, do you have any questions for me?" "No, not really. I found out everything I need to know on your website." There's a buzz kill.
  5. Curiosity. Maybe my own pet peeve, but to succeed in advertising, I believe it's critical to know a lot about a lot of things. I'm not saying you have to be Einstein in any of them, but be aware, know what's going on in the world, play Trivial Pursuit. It will make you smarter.
  6. Send a handwritten thank you note. OK, I know that's the most old-fashioned idea of all, but it matters and it makes a difference. Most people have lost the art of thank you notes so if you do send one, you'll be that much further ahead. Say thanks, but also remind me what makes you special and why I should hire you.

I could go on, but attention spans are short these days. Perhaps these six suggestions will make a difference to someone. They do to me.

If the rules of interviewing have changed, and I've just become a grumpy old man without knowing it, someone please enlighten me. I'm all ears.


Leave the Hive, Get a Job

By Lisa Correu, Principal/Job Search Advocate, AfterSchool Career Workshops

I’ve been doing a lot of speaking recently to various colleges, career fairs and industry organization events and I’ve noticed a few things. T-shirts are cooler than they were when I was in school and I need to update my sitcom references. But the most surprising thing I've observed is that the sense of urgency I would have expected in upcoming grads just isn’t there. Maybe you’ve been beaten down by all the crappy stats and depressing news stories that keep saying you’re screwed, no one will ever have a job again and we should just kill ourselves. Can’t say I blame you there, I have to turn off the tube, get the hell away from the Wall Street Journal website and run over to College Humor just to keep the noose away from me, too.

So here’s my theory on this. We are pack animals and there is nothing so pack-like as a college campus. You all move in herds, as one, into buildings, out of buildings, down tree lined sidewalks and into other buildings. You’ve been conditioned to think of yourselves as a single entity. Yes I know you’re individuals, yes I know you find ways to stand out from each other and right now your creativity knows few boundaries. But when you regard the world after graduation I think maybe you see it from the group perspective. So when you’re told everything sucks you believe it as a group. If no one’s getting a job than neither are you.


This is your chance. Shake off the notion that you will all move on together and simultaneously apply for the one job that’s out there. Break off, see your potential, and learn to promote yourself as an individual, tell me what’s great about you. Screw the Generation Y, Millennial or whatever hive name you’ve been given. It will only serve to keep you in the group. Lean on the group, use the group for advice, play with the group but keep you to yourself. Sure the unemployment rate for 20-24 year olds is a bitter 16% but the EMPLOYMENT rate for 20-24 year olds is 84%! Somebody’s getting the jobs.

So get out there, get that urgency and use it to get ahead of the hive. And then you can re-group with the hive over beers and bitch about your jobs. It’s what the rest of us do.


Oh Wise and Recent Hire, Do You Have 20 Minutes?

by Lisa Correu, Principal/Job Search Advocate, AfterSchool Career Workshops

So how ‘bout those informational interviews? They’re a fantastic way of intelligence gathering and getting your name out there for potential openings.  They’re great practice for real job interviews but without the crushing nervousness. You can ask for feedback and the interviewer won’t feel the pressure of having to hire.  Plus, the more people you meet the more familiar you'll become with the jargon and buzzwords of the industry. Interviewers will respond to this when you meet with them to discuss an actual opening.

But let’s dig a little deeper into our bag of tricks and go beyond the normal informational interview. Rather than concentrating solely on mid- to upper- level people or managers consider reaching out to people just a few years out of college. They can be a source of great job search information, advice and encouragement.  They’ll know the duties and requirements of entry-level positions and most will be happy to help someone close to their own age.


What do you want, an invitation?

By Lisa Correu, Principal/Job Search Advocate, AfterSchool Career Workshops

I am a procrastinator. I’ve been putting off writing this blog. No good reason, I love to write and since this is also my job I need to get off my tuchus and do this. But you see, I have a Facebook ad to put into play, I need to Tweet something of interest to our followers that won’t get lost in between the teeth whitening mom and the wingnut that thinks our President is from Venus. I have to get my son enrolled in school and vacuum my house. Actually that should be first.

So I get it. You’re in college and there are things you’d rather be doing than thinking about getting a job when they make you leave after graduation. Especially now when things are just crappy for college grads.

But a job search can’t start too soon. And if you think that means just looking for posted job openings you should come and join us in 2010. The vast majority of entry-level jobs aren’t posted.  A job posting costs the employer money so they’re reserved for upper level positions that are harder to fill. And that means it’s time to buckle down and do your homework. Don’t you hate that cliché? But it’s absolutely true. You will have to build a network, learn everything you can about companies in the city you choose to live in, figure out where the jobs are and learn to speak about yourself in a way that makes people want to help you. Oh yeah and then there’s that pesky resume and cover letter, interview skills, follow up, offer negotiation and you’re thinking about taking a nap now aren’t you? Can’t blame you there. But all of those things I just typed are things your competition isn’t doing. They’re sitting and surfing for openings on Monster.com and wondering why no one is calling them back. So think of this as working without a job. You wouldn’t go to work and complain that you have to work would you? Would you accept a job and then tell your new boss you’ll come in when you get around to it? Don’t wait to work at getting work. No one performs well when they’re panicked. At least not for long and certainly not at their best.

So get off your tuchus and get to work.