The job market is uncertain, but members of the Fox Community do not have to navigate the future alone. The Center for Student Professional Development (CSPD) expanded its services in early 2019 to support the Fox School’s expansive alumni network.
Pamela Lyman, director of Alumni Career & Professional Development at CSPD, develops, manages and implements career-related services, programs, resources and professional development engagement strategies for Fox alumni. The suite of services includes career coaching, networking and professional development training.
Lyman shares some of the most frequently asked questions she is hearing at work.
Q: Are companies currently hiring? Should I keep sending out my resume?
A: Though the economy is in a recession, companies are still indeed hiring. That said, you’ll want to approach your job search strategically. Too often, job seekers think it is simply a numbers game. The more jobs they apply to, the thinking goes, the better chance of getting hired. While it is true that you need to apply to many jobs before finding a match, I do not recommend the “apply to anything and everything.” You are more likely to be successful with a targeted search.
- RESEARCH: Start by researching industries and companies that appeal to you. If the industries you were hoping to work in are experiencing severe challenges at the moment, you’ll want to explore industries that are hiring. Industries such as healthcare, pharmaceuticals, remote meeting and communication, shipping and delivery, and online learning, to name a few, are likely to have open positions for various types of job functions. After narrowing down your industries, you’ll want to make a company list for each industry and to network with individuals in that industry. You can leverage tools from the Fox School of Business including Hoovers and First Research to generate company lists and to find contacts.
- NETWORK: Networking is important to gain information and referrals that can help you stand out among other job seekers. Reach out to family, friends, former classmates and professors, former colleagues, and Fox and Temple alumni.. See if you can reach out to folks who work in the company and/or industry you are targeting for an informational interview to get the inside scoop.
- APPLY WITH TAILORED RESUME AND COVER LETTER: Too often, job seekers send the same resume and cover letter to every job they apply to. That is a big mistake. Instead, tailor your documents, making sure to use keywords from the job posting to make it clear that you are a good fit. If applying to an industry that is new to you, highlight your transferable skills. Our JobScan tool helps job seekers to optimize their resumes to get past the Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) systems most companies use to screen resumes. Without enough keywords, your resume is unlikely to make it past the computer system to be seen by a real person.
Q: I know networking is important. What is the best way to network if I cannot meet with people in person?
A: Networking is important. The majority of jobs are found through networking, in fact. And now is a great time to network. With social distancing, people are home and therefore likely more available for a conversation. Moreover, with the pandemic resulting in so many layoffs, many people really want to help others right now.
In addition to contacting your personal network, a great place to start is with your alumni network. You can connect with Fox and Temple alumni through Owl Network and the alumni search function on LinkedIn.
You want to remember that networking is building relationships. This means that you don’t want to make it all about you. When you are reaching out to request a conversation to gain knowledge or advice, send a personalized email focusing on what interests you about them. You also want to be respectful of their time, so ask for only a 20-minute discussion. It also is crucial to prepare questions for the conversation and to send a thank-you note within 24 hours of meeting.
Q: I have a virtual interview coming up. How should I prepare?
A: A virtual interview is a new experience for many of us who are used to in-person interviews. You’ll want to prepare and practice your answers the same way as you would for an in-person interview since the questions will be similar. But there are additional factors you’ll also need to prepare for.
- Ensure your technology works.
- Adjust your webcam and lighting. Elevate the webcam so you are not looking down at the camera. Place light sources on either side of you to avoid shadows.
- Set up your background. A neutral, uncluttered background is best.
- Dress professionally and for the camera. Wear a suit. Solid colors are best.
- Practice your non-verbal communication. This includes eye contact, posture and smiling.
- Some notes are okay but do not get distracted by them.
- Print up your resume and the job description. Have them near you during the interview, but don’t continually look at them.
- Ensure you have a phone number where you can reach the interviewer. If you have technical difficulties during the interview, you’ll want to be able to reach them.
Q: Should I take a job I was offered even though it is not really what I am looking for, or should I wait to see if I can find what I really want? I’m worried about not finding anything.
A: Only you can answer that. Think about your priorities and unique situation. Do you need to make money right away, or do you have a cushion whereby a longer job search would not be a financial hardship? The answer to this question will have a huge impact on your decision.
Another key factor to consider is whether or not you are currently interviewing for other roles. If you are interviewing somewhere else that you are more excited about, reach out to the employer to explain that you received an offer elsewhere but they are your first choice and you are wondering where they are in the hiring process. The answer you receive from them may help you to make your decision.
Finally, ask yourself important questions about the job.
- Do you feel like you will learn skills and gain experience that will help you to develop your career in the long term?
- Who will you meet at this job? Are they relationships that could be mutually beneficial?
- Is this a big company you can grow with that may offer interesting opportunities for you in the future?
- Is the company a well-known, reputable organization that will look good on your resume?