By Anusha Shrivastava, Ph.D.
Getting to the interview stage of the hiring process is an achievement in itself but now, you’ve to perform even better to get that job offer.
Start preparing for the interview by conducting research on the company. Aside from checking their website, see if you can get reviews on other sites or from former employees. Reach out to alums who may share candid insights about the company’s work culture.
If you know who is going to conduct the interview, check his or her LinkedIn profile. If it is a panel of people, you’ll have to check each person’s profile and figure out if they have anything in common with you like having attended the same undergrad school or playing the same sport. You can often check with human resources who the interviewers will be and can then be better prepared for the meeting.
Check the address of the interview venue. Don’t show up at the wrong office and then try to rush to the correct location. Aim to arrive at least half an hour to 45 minutes ahead of time just in case there is a delay during your commute or at the security line in the lobby.
Always dress formally. Even if the company culture is such that the employees are walking around in shorts, wait till you get the job before you show up in shorts! You are better off being overdressed than showing up looking more casual than the interviewers.
Carry multiple copies of your resume. Don’t assume that the interviewer will bring a copy of your resume to the interview. It is your job to be prepared and carry resumes and any other document you think may show that you are a strong candidate for the job.
Have a pitch ready about why you want the job and why you think you are the perfect fit for it. Show passion for the position. Try to convince the interviewer that you will do the job to the best of your ability. Be prepared to talk about yourself, your past experience and any new projects you’ve worked on.
Take notes during the interview. If you get stuck at any point, say you will get back to the interviewer and keep the interview going. Ask questions which show you’ve done research on the company. Don’t ask questions about what’s easily available on the company’s website.
Watch the person’s body language and make eye contact throughout the interview. Smile, even though you may be feeling nervous.
After the interview, send a thank you note within 24 hours. If there were questions you could not answer during the interview, send the answer in the thank you note. Re-state why you want the job and highlight why you are a good fit for it.
Now, take a deep breath and get started!
By Anusha Shrivastava, Ph.D.
Creating a robust LinkedIn profile should be top of mind even before you start looking for a job. That’s because you are best off having a presence on this professional networking site long before you press the accelerator in terms of job-hunting.
The site offers more space than a one-page resume so you can expand on the descriptions of your achievements, projects and skills. You should also add links to your website and publications. With a professional-looking picture, a well-thought out summary, some strong recommendations and a fully updated profile, your game will be on.
Your LinkedIn profile helps build credibility around your professional expertise so you must get recommendations from people you have worked for. You could also request your professors to recommend you. Ask them to give specifics about the projects you worked on together. The more detail there is in these recommendations, the more weight they will carry. People tend to ignore generic recommendations.
Recruiters reach out to potential candidates on LinkedIn so be sure that everything about your profile is professional. Unlike Facebook and other social media sites, no one really wants to see your party and travel pictures on LinkedIn. In fact, it would be inappropriate to post those on LinkedIn. Treat LinkedIn like the work-related tool it is. This is how users think of it. Plus, you will find that colleagues may hesitate to connect with you on Facebook but they will likely not decline an invite to connect on LinkedIn.
Once you’ve connected, you can track their careers and if you ever happen to be looking for a job at the company they are working at, you can easily ask them what their experience has been. Research about a company becomes easier, too. You can figure out what the reporting structure is.
You can also reach out to alumni via LinkedIn so treat the site as a meeting ground of sorts. Share what you are good at and reach out to those who will appreciate your experience and skills.
Before you attend a conference, be sure to click through the LinkedIn profile of the speakers so you know what connection you may have with them. This could help you start a conversation when you meet them at a networking event. On a regular basis, you should connect with new professional contacts and read about their career history. Pay special attention to how they’ve described their skills and experience. This can help you find the most appropriate words to describe yours.
Scan LinkedIn job listings to know what kinds of jobs are on offer. Pick out keywords to insert in your summary. You should also make the effort to join groups relevant to your job search. Discussion boards within these groups are a good place to pose challenging problems. You may end up getting a response with a solution! Follow the companies you aspire to work at on LinkedIn. It will demonstrate your interest in those firms.
If you avoid LinkedIn or aren’t on it, not only will it be the loss of an opportunity, it will also seem suspicious, amateurish and unprofessional. Everyone is, after all, on LinkedIn for the same reason: to further their career goals.
By Anusha Shrivastava, Ph.D.
At first pass, it seems like the world is large. Soon enough, you realize it is shrinking at a fast pace and people are more closely connected than you had ever imagined. What this means is you have to be careful about how your professors, administrators, employers and even peers think about you.
- Are you someone who just tags along or can you be a team leader?
- What level of responsibility can you be entrusted with?
- Do you get along with your teammates?
- Can you share good ideas and follow through?
- Is your name among the first that comes to mind when a new project is being launched?
If you want people to recognize you as someone they can pick to be a leader, you will have to be proactive. This means you raise your hand every time there is a challenging opportunity and then do well at whatever is assigned.
Say the department is organizing an event, be sure to put your name forward as a volunteer. Then, come up with ideas on how to involve your classmates. Contribute towards making the event a success.
The same strategy works at the office. You’ll be seen as the go-to person once you’ve established you can successfully organize an event or work with a manager to achieve a team’s goal. You have to demonstrate that when you sign up to do something, you will. If there’s something preventing you from doing this, you need to raise your hand early and seek help.
Make sure that no one has to chase you to get the job done.
Never be on the list of people who either broke the rule or failed to carry out an assigned task. You don’t want to attract negative attention at any point. This means you have to communicate effectively and update your manager and colleagues. You may have to send out reminders and follow up with people separately.
You must also manage your time such that nothing slips through the cracks. Everyone has a long list of to-be-done items and just as you will be juggling multiple tasks, your colleagues will, too. If you are working closely with other people, you have to allow for some slippage and emergencies.
You may have to learn new skills to carry out the tasks you have volunteered to undertake. Be prepared to put in extra time for this.
As the person in charge, you must be ready to take responsibility in order to get the job done. Once you create a strong record, the reward for your good work will be tougher and better assignments. This, in turn, will help in your career growth.
Being proactive will yield results so take charge of your time and schedule. It will be well worth it.
By Anusha Shrivastava, Ph.D.
Volunteering is a good way to help others while also helping yourself.
Giving your time and sharing your expertise not only helps improve the lives of the people you are working with but also boosts your resume. You are demonstrating that you are willing to work with others and be involved in your community.
The kind of organization you choose to volunteer at will reveal something about you. If it’s a non-profit serving children, it shows you care about their development. If it’s a group that helps mentor young statisticians, it means you want to be involved in the field outside of your classes. If it’s an organization that has nothing to do with what you are studying or in an area you likely won’t work in, it shows you are willing to flex a different kind of muscle to try something new.
In any of these scenarios, you are enhancing your career in ways you may not have realized when you committed a chunk of your week towards volunteering.
Here are a few:
- Your personal and professional network expands each time you sign up to volunteer for an event or organization. You meet people you may not have crossed paths with and many of them could one day serve as references because they are seeing you perform tasks outside of your regular schedule.
- With every new volunteer opportunity, you show initiative and ability to work with people outside your comfort zone.
- You use skills ranging from event-planning to fundraising that you may already possess. You may even end up acquiring new skills. Some volunteer opportunities require you to take exams or undergo extensive training. This shows you are willing to stretch yourself and upgrade your qualifications.
- Volunteering requires a high level of effective communication, so your work shows you are team player who responds to requests in a timely fashion and one who is able to share insights and experience with others.
- You can stay connected with people from different fields or when you change career paths when you volunteer.
- You build a track record of volunteering over the many decades that you will be working. It may be that you enjoy volunteering in a field to the extent that you switch careers and train to work full-time in the field you had initially just volunteered in.
None of this is to say you should volunteer only to strengthen your resume. That will happen on its own, even as you volunteer for personal satisfaction and the sheer desire to give back to the world.
By Anusha Shrivastava, Ph.D.
Looking for a job can be a full-time job. You have to go through job sites, tweak your resume, customize cover letters and finally, line up references.
If an employer wants a reference, it may be they will call to speak with a person whose information you’ve shared – or they may ask for a letter. In either case, when choosing who serves as your reference, be mindful of who you pick and how you approach them. Ideally, it should be a former supervisor at your job or internship.
Early in your career, it’s best to reach out to your professors. They are well-equipped to handle your request because they’ve done it frequently and are familiar with your work. The professors are also expecting such requests from students. Make sure you ask professors who know you and can speak to your strengths. Ask if they are comfortable giving you a strong recommendation, If not, you may have to ask someone else.
- Pick professors whose courses you got the best grades in or handled a tough project with. If a professor had any influence on your decision to apply for a particular job or pursue a field of study, be sure to let him/her know. Also, you could add a line to your request stating why you are asking them to provide the reference. It could be the job is in a field they worked in, for instance.
- During your course of study, or at your workplace, be sure to keep a list of potential references. Make sure they know your work. Show up for office hours. Get them to know you and your goals. Take permission before you list someone as your reference. Meet them in person to request the reference and if it feels like they are crunched for time, be polite and look for someone else.
- Provide the recommender with material, like your resume and transcript, so it is less work for them to write a letter.
- Explain why you want the job. Your passion will shine through and they will likely give you a stronger reference. Share the deadline for the recommendation letter and remind them gently a week before it is due.
- Do not ask a family member or close friend to be your recommender.
- Do not ask department administrators to write a letter of recommendation because they are not familiar with your Statistics skills.
- If you don’t think you’ll get a positive recommendation from your manager or professor, ask a colleague who is familiar with your work – or even a research assistant. You could ask a person who is familiar with your volunteer work. The bottomline is that it has be someone who can comment on your abilities and answer specific questions about your skills and teamwork.
- Stay in touch with your recommender after the the letter is sent or a verbal reference shared. Thank the person politely at least twice and update with your job search results regularly.
A good recommendation goes a long way – and so does a heartfelt thank-you note.