To qualify for good jobs, consider alternative career paths, focus on high-quality technical education, and pursue summer internships to gain hands-on experience.
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Most graduates and university students pursue careers in traditional fields such as healthcare, engineering, business and computer science. However, competition for jobs in these fields is intense, leading to many-fold numbers of applicants for the same available positions, and high unemployment rates for new grads.New graduates with college degrees earn an average of 60% more than employees with only a high school diploma, which adds up to more than an $800,000 difference over your lifetime. Several top universities, like Stanford and MIT in their Open Courseware department, and Harvard via the Open Learning Initiative, now offer online courses. Pursue your interests and your earnings will increase naturally as you gain business experience. By taking stock of your own preferences, you can decide what job areas you should be targeting.
The company you are interested in has finally granted you a job interview. Now what? Will you prepare well, and have ready answers for common interview questions, or will you arrive unprepared? Before an interview, analyze the position that you are applying for thoroughly. Review a copy of the job description and highlight the qualifications and main responsibilities. If you are still unclear about the nature of the position, request more information from the company directly. At the same time, learn as much as you can about the company’s mission, services, products, and main competitors. Start your research on the company’s website, then do an article search on Google, and attend information sessions and career fairs on campus if possible. Don't get discouraged if you don't meet all of their specified requirements, just emphasize your capabilities, as they apply to that specific job opening.
Write out answers to questions you think the employer will ask and keep a list of your strengths, weaknesses, and key accomplishments. Your main goal in an interview is to show the employer that you are able to do the job they are seeking to fill, by providing the interviewer with detailed past examples that show you successfully used the skills they seeking. Further, you'll need to look good, speak clearly, and act like a confident, professional person that the company would be proud to have on board.
Review your prior work experiences, internships, volunteer experience, course work, interests and hobbies. For each item on your list, identify the skills and knowledge you developed, because many skills are transferable to the job you're applying for. Think of your accomplishments, and select out several things you would like to tell employers about. Practice talking out loud in front of a mirror, so that you will look and sound more polished during your interview. If possible, make a video with a friend or family member, and review your performance afterwards. Ask yourself, did I look and sound confident (completeness, level of detail, how easy to follow), and what does my body language say (pace, voice quality and tone, energy levels, posture, eye contact, hand gestures)?
Have extra copies of your resume and references ready, and lay out your business clothing the night before. You don't want to feel rushed in the morning of your interview, when you need to be getting ready psychologically. Get directions to the interview site, and confirmation of the day and time of the interview. Allow an extra buffer of driving or commute time to get to the site, and plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early.
Build rapport in the first 10 seconds. First impressions can set the tone for the rest of the interview. When your interviewer comes into the waiting room and calls your name, walk toward that person with confidence, make eye contact, extend your hand, and introduce yourself. Depending on the industry that you want to enter, you may be asked technical questions that relate to concepts that you studied in your major. Organize your thoughts and show an understanding of the issues. During the day you will likely meet with several people, including your potential supervisor, coworkers and a human resources representative.
As a general rule, questions about salary and benefits are best left until a job offer has been extended, but you need to know what to say if you receive an offer on the spot. In most cases, it’s better to think about the offer before either accepting or declining. If you are lucky enough to receive a verbal offer but are not ready to accept, simply thank them for their decision, and request a few days to think over this important decision. Since they have indicated that they value you highly as a candidate, you may be in a position to negotiate a better offer by waiting. Ask for written confirmation of the job offer, and tell the firm when you will make a decision.
Once you have been offered a job, you have a golden opportunity to discuss the terms of your employment. Gather as much factual information as you can from other employees, before deciding on what salary request you want to make. Always begin by expressing genuine interest in the position and the organization, and offering to compromise on other areas, such as longer hours and travel. Be prepared to defend your reasons for wanting to improve their offer with meaningful, work-related benefits to the employer. Requesting a salary increase just because you are a fast learner, or have a high GPA, aren't justifiable reasons alone. You need to have past work experience or internships that have demonstrated professional skills.
It is sometimes more comfortable for employees to make an initial salary request in writing, and plan a face-to-face meeting later to iron out differences. You'll need to be assertive at this point even though you may feel vulnerable. Sometimes the employer will be surprised at your salary suggestion, but stand firm, but encourage them to think about it for a day or two. Don't rush the process simply because you feel uncomfortable making demands. The employer may be counting on your discomfort and use it to stall the negotiation.
There are other things you can ask for besides a higher salary. For example, benefits can add thousands of dollars to your compensation package. Traditional benefit packages include health insurance, paid vacation and sick days, but companies may offer further benefits such as child care, elder car, or use of company vehicles for family emergencies. Other benefits include disability and life insurance, retirement plans, and discounts on the company's products and services. Finally, some organizations may offer investment and stock options, relocation reimbursement, and tuition credits for continued education.
Before you forget, take the time the following day to send a thank-you letter to each company that you had a personal interview with. An email won't suffice, it has to be an actual mailing, printed on high-quality paper, like writing a cover letter. Send it to the primary interviewer, and send copies to other people you met throughout the day. A week after sending a thank-you letter, you may contact the employer once again, to show your continued interest, and to ask if there is any additional information you can provide. Not only will the interviewer note your effort, but in fact, the company is more likely to hire those candidates that show the most persistence and enthusiasm for the job.
Finally, every interview is an opportunity to learn and perfect your presentation, so after the interview, ask yourself the following questions: What points did I make that seemed to interest the interviewer? Did I talk too much, or perhaps too little, and did I ask questions which clarified the requirements of the position? Finally, was I able to demonstrate that I would be able to fulfill their needs?
As the economy improves, many firms are beginning to hire. Companies are in need of candidates that can fill a particular job position, so set up an introductory meeting to ask questions about the firm's history, and current business opportunities. They are watching for those candidates who are trying harder than others, thus your first task is to set yourself apart. Hiring managers typically post new jobs on targeted job sites to attract qualified applicants.
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