Q&A: Finding a Job

Questions and answers on finding a job.

By Peter Vogt

December 03, 2012

Q&A: Finding a Job Q&A: Finding a Job

I’m finishing up my undergraduate degree and have extensive work experience through my internships. As an entry-level job applicant, do I have any leverage to negotiate when I get an offer?

You DO have a say as an entry-level applicant, and you SHOULD try to negotiate a better deal for yourself. The fact that you have extensive experience puts you in a reasonably good negotiating position.

In order to negotiate, you will need salary information and a low-key, matter-of-fact attitude (versus arrogance). You need to show the recruiter that you are aware of the salaries and benefits that similar companies offer people with comparable experience. Then simply ask your company if it can match those offers.

DON’T put it in terms of a demand. Instead make it a simple question. For example: “I’ve been researching the salaries and benefits being offered to people with my education and experience at companies similar to yours. I’ve found that, on average, starting salaries are [$$] and benefits packages include [XX]. Will you be matching those figures with your offer?”

Often, the simple fact that you’ve done some homework will be impressive to the employer, and he/she might bump up the offer a bit. Also, most employers will expect you to negotiate – they won’t be taken aback or offended.

I just graduated with a sociology degree. I don’t feel I should be making $8/hour in a temp job, but my parents are nagging me to get one. What should I do?

You don’t say whether you gained any experience in your field while you were in school (through an internship or co-op), but if you didn’t, you might want to take a temp job for a while.

Having real world work experience is key to employers. From an employer’s perspective, you’re owed nothing for earning your bachelor’s degree. An employer is instead going to look at you and say, “Prove yourself by showing me some experience in the field.”

So think carefully about doing some temp work. You’ll make some money, get your parents off your back, and start accumulating professional experience and skills. Meanwhile, you can leave yourself enough time during the week to look for the job you really want. Also, temping can be an opportunity to make valuable professional contacts who can help you find a full-time job.

I recently graduated college and am ready to apply the skills and expertise I’ve gained in graphic design. I’ve posted my resume, made phone calls, and even had interviews, but have had no luck getting a job.

Everyone says it is all about “who you know” and not “what you know” that will get you an opportunity. As a college graduate, how do you make these connections?

It can be hard to make “connections” when you’re just out of school and you feel like you don’t really know anyone.

Probably the best thing you could do is join a local chapter of a professional organization and start attending the meetings regularly. Why? Because you’ll get to know people in the field that way, and they’ll get to know you too. They’ll also remember you, because VERY few college students and recent grads join professional organizations — and so you automatically stand out just by showing up.

Another effective way to make is to talk (in person or via phone or email) to alumni of your own program from your own school. You can track these people down in several ways:

1) Ask your fellow grads and students about recent graduates of your program.
2) Ask your professors/instructors to help you identify and contact previous grads of the program.
3) Ask a career counselor at your school if the career center has an “alumni database” that offers contact information of alums who have volunteered to talk to students and new grads about their jobs.

DON’T blatantly hit them up for a job (which puts them on the spot); instead, just ask if they’d be willing to give you some job-related advice. They’ll probably be able to figure out that you’re looking for a job, without you beating them over the head with it.

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