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6 Ways Entry-Level Engineers Can Get an Employer’s Attention

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article | 6 Ways Entry-Level Engineers Can Get an Employer's Attention | Talent Management | Resume | Cover LetterYou are about to graduate with that coveted engineering degree. It’s the ticket you were told would land you a high-paying position in that big (or rising) tech firm you’ve had your eye on. Yes, the economy appears to be humming along with many companies eager to hire. But before you prepare your resume and cover letter, there are several things you need to do to make yourself more attractive to today’s CEOs and the people that they trust to make the best hires for them.

Here are six helpful tips that will be a sure way to catch that employer’s attention:

Clean Up and Polish Your Social Media

A recent Harvard Business Review article noted that many recruitment subcontractors scour LinkedIn and other social media to find potential candidates. They’ll trace your “digital exhaust” from cookies and other user-tracking programs to learn who you are. So, ditch those college party photos you have on Instagram, Facebook, etc. Replace them with photos or videos of you working hard at that tech firm you interned with during the summer. Don’t have any intern photos? Plug in some pics of tech projects you worked on in your garage or senior lab. Use photos of you attending tech seminars and symposiums – preferably those attended by that tech firm you want to join.

It also doesn’t hurt to add a professional bio to your social media account(s). And replace college handles and URLs with those that make you look more professional. Create a brand that sets you apart – post, share, or re-tweet anything related to the industry you’re eager to enter. Follow blogs, news sources, and any other websites that represent thought leaders in the tech field you want to work in.

Network like Mad

Referrals and professional networks are 1st and 3rd in order of what CEOs consider sources of quality. People in the tech industry know that you’re young, hungry and need advice. And many are all too willing to share what they know. They remember what it was like when they tried to break in. So go to every trade show, conference seminar, and networking event you can get into. Talk to people in booths and after seminars. Ask what you can do to get into their apprenticeship, internship or mentor program.

Print out 500 “job seeker” business cards with your name, major and the job you’re looking for. Include your contact info and website if you have one. Hand these out to people you meet at trade shows, tech conferences, and seminars. They may not have an opening, but word gets around about your unique approach. And someone may just call you.

Another tactic is to attend any social/community outreach programs which the firm you’re interested in may be sponsoring. Talk to the people there and ask if you can help. People are more open at these events and the conversation tends to be more relaxed. It also builds your reputation as a caring individual; the kind that other employees like to be around. Who knows, you may end up serving food to the homeless next to the firm’s CEO. (if that happens, ditch the hard sell, but answer any questions—just make sure they remember your name. Write your last name out clearly on your “Hello, my name is” tag.)

Sell Yourself in the Cover Letter

The letter is a key element in any job search. It paints a picture that CEOs, recruiters, and hiring managers will create in their minds about the kind of person you are. Like your resume, your letter should dovetail with the firm’s needs and requirements. If you met an engineer or other tech staff member from that company at a seminar, conference or other event, namedrop that in your letter. ‘Beta test’ your letter with a career counselor or someone you know in the industry. And keep it short, no more than a page – single-spaced.

Fine Tune Your Resume

If you’re an astute tech grad, you should know how to write a resume. There are all sorts of resume writing tips and templates online. The important thing to remember is to fine-tune your resume to the needs of the tech company you’re eager to join. That means including any internships and mentor programs you’ve completed. Don’t forget to stress any senior-level projects that align with the company’s product or service.

And don’t ‘fudge’ your background—many university career counselors advise students not to be as forthcoming with their qualifications or remove entire degrees if the job posting doesn’t call for it. While this may get you the interview, it will bring up more questions that will put off hiring managers when they ask you for details during the interview.

As with your cover letter, beta test it with guidance counselors and any pros you know in the industry. You can also get a free resume evaluation at Monster’s Resume Writing Service. You’ll get detailed feedback, including a review of your resume’s appearance and content, as well as a prediction of a recruiter’s first impression.

Make Your Resume Bot Friendly

It’s a regrettable fact that many recruiters, HR managers, and other gatekeepers use applicant-tracking systems (ATS) to pre-filter resumes. These bots look for keywords and key phrases. So include verb phrases and skills written in the firm’s job description. Use both the acronym and the spelled-out form of any given title, certification, or organization. And dump the ‘career objective’ section. Bots ignore this and so do most gatekeepers. Replace it with a qualifications summary – a bullet-pointed section packed with ATS-friendly keywords that highlight your achievements, applicable skills, and internships. Use spell check and grammar-check programs to wipe your resume (and cover letter) of any mistakes.

Ace the Interview

You made the shortlist and got a face-to-face interview. At this point, the job is yours to lose. So learn all you can about the company. Scour the firm’s website. Commit to memory the company’s key current events found in the ‘news’ section. If you met any company employees at a seminar, trade show or other function, be prepared to talk about your conversation(s) you had with them.

If you don’t know the answer to a tough technical question, own up sooner rather than later. It’s much better to admit temporary ignorance than fake your way in front of a potential expert. And do ask questions. If you don’t ask anything at the end of an interview, it shows a lack of interest in the company and what your typical workday might be like.

Know your resume like the back of your hand. Be prepared to discuss how your skills and talents align with the needs of the company. By the way, you should already be familiar with the basics of interviewing – firm handshake, smile, good eye contact, and dressing a step up from the person you meet. Check out a few videos on body language as well. And do follow up promptly after the interview with a thank you email – that’s one more chance to stand out among the other in-person interviewees.

You will want to start working on these steps well before you graduate so that when that graduation ceremony comes up and you get your cap and gown, you are well on your way to landing your first dream job.


About the Author

Dr. Radu Reit is the Vice-Chair of the Marketing Committee at the Society for Information Display (SID). Display Week 2020 will be held June 7-12, 2020, in San Francisco. For more information, visit www.displayweek.org.

Job Hunters: Here’s What Employers REALLY Want To See on Your CV!

The job market is fierce, for every vacancy out there there’s usually a massive amount of interest. What this means for employers is they have to trawl through CVs- and a lot of them at that, so if yours doesn’t stand out in any way it’s not going to get a second glance. While everyone’s work history and experience is different, you can find that most people’s are shockingly similar with the same bland information and phrases swirling around. Here are a couple of ways you can set yourself ahead of the competition and catch an employer’s eye.

StrategyDriven Career Management Article
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Speaking Another Language

Being able to speak another language is incredibly impressive and is something that will wow an employer- even if it’s not linked to the job you’re applying for. On the other hand, some careers may require you to be multilingual, so it’s something well worth learning especially if there’s a particular kind of job you want. You could do evening classes and be fluent within a year which really isn’t much time at all if you consider what a complex skill it is. If English isn’t your mother tongue, getting a good grasp of it from a company like EffortlessEnglishClub could boost your chances of a job massively. Since this is one of the world’s most commonly spoken languages, it’s something employers will put a lot of value on.

A Unique Hobby

Employers have seen time and time again how people like ‘going to the gym’ ‘seeing movies’ and ‘socialising with friends’. Most people do these things, it gives very little away about your character. And your hobbies are a chance to show what you’re really like! If you partake in anything fun, quirky or unusual be sure to add this to your CV. It will help to set you apart from the crowd and give more of an insight to what makes you tick. If you’re in search of a fun new hobby, this could be the motivation you need to get out there and find something. You will enjoy yourself, and it will give your cv that bit of an edge.

Voluntary Work

Everyone should aim to do voluntary work if possible. Not only does it give something back to those less fortunate and make you feel good, but from a purely selfish perspective, it looks good on your CV too! This shows employers that you’re in touch with the world aren’t purely driven by money and have a compassionate nature. You could spend a summer abroad helping in a third world country, or you could do an hour a week somewhere local. Elderly care homes, children’s hospitals, animal rescue centres and homeless shelters are usually crying out for extra help. Other things you could do for charity too is fundraising. How about coming up with a unique idea to raise money and getting your friends and colleagues involved? It’s for a good cause and an excellent addition to your CV.

What do you have on your CV which sets it apart from the rest?

Job Seekers Should Consider What Their Online, In-Person and On-Paper Personas Say about Them

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals ArticleA potential employer takes just a moment or two to size up a potential candidate, leaving job seekers little room for error when trying to make a positive first impression. Whether presenting themselves online, in-person, or on paper, job seekers relay a lot of information to a potential employer in the first few minutes. Employers quickly assess confidence, energy level and professionalism – all key traits that tell the employer what a candidate might bring to the workplace. As a result, it’s very important to present yourself in the best possible light.

Job seekers need to focus on their accomplishments and fit for the role first and foremost, which can make them feel pressured. But, there ARE steps they can take to ensure another interview or – better – a job offer.

Here are suggestions for making the best first impression:

  • Long resumes are a turn-off. It’s perfectly acceptable for executives to have a resume that’s as much as three pages long, but longer than that is overkill and employees looking for more junior positions should shorten their resumes even further. There is no reason to offer every detail in your resume.
  • Make sure the resume is up to date and written to highlight your relevant skills and experience that fit your current search.. Most people merely update their old resume. It’s important to write a new resume from scratch with each new job search, because typically you are interviewing at more senior levels. For example, five years ago you might have written about your individual contributions to a team; today you need to emphasize your management experience and what you have done to lead the team.
  • Resume style matters. Don’t overlook how the resume is organized and presented visually with regard to fonts and layout.
  • Make sure your online presence puts you in the best possible light. Keep your LinkedIn profile updated at all times. Clean up your Facebook page of anything that might raise an eyebrow to recruiters or an employer.
  • Dress for your environment. Dress for an interview in accordance with the employer’s office dress code, whenever possible. If it’s a suit-and-tie environment, dress the part. If it’s business casual, then it’s perfectly acceptable to forgo the jacket. There is a risk in overdressing; you need to demonstrate that you understand and fit the workplace culture.. When in doubt, ask the recruiter how you should dress for the interview.
  • Be aware of your speech patterns. Don’t speak too quickly or too slowly, too quietly or too loudly. Employers will consider this when they envision having to speak with you or be present in meetings with you daily.
  • Other physical cues. Always use a firm handshake and make eye contact with the interviewer. Sit up straight in your chair. Those rules have and will always apply.
  • Be mindful of your energy level. People gravitate to others with a good energy level because they look forward to working alongside them every day. Be enthusiastic but not over the top.
  • Don’t patronize a younger interviewer. Just because someone is younger or less experienced than you are does not mean they lack the authority to put a halt to your interview process. Further, it is good form to show anyone that interviews you the due respect they deserve.
  • Make them notice your accomplishments. Minimize distractions such as excessive jewelry or makeup and pull back very long hair.
  • Keep your answers to the point. Avoid going into too much unnecessary detail in your answers, but always offer to provide additional detail to your interviewer if they are interested in knowing more.
  • Don’t dress like you don’t need the job. Always dress like you achieved career success but leave your fur coats and very expensive jewelry at home. You never want to look like you don’t need the job.

The rules about only having a few moments to make the right impression still apply. Today, though, it’s about making sure you put your best foot forward in multiple media, including the Internet. But promoting yourself through multiple channels should be the catalyst to prompt a prospective employer to take the next step.


About the Author

Kathy HarrisKathy Harris is Managing Partner of New York City-based Harris Allied, an executive search firm specializing in Technology, UX/UI Design and Quant Analyst placement services in the Financial Services, Professional Services, Consumer Products, Digital Media and Tech Industries For more information, visit www.harrisallied.com. Contact Kathy Harris at [email protected].

Recruiter-IZE Your Resume and Finally Get some Interviews

A friend of mine was angry. After a decade of writing screenplays with no success, after reading books on writing and submitting and formatting, her mantle was not only Oscar less, she had no mantle. But what got her mad was meeting a woman in her SPIN class who worked for a household name film studio and told her the truth.

“They not only don’t read most of the scripts,” my friend reported, umbrage front and center, but the ones they do read are read by entry level kids, who, get this, are trying to get their own scripts read, so of course they reject mine. What an insane system!”

Not really, I thought to myself. The system works fine. No shortage of movies on my On Demand system. And more on the way. I know this because my success has been in the recruiting world, and I know that resume writing drives people as crazy as the movie writing business does for my friend.

Because most of what you have been told is either not true or no longer true about resumes.

And why would you know this? I ran a Google search about ‘resume writing’ and found 26 million items! And they all offer the same old bromides. ‘Make it pleasing to the eye’, ‘your goal is to avoid being at the bottom of the pile of resumes in Personnel!’ Seriously? When were these books written? Who was President? There are no ‘Piles’ of resumes in a digital world, and ‘personnel’ has been renamed Human Resources about a generation or two ago. And you can’t be ‘pleasing to the eye’ when everyone is sending the resume via the same Outlook format. These books, no doubt relevant in their day, are fecklessly reprinted every time there is a recession because we know people will be dusting off resumes and looking for an edge. But to give the same well worn advice now that technology has changed both the purpose of resumes and the delivery system, is to literally cost people interviews rather than help them acquire them.

Submitting resumes is my lifeblood as recruiter. If I am out of touch with how it’s done, I starve. And that just isn’t going to happen! So let me help you RecruiterIZE your resume:


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About the Author

Danny Cahill is the author of Harper’s Rules: A Recruiter’s Guide to Finding a Dream Job and the Right Relationship. A popular keynote speaker and recruiter, he is the owner of Hobson Associates, one of America’s largest search firms. He is also the founder of www.AccordingtoDanny.com, an online training and mentoring company dedicated to enhancing the skills and jumpstarting the spirits of recruiters worldwide. For more information, please visit www.harpersrules.com or www.hobsonassoc.com. To read Danny’s complete biography, click here.