Home > Uncategorized > The Right Way to Find the Right Job

Comments 0 Comments

College graduation season is upon us, and there’s no shortage of advice columnists offering tips to recent college grads on how to land that first, full-time job. Some discuss what today’s employers are looking for—candidates who are resourceful, intuitive, self-starting and sincere (like that’s a surprise)—while others suggest strategies for devising eye-catching resumes.

This isn’t one of those columns. My financial services colleagues and I actually had a preference for hiring recent grads for three good reasons:

They travel light. Although most will have worked part-time while in college and, ideally, completed an internship that coincided with their studies and professional aspirations, recent grads come with relatively little baggage. In other words, there aren’t a lot of bad habits to break or attitudes to change.

They’re malleable.  Because they travel light and are usually pretty enthusiastic about their first full-time gig, recent grads are more easily trained.

They know more than we do. No matter how with it we hirers believe we are, recent grads are also that much more comfortable—often to the point of fearlessness—with technology. Consequently, we learned as much from them as they from us.

Contrary to what you might believe or hope, the hiring process isn’t akin to speed dating. In fact, although many of us feel good about the gut decisions we often make on the fly, I’ve learned the hard way that first impressions aren’t always correct. That’s why God invented second and third interviews.

So here’s how to get started.

Your resume should coincide with the position you seek or the posting to which you are responding. Not only should you not embellish it, but you should absolutely never misstate any of your qualifications, experiences or academic background. You never know who’s going to pick up the phone to check on these.

Also, take care to choose your references wisely—in particular, those who can speak to the qualifications you need for the position you have in mind—and make certain they’re prepared for the call. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve contacted an unprepared or-, worse- , a reference who didn’t even know that his or her name was given…, to the detriment of the applicant.

Your cover letter is equally important. Use it to make a brief and respectful case for your favorable consideration while at the same time a glimpse of your personality. Believe me, it makes a difference to know that as focused and determined as you may be, you don’t take yourself more seriously than you should.

Now, suppose that your resume and cover letter do what they’re supposed to do: attract interest. It’s time to prepare for the first hurdle: the dreaded phone screen. Sure, we’re trying to weed out the obvious bad fits crazies and those who are inexplicably incapable of advocating for themselves. But we’re also looking for those who’ve taken the time do the research into what we do, how we do it, and are able to persuasively articulate how they believe they can help, (if only we would agree to meet them).

You see, the singular objective for the phone screen is to score an in-person interview. It’s where you’ll have as much of an opportunity to impress as you will to assess. I’ll discuss that in a minute. In the Meantime, keep these three things in mind.

Dress appropriately. Even if they say they’re business casual, endure the ridicule and crank it up a notch to show respect.

Speak knowledgably and confidently on the subjects you know. Never attempt to bluff your way through the things you don’t know. The odds are against you on that one.

Be prepared to ask questions. Many interviewers close by asking if the candidate has any questions he or she would like to ask. “Nope” is not a good answer. In fact, you should look at that question as an ideal opportunity to showcase the initiative you took by researching the organization in advance of your meeting.

Ask for the timeline. The close of the interview is also a good time to ask for a sense for their decision-making process and for permission to follow up at a later date.



Two more things to do as you prepare for your audition.

Clean up your online act. So much information is so readily available these days that it would be a mistake to believe that the things you wouldn’t want your mother to see won’t end up on a prospective employer’s monitor.

Personal financial management counts. Although many states have enacted or are contemplating legislation that limits the use of credit scores and credit bureau reports in the hiring process, there are exceptions. My own industry, for example, is one of those because our positions are often directly or indirectly tied to financial transactions.

And if the opportunity you seek is one that requires a credit check as part of the hiring process, know these three things:

First, under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), no employer is permitted to order your credit report without your written consent.

Second, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the three principal credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) are required to provide you with a free credit report, annually. It would be agood idea to know what yours says before you’re asked about it.

Third, if there are items on your report that concern you, I suggest you discuss these forthrightly when you’re asked to grant that permission, because that’s when it’ll count—not before.

I’ve heard lots of stories about divorces, medical emergencies, student loan burdens and even past employment interruptions. Life happens, and. But as long your credit bureau report shows that you have or are working through your problems in a responsible manner, you shouldn’t be overly concerned. On the other hand, betting that a chronic case of late payments and account closures won’t come up isn’t one a bet worth taking.

Finally, I said before that in-person interviews are opportunities for mutual assessment. In particular, there are three things to consider as you make your way through the process.

Is this the kind of work you want to do? Does it coincide with your education and interests? Will the tasks that you’ll be asked to complete present enough of a challenging enoughe to keep you engaged?

How do you feel about the people and the work environment? In particular, what do you think of the person to whom you’ll report? What about the people with whom you’ll work? What’s your sense of the environment: calm, busy, frenetic, pressure cooker?

Will these folks help you to become more tomorrow than you are today? Will they train and mentor you? Do they offer a reasonably attainable career path? Is there a continuing education reimbursement program? Will there be opportunities to explore other areas within the organization if you choose?

This last group of questions is the most important of them all. Not only does it represent the difference between a short-term job and, potentially, a lifelong career, but it also offers invaluable insight into how management views its employees—as individuals who are worthy of investment or commodities to plug and play.

The right kind of employer will want to do all they can to make your time there worthwhile—for both your sakes—not least because recruiting, onboarding, training and helping new hires to become productive is time-consuming and costly. So it follows that if your prospective employer is so inclined, you can also look forward to a compensation package that’s both competitive and fair.

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.

More on Student Loans:

Image: Nick White

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team