A few weeks back, I started the first half of this post where I shared the first three tips of how to be strategic in your approach to landing that dream position. For the sake of clarity, I have chosen to focus on my journey specifically to receiving my co-op offer from Deloitte in the given examples. To re-cap quickly, my first three tips were: focus on an industry, ask for help, and it’s never too early to start networking. In case you missed Part 1, you can read it here.
For today’s post, I’m going to jump back in and complete the second half of my list. Once again, please note that this is not an exhaustive list and these are actions that have worked for me. I do firmly believe that they are applicable across all industries and very easy to implement which is why I am extremely happy to share!
In no particular order again…
4. Do it in person.
When you can network in person, do it! Do not opt out for hiding behind your computer and getting lost in an email thread. Back in my second year, I knew I wanted my co-ops to be in Calgary as that is where I wanted to ultimately settle down with a career upon graduation. Since I was in Victoria during the school year, I felt that I was at a disadvantage for Calgary firms as I was not able to attend any of their networking events. As such, I knew I had to capitalize on the time that I would be back in Calgary which was during my reading breaks and holidays each semester. Before returning home each time, I would e-mail my contacts within the company and ask to meet them for coffee at their convenience. All individuals were extremely receptive and I was able to go down to the office and chat with them in person.
In doing this, I was able to (1) show initiative and that I was serious about working at Deloitte and (2) convey who “Brina” really is in person verses what I appear as on paper or online. Each meeting was extremely helpful and I was able to learn some valuable information that strengthened my application. As intimidating or awkward as it may seem to meet a stranger for the first time, it’s all about your mindset. Instead of psyching yourself out and going in thinking you need to “convince” them to like you, relax and just be yourself! In all honesty, only 25% of the conversations would be me asking for advice while the other 75% was dedicated to getting to know each individual on a more personal level and asking questions about their journey to Deloitte and what attracted them to the company. I found that if you can reciprocate the questions to someone who is typically in the driver’s seat when it comes to asking the questions, it is going to stand out in their minds and make it feel like an organic two-way conversation. Don’t be shy to ask personal questions but obviously still be courteous about what you ask as you don’t want to come across as being intrusive or nosey!
Another advantage of meeting in person is that you can really get a sense of what the people are like which is a reflection of the company. Especially with the Big 4 firms, all of them are going to offer the same work experience and learning opportunity. What really differentiates them from each other is their people and the company culture. Having met with some of the other campus recruiters and employees, it became evident which companies I did and did not want to work for. Deloitte’s people stood out exceptionally in my opinion which ultimately solidified my decision to work there.
5. Find your competitive advantage and leverage it.
You, yourself are a business/brand. When it comes to applying for a position, you are ultimately entering a contract to offer your skills and qualifications in exchange for compensation or valuable experience. All the other people applying are your competitors doing the exact same thing and just like a business, how will you differentiate yourself to convince the employer that you can provide the best value to them? If it’s your grades that are exceptional and your differentiating factor, leverage that in your application. If you are the king or queen of extracurriculars, make that the most evident and explain why that makes you better candidate than a straight A student with no extracurriculars. Whatever it is that separates you from the rest, emphasize it! It may feel like you are bragging about yourself, but as long as it is not false, there is nothing wrong with self promotion- no one else is going to do it for you.
For myself, I knew that when it came to grades, there was no way I was going to stand out. To combat this, I made a huge effort to get extremely involved in extracurricular activities and volunteering throughout my undergrad to demonstrate that I can be a well-rounded student. Anywhere from joining the badminton team to starting a club on campus, or becoming apart of the leadership team for the Commerce Students’ Society- it all adds up and it all means something. Of course, don’t do it just for a resume enhancer as it’s important to do something that you’re interested in. It’s up to you to extrapolate your experiences and demonstrate to the employer how that has shaped you or prepared you for the position and what you will bring to the table because of it.
6. Follow up.
Golden rule of networking: always, always follow up! Even if you are confident that your meeting or interview went well, following up is always a smart decision. It’s not so much about attempting to drastically alter someone’s opinion of you, however, in doing so, you are extending a simple courtesy and leaving that final last impression that could end up being the cherry on the top! Is it mandatory to? No, and most people won’t which is all the reason why YOU should. Networking is all about making great impressions and standing out and small efforts add up.
Having said that, there is a right and wrong way in how you should follow up with someone and as with most things, it’s all about the timing. Following up within hours preceding the meeting may come across as being too smothering. On the flip side, allowing days to go by after your meeting could be damaging as your impression slowly wares off and you don’t want them to think they were just an after thought. It does not need to be time consuming nor does it demand a lot of effort- simply thank them for their time.
I’m going to stop my list right there as I feel like I could go on and on. Having said that, I am confident about everything discussed and I truly believe that the combination of each tip is what has brought me “wins” in the professional world and hopefully does for you too. Also, please be aware that everyone’s path to getting a job varies at all levels. You could have a golden ticket of a resume or transcript and applying through a company’s website may be all that you do to get hired. But for others such as myself, more effort and time may be needed. At the end of the day, the best advice is to be confident and be yourself. If that’s not enough, then it wasn’t the right fit and just like any relationship, it needs to be a good match on both ends. (Wow, this just started sounding like a dating column- which I suppose is somewhat similar). But I digress… I truly hope that this list of tips n’ tricks has empowered and fuelled your fire to go out there and chase after that dream job of yours. Just as Michael Jordan once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”.
Thanks for reading another e31. post! I hope you specifically enjoyed these last couple of posts and were able to extract some value from them! Also, I would love to hear some of your networking tips if they were not mentioned.
Until next time work hard and be nice to people!