VT Interview: Job Search Success

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VT Interview

Job Search Success

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Brian Krueger has worked in human resources leadership positions for more than 25 years, including most recently as head of global hiring for both Amazon and Unisys. He has shared with job seekers his "other side of the desk" perspective in his book The College Grad Job Hunter (now in its sixth edition), through the website he founded (CollegeGrad.com) and through a series of free instructional videos for job seekers on YouTube.

Although his work focuses primarily on helping entry-level college graduates, the principles he lays out apply to all young adults searching for a career. We've set the key points from our interview with Mr. Krueger in bold for your ready reference.

VT: What advice would you give to those who can't seem to find "that job" they're after?

BK: As time permits, I do individual career counseling to help people find work. Sometimes it's hard to get excited about a job with only a two-paragraph description in the newspaper or an Internet posting. A much deeper process is needed, so I walk people through the steps in making direct contact with employers.

The answer is to build out your network and find people who work in your field. I recommend that people join job associations or industry associations—especially those they can join as a student. That's a great way to get connected with other people in the field and help to build out your network.

It's also helpful to use online tools like LinkedIn to reach out and make connections beyond your first level of personal contacts. It's all about building connections. If you're still in school, ask your professors for recommendations or connections.

Go to the career center. A lot of students wait until they're almost ready to graduate, but it's much better to start long before that—ideally as a freshman but at least by the beginning of their final year. Make that contact early.

It's also important for anyone who is going to college to strive to get internships—at least one, but ideally two or three. Those students who do will have their pick of which companies they want to work for after graduation!

VT: What's the best way to prepare for a future career?

BK:The best way to prepare for your career is to work backwards. Specifically, start with the end goal in mind and then work back to what you need to do to prepare yourself for that career. Most people work in the opposite direction. They take classes that interest them or because they like a certain professor or teacher and then choose a college major based on the classes they like best. They graduate without knowing what job opportunities may exist for that major.

Instead, start with career exploration to learn more about other careers, and career testing to learn more about yourself. By doing so, you'll be able to better target the career that's best for you. Then you can develop a custom approach to preparing yourself for that career.

VT: What qualities are companies looking for today?

BK: Regardless of the career, companies are looking for employees who are truly engaged, and ideally enthusiastic, about that career. If you're not in a career you can get excited about, you may be in the wrong career. You'll spend more time on the job than almost any other part of your life, so make sure it's a job you love.

And be flexible to make changes along the way in your career. Very few people follow a vertical line in their career within one specific career path. Seek to grow within a company once you've been hired instead of switching employers. You can usually move vertically along a specific field, or horizontally to experience something new within the same company.

It's also important to be honest and professional in your work, always redeeming the time and putting in an honest day's work—and then some. Be willing to go above and beyond to stand out from others.

VT: How can graduates stand out among their peers when preparing for and applying for a job?

BK: First of all, look around at others in your classroom. They're who you'll be competing against. Know how to differentiate yourself.

To do that, get to know yourself and how to interview well. Most people think they'll know how to answer the questions but then go into their first interview and fall flat. Take the time to do mock interviews in advance.

Also key is to be enthusiastic about the company you're interviewing with and to know what it does on a deeper level. Learn specifics about the company and the position you're applying for.

It's important to invest time before your interview so you can be confident in who you are and in the company you'll potentially be working for.

VT: What skills are important to learn as teens and young adults prepare to find jobs?

BK: The most important class all students can take is Speech 101. It's typically a freshman-level class, but speech is a very valuable skill to learn because it teaches you how to communicate.

Employers look at communication skill in interviews even if it doesn't directly apply to the job you're applying for. Join speech clubs or find opportunities for public speaking. Many think they're good at public speaking until they get up and try it. It's always good to become more proficient in this area.

VT: From your experience, in what ways should God and faith be incorporated into a successful career search?

BK: Incorporate God into your job search. Pray about your job search each day, and pray specifically before you do an interview, whether it's over the phone or in person. Plan to arrive early to your in-person interview and say a prayer in advance. Ask others to pray for your interview to go well. It helps to have others in your "job-search prayer network" praying for you. Remember that success does not necessarily mean getting the job offer. If the job is right for you, the offer is the right outcome. However, if the job is not right for you, success is not getting the job offer. Do your best to present yourself fully so that both you and the employer can make a wise decision about your working together. When a job offer does come, pray that you will make the right decision. Make God your Guide and Leader in your job search.

Getting started

We at Vertical Thought appreciate Mr. Krueger sharing his valuable advice and hope that you will use his insights as a guide in preparing for your career. Indeed, preparation is key—so start now! Get in touch with those who can help you create a plan. Take advantage of the resources available to you. And, most importantly, remember to include God in this life-changing decision. May God bless you with success in your job search.

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