Each month, ABC News On Campus career columnist Lindsey Pollak will answer questions submitted by readers. We received many e-mails during December and regret that we are not able to respond to each and every one.
Below are Pollak's responses to the first batch of questions.
Have a question of your own? Click here to send Lindsey Pollak an e-mail.
How do you go about job searching in a new city where you don't have any connections? -- Amy
LINDSEY SAYS: Looking for a job in a new city requires some extra effort, a bit of ingenuity and a generous dose of guts. Drink a strong cup of coffee, and then follow these steps:
1. Learn as much as you can about the city in which you're applying for jobs. Who are the big employers? What are the major industries? What are the average salaries for the positions you're seeking? Where are the best places to network? How is the economy right now? You want to speak the same language and have the same reference points as potential employers. When you sound like an insider, people believe you'll fit right in.
2. Network with people in the new city. Make connections by phone and e-mail through your alumni association, professional associations, online networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook, and use personal referrals from friends and family. Spread the word that you're looking for a job and that you're excited to become part of the community. Often people are excited to learn that you're moving to their city and will keep their ears open for opportunities that fit your criteria. As long as you're friendly, authentic and grateful, most people will be happy to help you. Be brave, and ask for help, and vow to return the favor when you're happily settled in your new city.
3. At every stage, show your eagerness to move. In your cover letters and formal interviews, demonstrate to potential employers that hiring you is just as desirable as hiring someone who already lives in the area. Mention your eagerness to become part of the community, show off your knowledge of the city, offer to travel to the new city for job interviews and offer to pay for your own relocation costs (while some companies may offer relocation packages, it's not likely in the current economy).
Best of luck! Lindsey
I wanted to ask about careers in finance. Would you please provide any advice for all the bright students who are still looking to break into the financial industry or wanting to switch to another financial firm. What do you recommend that these talented students do to increase their chances of landing that dream job in the financial world in this economy? Thank you so much! -- Anju
LINDSEY SAYS: I wish I could offer a magic strategy for students and young professionals seeking jobs in finance, but the reality is that many job seekers are going to have to settle for less than the "perfect" finance job for the next year or two.
While there's no harm in applying to the best financial firms, there simply aren't many jobs available right now. I recommend looking for positions at smaller firms, regional firms, accounting firms and retail banks. If you're not dead-set on finance at this stage of your career, you might consider expanding your search to management consulting firms, general management positions, sales positions and other areas of business.
Even if you take a position outside finance, you can continue to build your connections, skills and knowledge in the financial sector. Subscribe to industry e-newsletters and read industry blogs, join or attend meetings of relevant professional associations and seek mentors in the field who can provide advice and guidance.
Finally, remember that this situation is temporary. Your goal should be to make it through the economic downturn with a decent job and outside activities that will provide good business experience, good networking connections and good prospects for the future. Since we are experiencing unprecedented times in the financial sector, I don't think that any future employer will judge you for a slight deviation from the "typical" finance career path.
Hang in there!
I am a recent college graduate who is finding it difficult to find a rewarding job/career during this time of economic hardship. I received my bachelor's degree in marketing and just recently finished my master's in business administration. I am 24 years old and have what I feel to be decent experience, but it's not enough to land me the jobs I am technically qualified for. What would you suggest I do? Thanks! -- Ann
LINDSEY SAYS: This is a difficult time to find a job, but I'm optimistic that you can find a satisfying position that will help you get to the next level of your career. Since you are early in your career, the exact position isn't as important as what you make of the opportunity. Don't worry about titles or levels at this point. I know many young professionals who began their careers as assistants, coordinators or low-level salespeople and rapidly moved up the ladder.
As I recommended above in the advice to finance industry job seekers, you'll also have to cast a wide net in your job search. If you've been looking primarily at large employers, start looking for jobs with small- to medium-size organizations. If you've been spending your time on Internet job boards and social networking sites, add some in-person networking events and informational interviews to your calendar. You're fortunate that marketing exists in virtually every organization, so you'll have access to opportunities in market research, direct marketing, advertising and many other areas.
Do you think college students should seek internships as a means to connect and network with people already in the industry they seek, or is it more valuable to learn what life will be like after college? -- Robert
LINDSEY SAYS: I believe that internships are valuable for college students for a variety of reasons, including the two you mentioned -- industry networking and "real world" experience.
Other benefits of internships include the opportunity to learn about potential career paths, observe and practice professional etiquette, receive career guidance and mentoring, build new skill sets and potentially explore new industries or geographic locations. Internships can guide a students toward particular career paths or, as often happens, guide them away from a path that sounds great but, in reality, isn't the right fit.
Students who are interested in finding an internship should contact their university's career services office and check out the following Web sites: CollegeRecruiter.com, OneDayOneInternship.com and Experience.com.
Thanks for the question!
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