#21: We are back…!

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Happy Wednesday everyone! Just a quick note to say ZUGVOGL weekly needed to rest a little as we have been working very hard over the past months to bring you just the best experiences for 2018 – be prepared for many opportunities to find and get the job that really fits!

You might love, hate or feel indifferent about the surprises we have in store for you – in any case, please tell us so we know whether or not we are on the right track. In the meantime, we are happy to give you feedback on your C.V. to ensure that you are definitely on the right track.. 😉

Until soon!

Julia

#20: Not enough work experience for the job? (No problem.)

shutterstock_489313348-2The ultimate problem of  job searching, especially as a graduate: you’re targeting entry-level roles, but even these require at least a couple years’ of industry work.

How are you supposed to get any exposure to the field if you can’t even land a position at the bottom of the career ladder? If an entry-level job is one that’s designed for people with no prior experience, what’s up with this requirement? Why do so many employers include it in the listing? I know this is frustrating, but not quite as bad as you might think.

In most cases, you can think of job descriptions as a hiring manager’s wish list. You’ll find all kinds of details about what your potential future boss would consider an ideal candidate – from personality traits and work style (i.e., proactive or independent) to specific knowledge or skills (i.e., understanding of CRM databases or familiarity with MATLAB) – they’ll generally also choose a certain number of years in the field based on expertise level they’re seeking. But most of the time, it’s more of a “nice to have” than a “must have” point.

But, if you’re able to convey your knowledge in a way that makes it easy for a prospective employer to see how your unique abilities would complement their needs, you stand a decent chance of surviving this initial test. SO, that means for you: if you meet 80% of the requirements listed, don’t overthink it, just apply.

Not quite there? That’s OK, too. If it’s something you’re really excited about, and you realistically think you can handle the job, give it a shot. But don’t forget to write a customized cover letter, update your resume, and use your network to get in touch with people who work at the company you’re pursuing – or call us 😉 .

Internships, projects you completed while earning your degree, or jobs where you were charged with similar responsibilities ALL count—especially if you’re targeting entry-level opportunities. It’s really pretty simple: If it’s in the description and you’ve dealt with it in some capacity, be sure to include whatever “it” is on your resume.

At the end of the day, whether or not you qualify is more about the full package you offer, not some period of time.

Most hiring managers are going to be way more excited about an applicant with a clear passion and demonstrated exposure to some of the key elements of the role they’re trying to fill than a candidate who has the exact number of years they decided to include on the listing. Don’t let the fact that you don’t meet every single criterion in a job description hold you back.

#19: Cover letters – they do get read – 5 tips on how to write a great one.

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Before we start: we can and do reassure you, cover letters get read. For some hiring managers they are actually VERY important. If it is you against another equally qualified candidate, the one with the better cover letter will win. For now, you don’t need any with us – on that note, you might want to include a personal statement in your CV – but if you were to look for jobs outside of ZUGVOGL take on these tips:

4. Write according to the Company’s style

#18: Blackout during the interview? Don’t worry – read on.

shutterstock_292353074After having spoken to many of you in the last weeks, the main “fear” you told us regarding interviews, is to simply have a blackout or not knowing what to answer. And given interviews for the summer interns or part time jobs are coming up, we put together some tips on how you can handle this situation (that, just FYI, is very likely NOT going to happen and just in your thoughts..)

So, as you have read our articles already on how to prepare for the most common interview questions, let’s see what you can say if a question comes up you haven’t thought of before. Consider these tips:

1.) THINK and PROCESS

First, give yourself time to think and process when it happens. It’s not that you have nothing to say, it’s more likely that you were either caught off guard or too nervous to concentrate. What helps is to either rephrase the question (while you think which one of your prepared examples you can state) or ask the interviewer for more details, such as “Can you elaborate on what exactly you mean by XYZ…?”

2.) SHARE your thoughts

Then, if it’s a question you don’t know how to answer, don’t be afraid to do a bit of thinking out loud. Many times hiring managers are asking tricky questions not to hear you present the right answer immediately, but to get a better understanding of how you think through problems.

3.) BE REAL (yet again)

And if you really don’t have any answer at all, it’s OK to be honest. A hiring manager will be more impressed that you’re willing to admit that than if you come up with a bad lie or go on and on about nothing really substantial. Plus, you can always say that you’ll get back to them on this question. This, in turn, gives you a great opportunity to elaborate on your “Thank you” follow up email afterwards.

Lastly: being nervous is absolutely normal – but the best tip of all to even fake confidence? Always come prepared so you never have to worry about this.

#17: Skills tech employees need

shutterstock_272457572Sure, your field is in high demand and has a low supply of qualified professionals but from the companies, we’ve heard that they look for something that some “tech workers” just don’t have: soft skills, including collaboration, leadership, and critical thinking.

This means that you gain even more negotiating power with potential employers when you bring strong soft skills to the table. If you want to gain the best opportunities, read on.

1.) Be a Problem Solver

Some info from the other side: One big topic in the recruiting world is how to find and hire critical thinkers. Build this skill with empathetic thinking. ASK YOURSELF: Do you see common frustrations around you? What is the best way to solve these problems with technology? This is your opportunity to make an impact and create value for others.

2.) Be a good Communicator

NOT the coffee chat kind (albeit, still important), but the professional business kind. This includes writing, listening, and presentation skills. Technology touches everything – and can improve (mostly) everything. This means that people from all departments will want solutions you have to offer, but you need to really LISTEN if you want to understand their needs. And you won’t be able to share your solution with your boss and/or your team internally if you have trouble speaking about and presenting your ideas.

Build your communication skills by practicing active listening and look for opportunities to speak up in meetings.

3.) Be a People Person

No matter how great you are at your technical skill set, if you can’t  build a rapport with people, then you won’t last. Practice your collaboration by seeking out opportunities to work in a group environment, for example at university or even better use your hobbies to come up with a project that forces you to speak to and work with (many) people.

How to Show Off Your Soft Skills?

Below are some quick ways to demonstrate potential employers that you’re then they need.

  • Explain a solution you’ve delivered in terms of the economic and stakeholder value it created for your company (internship positions) or even for your extracurricular activities
  • Clearly communicate that you understand the purpose behind your past projects, again as above during the internship(s) or other roles. WHY were you given the task(s)? What was the overall outcome of your contribution?
  • Talk about times that demonstrate you’re a positive team player

If you learn to master the soft-skills code, you’re likely to get noticed and hired more quickly. After all, where would you rather be in 10 years? Alone, sitting behind a screen… or surrounded by a dynamic team to help you take projects to the next level?

#16: How to get better at small talk

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You have a job interview fast approaching and you feel slightly nervous. You’re anxiously preparing answers to the most common interview questions so you can ace your answers. You’ve researched the company, selected your perfect interview outfit, and even googled the hiring manager. But, what’s one aspect you might have neglected to think about? Small talk. 

It’s an inevitable part of every job interview. How can you make the best out of a seemingly insignificant conversation? Consider these 4 points:

1. Please don’t mention the weather

Friendly chats about the weather are easy to lean on. However, I think we can all agree that they aren’t very impactful or memorable. I can’t imagine many hiring managers vouching for a candidate by saying, “Hey, how about the guy that mentioned how sunny it was? I thought he was great!”

So, do yourself a favor and skip the generalities and clichés. You can bet that every other candidate is using those – and you want to be the one to stand out.

2. Find a Common Interest

If you were thinking ahead, you’d have spent some time researching your interviewer before you arrived at the meeting. Whenever you’re doing that polite research through his or her professional social media profile, keep your eyes looking for any common interests you might share. Alternatively, find one thing to say about you and your hobbies, sth. general you can’t go wrong with, for example sports.

What this sounds like: “I’m doing great, thanks! I started the day with a training run for my upcoming half marathon, so I really can’t complain.”

3. Comment on Something Company Related

Of course, you’re there to demonstrate that you’d be a great fit for the company. So, any time you can show that you have an interest and high level of engagement in what that organization has going on, that’s a win for you.

As you’re waiting for your meeting, look for any clues you could use to start a conversation. Maybe the company has several awards hanging on the wall of the lobby. Perhaps you couldn’t help but to overhear two co-workers discussing the upcoming running competition.

Those little insights into the company can be a great topic of conversation with your interviewer. Don’t be afraid to use them!

What this sounds like: “I heard someone talk about a company-wide running contest while I was waiting. It sounds like you have a really great culture here – I love running!”

4. Ask Questions

No matter how much you prepare, small talk can still be awkward. In those moments when you’re feeling a little panicky, never hesitate to rely on this tactic: asking questions.

Doing so will shift the spotlight off of you. And, honestly, when your interviewer will be the one having to ask questions for the next half hour or so, he likely won’t mind a little bit of time to be on the receiving end and share a little bit about himself.

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It can be strange to think about preparing for small talk. But, when you’re at a job interview, every single second is an opportunity to make a positive impression and get yourself one step closer to actually getting that position.

So, rather than wasting that friendly chit chat on the weather or pleasantries that don’t extend past, “I’m fine, thanks!” use these tips to best use that time to your advantage.

#15: 3 steps for writing a (perfect) personal statement

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As most of you know, our sample CV template includes a personal statement paragraph on top of the CV – when used correctly, it can be a real asset to stand out from your competition. Given we have seen many in the last months, just a few tips on what to actually say in it – and what NOT to say.. The main reason for this statement is to summarize your skills and experience in order for a prospective employer to quickly get a sense of the value you could offer.

If you do decide to include a personal (summary) statement, be ready to do some introspection. Here’s a three-step plan to help:

Step 1: Where You’re Going?

Since you need to be concise, it’s important to figure out what you want in your position, so you know exactly what skills and experiences to highlight. If you are not absolutely clear about what you want, envision an ideal position that will value you for the main characteristics and experiences you want to be hired for.

Ask Yourself

  • What skills do you most enjoy using?
  • What accomplishments are you most proud of and can best illustrate your abilities?
  • What issues, topics, or areas are you most passionate about?

Step 2: Analyze Your Target Industry

Once you know what you want to do, your next step is identifying where you want to be – think industry, city, and companies. Then, research your industry and key trends affecting it now: read relevant industry news articles, research companies (see our blog article #5), and analyse job descriptions you’re interested in.

Ask Yourself

  • What is most valued in your target industry?
  • What experiences, skills, and characteristics matter in your target jobs?
  • What would you look for if you were the hiring manager

Step 3: Find your fit and summarise

With your knowledge of your target industry, it’s time to figure out how you fit in (or want to). Identify, describe, and refine your key selling points with your end goal in mind. Then, craft them into 4-6 bullets, shooting for statements that are vivid and that clearly illustrate what you bring to the table over anyone else.

Ask Yourself

  • What are your most impactful selling points?
  • What critical problems are you well positioned to solve?
  • What is the intersection of what you want and what your target industry needs

Remember:

A summary statement can be a powerful branding tool that helps send the message that you’re the right one for the job. The best thing about taking the time to put one together (whether you decide to actually use it or not) is that it not only helps hiring managers get a clear sense of what you have to offer, but also helps you better understand what you bring to the table. So, you get the added benefit of knowing exactly how to sell your skills the next time you’re networking, interviewing or presenting yourself online.