explain finding and getting a job like Im a 5 year old
March 4, 2013 11:22 AM   Subscribe

What are the must-have books on getting a job in addition to What Color is Your Parachute?

I need a practical nuts-and-bolts book geared towards an engineer. One that addresses networking and phone interviews would be great. How exactly does one get an informational interview at a company 45 minutes away without getting the run around? Call and ask the secretary? One that will be useful for years to come.

Getting a job is a skill like any other, so what are the best resources to learn that skill? I graduated with bachelor's in biomedical engineering 3 years ago and have yet to land a real job. I am smart, capable, and know there are jobs out there for me. Help me make it happen, because I feel like I'm working in the dark.
posted by Mr. Papagiorgio to Work & Money (15 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
60 Seconds and You're Hired! is the best interview book I've ever had recommended to me, and I've known people who got hired in numerous fields (including engineering) who found it very helpful.
posted by griphus at 11:27 AM on March 4, 2013 [7 favorites]

I've written a lot about this in AskMe - I had to network like crazy to find a job when we moved back to Canada and I had to change careers, and I eventually got a job where networking was a key activity (I worked for a tech industry association).

Send me a MeMail if you like, happy to do a Skype call.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:29 AM on March 4, 2013

I highly recommend Let's All Find Awesome Jobs by Kevin Fanning. It has a ton of practical advice about what not to do and what can actually get you a job.
posted by mattbucher at 11:37 AM on March 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

Also, I would advise against looking for and using a single Tome Of Employment as your job-hunting strategy. Every aspect of the job hunt is discrete, and has various strategies to master (which is why that book I linked is a book only about the interviewing process.) A single Getting Hired As An Engineer For Dummies book is more likely to be a jack of all trades/master of none sort of affair than the instructional manual you're looking for.

Break the process down to its component pieces: putting together a resume and cover letter, putting together an "elevator pitch," finding networking locations, actually doing the networking and securing an interview, doing well at the interview, etc. and find books and advice on those.
posted by griphus at 11:38 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

You mention networking and information interviews, so I'll address that part.
You create your own network, and you do through people you meet or know.

You want to be (or are) and engineer. Are you a member of any engineering organizations? If you are, go to the meetings, mingle, meet people, ask them questions about their job/company. Listen for interesting-sounding companies/jobs. This is called networking.

If you are not a member of any organizations, join some (more than one, so you can find the group that 'works' best for you). Many such organizations will have periodic 'job socials' for people seeking work - this is your opportunity for informational interviews, or actual interviews, if there's something you're qualified for.

Going to these meetings, making contacts in your engineering community, and understanding who/what is out there is key to your future.

Best of luck to you!
posted by dbmcd at 11:56 AM on March 4, 2013

I too adore 60 Seconds and You're Hired. It's fabulous!

I find that applying for jobs on Linkedin results in the best response for Applications:Interviews. Flat out.

SimplyHired.com is another good source for jobs.

What about talking to someone in your career center where you graduated for an evaluation of your resume, etc?

The trick to getting an information interview is to actually call the actual person you want to talk to. Having the name is key.

You can do this in steps:

1. I'd like to speak to someone in the Frammistanie department please.

2. Hello, I'm sending an email, and I need to know the spelling of the name of the department head. Great, thanks, also, is that Joe.Blough@123Frammistannies.com? Thanks.

3. Then send an email directly. It should say:

I am a recent grad of X School in X program. I'm starting out in the industry and I'd love an opportunity to pick your brain on how best to get my foot in the door. I really admire 123 Frammistanny and I'd like to understand how my skills and talents can fit into the organization. If you have a recommendation for whom best to speak with, I'd love an introduction.

You may still get filed away, but you have a MUCH better chance of connecting.

Also, what are the networking events that folks in your industry attend? I find that these are pretty weak, mostly sales people and job seekers trying to buttonhole someone, but you'll meet some folks, and rub shoulders and you never know. Don't accost a Sr. Director at the event. Get that person's name, then using the above method and email.

I find that speaking to an Admin as though they are your only hope is the best tack. "I'm trying to reach someone who can help me, I'm looking for the name of the person who...I need to send an email." I'd say 75% of the time I get the info. Calls are intrusive, email, not as much. Also an admin won't get in trouble for giving out an email address. Don't mention that the Admin gave it to you!

Also, call some of your former professors and/or classmates. These folks may have leads for you.

Here's what I've found. You have to submit 100 resumes to get about 5 interviews. You need 5 interviews to get an offer.

Those are in good times, it's harder in bad times.

If you want help with your resume, me mail me.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:15 PM on March 4, 2013 [6 favorites]

Ruthless Bunny's suggestion will likely work in many cases, but in my industry, we are extra wary of phone calls from strangers asking for company insider information, and the recommendation is to report them. I've reported a few calls like that as possible social engineering attempts.

I recently found someone who I wanted to have an informational interview with, looked her up on linkedin, found that I had connections to her, got an introduction and requested an informational interview - and got it. Personal connections make everything a lot easier.

Good luck!
posted by bunderful at 12:27 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Get a job doing anything in the industry that you want to work in. I started out in the mail room before I got a real job in IT. I don't know how your industry works, but have you considered getting a really entry-level job as a lab technician or something like that? Whatever job you get - show up on time, do what people expect from you, keep in contact with everyone that you work with or went to school with that's in your industry. Once you already have a job - any job - it's easier to move up to the level of your competence than it is to get your first job.

Constantly keep an ear out for job openings, and so on.
posted by empath at 12:44 PM on March 4, 2013

Remember the phrase "the strength of the weak tie." The best job leads tend to come from people you are acquainted with but not close to. In other words, someone you know well enough to ask but not so well as to be highly likely to have a lot of the same contacts and info. Cold calling is tough, even if you have fantastic people skills. It is worse if you are less schmoozy.
posted by Michele in California at 1:14 PM on March 4, 2013

Read Ask a Manager
posted by radioamy at 1:24 PM on March 4, 2013

Response by poster: A lot of the bay area biotech companies are in the Peninsula and East Bay, and I live in Sonoma County making it difficult to drive out there. There are some local medical device companies such as Medtronic, but I am not sure how to find local industry events and organizations. I guess if I keep at it and make some phone calls I will uncover more local information.

bunderful - How exactly does one find someone to do an informational interview with? All I have are local company names. I guess cold messaging on LinkedIn, calling like Ruthless Bunny suggests, or going in person.

I have emailed college friends and other contacts asking for leads. I have talked with one professor, but could try reaching out to more. Nothing solid has stuck. I tried recruiting agencies such as Aerotek and Kelly Services. All they had were technician jobs which felt would be a poor long term career move.

I have to take more risks which sounds like a great learning opportunity and adventure. It just helps to have better tools and methods than trial and error. Thanks everyone for the help and encouragement.
posted by Mr. Papagiorgio at 1:26 PM on March 4, 2013

Mr. Papagiorgio: "...Aerotek and Kelly Services. All they had were technician jobs which felt would be a poor long term career move."

From one unemployed (mid-career) engineer to another: being unemployed is a worse career move.
posted by notsnot at 1:52 PM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

To get an informational interview, go on LinkedIn, and look up people with positions you'd like to have at companies you'd like. See if anybody in your network knows one of those people, or if they know somebody who knows one of those people. Ask graciously for an introduction. Many people won't respond, but many will. Another option is to use your alumni network; many schools have a database you can search by company. Then, you can email that person. Many won't respond, but some will. Ruthless Bunny's script is perfect.
posted by gone2croatan at 2:24 PM on March 4, 2013

gone2croatan has it. On linkedin you can run a search string along the lines of:

[company name] [city]
[industry keyword] [city]
[title] [company]

Say you run a search for FooCo Boston. You'll get results of people who have worked there who have some connection to your network. LinkedIn shows you who you already know who knows them. You can then request an introduction. Be clear with your friend about the purpose of your request and give them an easy out. If you can call them directly before you go through the LI intro process you can find out how well they know the other person and whether they are comfortable making an introduction.

As for asking people for leads:
"Do you know of any job leads in foo?" < = has gotten me nowhere
"Do you know anyone who works in FooIndustry?" <> "Do you know anyone who works for FooCo?" <> "I would like an introduction to Elaine who works at FooCo, is that something you are comfortable with?" <>
People want to help, but they can help you much better if you can tell them exactly the help you want from them.
posted by bunderful at 6:41 PM on March 4, 2013

Here are some biotech organizations which hold events:

I googled [biotech industry events].

Forgot to mention before that you can also look for groups on LinkedIn for your area of interest. Sometimes these include job postings and events.

And generally when job hunting I think it's a very good idea to expand your network through things like volunteer work, meetups, whatever. When you meet new people be frank about looking for work but don't harp on it.

(I only now see that my clever formatting of my previous entry completely ruined it. Mods, feel free to delete - I would be happy to repost).
posted by bunderful at 6:50 PM on March 4, 2013

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