Willy Franzen, creator of One Day One Job–a website that connects recent college grads with entry level job openings–knows how it feels to be frustrated with the job search. After graduating from Cornell University in 2006, he found himself jobless and frustrated with the daunting application process, so he started his own business. Now, he helps young people like himself find their way to exciting and interesting entry-level jobs. Willy held an office hour session at The Career Center in early November, where he advised students on how to boost their job search strategy. Here are a few summarized answers to questions asked by students at the session.
Question: I’ve been trying to network with and speak to people in the industry I’m hoping to go into, but what’s the next step?
When you’re networking, realize that that person has problems they need solved and you need to sell yourself as the solution. For example, if the person has mentioned a weakness in their approach to advertising, start working on a solution to that issue. Make a spreadsheet, compile some research, and create something you can show to them. Once you start to prove yourself as valuable, then that conversation change becomes easier. But, sometimes you just have to jump in and say, “what do I have to do to get a job here?”
Question: I’m sick of applying to companies through the internet and never getting a response. What are some ways to get around this system?
Find a way to contact an individual in a position you’re looking at and start a conversation with them. Going outside of the process can be frustrating and uncomfortable but the good thing about that is that not many people do it. Maybe you’ll get a referral, maybe you’ll get contact information and maybe you’ll get a job. Chances are, if you’re talking to real people, you’ll get real answers.
Question: I’m going to be applying to a full-time position at the company I interned with last summer, but the person I primarily worked under is not involved in the hiring process. Whom should I reach out to and how?
Contact the person who is most familiar with your work. Ask them: “what recommendations do you have and will you support my efforts?” Chances are, the HR person is going to go to them first to ask if you should be hired and they will say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ based on your performance.
Question: I’m getting my degree in English. How can I find a job that uses my writing skills after I graduate?
My advice is to get comfortable writing for the web. I just hired a bunch of writers to contribute to my website and a lot of what I looked for had nothing to do with writing; I was looking for people who understood my business and what it takes to get people to view my website. Strong marketing skills are so important for web writing. There are tons of companies that need to hire writers to contribute web content, and while you might not make much money at first, you can move up really quickly. Those who are successful will know how to write to sell. So, for now, find a part time gig writing for a website and build up your experience.
Question: If I’m sending blog posts or web articles to a company as writing samples, what format should I send them in?
Attachments can be a hassle depending on the computer software you use, so I prefer when applicants send me the links to the posts. That way, I can verify that the post was actually online or even see if it was posted prominently.
Question: I’m hoping to go into finance after I graduate, but my GPA isn’t great and I’m having a hard time getting responses from companies. What can I do to increase my chances of getting a job in this field?
Pick a small area within the field of finance and learn everything about it. Once you learn a niche, you can begin approaching companies within that niche and bring them research you’ve done. You need to set yourself apart because there are probably thousands of other students in your position with your credentials. Right now, you should be thinking: ‘what can I do to make myself more appealing to a certain type of company?’ In the mean time, perfect your Excel skills. If you need a mouse to use Excel, then you’re not good enough at it. Then, try learning some more statistics packages, make yourself an expert.
Question: I’m taking a gap year between graduation and law school, and I’d like to have some sort of fellowship.Where are some places to look for these jobs and how do I make myself a better candidate for them?
Idealist.org is my favorite website for this. Try something new though. Look at the fellowship postings you find on websites and identify the keywords. Then, just plug them into Google. Some non-profits are just behind with their web posting so you might need to go to individual websites. Also, talk to your professors because non-profits often contact them to find candidates. But also consider piecing your gap year together; you don’t necessarily need to have a one-year fellowship–you can volunteer or try different jobs.
Question: What’s the best way to increase my chances of getting an interview after applying to a company through their website?
Go on LinkedIn.com and find the person in the position that you want. Try to make a connection with them and ask how they got that job. Don’t approach by asking for a job right away, gather information first, then transition into asking for help finding a job if the opportunity arises later. Make sure you’re working on a project that you can show them.
Question: I’m looking into working for a smaller, environmentally focused company but many of them aren’t hiring. How do I approach companies that aren’t actively hiring?
Send an email demonstrating your interest in a position that might be open in the future and ask what you would need to do to get that job. Start working on a project so you have a work product to show them in the future; start a blog or website, write a research paper. Just make sure you’re a better candidate in 6 months so you’re ready to be hired when you graduate. A lot of it has to do with timing, especially for smaller businesses. Try to work within the conrstraints of the company you’re interested in. Also, think of ways to make the company stronger. If you pitch yourself well enough, maybe they’ll create a position for you!
Check out Willy’s website, Onedayonejob.com to gather more useful job search information, and sign up for his daily job posting email to stay in the loop. Happy hunting!