A Q&A with career expert Andrew Hudson (Engl’89) — former press secretary for Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and U.S. Senator Timothy Wirth, jazz musician and founder of Andrew Hudson's Jobs List.
What’s the best attitude for a job search?
Focused confidence: An intense belief in yourself and your skills and the ability to specifically and confidently describe how your experiences and accomplishments will add value.
Your confidence must be consistent across the main “touch points” in the job-seeking life cycle — résumé, short introductory speech (“tell me about yourself!”), cover letter, online profiles and answers to predictable interview questions. (What do you want to do? Why do you want to work here? What skills and experience make you the best candidate?) Be prepared with specific stories about accomplishments that demonstrate your skills, work ethic and professionalism.
Job seeking is a skill. Mastering specific job seeking skills will be useful throughout your career.
If I don’t have a lot of work experience, what do I put on my résumé?
Don’t discount any of your experiences — even those that go beyond your work/ internship experience. If you’ve volunteered or were part of a humanitarian effort, if you were a sports team captain, if you had a leadership role at your summer job or internship, if you’ve won awards, if you ran your own babysitting or lawn care business, if you were required to manage a budget or build a website for your on-campus club… anything that demonstrates professional skill, experience and accomplishment will be helpful.
How do I find a job?
More job offers are made through person-to-person networking than any other type of job search technique. Online job boards are important for prospecting, but all too often job seekers find themselves mindlessly sending off dozens of résumés, then getting frustrated they are not hearing back. Only 25 percent of job search time should be spent on job boards. Only respond to jobs that match your skills and experiences, as well as your criteria for the type of job you want (type of company, job title, location, salary/benefits, etc.).
CU Boulder has an excellent Career Resources Center to help students and alumni with networking, self-branding, interviewing and writing skills for résumés, cover letters and online profiles.
What is networking?
- Power partners: These are people who know you best: Friends, family, professors, colleagues, neighbors or former bosses. They will not only call you back, but will be your biggest cheerleaders. They will open their list of contacts to you, testify to your abilities and actively work to open doors.
- Remember me: These are close acquaintances who you know well enough to reach out to: Parents of friends, folks you met at an internship, other second-level LinkedIn contacts.
- The cold call: “Let me introduce myself!” A challenging but necessary networking skill. Let’s say you read an interesting article about the CEO of a local company. Or during your research, you came across a nonprofit you’d like to work for. Make contact! Prepare a short script about why you are calling and respectfully ask if you can visit.
Is it OK to ask for something?
Always be ready to make an ask. You’ve got their attention. “Do you have a job? Can you introduce me to your recruiter? Is there anyone you can refer me to? Will you review my résumé? Can I call you back in a few weeks to check in?”
This might sound forward, but, guess what? Every person you meet has been in your shoes. It’s OK. You’ll find most people are incredibly helpful.
Don’t panic! Research different careers that fit not only your skills and experiences, but your passions. Things that excite you and bring you joy. In your first years after college, you will identify things about yourself — talents, strengths and skills — that will lead you in career directions you didn’t expect.
Condensed and edited by Eric Gershon. In our print edition, this story appears under the title "How to Land a Job." Comment on this story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Illustration by Ellen Weinstein; Photo by Ellen Jaskol.