Thursday, November 29, 2012

Way Too Busy Thursday

It's been awhile, but rather than apologize for my lengthy absence, I'm leaving you all with this gem. You're welcome.  Click here for for more solid career advice from the

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Outlook Chronicles: Connecting With Recruiters on LinkedIn

So here's the set-up: without fail, I meet with students who, upon leaving my office, have a million more questions. Some of these questions they figure out on their own, some they e-mail to me for my two cents. Not surprisingly, I tend to see a lot of the same questions. So for those of you are asking yourselves those ground-breaking questions, like "should I text the hiring manager?," here are my answers to some frequently asked questions.  

Sometimes, my smart and talented friends e-mail me their job search questions, too.  This e-mail is adapted is from a question I received from one of those friends.

A student writes:

Hi Shimrit,

I have a question about contacting recruiters on LinkedIn. Sometimes, through connections, I see recruiters at places I want to work, or a specific recruiter’s name next to a job posted on LinkedIn. What's the best policy on contacting these folks? A lot of times you can only contact them by clicking the “Connect” button and sending a brief message. Is it cool to do that and say something to the effect of, "Hey, I applied for job X, I am very interested, and just wanted to see if the position was still available?" Also, there will sometimes be over 10 different recruiters (say at a place like Google) and it's hard to tell which one would be the best to contact. Is it worth just shooting a line to a random recruiter to ask which person would be the best to email about job X I found on the company website?


And I answer:

Hi Corey,

LinkedIn is certainly an amazing tool (as my blog indicates, I’ve drank the LinkedIn kool-aid), but proper etiquette and best practices for using this behemoth of an online tool are at best confusing. Hopefully my attempt to answer your question will not be similarly confusing – though you can expect it to be long-winded. And, in the spirit of long-windedness (is that a word?), I’m going to preface my answer with a disclaimer: while I consider myself something of a LinkedIn aficionado, my expertise largely relates to using LinkedIn as a networking tool. I very infrequently deal with the "recruiter question” as I mostly counsel undergraduate students – whose best bet is to connect and network with employees at their target companies, rather than directly with human resources.

Of course, the same does not necessarily apply to you given your previous work experience and graduate degree in statistics. You, as opposed to recent college grad, have a much better likelihood of being courted by recruiters. So back to your question . . . almost. You keep referring to recruiters in your e-mail, but I actually think you may be talking about human resources professionals, or even hiring managers. These are not recruiters per se. Recruiters are generally third-party professionals, who are seeking to find excellent candidates for open positions at their client sites. They receive a commission based on whether they are able to fill a given role with their candidate, but are not internal to the firm. Human resources folks are in fact internal to the company (and are often viewed as the gatekeepers to getting past the resume screen). A company like Google might employ hundreds of human resources professionals (this is totally a guess), so your chances of connecting with the appropriate contact is pretty slim. To make matters even more confusing, these internal human resources people may in fact be called recruiters. The people internal to a company who may be doing the hiring might have titles ranging from recruiter, to talent acquisition manager, to human resources coordinator.

That being said, a polite e-mail, or connection request, shouldn’t hurt your chances of getting the job. But there’s a better approach! If you actually know someone at Google (check the alumni network), I’d start by connecting with that person first. Before just shooting off a random e-mail, I would in fact check with your company contact to see if they can make an introduction, or even better, direct you towards the hiring manager.

Now, for the part about seeing a “specific recruiter’s name next to a job posted on LinkedIn.” If that person is in fact in human resources, then they likely are responsible for the job. In this case, yes, you should contact them! If the job is still posted you can assume it is not filled (it costs money to post jobs on LinkedIn) and use this brief message to say something along the lines of “Dear ____, I have applied for this job of XXX through the online system, however if you have any additional questions about my candidacy feel free to review my LinkedIn profile or contact me at xxx-xxx-xxxx. Thanks for your consideration, Corey.”

Similarly, if the position is posted by an external recruiter, you should also definitely connect. In fact, you want to connect with them even if you’re not exactly a match for the posted role as many recruiters are continuously looking for candidates with a similar set of skills. I would write, “Dear ___, I am interested in learning more about this position, as well as other opportunities in the field of XXX, and would like to add you to my LinkedIn network. Best, Corey.” And if you’d like recruiters to contact you - and many recruiters use LinkedIn for this exact purpose – make sure your profile is entirely complete with strong keywords.

Lastly, you’re right in recognizing that it’s nearly impossible to message someone you aren’t connected with without asking them to connect. NEARLY! If you have a group in common with someone, you can message them without connecting first by following these (admittedly convoluted) steps. First, find out what group you have in common with them (or join a group they are in). Then go to that group’s page. Click the “member” tab at the top and earch for the person’s name. Hover over their name when it appears in the returned results, which will cause a button to appear to the right of the name that says “send message.” Click “send message” to e-mail the contact without ever actually connecting with them.

Good luck and happy job-hunting!

Best, Shimrit

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Have I Shared Too Much?

I'm loving this video for a whole bunch of reasons: the jabs at LinkedIn and the consulting industry; the reference to Bieber Fever; and how this job interview is at the same time both totally ridiculous and absolutely believable.  Check it out for yourself.

Monday, May 7, 2012

In Defense of Cover Letters

Please forgive my zillionth link to an article that I found on Jezebel (this one came from Deadspin actually). While I clearly like pop culture (don’t judge me) and good writing, I actually enjoy the career related articles published on this site – and apparently find them worthy of being talked about on this here blog. And, usually, I agree with the takeaways from these articles (a Tina Fey intern movie will be funny!)

However, this recent article about the value of a cover letter left me down right agitated. As a career services professional I spend a great deal of my time forcing convincing students to write cover letters. So imagine my outrage when I read this:

I've never understood why some employers demand a cover letter sent in with a resume. It's a dick move in so many ways. It's giving you extra homework that you shouldn't have to do. And it's basically saying to people, "Can you please waste both paper and time in the clumsiest way possible?" No HR department lackey is gonna spend time reading a cover letter. All they wanna know is if you went to a decent school and if you aren't a registered sex offender. If you make it past that round of cuts (and you probably won't, because American employers expect way too much of people), then they have to bring you in and meet you face-to-face to make sure you aren't an asshole.

So, for Drew Magary and anyone else who reads my blog (Hi Grandma!), here is my defense of cover letters. Bulleted out. Because it’s just easier that way. And yes, you can use bullets effectively in a cover letter.
  • Cover letters do in fact have value. Perhaps most importantly, cover letters serve as a writing sample (you’d think a journalist would realize that). If you plan on applying for any job with some modicum of writing, you’d better be able to articulate in a clear, concise manner why you are qualified for the job you are applying for.
  • A cover letter allows you to show fit. It allows you to make yourself stand out from the rest of the pack. It’s true, chances are HR will not look at your cover letter. But when HR hands the Hiring Manger 15 resumes, you’d better believe that she’ll look at attached cover letters before inviting candidates to participate in a phone screens or in-person interviews.
  • Cover letters allow you to show you did your homework. Have you ever hired anyone? There is a feeling of pure joy that exists when you read a cover letter addressed to yourself by name.  So feed the hiring manager's narcissistic cravings show you did you homework and whenever possible do not begin a cover letter with “Dear sirs.” For goodness sakes, at least use the more gender friendly “Dear Hiring Manager.” 
I know that students and career-changers alike will continue to wonder if they must write a cover letter. Applicants will continue to wonder if anyone will read their cover letter. (Hint: the answer is probably not). But do you want to be the candidate who gets thrown out for lack of a cover letter? (Hint: the answer is no). Here’s the honest truth. If you’re actually a strong candidate, prove it. Write the gosh darn cover letter. And if you bring it into career services, I promise to read it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Just in time for next summer . . .

Though there are many downsides to unpaid internships, it looks like one upside is that they may prove to be solid movie fodder as two intern-focused comedies are going into production in the next year.  I will definitely be seeing these.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Practicing What I Preach

Last night A week and half ago I attended a networking event for the graduate program I completed in 2010. Alumni, faculty members, current and prospective students came together to hear Larry Bacow, former President of Tufts, speak about how some of the Boston area universities have weathered the financial crisis and then, following his talk, to network and mingle. The event reminded me, once again, how lucky I am to be a part of the fantastic community that is the Higher Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. From Larry’s insightful remarks, to the questions of the audience, to the stories of my peers now working in various departments and organizations across higher education, I was blown away by this community. In an attempt to capture some of my own thoughts and reflections about last week’s event, I’m bulleting out some of my take-aways:
  • I hate to put this as a take-away, given that I just mentioned this, but I was amazed at how talented, passionate, and engaged the Higher Education students at HGSE truly are.
  • Students, take note: alumni networking events are not about food, but rather networking.
  • Practice what you preach. I wanted to catch up with old friends and head straight to the buffet table, but instead I dedicated much of my time to speaking to those attendees in my field. In fact, I had a really great discussion with a fellow career services professional who I really admire. I’m looking forward to taking her up on her offer to grab a cup of coffee sometime this summer.
  • Everyone should/is always thinking about moving their career forward. Case in point, I chose networking over food (I know, crazy!) Additionally, several of my colleagues were debating, speaking about next steps, and even more education. Two years ago I remember being at this event praying hoping that I’d have a job soon enough and be able to attend these types of event without consideration for my future. This year, the pressure may have been off, but I’m placing an ever increased value on the networking opportunities these types of events allow for.
  • Someone reads my blog! Hi Samantha!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Career Counselor's True Test

The career counselor's true test is her ability to assist a loved one (especially one they live with) navigate the job search.  Now I'm speaking from personal experience here when I say that it is not easy for a career counselor, often times known for their interest and expertise in all things "job search," to live with a job-seeker that might lack some of the same enthusiasm for the topic.  Okay, by now you probably realize I'm not speaking in the hypothetical.  My boyfriend finished graduate school without a job offer in hand.  Since we live together and spend a lot of time together, I naturally wanted to share all my resources with him.  My desire to impart to him every teeny bit of knowledge was not deterred by his evil looks, overt sighs, and avoidance of me.

Fast forward 6 months and boyfriend, now fiance, has finally secured his first, full-time permanent, job within his desired industry.  No, he did not spend 6 months sitting on his you know what.  From a maternity-leave coverage, to weekly per diem jobs, to a permanent position in a physical therapy clinic, the fiance was doing pretty well for himself.  So, needless to say, we were happily surprised, not to mention unsure of how to proceed, when a long-forgotten interviewer called him out-of-the-blue to ask him to come back in.  Turns out their former first-choice candidate "hadn't worked out."

Needless to say, his job search is an excellent example in perseverance, hard work, and luck - all of which proved to be essential in this job search story.  And, as far as this career counselor's concerned, I am more than glad that I won't be taking my work home with me anymore.  I'm pretty sure the fiance's glad about that, too.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cover Letter Woes

So I've been totally ignoring this blog - and I'm not saying that this post is any indication of my return to weekly posts - but I had to post a link to this absolutely embarrassing cover letter sent to JP Morgan.  Given my line of work, I generally try to refrain from laughter at the expense of college-students/internship-seekers, but I'm hoping this letter will encourage future cover letter writers to avoid appearing like a pretentious, clueless, and lazy (note the typos and mention of Morgan Stanley) applicant.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Outlook Chronicles: Including Salary Requirements In Your Cover Letter

So here's the set-up: without fail, I meet with students who, upon leaving my office, have a million more questions. Some of these questions they figure out on their own, some they e-mail to me for my two cents. Not surprisingly, I tend to see a lot of the same questions. So for those of you are asking yourselves those ground-breaking questions, like "should I text the hiring manager?," here are my answers to some frequently asked questions.

A student writes:

Hi Shimrit,

I'm working on finding jobs and networking, as per your recommendations, and I've come across a job that I would really love. It's as a program associate at a non-profit. They ask that applicants send in a resume and cover letter, which is no problem, but they also ask that applicants include past salary history and desired salary in the cover letter. Given that I've never had a salaried position, nor have I ever considered what my "desired salary" could be, I'm at a loss for what to do on this. Any suggestions?


And I answer:

Hi Ann,

This is a common request by employers.  Often, it is made in order to ensure that the applicant understands the industry standards regarding salaries. You have a couple of options here. You could simply state a range based on research and industry standards. is a great resource for ascertaining salary ranges. You could also refrain from giving any actual numbers, but still indicate that you are aware of these norms, and that you didn’t get into this kind of work to become rich.  This second option is probably what I would do, though you run the risk of angering the employer by not answering the questions. Still, here's what I might say:

“My salary requirements are negotiable and dependent on benefits. I am aware of the salary ranges in the non-profit industry and believe that the value of the work I am doing is as important a consideration as the amount of money I will be earning.”

Of course, this type of statement has to speak to your own beliefs, so don't say this unless you mean it.

If you have any other questions, or want to run what you think a reasonable salary range for this position might be by me, feel free to reach back out.


How do you handle job descriptions that ask you to include salary requirements in your cover letter?