“So, I know I’m really behind in my job search…”

Anne Marie Gercke, Associate Director

“So, I know I’m really behind in my job search…” Sound familiar? This time of year, this is one of the most common phrases I hear from students as they sheepishly sink in into the chair in my office and go on to list all of the reasons they feel behind the 8 ball. After they stop to take a breath, typically I ask the student what industries he/she is seeking. Since I’m lucky enough to work with undergraduates from The College of Arts and Sciences, I often hear a variety of answers ranging from legal services to non-profit to healthcare to retail to…a whole bunch more. That’s when I offer up four simple words that seem to lift the weight of the world off the student’s shoulders: “You are not behind.”

While there are particular industries that begin recruiting very early, some as early as the summer before the school year even starts (like finance, as well as some consulting and technology), the majority of employers in other industries do what we call ‘just-in-time recruiting’. This means they don’t know quite so far in advance what they will need in terms of full-time employees or interns come the following summer. Those infamous OCR companies that come every fall? They reserve their interview rooms during March or April of the previous school year, a full 3 semesters before the summer for which they are hiring. Employers in other industries don’t necessarily know how many hires they will need so far in advance, so they tend to recruit closer to graduation and/or the summer.

So am I telling you that anyone with interests outside of finance, consulting and technology should kick up their heels and not think about jobs or internships until mid-spring? Absolutely not! Exceptions do exist and I would not be a good career advisor if I failed to encourage you to do your research before the deadlines hit. There are several steps you can take in order to best prepare. Identify key companies of interest. Learn about different job functions and industries by creating a Vault Career Guide account on our subscriptions page. Network with alumni at various organizations and conduct informational interviews. Understand when industries recruit – I often recommend our timing of career fairs as a loose guide as to when various industry recruiting occurs.

Most importantly, while you may feel behind, know your facts before you decide that you’ve messed up in any way. A positive outlook is imperative, because to successfully succeed in your career search, it’s best to feel confident and prepared because that’s what employers will notice when they meet you. If you find you’re lacking confidence or can’t figure out how to best prepare, we’re here in Career Services to help! Call to schedule an appointment with an advisor so that we can help you navigate this daunting process that many of you may be doing for the very first time. You may find that finding the right job isn’t as difficult as it seems, and that you aren’t, in fact, behind at all!

(Please note, it can be challenging during busier months to schedule an appointment since the volume of students we serve is quite large, but we do have walk-ins every weekday, which are first-come, first-served, and these are found on our website and updated daily.)


You’ve attended that recruiting event. You’ve submitted that job application. Now what?

In this busy season, some of you may be attending so many career fairs or employer presentations that your head is spinning with information. As some of these events are crowded, it may be a challenge to have a substantive conversation with a recruiter, but even a brief exchange can be helpful if you are able to walk away with business cards with contact information. Meanwhile, you may be applying to multiple positions on websites and wondering where your application will land.  Whatever your situation, follow up has an important role in your job search, so having a systematic way to track your applications and interactions with recruiters is key; using a simple spreadsheet for this purpose is fine.  Below, I have re-posted a previous article that offers additional guidance.

Warming Up to Cold Calls: Follow Up Strategies for the Job Search
By Sharon Fleshman

So you’ve just come back from that career fair or employer presentation and you’re staring at a bunch of business cards. Or you’ve completed the application for that position on the company website and you hit the “Submit” button.  Now what?

Find ways to connect. Email those who spoke with you at a given recruiting event, making note of what you appreciated about your conversation and highlighting your most relevant qualifications. If you’ve applied to a position online, you can send a concise and thoughtful email a day or two later, indicating that you have already applied, but want to reiterate your interest in the organization and the position.  If the online application did not allow for a cover letter, you can attach one to the email, along with your resume.

Start with email.  Using email for follow up (at least to start) gives you a chance to think about what to say and how to say it.  It also allows recruiters, who tend to be out and about, the flexibility to respond to you at their convenience.  If you eventually make a phone call, a previously sent email will give you a handy point of reference.  However, there are times when you can’t track down an email or even the name of an appropriate contact person.   Assuming the job description doesn’t say “NO PHONE CALLS”, it may be time for you to pick up the phone, even if it’s just to ask for a name and email address of the most appropriate person to contact.

Here are some tips to keep in mind for phone follow up:

Be professional and polite.  Make sure you call from a quiet place without distractions. Initially, you will likely reach the “gatekeeper” of the office and will need to ask to be connected to the right recruiting contact, whether by phone or email. Not only should you be courteous, but you should also try to pick up on cues. For instance, if you sense that the person to whom you are speaking is swamped, ask if there is a better time to call or if email is preferable.   If the person is reluctant to provide the recruiter’s contact information, graciously inquire whether he or she can forward your message to the recruiter.  Regardless of the outcome, thank the person for his or her time.

Be prepared and purposeful.  For the most part, you need to be able to introduce yourself and your reason for calling as concisely as possible. Don’t call to ask questions for which there are answers easily found on the organization’s website.  Make it apparent that you have done your preliminary research before your inquiry.   If you reach someone’s voicemail, you will need to leave a clear and concise message; write a script ahead of time if necessary.  You also want to be ready in case a call turns into an impromptu interview. Have your resume on hand so that you can discuss your qualifications on the spot.

If you’d like to discuss follow up strategies further, remember that advisors at Career Services are available to help.

Get Noticed: The Importance of Networking

by Anubha Kapur, SEAS ‘13

AnubhaKapurPictureRecruiting is undergoing a vast phase change and one of the primary reasons for this reinvention is the advent of social media and its profound impact on society and people. Social networking is no longer just about webpages; it is an ever growing experience enriched with the interactions between people. Here are some ways to use social media to prepare for the career fairs next week, and in your general search.

“Networking to get noticed” is a new mantra for climbing up the recruiting ladder. One of the most essential platforms is LinkedIn, where your profile speaks volumes about your career goals, expertise areas etc. Keeping your profile updated, following organizations you like, expanding your connections with recruiters etc. are key focus areas. If your profile shows up in the search tools used by recruiters, you’ve gained an edge over thousands of other candidates. Referrals and testimonials give a very good impression about your work ethic and commitment, thus making you a first choice for many firms. Penn Career Services organizes regular LinkedIn profile workshops that are a must for students to attend.

With the introduction of Facebook Graph Search, you can easily connect with people of similar interests and field of work, thus expanding horizons. Regular updates by on Career Services’ Facebook page about upcoming information sessions, OCR workshops and career fairs is a good way to  initiate and streamline search.

Connecting with Penn alumni working in the industry is another very powerful tool.  A friend forwarded his resume seeking an internship to a recent Penn graduate working in a leading bank, and one week later, due to this referral, he got an interview. Who knows, your next recruiter, may be a senior you’ve known at some stage in your Penn journey. J

I came across a feature on Twitter quite recently, where you can bookmark your tweets as favorites and embed them on your blog or Facebook page.  If someone has a nice testimonial for you, why not tell the world and make them take notice?

Career Fair Prep
Career fairs are the best way to engage with people and learn about prospective opportunities in-person, and social media can help you prepare. When there are so many people in attendance at these events, it might be difficult to have a detailed conversation with the recruiters. Use social media to help with research on organizations and develop talking points. With the Spring Career Fair and Start up Fair next week, here are a few tips to remember while approaching recruiters:

  1. Carry ample number of resumes that you can quickly reach for while speaking to the recruiters.
  2. Introduce yourself and ask about available opportunities within the company.
  3. Emphasize your potential and skills, and what it may add to the organization.
  4. Request a business card for future reference or communication.
  5. Follow @PennCareerServ on Twitter for live updates and information regarding the fair.

The wait to find out if your hard work and research paid off may frustrate you. Remember, with networking, patience and perseverance the wait can truly be worth it!

About: Anubha Kapur is a 2nd year Master’s student in Systems Engineering. Apart from technology, her interests span creative writing, social blogging and travelling. She can be followed on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

The Just in Time Hiring Season is Here

Are you just starting to think about what to do next summer, or after graduation? Perhaps you have been too busy with your academic work, your activities, your part-time job to do very much of a search. Or perhaps you‘ve done all the prep work and have just been waiting for the hiring cycle to begin for the industry you want to join. Well wait no more. If you do nothing else this month, attend our Spring Fair, which will be held this Friday, February 17 in Houston Hall. Over 100 employers will be attending, and the fair will run between 11:00 and 3:00. Every year numerous students find positions at this event: bring copies of your resume.

This fair has a broad range of employers. Whether your interest is in media/entertainment, consulting, public service, health care or technology, this is the fair for you. And for the first time, we have a “fair within a fair” for start-ups. Over 20 will be here, all rapidly growing, filling full-time and internship positions. There are opportunities for technical and non-technical candidates, in (among other cities) New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Chicago. Find out what all the excitement is about in the start-up ecosystem. Don’t miss Career Services’ Spring Fair.