HETRICK: Ten tips to help those seeking jobs or internships

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Bruce Hetrick

Here in academia, it’s time for midterms and spring break.

Judging by the number of students scrambling with resumes, cover letters, online applications, portfolios and updated social media profiles, someone’s also sounded the alarm for internships, summer jobs and post-graduate careers.

Good. Because there are more applicants than opportunities and four weeks from now, most of the openings will be filled.

As a business owner turned faculty member, I’m often asked about job-seeking techniques. So I conduct workshops, review materials, suggest edits, ask hard questions and occasionally tell would-be applicants to toss what they have and start over.

Sometimes, I’m a hard ass. Other times, as when one of my students lands an exceptional job with a salary to match, I get to join the standing ovation.

Watching my students succeed is one of the most rewarding parts of the job. Heck, in our apparently recovering economy, seeing anyone succeed is rewarding.

So for what it’s worth, here are 10 tips for finding jobs and internships.

1. Most jobs are never advertised. For a few high-demand subject areas, life in the job-seeking lane is good. Recruiters come to you and ink your contract long before you graduate.

For candidates in other areas, the work of finding work is on you. Most open jobs never make the job fair. That’s because they’re in small businesses and not-for-profits that would rather use word-of-mouth than run an ad or sit in a booth talking to applicants. Those employers won’t find you. You must find them.

2. You have six seconds to cut through the clutter. Conventional wisdom has it that the typical recruiter doing an initial review of resumes spends about six seconds per applicant.

Yet many would-be applicants start off with content that fails to set them apart or showcase the key benefits they bring to the table.

Start your resume with a short summary that explains how you’re different and what the employer will get if you’re selected.

3. Your college education is a point of entry, not a point of difference. Most of the resumes I see begin with a section called “education.” It’s what some career counselors tell students to do.

I advise otherwise.

Everyone you’re up against has a college degree. No offense to my fellow faculty members and college administrators, but for most non-academic positions, what sets you apart is how you’ve supplemented and complemented your classroom education.

I therefore preach the sermon of internships, volunteer work, on-the-job experience, overseas study, learning-by-doing opportunities, leadership roles and more.

4. It’s not about you. It’s about the employer. Many of the draft resumes and cover letters I read begin with the applicants’ objectives. Many say they want to find jobs that will further their professional experience and education.

That’s nice, but most of us in the non-academic world are running businesses, government agencies and not-for-profits—not continuing-education programs. Your objective should state what you can do for your employer, not yourself.

5. Do your homework. Call me biased, but I believe college students—community to PhD—should know how to do basic research: Running a Google search on the company to which you’re applying. Knowing what products the firm makes or which services it provides. Reading about the leadership team. Finding the right address and specific person to send an application or resume.

But you’d be amazed how many uninformed, unqualified applicants blanket the employment world with generic letters and resumes sent to “To Whom it May Concern.” These are, of course, the applicants telling tales of woe that no one seems to be concerned about them.

6. Customize. Generic is dead. Generic resumes are dead. Generic cover letters are passé. Generic lists of references are useless. Tailor everything to each position. Customize your materials to explain how you fit each organization and opportunity.

7. Be careful. Remember that part about me being a hard ass? Just try slipping a typo or grammatical error past me on a resume or cover letter. My attitude: If you can’t sell yourself accurately, you can’t be trusted to sell my company or clients accurately.

8. Everybody is somebody’s somebody. This one comes from author Jeffrey J. Fox. It’s the mantra of networking. Because most jobs aren’t advertised, you must work every contact you have. I’ve built a career with the help of personal and professional connections. So can you.

9. Timeliness is next to godliness. As an employer, I often saw young people applying for internships or their first career positions in May—at graduation time. Most of our summer-start positions had been filled months sooner.

10. Say thank you. Too few people express gratitude for a job interview, informational interview or advice. When it comes to finding a job or internship, you can set yourself apart by doing all the above—and saying thanks, too.•


Hetrick is an Indianapolis-based writer, speaker and public relations consultant. His column appears twice a month. He can be reached at bhetrick@ibj.com.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
thisissue1-092914.jpg 092914

Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Here are a few candidates for this new group, "ripped from the headlines." First up, that bizzaro State Senator Brent Waltz; secondly, the unethical Todd Huston, and his contractual arrangements scheme; Finally, but not least of all, the dishonorable Eric Turner. What sayeth you Greg Zoeller?

  2. Good day. I can't hide this great testimony that take place in my life I will love everyone to know it and be partaker that is why I always place it on answer, I am Mrs,Natalie Cuttaia by name, I live in Texas, United State Of America, I want to thank (Mr.Bruce Brandon) for his kindness upon my family life. I never knew that there is still nice lender like this on internet and earth here. Just some Months Back, I was in search for a loan of $100,000,00 as I was running out of money for feeding and rent. I was scammed $6,800 Dollars and I decided not to involve my self in such business again but a Friend of my introduced me to a loan firm due to my appearance and doings. And I told him that I am not interested of any loan deal anymore but he told me that there is still a nice lender who he will recommend me to, and I made a trial and I am most grateful lucky am I today, I was given a loan amount of $100,000.00usd, by this great Company (Bruce Brandon Loan Company) managed by (Mr.Bruce Brandon) If you are in need of a genuine or legit loan or financial assistance and you can be reliable and trusted of capable of paying back at the due time of the funds I will advice you to, contact him via: ( bruce.brandon071@gmail.com ) And you will be free from scams in the internet. All thanks to Mr.Bruce Brandon You are the one who remove me and my family out of poverty. The reason why i am doing this is that, i promise Mr.Bruce Brandon that if i truly got my loan, i will advertize his company and bring customers to his company. Contact him via ( bruce.brandon071@gmail.com )for the Loan you have been looking for..

  3. Hello, We are firm Organization formed to help people in needs of helps,such as financial help. So if you are going through financial difficulty or you are in any financial mess,and you need funds to start up your own business,or you need loan to settle your debt or pay off your bills,start a nice business, or you are finding it hard to obtain capital loan from local banks,contact us today via email mrsroseberrywilkinsfunds.usa@gmail.com So do not let these opportunity pass you by because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever more. Please these is for serious minded and God fearing People. Your Name: Loan Amount: Loan Duration: Valid Cell Phone Number: Thanks for your understanding to your contact as we Await Regards Management Email:mrsroseberrywilkinsfunds.usa@gmail.com

  4. The question is, where could they build a new stadium? It seems in the past year, all the prime spots have been spoken for with potential projects. Maybe in the industrial wasteland area a block past Lucas Oil? I think it needs to be close to the core, if a new stadium is built.

  5. Aldi is generally a great shopping experience. Still, I'm sure YOU wouldn't want to shop there, which I consider a positive.