Follow-up: Why and How

By: Becky Smith

So, you’ve submitted a bunch of job applications and you haven’t heard anything. You may feel helpless, but there is something you can do!

First: Gather feedback that can help you to better attract attention. Ask your Co-op + Career Advisor to review your application materials including resume, cover letter, and any correspondence. If you are submitting a portfolio, get that reviewed too.

Second: Follow up to inquire about the status of the position.

Email follow-up graphic

Context: Pushy or Helpful? Desperate or Communicative?

Many people are initially uncomfortable with the idea of follow-up. They don’t want to appear pushy or desperate. Good news is: You can follow up without making a bad impression!

Co-op + Career Advisor Sara Dell has a great context for follow-up: “You are actually helping the employer by following up.”

Your recruiter or hiring manager likely has a pile of applications that they need to sort through, but other competing priorities keep them from digging in. By contacting them and expressing your ongoing interest in the job, you make it easier for them to engage with you and get started on the vetting process!

Be extra helpful: Include your resume and cover letter in your follow-up so there is no need to search for your application.

 

What to Say:

Co-op + Career Advisor Jer Jurma says he advises students to provide some structure for interview scheduling: “The tone is active in a follow-up communication. Give your reader a clear way to respond. Name a specific time period that you will be available for interviews and if it is getting close to your co-op deadline, share the date of your deadline.”

Examples:

“I will be in the area during the week of December 17 and am currently scheduling interviews. I am still really interested in your company and can meet at your convenience.”

“Wednesdays and Fridays are the days that I have the most flexibility. I’m sure we can find a time that is mutually convenient.”

“My school requires me to report a co-op hire by May 11. I want to respect your hiring timeline, but I think we can find a mutually convenient time. I wonder if we can get something on the calendar for the last week of April or the first week of May.”

I often advise students to have something new to say when they follow up.  

“Since I applied on November 17, I have added more relevant projects to my resume. See attached.”

“I have been following your company on Twitter for the past month and am really impressed with your new product launch.”

“I have been interviewing this week and am eager meet with your company as well – working in Operations at ADL Systems is one of my top choices at this time.”

 

How to find a point of contact for follow-up

Don’t have a name?

Find a recruiter or a relevant manager by searching on the company website or LinkedIn.

There is usually a main number or general email available on the company website. In start-ups and small companies, sometimes these emails and calls are answered by the founder or owner!

Have a name, but no contact information?

Websites like hunter.io can provide you with guidance regarding the email naming conventions for most companies.

 

Find more resources below:

Anatomy of a follow-up email: https://coopsandcareers.wit.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/46/2018/06/Application-Follow-up-Email-Samples.pdf

More about LinkedIn: https://coopsandcareers.wit.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/46/2018/06/LinkedIn-Guide.pdf

Whether you are preparing for a co-op search or a job search, the Center for Cooperative Education and Career Development has the resources you need to be successful. If you haven’t met with a Co-op + Career Advisor yet, give us a call at 617-989-4101 to schedule an appointment and we’ll get you started on the right track.

Navigating Job Offers

By: Becky Smith

You get an offer from a company and you are glad…except you wish you had more time to decide!

Good news: It is normal – even common — to ask for time to think things over! It is just a matter of maintaining trust and using savvy communication skills.

It is strongly advised that you reply to an offer of employment within 24 hours.

  • Be positive to maintain the confidence that the hiring manager has in you: Act excited. Thank the hiring manager or recruiter for offering the job to you.

Ask if you can have some time to think about it.

  • You don’t have to say why; just say you need some time to consider all of the factors. In fact, the reasons why can sometimes make employers feel uncomfortable – it can come across wrong, and/or they are not prepared to be involved in your personal life.

Be sure to clearly communicate when you will get back to the employer with an answer, and keep your word no matter what.

  • You may ask for up to a week to think about the offer.
  • The company may need an answer sooner. Settle on a mutually convenient date.

This kind of negotiation is fair, given that they don’t want to lose other candidates while they are waiting to hear from you.

During the time you have negotiated, you may speak with your Co-op + Career Advisor, your faculty, your family, and other prospective employers. You may take some time to reflect on what you want and need (i.e., salary, start date, schedule).It is best to take your time to prepare if you are going to negotiate any of the terms of employment.

Be Aware of Common Misunderstandings:

Interviewing for a job does not mean committing to the job. Interviewing is exploration to determine whether you are a fit for the job…and whether the job and company are a fit for you.

If a co-op employer offers you an opportunity to return for a second co-op or a full-time job, you are not obligated to return. Be appreciative and respectfully consider the opportunity, but if it is not right for you, politely decline. Things are not going to turn out well for anyone if you accept a job that you know is wrong – including headaches for professionals with whom you’ve built relationships!

You do not need to accept the first job you are offered. You do need to reply to all offers within 24 hours.

For more information on how to navigate a situation in which you get an offer for one job but you’re really waiting to hear from another company, read our handout about Deliberating Job Offers.

As always we encourage you to stop by CO-OPS + CAREERS to discuss your co-op and job offer questions with any Co-op + Career Advisor. You can make an appointment or swing by summer drop-in hours, held every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 2:00 – 4:00 PM. Stop by 101 Wentworth Hall, or contact us via email at coopsandcareers@wit.edu, or by calling 617-989-4101. We look forward to connecting with you soon!

Beware of Scams

By: Becky Smith & Kristen Eckman

Scams are not a new phenomenon, but the ways in which they are being delivered to you are always evolving, making deceitful postings more difficult to spot. Check out this email that was distributed across campus this week, thankfully it was spotted by many, including Dean Wenner:

Every semester, students bring scams to our attention – this is extremely helpful and we appreciate your diligence.

When you forward a suspicious email you received or tell us about an experience that made you think twice; you are helping us to ensure that other students are not being sucked into a possible scam.

 

 

We are here to help you spot a scam based on the following tips:

SUSPICIOUS EMAIL

  • Email is not written in native English and may include phrases we usually don’t use in business English, such as “many blessings upon you” or “God bless” (many legit employer emails are edited thoughtfully, even if you’re recruited by a non-native speaker)
  • Language is informal, more suited to social media or text, i.e., “BTW”, “2” instead of “two”
  • They email you multiple times, turning up the pressure. This is a common tactic to persuade skeptical students or stress them out so they aren’t thinking clearly. Do not respond; instead, forward suspicious messages to me for a second opinion.
  • The person who signs the email has a different name than the sender’s name
  • The message is sent from a non-corporate email, i.e., gmail or hotmail
  • The email address does not match the company’s URL on line, i.e., an email from wit.com when Wentworth’s website is wit.edu

SUSPICIOUS JOB DESCRIPTION

  • Get trained and promoted within 1-3 months
  • Jobs that mention “direct marketing”, “flexible schedule”, “work from home”, or a salary based on performance
  • Competitive incentives available if you meet targets (this implies you’ll likely be fired if you don’t meet the targets in a very short amount of time)
  • Job title implies that you will be an independent consultant (it implies that you are on your own – not much job security if you have challenges!)
  • A vague job description is also suspicious

INTERVIEW PROCESS

  • The employer does all the talking – is very energetic – seems to be selling the opportunity to you, seems to really like you, but isn’t asking any questions about your skills or trying to get to know you on a professional level

OTHER RED FLAGS

  • They extend a job offer without conducting an interview
  • The employer asks you to complete an assignment before work officially begins, i.e., sending a wire transfer, mailing a check (they want your money)
  • There is a lack of structure and/or lack of a job description
  • It is unclear who will be your supervisor

If you receive an email or participate in an interview that feels off somehow, immediately check with your Co-op + Career Advisor or stop by CO-OPS + CAREERS for advice from anyone on staff. To contact us stop by 101 Wentworth Hall, email coopsandcareers@wit.edu, or call 617-989-4101.

How to answer the “greatest weakness” question.

By: Becky Smith

Sometimes a painful moment arises in an interview: My pulse is racing, my palms are sweaty, and my grasp on my vocabulary is slipping. Now you want me to talk about my greatest weakness? Really?

Why do hiring managers ask about weaknesses, anyway?

Employers want to know what strengths you can contribute, and what you could do better.
Prior to the interview, hiring managers have only read about you. The interview is their chance to meet you and evaluate what you could provide in the role for which you are interviewing. Your skills, interests and experience are part of the picture, but they also want to know what you are working on improving or learning.

They want to know how you perceive and overcome challenges. It’s a way to get to know you as a person!

Experienced recruiters and managers know that work is called work because it can be challenging!
You interviewers are not toying with you. They are not trying to trick you. They want you to talk about your greatest weakness because it gives them an opportunity to observe a few things about you: how you perceive challenges, how you problem solve, and your capacity to learn from your mistakes.

So…. Don’t just choose any weakness. Be prepared with an example that demonstrates growth.

Weaknesses don’t just go away. They may stick around forever. But we can develop strategies to overcome them so that they diminish little by little!

What is a weakness that you possess, that you can manage now, and that used to pose a much more significant barrier to your success? Use it to craft a story that is one part honesty, and one part success!

What is a weakness that embarrasses you or that you would have a hard time expressing positively? Do NOT share this one. (All are uncomfortable to a certain extent but some are things we really don’t want to talk about!)

How: Name the weakness. Briefly describe how it affects your performance at work or at school in the present. Briefly describe how it was in the past — either at jobs or in your school work — and tell your interviewer what you do to manage your weakness.

For example:

[Name the weakness and how it affects you in the present] I am shy when I need to speak in public or when I am meeting new people. I have worked on this shyness at Wentworth, where I have done group projects every semester with my classmates and we have presented our results in front of classrooms.

[The past] A couple of years ago I was so shy that I didn’t ask any questions or share ideas, and I tried to completely avoid attention. This made it difficult for me to work on group projects at school because I had a hard time expressing my ideas and sometimes I would be slow to communicate about important updates or changes that my group needed to be aware of.

[What you have learned/your strategies] I really just needed practice. Now when I feel stopped by my shyness, I remind myself how important it is to keep communicating so the work can move forward. That motivates me. I have also learned that it is helpful to prepare in advance for public speaking.

Disclosing a weakness will never be 100% comfortable. But prepare for it. You will impress yourself and others.

Knowing your weakness makes you a stronger team member and your ability to express it is a strength that will make you stand out as an especially self-aware job candidate. By talking articulately about a weakness, you will provide a glimpse of who you really are as a human being – and hiring managers make time to meet with you because they want this glimpse! Work with your Co-op Advisor for help getting started or to get feedback on a weakness you are preparing to discuss.