This article was previously featured in the Spring 2016 edition of Centrepiece, the College alumni magazine.
Mary Walter Arthur ’77 works with talent. Not the band-for-the-holiday-party sort of talent, she points out. She tries to make perfect employer-employee connections.
She describes her own journey to career happiness as a “long and winding road,” with not much of an initial plan. She came to Centre College because her father thought a liberal arts degree would help her make conversation at cocktail parties, and she majored in history because she loved the professors.
A series of unrelated jobs followed, including working at Bloomingdale’s and reporting horseracing results for a Kentucky radio station. Eventually, she earned a master’s in human resources development at George Washington University, started an HR company, and climbed the corporate ladder at one of her former clients. Currently she is the global talent acquisition manager for Metalogix Software in Washington, D.C.
“Every single thing you do, learn from it,” she told students at a recent Emerging Professionals event sponsored by Centre’s Center for Career & Professional Development. “You would be amazed at how much you will pull from your path.”
During her many years in HR, she has seen thousands of resumes and interviewed hundreds of eager applicants across the globe.
Read on for a few of her suggestions.
Six Tips to Landing the Job of Your Dreams
1. Build Your Network.
This is the most important thing you can do wherever you are in your career. Don’t just keep applying for jobs through newspapers or online. Ninety-nine percent of the time, you’re not going to get hired that way. You need to talk to people. If you are looking for a job, talk to somebody new every single day. Keep a notebook of the people you talk to. Call somebody up and ask for advice about the field or company that interests you. You are interviewing for information, not asking if there’s a job for you. And then ask for a name of someone you can talk to next.
2. Having Built Your Network, Use It.
If you find a job that looks interesting in a company you like, start asking around. See if someone you know or have talked to knows somebody there. You don’t even have to know the contact yourself. Or try to find some connection, such as being from the same town or the same school. The Centre network is tremendous.
Just that little extra can encourage the recruiter to pull out your resume. If I’m going through a couple of hundred resumes and somebody asks if I’ll look at a particular one, that’s helpful to me. I’m going to pull that resume right out. And that caller may have just made my job easier.
3. Learn from Everything You Do.
It’s hard enough finding a job. It’s even harder to find it in the field you want to be in. Sometimes the right job for right now is one that you think you can learn something from. Remember that everything you do adds value. Think about what you’ve learned and figure out how to put it on your resume, such as leadership skills developed as a soccer referee.
And when you do decide to change jobs, think about your story. There’s a fine line between “I’ve had two or three jobs in the last two years and let me tell you my reasoning,” versus “I got tired of that place so I moved on.”
4. Be Realistic.
Finding a job is not quick. Expect it to take six to eight months. Even once you interview with a company, it can take six to eight weeks from start to finish. Go into interviews with the attitude that you’re building your network even if you do not nail this one job. If you expect to get every job you interview for, you’re probably going to spend a lot of time feeling rejected.
5. Attitude Counts.
If you’re lucky enough to get an interview, I want a smile. I want a willingness to learn and to roll up your sleeves to get my job done. Don’t come in and tell me you want to be the president of the company by next year. Show me that you are willing to be flexible and work hard. Work-life balance is important, but I don’t want you asking me about it at the interview.
Having a presence on LinkedIn is essential. LinkedIn is where I do 99.9 percent of my hires. I will look you up on LinkedIn. I expect you to have a professional photo. You really have to do more marketing of yourself now than job hunters ever had to do.
Edited from a conversation with Diane Johnson.