The job hunt can be a tiresome and trying experience, especially in this economic climate. I thought I would share a success story with you to brighten your day! MAPH alum Alan Kellner has just landed a fantastic job as a Writer/Researcher at Zimmerman LLC, whose core focus is “centered on the research of best practices and education pertaining to the most pressing Revenue Cycle issues for hospitals across the nation.” Alan has agreed to share some of his insights into the job hunt with us. Take a look at his posting below!
Alan’s tips on finding a job:
• Contact CAPS.
I would seriously recommend contacting Lesley Lundeen at CAPS. She met with me over the phone for an hour—and read through my resume and three cover letters to prepare—and gave me great feedback on how to market myself as well as tips on how to search for jobs. She said, for instance, that my primary method was generally not effective (I was primarily applying to online job postings). She recommended setting up informational interviews with people in the field you’re trying to break into. I set up an interview with a retired GE technical writer, for instance. This can help in a number of ways. It can give you insight into the job to help you determine whether or not it would be a good career match for you as well as provide insight into how the industry/job works—going into an interview and knowing what the job is (and arguing why you’re the one to do it) could really help you nail it.
• Don’t be overly ambitious, don’t underestimate yourself or your qualifications.
I ended up getting the job I thought would be most competitive and that I was least likely to get. With some hard work (I had to prepare a writing sample to get an interview) and a serious interest in working for the company, it all worked out. So go out there and apply for the job you really want. But understand, as well, that you will probably have to start at the bottom, in some way or another. For instance, I would have liked to see my salary 5 to 10K higher. But a good company (with benefits and 10 days paid time off, right off the bat) is hard to find; if you find one, they’re probably worth investing in.
• Know thyself.
I interviewed with a marketing group and ended up picking a fight with my interviewer during the interview. Obviously, that’s the last thing you want to do. But I really think that there was an unconscious reason that I did it. The job just wasn’t a good fit for me. I wanted a salary, but it was based on commission. I wanted to be in an office, writing, it was on-site marketing. I just wasn’t excited about working there, and it showed. The next day I interviewed with the company I now work for. Again, if you are ecstatic about working somewhere or doing a job, it will show. That can be the difference, really.
Make sure that are open-minded about where you could work and what sorts of job titles and skills sets you’d be happy having and using. But it’s crucial that you make sure that you would actually be happy doing the job.
• Prepare for the interview
Study the company. Browse their website. Know as much about them as you can. It will show not only that you understand what you’d be getting yourself into if you got the job but also that you’re actually interested in them. Be sure to prepare questions about the company and the job.
Possibly the BEST single piece of advice I received (from my neighbor, actually, who happens to be high up at a company in my area) is this. In your cover letter and at your interview, tell the company where you see yourself fitting in with them. What’s your niche and how are you going to bring your unique skills and personality to the company. What can you do that other candidates can’t? To many employers my resume had ‘Academic’ written all over it. No one wanted to hire because it looked 1) like I was too qualified for the job and would use it as a lay-over until I found something better and 2) like I really would prefer to be in academia than in the professional world. The line I used to show that I was in fact interested in working there, and not in academia—and this may be helpful for you, as well, so feel free to use it—is this. “I would like to bring the skills I learned in academia—writing, editing, conceptual analysis and synthesis—into the professional world.” Of course, you’ll want to tailor this to your own situation and skills, etc.
How Alan landed his job:
I worked my tail off to make the writing sample (I had to prepare one to get an interview) perfect. Then, when I got an interview, I did all the things I mentioned above. I learned as much as I could about the company, prepared questions for them, thought out—and practiced—answers to common questions and how I saw myself fitting in at the company, and was enthusiastic about the job. MAPH has prepared you to be successful in a lot of different career paths. Use your training, as well as your own individual quirks, to your advantage.
I really hope this helps! I’m very happy with my job. I work for a good company that really believes in my ability to do well. I hope that all MAPHers can secure the same for themselves.