Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

Grads: That All-Important First Impression

2011-06-10 13:26:26

A few weeks ago after I finished speaking on an interview panel at the University of Washington (UW), I was standing outside when one of the students from the class approached me. He asked me if my company had any part time summer positions.

I told him that no, we don't generally hire part-time summer help. (We are a technology company.) I did mention that we had some internships opening up and asked him what his major was, and he said "Sociology".

Then I inquired what he wanted to do in the work world when he got out of school, and his response? "I'm not sure." I gave him a few ideas about what someone with a Sociology degree might be interested in, then headed out.

My thoughts about this encounter? First, I felt really sorry for him. He's obviously in school with absolutely no idea what he wants to do when he gets out. But right after that, I realized what a bad impression he had just made on me, especially after I spent 90 minutes with three other panel members hammering home that when it comes to interviewing and preparing to look for a job (be it a summer job, an internship, or your first professional position out of college), you need to do your homework and remember that you have one chance to make a first impression.

The world of recruiting runs at a very fast pace. Especially as we are still in a recession with high unemployment, I have many more candidates apply for every job than I have positions. And to be honest, amongst ourselves one of the frequent comments we make when reading a resume is, "did they even read the job description?" Seriously. It still boggles the mind how many people apply to jobs for which they are not qualified. Just as an example, I have two web development intern positions open right now, and both of them require either course/project work or employment experience with a programming language called Ajax, and *demonstrated* (as in portfolio piece, website, or coding sample) proficiency with the tools and type of work we are hiring for. Look, if you have never coded a webpage in your life, just because you are getting a computer science degree that doesn't make you a good candidate for a web developer internship. And my hiring managers would rather go without an intern than try and fit a square peg into a round hole. And your application history with a particular company *stays in the system*. If, three years from now you apply for a different job, and I go in and see how you applied for an internship in 2011 that you were not qualified for, it does tell me a story. And not a very positive one.

So what kind of an impression are you making?

Storytelling and the Job Seeker
The Reverse-Chronologic Resume (template)

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