I’m at a point in my life where I’m no longer a young professional, but I’m not quite a weathered veteran either. I like to think I still accurately remember what it was like to be just out of school and figuring the real world out. For instance, a friend of mine has a soon to be senior in high school. He is taking the SATs and thinking about colleges, which means there are many questions. I’m trying to be as helpful as possible by recalling my own experience and discussing the pros and cons with them.
Which led me to think about what resources are available to someone who is trying to find their first career oriented job. One I ran across is called The Job Coach for Young Professionals: The Workbook for Landing the Right Job. It’s a workbook style book by Susan Kennedy and Karen Baker. Created in part by Career Treking and Intern Bridge. Its about 118 pages of directed material and another 25 or so of templates and forms.
I have two overall views of this book:
The more positive is that it has great nuggets of information and advice through out. There are templates and forms that will help organize the activities that are needed to land the most appropriate job for a young professional. The negative view is that I can’t bring myself to buy into the idea that a 21, 22, 23 year old is going to sit down with this book and go through it. Perhaps my skepticism is bordering on cynicism, but it feels like this book was made for a forty year old to give to a twenty-one year old as a graduation present or something. It would take a very mature and motivated recent graduate to have the proper perspective for this book to be used as intended.
Specific call outs:
–Early on I felt like this book is targeted mainly at recent grads that want to work in corporate America. It just feels that way. But what surveys and observation is telling us is that Gen Y isn’t as interested in corporate America. So in reading this book I felt like there is somewhat of a personality that this is perfectly suited for and other types that it isn’t.
— There is a good form for doing a skills inventory. The only change I would make though is to include personal characteristics as well. Skills are pretty raw at this point.
— I like the values inventory too.
–There is a section called All About Me and it encapsulates my negative opinion of this book. For many 22 year olds, they have no idea what”me” is. Creating an identity is something that comes with experience and since a recent grad has no real corporate identity then its hard to do. Its a transition period in the person’s life, being definitive is difficult.
— Because the book does a terrific job organizing the type of things a person should do, it can become too formal. For example, it outlines how a conversation should go with a contact. I know it is simply supportive and a guideline, but it comes off as cold. Establishing a rapport is probably more important than quizzing them on the likes and dislikes of their job and industry.
— Even though the contact part is cold, it does frame the questions very well. Here are a few that I like: what are your daily tasks? What are normal gaps between the knowledge base and skill set that is required for this job? What is the hiring outlook for the industry? What type of talent is need in this industry? and How does that translate to schooling?
–I never considered it, but doing a mind map for a resume is an outstanding idea. Often times people get wrapped up in resume format and the message gets lost in the process. But doing a mind map provides the opportunity to flush out unique skills and determine how you can separate yourself.
— I laughed, but also appreciated the list of “Action Verbs” on page 51. It is quite a list and one I can leverage.
–Its one thing to write out the process for how this should work, but this book illustrates it and across the board the visuals are on point. Each time they reinforce the subject.
— The interview chapter is marvelous. Here are some details:
— A preparation activity where you need to think about how you communicate, your technical job skills, and how you work with a manager/management.
— Having a story is vital. For the points of emphasis, a narrative describing why your are different and better is a must.
— I like the idea of having at the ready a story about how you dealt with a difficult situation and resolved it. That question is practically guaranteed. A few more of those are:
- Describe a situation where you failed and what you did about it?
- When you’re working on a team, what role do you typically play?
- Why did you leave your last job?
— There will be several different interviews and one will probably be with a recruiter. Here is where you want to differentiate yourself as not only qualified, but the best fit for the job.
— Page 79 has good advice about how to position your resume depending on the medium. For instance with newspaper responses, its good to highlight your key words with a yellow highlighter.
— The attention this book gives to cover letters is above average. Cover letters are under served when you think about their value. This book does a good job of outlining how it should flow.
— Another area that made me cringe is the advice about how to follow up with someone even when you don’t get the job. Because the book is cold with contacts I felt that it didn’t do a good job with saying a certain amount of grace is need to do this well. Otherwise,its awkward.
— The book finishes with probably the best part – Its Keys to Success on page 112 and 113. For instance, it pulls out advice like Your colleagues know you are smart. Now show them you can learn. Most first jobs are not as glamorous or as challenging as we dream them to be.Quietly get the job done to the best of your ability. Learn to work in teams. Find out how people communicate; is it by email, IM, phone, or what?
And there is a tidbit I love. Its “Treat secretaries and other assistants with respect! They can make or break you.” That is absolutely true.
So to summarize. I got a lot out of the book (its filled with great advice, nuggets, and templates), but I doubt someone in their early 20s is going to have the perspective to get the most out of this resource.