Oh, to Be a Recent College Graduate!

Categories: In the office, News

In the coming two weeks, scores of young, hopeful baccalaureates will pass through the gates of their colleges and enter the entry-level world, many for the first time. The experience will be traumatic. Those new to the job market will trade in familiar indulgences like basking on the quad and sleeping in late for the new pleasures of sweltering under fluorescent lighting and staying at work late. Others will try to delay the inevitable and take a year or two off to travel the world, volunteer, or work part-time.

Regardless of the path the young B.A. might take, Ellen Gordon Reeves’s Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? is the essential guide to landing and navigating that first real job—which, face it grads, is just around the corner.

Here are some quick tips from Reeves’s book to help get you through this harrowing time:

The Organized Bird Gets the Worm

Even if you have never been organized in your life, you are going to have to get organized now. Undertaking a job search is a job in itself. Consider it training for the position you’re going to get. In fact, if a prospective employer asks you about your organizational skills and you don’t have much experience to draw from, you’ll truthfully be able to say: “Let me tell you how I organize myself. For this job search, for example, I set up a filing and tracking system…”

The “Experience” Section

Drawing a blank when it comes to the “experience” section of your resume? This is normal, especially if you’re just starting out in your professional life. I hear it all the time—“But I’ve never done anything.” This is usually untrue. What people often mean is, “I don’t think what I’ve done is meaning or important,” or they don’t see how the experience they’ve had relates to the job they want.

Bringing Your Resume to Life

Even the most expressive resume is no more than a bulleted list of accomplishments; the job of the cover letter is to make that list come alive—and in some cases, even to alter the way the reader perceives it. You must make the connections between your resume and the job at hand. If you haven’t had direct experience in the field of magazine circulation, for instance, you might draw the link to your resume by saying, “My experience working in the box office of our college theater offered me insight into the importance of seeking annual subscribers.”

Keep Your Skeletons in the Closet

Camouflaging real or perceived problems on your resume is one thing; dealing with them in an interview is quite another. An astute interviewer will attempt to discover your weaknesses, insecurities, and secrets. There’s nothing sneaky or shady about that—it’s just part of his job. Yours is to keep your skeletons in the closet. Obviously, there’s no reason to volunteer information about issues that will raise red flags (addictions, illnesses, family traumas, and so on), but you should also be prepared to sidestep or diplomatically address issues that do come up.

Fielding Other Offers

If you get an offer from one company while you’re waiting to hear back from another, you have two options. If you want the job that’s been offered to you, accept it. Notify the other employer that you have accepted an offer and are withdrawing your candidacy.

If you don’t want the job, find out the terms before you decline. You may be able to use that information to leverage an offer for the job you want. Call or email the place you haven’t heard from: “I’m taking the liberty of being in touch because I haven’t heard back about an application I submitted, and I really want to work at your company. I just received another offer, but I don’t want to accept it until I’m certain there is no possibility with you. If you can’t let me know now, may I have a sense of your hiring timeline?”

The Beginner’s Mind-Set

What can you do to make starting a job as easy as possible? The first thing is to know the logistics. When and where do you actually start? To whom should you report on the first day? If no one has told you, call the HR department or one of the people who hired you; don’t wait until Sunday night to figure out that you don’t know when and where you’re supposed to be on Monday morning.

Be Discreet

Don’t air your dirty laundry at work. It’s a small world. The colleague you confide in could end up being your boss one day. Does everyone need to know how you kicked your addiction or recovered from a serious eating disorder? Leave your personal problems, past and present, at home.

For more tips on finding and keeping your first real job, including resume and cover letter samples, check out Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview?

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Extreme Professional Makeovers: A New Job for Norm, A Nose Ring for Katie?

Categories: Author guest post, Authors on tour, How-to

Ellen Gordon Reeves, career expert and author of Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview?, is always networking–even with her co-panelists during a sitdown with Katie Couric! Below she guest posts about her latest connection and how she’s helping him find employment.

Norm Elrod (joblessandless.com) is my latest Extreme Professional Makeover subject. We met virtually on a segment called Jobless in America on @katiecouric.com, and if you need an on-line marketing expert, Norm’s your man.

Recently we were face-to-face (or really, face-to-screen): Katie, Conor Dougherty from the Wall Street Journal, Norm and Scott Pierce, another blogger, via Skype.  After the show I asked if I could get Norm’s contact info and the next day we laid out a basic professional makeover plan for him: a blog post about the show, a fantasy job description, a quick and easy new look, and a revamped resume and elevator pitch.

Stay tuned for the Before and After shots.  But in the meantime, check out this video of our talk with Katie Couric…I never thought Katie would be asking me the Nose Ring question! Click here to watch the video on the CBS News website.

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Ellen Gordon Reeves on the Early Show

Categories: Behind the scenes, How-to, News

This spring we published Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview?, an essential guide for young job-seekers by Ellen Gordon Reeves, and what an adventure it has been. One could never have guessed from Ellen’s stellar performance on the Early Show this morning that just a few short months ago she had never been on television before.

An author’s readiness for the national spotlight is the source of anxiety for every publicist. Many new authors come in with a belief they could face anyone from Oprah to Charlie Rose at a moment’s notice, but very few manage to project the confident smooth-talking expert you’re used to seeing on your screen without many hours of lengthy (and expensive) media training and multiple Advils ingested by yours truly.

Thankfully Ellen Reeves’s training was capped off with a few easy-going conference calls and a small iced coffee at the Time Warner Center. Ever since Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? launched in May, Ellen has taken her new-grad advice to such venues as CNN, NPR, ABC News Now, Fox News, EXTRA, and just this morning, the Early Show. Her natural eloquence and bullet-proof expertise have impressed producers around the country and she received the highest compliment an author can get from quite a few of them—an invitation to come back.

With all of this media success, one wonders if maybe Ellen’s new book should be “How to Ace an Interview.” But that might be a chapter in Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? already.

Oleg Lyubner
Senior Publicist

Click here to read an excerpt from Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview?

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Summer Internship Part I

Categories: How-to

Back in April I interviewed for a summer internship at Workman. My anxieties about the process were slightly quelled by the fact that I’d already been on a couple of interviews—and I was thrilled to hear that I had gotten the  job. But on my first day I realized that though this wasn’t my first internship, the office experience was brand-new to me—and overwhelming. I have interned at an organic farm and creamery in upstate New York and at an art gallery in downtown Manhattan, and I’ve worked in almost every type of food service imaginable. But dealing with a boss (or stubborn cows and art collectors) is one thing; a whole office of supervisors is entirely another.

One of my first tasks involved some research for the promotion of Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? by Ellen Gordon Reeves. Seeing as the interview was behind me, I hadn’t thought of Ellen’s book as being applicable to me until I noticed the subtitle: “Finding, Landing and Keeping Your First Real Job.” Keeping was the key. The last chapter, “You’ve Got the Job,” has all the office etiquette your mother would nag you about—but when it comes from a professional, you actually listen! On every topic—from what to do for lunch to communicating with your boss—she tells you the stuff you need to know but that other people won’t necessarily tell you straight out. (My colleagues were nice enough to look out for me my first day and show me the ropes for lunchtime, but not everyone is so lucky.)

I think the most valuable thing Ellen tries to convey to us office newbies is wrapped up in the following piece of advice: “Don’t forget that you are a beginner.”  No matter what, every job you start is new and different. Part of being prepared for the job is realizing that there will probably be some things you won’t be prepared for—copier jams, meetings you didn’t know about, trying to check your messages without a code. (I figured that last one out, but I’m told it takes years of practice to truly become one with the copier.)

—Olivia Murphy, Editorial Intern

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