Event Summary: Career Development Forum Series #6





Career Development Forum Series #6 – Cracking the Code: How to Get Your Dream Job

1/15/2011, Saturday 2-5 PM


Allen Chin, Vice President of Human Resources, Evans Analytical Group

Jean Fuller, Principal, Fuller Coaching

Dawn Peru, Owner, Peru and Company


Elizabeth Xu, SVP of Product Development, RMS


The panel discussed a wide range of questions in the hiring process – from resume writing and submission, initial phone interview and final interview, to negotiating an offer, and to managing one’s career. The key highlights are summarized below.




Q1: Best practices of writing an effective resume.

        Work with a professional resume writer.

        Create your resume so that it shows a progression in responsibility and that you can work with a team or individually.

        Put the most important things first, as recruiters may spend only 20~30 seconds per resume.

        Use key words, have a summary section to show your core competencies.

        Prepare multiple versions of resume with different emphasises.

        No typo.


Q2: Should you use a cover letter?

        Good to have a cover letter. Treat each job you are applying for like it is your dream job.

        The cover letter is your 5-second commercial.


Q3: Job Sources - Where do recruiters look for candidates? How should one find the right job?

        All sources. Web sites like Craigslist, LinkedIn, Indeed, Hotjobs, Simplyhired; company’s own web sites; internal referrals; blogs and websites dedicated to your field.

        Depends on the position. For technical positions I use Dice, Monster, LinkedIn, sometimes Craigslist. For many positions, I use Craigslist. I also use a lot of referral sources from LinkedIn.

        Research the companies you want to work for, check their openings, check their management page to see if you can get your resume directly to someone in the company who is going to be interested in you.

        All of us need to have the mind set of driving my own career. Think two jobs at the same time. Before you take a job, think about what network you will be able to develop, where it is going to lead you to. It is a time to start thinking about your future job.

        Even if you are not seriously looking for a job, you can look at jobs to find out the trends in the job market.




Q4: What are the key things a recruiter looks for in the initial phone interview? How should one prepare for it?

        Are you paying attention?

        Can you handle yourself professionally on the phone?

        Can you answer my screening questions over the phone?

        Are you talking with me like you’re interested? Like you want the job?

        Make sure your voice mail greeting is professional, no music.

        Once you pick up your phone EXPECT that whoever calls you is a hiring entity and behave professionally.

        Be professionally enthusiastic. Ask for an interview. (e.g., “This sounds like a wonderful opportunity, will I have the chance to meet you?”)

        When taking the call, have a smile on your face; stand up to project your voice.

        Prepare for classic questions. Practice by recording and learning to improve.

        Think about what impression you want the interviewers to have? What do you want to educate them on?




Q5: Dos and Don’ts in an in-person interview.

        Prepare to answer why you want this job.

        Don’t ask about salary in the beginning. Think about what’s in it for the interviewers.

        Be honest. Be your true self.


Q6: How to handle open ended questions like, “Tell me about yourself.”

        If unsure what the interviewer is looking for, ask for clarification, e.g., answer with a question “what would you like to know?” “where would you like me to begin?” This gives your interviewer the opportunity to tell you what is most important to them.


Q7: How do you assess if the manager is someone you want to work for?

        Go to LinkedIn to check them out.




Q8: What are the best practices?

        Should write a thank-you letter!

        Do it quickly and thoroughly (within 48 hours).

        Don’t make it part 2 of the interview. Instead, share what you learned through the interview.

        Send a hand-written thank-you letter because few people do it these days.

        Follow up with a call days later, and ask, “by the way, did you get my thank-you letter?”




Q9: What should one know?

        Get the message across, “as long as I am compensated fairly as my peers, I am fine.”

        Know the salary range.

        Book Recommendation: “Women Don’t Ask”




Q10: What should one do in the first 3 months in a job?

        Work out a plan with the manager for the first 3~6 months. So you get a clear view of what’s important for your manager. You want to be more proactive in that process.

        By week 2~4, you will have a good idea of what the future looks like.

        Make sure the definition of result is clear.

        Learn about the organization and culture.

        By end of 6 months, you should have a rolling 2-quarter plan. Again, define the results so you can achieve.

        Make your manager look better.

        Always be a pleasure to be around. Work hard to make and keep yourself a valuable asset. Keep your word. Be punctual.

        If company doesn’t have career management opportunity for you, by month 3 you should start planning your own learning and development.

        Book Recommendations: “Mind Set” (by Carol Dweck), “People Style at Work” (by Robert Bolton)


Q11: How to assess whether one is suited for management track?

        Look at those in management positions, and assess, “do I have those characteristics?”

        You really need a burning desire to do that. Are you ready to take responsibilities? You need to care about others - customers, your team, technologies, etc.

        The idea of managing your career to stay ahead of the curve, whether you are a manager or a contributor, is very important.




Q1: How do you process your resume, daily or at the end of the ad period?  How soon should I expect your call after I submitted my resume?

        If you have a cover letter that addresses most of the points in the job description, you should expect a call immediately. If you don’t, you should follow up with a phone call.

        Pleasantly persist!


Q2: What is the probability of getting an initial interview without any recommendation from either someone in the company or a recruiter?

        If you are right for the position on paper, you will get an interview. ALWAYS use your recommendation first.


Q3: What are the key things a hiring manager looks for in the interview?

        Can this candidate do the job?

        Can this person get along with others? Team player or individual contributor?


Q4: How to make a good impression during in-person interviews?


        Ask questions.

        Make eye contact with each person interviewing you.


        Interject areas of your expertise where appropriate.

        Ask for the job or at least articulate your interest in the position.


Q5: How to handle difficult questions? (Or, what to do when one does not know the answer?)

        If  you don’t know the answer you don’t know the answer, don’t try to fake it. Ask for clarification again, and then ask about the question.

        Example: Do you know how to write C++ code?

        Answer: “How does C++ fit into the project?” You can save this one by stating, “I’m a very quick study and I can pick up languages easily, I would have no trouble coming up to speed.”


Q6: What should you do if you want to go back to corporate world after you failed at your start-up effort?

        Validate the experience you’ve gained and offer that as part of your excellent experience.

        Everybody fails!

        Don’t see it as failure.


Q7: What kind of questions do interviewers love to hear from the job-seeker? How can job-seekers assess whether the hiring manager is someone they would want to work for?

        Ask about the job.

        What would I be doing for the company?

        How do you see my skills and experience fitting in with the team?

        What do you look for when you are hiring?

        How do I compare with the other candidates?

        When can I expect to hear from you?


Q8: How important a factor is personality for non-technical positions?

        A strong confident, engaging personality is important in ALL positions.


Q9: What are the dos and don'ts in a salary/total compensation negotiation?

        Find out about the job first, let the hiring manager bring up the salary conversation.

        If you’ve filled out an application, they know what you’re making and  will compensate you accordingly.

        Example: What are you looking for?

        Answer: Let me reiterate I am most interested in the opportunity, I am currently earning $$$. I’m sure you will make an acceptable offer in keeping with your salary range.


Q10: There is this thinking that: for a technical worker, if you don't take the management track eventually, you will get laid off when you become older and more expensive, is that true?

        Sometimes it is true, you must continue to keep yourself valuable, taking classes, networking, promoting yourself. Find the companies that honor experience and your talents.


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