Many years ago, as I began my senior year of college, the reality of getting a job slapped me in the face! After three years of college studies, it dawned on me that without a job after graduation, all my hard work would have been for naught. Luckily, my university had a solid interview/job program that helped me and many of my fellow undergrads find gainful employment upon graduation the following spring. What became obvious to me at that time is something that I have tried to pass along to others as my career has progressed. That piece of wisdom is, simply put, your resume only gets you in the door. Where you go from there is completely up to you.
We’ve all heard the stories about college degrees, in which someone has a degree in one area of study but is then working in a completely different area of study. Who knows what the reason might be for that to have happened? The reasons are far and wide, some important and some not. But, as I mentioned, the degree (a piece of your resume) simply opens up the opportunity for you to find your spot. Who cares if the spot is right in line with your area of study or not? Who cares if you’ve done a 180° turn and are headed in another direction? Ultimately, finding the right fit is paramount.
Thoughts for Those Looking for a Job
When you’re out there trying to find your spot, be yourself. As someone who has been on both sides of this situation, being true to yourself is incredibly important, and it’s the only way to ensure that both parties can be satisfied should you win the job. Build your resume with any possible experience that you can think of. You’d be surprised by what a prospective employer may consider valuable experience, or what you may be asked regarding a previous job that you thought had nothing to do with the position at hand. Also, only list experience on your resume that you can speak about if you’re asked a question. For example, unless you can really talk about what a specific piece of instrumentation can do, and you only used it for one lab session your sophomore year, maybe you should think about leaving that off the resume. In the end, be confident about yourself and your experiences;after all, you’re the expert on you.
Thoughts for Those Offering a Job
When you’re trying to fill a vacancy within your organization, let the applicant talk, and as much as possible. Make the setting comfortable and allow the applicant to tell you about himself and his experiences. Ask the applicant about his interests and hobbies; you never know what atypical thing they might have done that could be beneficial to you or your team. Be sure to think about team chemistry and to think about what piece of the puzzle your applicant might fill, and to think outside the box when asking questions. Be prepared to conduct the interview, but don’t feel the need to read from a script. After all, when it comes to interviewing, you don’t know what you don’t know about someone.
Once the uncomfortable interviewing process is complete, the real fun begins. All the companies that we work for are where they are in the world because of their people. So, don’t forget that there’s now real work to be done once you’ve decided to take a job or you’ve decided to offer an applicant a job! I have found one somewhat simple question that will help both sides of the employment equation better prepare themselves for the times ahead: “Where are you trying to go?” Of course, it’s a figurative question so that the employee can express where he sees himself in the future, and the employer can understand the new hire’s aspirations and be better prepared for what might come down the road.
Simply put, as the employee, how can you be led if you don’t know where you want to go? And as the employer (and leader), how can you provide guidance and leadership if you don’t know where the employee wants to go? It seems like a simple thing, but an employee/employer relationship in which both parties understand the goals of the other will be a strong one and a sustainable one, regardless of level within your organization. The more everyone is on the same page, the better it is for all involved.
Keith M. Sellers is operations manager with NTS in Baltimore, Maryland. To read past columns or to contact Sellers, click here.
Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of The PCB Magazine, click here.