Tag: career advice



Email lives at the core of the professional world. Whether you are busy networking or trying to get your product off the ground, chances are you spend a significant amount of your time in your inbox.

I learned early on in my professional career that “being good at email” would actually turn out to pay dividends—and has it ever.

For the sake of making a strong case, cold emails have helped me:

  • Get published on Forbes, Fortune, and Business Insider, to name a few
  • Gain experience via internships and working at YCombinator-backed tech companies
  • Land phone calls with Fortune 500 executives
  • Sell products to tens of thousands of customers

Now it does not take a genius to figure out how to be good at email. But when someone like Sam Altman himself hands over a framework during a Product Hunt Live Chat, I thought it would be worth taking the time to look at it.

Here it is:

1. Keep it short

Writing more with less is deceivingly simple. Most people rush writing emails, and tend to use more words than necessary. Speaking with purpose and with a cognizance of the other person’s time is not easy.

Say as much as possible in the least amount of words. People care about their time, so respect that.

Just keep this in mind when writing the email: Make it as easy as possible for the other person to give you their answer.

2. Be clear about what you want

Are you interested in a job? Say so. Do you want to be quoted as a source in an article? Say it—and provide your expertise on the matter in a pithy, engaging way. Do you want a customer to use your product? Say it—and tell them why they should.

Just get to the point!

Most people ignore this advice. They write sentences and sentences without saying anything of substance.

Do not hide your ask in a block of text. Bold it. Highlight it.

No one can help you if they do not know what you want from them.

3. Be clear about why the recipient should care

This one is hard. This is where most people get stumped.

The reality is this part requires you to put your brain aside and start using your heart. Try to empathize with the recipient of your email.

Example 1:

You’re cold-emailing the editor of a major publication. Ask yourself: What is this person looking for?

The answer: The editor wants a unique take on a topic relevant to their audience. They do not want to have to do a lot of work to the contributed piece, so it should not have typos. They also do not want to have to wait a long period of time for answers to any questions they may have.

How is that picture?

Example 2:

You’re cold-emailing a recruiter asking for an internship. Ask yourself: What is this person looking for?

The answer: Recruiters are looking for exceptional, unique talent. Communicate that quickly. Follow up quickly. Make it easy for them to say yes. Do not create more work for them when they have so many other things to be doing.

I think you get the point. As you can tell, this is far from rocket science. The crazy thing is, few people do this. Few people take emailing seriously. Few people follow this framework.

If you do follow it, and are consistent,  good things will come. People will respond to your emails. Why? Because people are generally nice. They want to be nice people. They just do not want to have to do more work because of you.

The key to this is empathy. Understand your recipient and you’ll know just how to send them an email.




Sally Pinckard of the Weston Career Center

Sometimes the most difficult interview questions are very unexpected, designed to test the candidate’s ability to think on his or her feet and innovate. Don’t be surprised if you get a seemingly off-the-wall brainteaser, like “How many ping pong balls can fit inside the Olin atrium?”

Demonstrate your confidence and ease with ambiguity by being prepared. Most interviewers are really trying to gain information to assess: (1) can the candidate do the job; and, (2) does the candidate fit your culture and organization. These are not trick questions.

Also, being well-read on current events (i.e., read The Wall Street Journal daily) will provide context for small talk, or even help to articulate a business point of view based on current events.

Let’s explore specific questions that often surprise a candidate, or could make one uneasy but requires fortitude and confidence:

A few tips for replying to tough interview questions:

“Tell me about yourself.”

A common opener, this broad question can “throw” many interviewees. It is, in fact, a “sell-me” invitation. Develop a brief summation of your background leading into your interest and desire to work for the organization, as well as your qualifications for the position.

“Why should we hire you?”

From your research, you should know the qualifications for the job. From your own self-analysis, you will have gained insight into your strengths and accomplishments. Mention key functions of the job and discuss your skills in relation to these functions. Use experiences from previous jobs, internships, and activities as examples to support your answer.

“What are your long-range goals?”

In your company research, determine what position you could reasonably reach in five years. Speak to others who have successfully advanced themselves in the organization or profession. Express your desire and capability to grow within the organization. While you may be unsure of your future plans, demonstrate your knowledge of potential career paths.

“What is your greatest weakness?”

Everyone has weaknesses, but remember not to answer in a negative way. Turn your weakness into a positive. For example: “Because I tend to procrastinate, I have learned to work well under pressure and to always get work done on time.”

“Tell me about your schooling.”

The key to this question is to keep your reply positive. Speak well of Washington University and any other schools you’ve attended. You are a product of your schools’ educational programs. Be prepared to address questions about low grades, changes of major, favorite classes, etc.

Guest blogger: Karen Heise, Interim Director, Weston Career Center

Could you use the support of the Weston Career Center or Management Communication Center? Schedule an appointment today. 




Is your…

✔️ Resume in Olin format?

✔️ LinkedIn profile updated using the WCC-provided workbook, checklist, and tips?

 

Have you…

✔️ Developed your Personal Brand Pyramid?

✔️ Scheduled an appointment with a WCC advisor to establish an initial relationship and foundation for building a career action plan?

Fall semester is definitely busy season from a recruiting perspective, full of information sessions and events like Meet the Firms, where recruiters expect students to have resumes on hand at all times. Sometimes it’s very obvious that an event will involve sharing your resume. But what if you run into an alumnus on campus or make an unexpected connection? Don’t let the opportunity pass by! Anticipating and having the refined resume always available will avoid being caught off guard—it also allows for a more proactive approach.

Use Optimal Resume as a template to easily develop your resume in the Olin format. Below are key tips for writing an impactful resume. Your resume should be:

  • One page
  • Concise, accurate, and professional
  • Action- and results-oriented
  • Customized to the specific position you’re seeking
  • Proofed carefully for grammar, spelling, and conformance
  • Printed on high-quality resume paper

LinkedIn has become the ultimate supplement for the paper resume, as recruiters increasingly utilize both as sources to evaluate a candidate. Having a tip-top resume without an equally strong LinkedIn may give the impression that a candidate lacks attention to detail, or that LinkedIn—a growing online networking force—is unimportant to them. But LinkedIn is very important to recruiters!

Imagine the recruiter becoming enthusiastic reviewing a resume, clicking into LinkedIn, scrolling down and reading the candidate’s information. If the candidate’s profile is easy to read, with content that is crisply written and rich with information, the recruiter may determine that they are a fit for the organization. As reading continues, the candidate’s education background, involvement, and other valuable nuggets of information further pique the recruiter’s interest. Conversely, if the LinkedIn profile is sparse or clunky, written poorly or incomplete, the recruiter becomes frustrated.  The recruiter stops and moves onto another candidate. The power of LinkedIn—as a networking tool and job search database—is huge. An updated LinkedIn profile, coupled with the resume, gives a candidate a terrific chance to make a lasting impression and inspire action from the reader to contact the candidate!

If you need assistance refining and updating your resume or LinkedIn profile, make an appointment at the Weston Career Center today. Don’t delay—Meet the Firms is in mid-September. Be sure you are resume-ready for Olin’s biggest recruiting and networking event!

Guest blogger: Karen Heise, Interim Director, Weston Career Center




It’s hard for me to believe, but it’s been 12 years since I was getting ready to graduate college and I was looking for my first full-time job in marketing. From the rise of social media to the advent (and growth) of the smartphone, a lot has changed. But when it comes to trying to get your foot in the door for your first job, a lot has stayed the same.

Jon Franko Gorilla 76Guest blogger: Jon Franko is co-founder of Gorilla 76, a St. Louis-based B2B marketing agency. Jon was named to the 2010 St. Louis Business Journal’s “30 Under 30” class and was named as one of St. Louis’ “Top Young Entrepreneurs” by the Small Business Monthly. He’s a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and co-founded Gorilla 76 with WashU alum, Joe Sullivan, BFA/BSBA’05.

Below are a few notes about getting your foot in the door at the agency at which you want to work. They’re written for recent/soon-to-be grads. That said, I think they can be helpful to a variety of folks.

Know where you want to work

It might seem obvious, but it’s the first step and an important one at that: know where you want to work. When I was going through my job search my senior year at Mizzou, I knew I wanted to work in St. Louis. I also knew that I wanted to work at a company that valued its culture, employees and clients. I desired a work environment in which I would learn a lot and grow as a copywriter.

After hours and hours of research and a few painful campus job fairs (you need to be going to these!), I had a list ready to go. Names like Rodgers Townsend, Momentum, and Moosylvania were on it. These were agencies that were well-respected, treated their employees in a way that I wanted to be treated, and had strong, long-lasting relationships with their clients.

I’m going to write more on what I think you should look for in an agency at another time. But for now, just know that all agencies aren’t the same, and while there are a lot of great places to start your career, there are plenty of bad ones too.

Avoid the HR person

It was accurate when I was an aspiring copywriter, and it’s accurate now that I handle the hiring and firing at Gorilla – avoid the HR person until it’s no longer possible.

Don’t get me wrong, if you apply for a job, and the HR person reaches out (which is likely the scenario), don’t walk to the interview, run to it. But, if you’re reaching out cold, meaning there’s no job posted and you’re looking to just connect with the company, don’t make the first stop the HR department. Their job, as I’ve learned in my own experience as the HR guy at Gorilla, is to keep people out more often than it is to get people in.

Instead, use LinkedIn and Google and company “About us” pages to figure out who is the right person at a company with whom to connect. If you’re a writer, look to connect with writers at the company. If you’re a designer, look to connect with designers. Pretty simple, right? You’d be surprised.

When I was in school, we didn’t really have resources like LinkedIn and some of the companies didn’t even really have websites. And if they did, they rarely showcased the team and they definitely didn’t have a blog where the employees were writing. Instead, I read award annuals and industry publications and looked to find the names of the creative directors and copywriters at the agencies at which I wanted to work. It wasn’t a perfect system, but it worked and I got in touch with the right people.

Before we move to the next point, let’s connect on Instagram and on LinkedIn. Gorilla has a presence on both as well: InstagramLinkedIn.

Ask for the informational interview

As the HR arm at Gorilla, I hear from many looking for jobs. Some are obvious in stating it: “Dear Sir/Madam…I am formally inquiring about any open positions…” They get deleted.

Others are craftier and more strategic. They reach out to our employees first to try to get in to see “what it’s like to work at Gorilla” and to see if they can get some feedback on their book or resume or whatever. And then they might reach out to me to ask a question or two and to see if they can pop by to chat for 15 minutes. They often tell me they really admire our work and love the culture we’re building and they read such and such on page X of our website and it really lined up with their long-term professional goals. They DON’T get deleted.

My ego is engaged and I feel like I have someone looking to me for wisdom – it’s impossible to say no! Now, I might not always have the perfect advice, but it doesn’t really matter for the job-seeker. Their foot is in the door, and that’s all that really matters.

Follow up, again and again and again…               

gold-foil-thank-you-pink-800x600_largeSo you’re getting close. You’ve identified where you want to work. You’ve contacted the right folks. You’ve even gotten in to meet them. Now, you have to follow up.
First, write the thank you note. For the love of everything, don’t forget this step. It’s so obvious and disappointing when someone drops the ball here. Don’t settle with the email “thank you.” Go old school. Pen. Paper. And a few thoughts. Nothing more. Some are concerned that it takes too long to reach the recipient – that’s not a bad thing. Just as they start to forget they met with you (it’s a cruel world, sorry), you remind them of a great conversation you had just a few days or a week prior.

Next, stay in touch with them. Not too often, but remember, the “squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

Send them work samples you’re working on and ask for feedback. Send them an article you read and explain why it was relevant to your conversation. Show them updates you’ve made on your portfolio, based on the feedback they gave you when you sat down with them (this is how I got my first job).

Whatever you do and however you do it, just make sure you do it. Your goal is to come across their desk at just the right time.

Go land that gig

As you can guess, a lot has changed since I was looking for my job. After all, many of you reading this post were getting ready to finish first grade while I was looking for my first job.

That said, a lot of old-school practices are still relevant today in a multitude of areas. Getting a job in marketing is no exception. As for me, I ended up landing a job at Moosylvania, and to this day, I’m incredibly grateful for that experience. If you’re looking for a great sales promotion agency, they’re as good as it gets in St. Louis.

This blog post was originally published on the Gorilla 76 career blog.

 




The below post and podcast was republished with permission from PluggedIN, an automated talent recruitment and matchmaking platform specifically focused on startup companies. PluggedIN was founded by Colleen Liebig, who serves as an Industry Career Specialist & Advisor at Olin, with specialization in entrepreneurship.

“If you have the conviction and the personal belief that you can make anything work and solve problems, let your resourcefulness be your biggest resource.” 

In this week’s PluggedIN podcast, we sit down with Colleen Wilson, Founder & CEO of Collaborate Chicago and former Head of Product Marketing for the capital product at Square. An Olin Business School alumna, Colleen shares insights on how she decided to become an entrepreneur and multiple fantastic career tips from her business education and career experience.

Here are a few nuggets of wisdom Colleen shares in this episode:

  • The importance of prioritizing learning and mission when looking for jobs. Ask yourself, what do I need to learn, and where am I best equipped to learn those skills?
  • One of the best ways to get experience is through doing pro-bono work.
  • The importance of being self-aware and knowing what you’re good at (and what you’re not good at).
  • The “why” reveals the pain points, and when you find the pain points, that’s when you can start to find the solution.
  • Why your own personal gut-check can mean the difference when it comes to finding happiness in your career.
  • You can build anything, but sometimes it’s what you don’t build that can make all the difference in your business growth.
  • Presence equals productivity: How to find that constant state of flow through personal productivity hacks.


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