Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Planning Ahead: Job Search in the U.S. & Business Etiquette

This Friday, the Davis International Center & Career Services hosted a one hour talk entitled “Job Search in the U.S. & Business Etiquette”. In attendance were 15 international students, although the event proved to be useful to all undergraduates . Speakers emphasized the importance of starting the career-search process as soon as possible. According to the statistics presented, only 25-30% of positions available in the American job market are advertised in public media, and a website such as will only have a 7% success rate. This huge void is compensated by jobs obtained through personal connections, and can account up to 70% of all job placements. Hence, networking –the process through which students establish contacts with friends, alumni and teachers who might help in future employment opportunities –is of paramount importance to the job search. Personal contacts are essential in guaranteeing both job positions and graduate school admissions, as well as in helping underclassmen identify their fields of interest.

Luckily, the Office of Career Services seeks to orient students in developing their networking skills. The following websites and databases will show listings for internships, mentoring, and other job opportunities:

1.Tiger Tracks: contains advertisements for internships and job opportunities obtained through the university. This is the main resource used during on-campus recruiting.

2.University Career Services: through a database that is shared with 21 other universities, this resource lists internships and fellowships available in a variety of fields, levels, and geographic regions. This is a great resource for students interested in fields that are not necessarily supported by a specific academic program at the university (i.e. – public relations).

3. Tiger Net: A mentorship program where alumni volunteer to advise students interested in their field of work. Many mentors will allow students to shadow them, as is done for the Princeternship program.

4.Alumni Careers Network: Upon graduation, all students will see their profile posted on this Princetonian database. Contains over 60,000 members and their respective resumes.

The speakers from the Office of Career Services gave several pointers on the etiquette of proper Business conduct. While many of these may seem obvious, they are essentially true and useful. For example, emails should always contain formal salutations and subject lines, while not being lengthy enough to require that the reader scroll down. While at an interview, don’t be shy but assertive, since confidence is valued by employers. Be prepared to answer the “why are you interested in this position” question, while conveying a genuine interest in the field. Oh, and apparently it really is important to master the art of the firm handshake. In addition, application materials should contain your name and the applicable job title in the file name if submitted electronically. Finally, beware of the information that you publicize through social-networking sites. Both employers and graduate schools will look to these resources, for further information on applicants. Learning how to manage your privacy settings on Facebook is key, and even the effectiveness of this is questionable since many speculate that firms will have unrestricted access to profile information. The thumb rule for job etiquette is: when in doubt, resort to the more formal, safer approach. Better safe than sorry.