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The North Wind

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Pizza Cat Vol. 3
Deirdre Northrup-RiestererFebruary 26, 2024

Ten ways to get an edge on your job competition

The city lights rolled past the rental car window. It was a clear and warm November night. I found myself driving with two women in a rental car on “the” 110 in the south side of Los Angeles.

We were trying to find a Walgreens at an ungodly hour. They were both from New York City and probably weren’t aware that Walgreens might not be in that side of town. That might have been the low point of the trip for me, but I was there because I was asked to attend a red carpet awards show to film interviews for the Internet blogging pair “Eve and Candace.”

Kelly McCommons: Online Editor
Kelly McCommons: Online Editor

How did I get that gig? I met them in Indianapolis while I was working at USA Swimming’s National and World Championship Trials. Why did I go there? An email sent to the media director at USA Swimming quickly turned into more emails between some folks. From there they picked me up.

Since then, I’ve been working with a webcasting company based out of L.A. that broadcasts events to the web. I get to travel and yes…I do get paid. Something like that isn’t typical. But my point is every job I’ve gotten in my college career, I haven’t had to give a resume.

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I think this is due to the fact that I’m able to show people my work abilities and what I’m able to bring to the table. And a bit of luck. I don’t know everything, but I want to address 10 things that I hear from people and/or employers that make them want to hire someone again, either when getting to know them or in an interview situation.

1. Show energy: Even if today isn’t your best day, put your best foot forward. Employers can tell by body language and non-verbal signs if something is up. Would your best friend notice that something was different about you? If you’re in an interview situation, that might be the only message you’re giving.

2. Respond with “Anything else?” Don’t leave a job or gig with things left to do. That just creates more work and headache for others to clean up afterward. Who wants someone around that doesn’t finish things? If it’s a 9 to 5 job, don’t leave at 5. That extra 10 minutes finishing up something will get people to notice.

3. Respond to emails: This is my pet peeve. We have technology everywhere. It doesn’t have to be an instant response, but it kills me when people take DAYS to respond to something simple. My rule is to respond within 24 hours. Even if it’s just saying, “Hey, let me get back to you on specifics. I’m busy until tomorrow.” That tells them I’ve noted their email.  Also, don’t write a biography in an email asking for answers. You won’t get a response.

My rule is if the email is longer than a paragraph, a phone call could get the answer a bazillion  times faster. Make it simple enough where people can easily respond on a smartphone.

4. Don’t write others off: Just because you have a job or are working for someone, that doesn’t mean that you can write people off because of it. What if something happens? You may have to turn to said person for help. You’d rather have your network stocked full of individuals who have a positive outlook on you, right?

5. Follow up: Ask things like, “Did I do everything right?” or “Hey, just checking to make sure this looks good.” Follow up with the employer or client. That’ll show them that you’re willing to make sure that they’re completely satisfied.

6. Have a backup plan: This is good for just about everything in life. Period.

7. “I’m not an idiot at this, but I don’t know everything.”: Saying something along these lines will assert the fact that you know something about whatever field you’re going into. But it also lets the person know that you’ll need help sometimes, and that’s OK.

8. “No, but I’m willing to learn.” Does a job or internship description fit your knowledge except for that one thing? State that. Then they’ll know that you know everything but.

9. Introduce yourself. Ask for a business card. Respond. Make a human connection. Just reaching out after the fact shows them that you’re willing to keep up a connection. It may pay off down the road.

10. Breathe: Stressed that you won’t do your best? Take a deep breath. Studies have shown that taking a deep breath or sighing is the body’s natural “reset” button. And sometimes, we all just need that.

So, as many of us are applying for summer jobs or internships, keep these things in mind and network, network, network. A resume on paper sometimes doesn’t get you far. Putting a name to a face, then back onto a resume will make you that much more desirable.

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