Career Resources

Thursday, February 25, 2010

It's okay to brag...sometimes

We've all met annoying, egotistical people who love to brag about themselves. Most college students seem to be particularly sensitive to this and would never brag to their peers. However, they carry this same attitude into the interview. Students frequently tell me that they are hesitant to brag about themselves in the interview for fear of being viewed as arrogant or egotistical. Sometimes this is a reflection of having been brought up in a different culture than the U.S. but I also see it in students who were born here. I always tell them that, while humility is a virtue, the interview is not a place to be humble. Bragging to your friends about your accomplishments is, well, bragging. But bragging in an interview is "selling yourself" in order to get the internship or job.

When you go on an interview, the objective is to present yourself in the best possible light to the employer so that they will want to hire you. So you need to feel confident about talking about yourself, highlighting your strengths and skills that would be relevant for the position and expressing your significant accomplishments. Believe me, the interviewer will not perceive this as bragging! Interviewers want to hire confident people, so they will be quite impressed that you are a person who can speak confidently about yourself! They are also investing a lot of time and money in the hiring process and need to make sure they are getting an optimal return on investment by hiring the best candidate. And how would they know you're the best candidate unless you tell them!

If you're still feeling reluctant about selling yourself during the interview, conduct mock interviews with counselors at your career center who will be able to coach you on how to present your key skills, strengths and accomplishments in a confident, polished manner. And, if you're concerned at all about coming across as arrogant, no need to worry! Chances are that you are far from being arrogant, but if you are, your counselor will let you know it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The odds are NOT 1 in 175,000,000

I hardly ever play the lottery, but the jackpot for the Mass Mega Millions game last Friday night was beckoning me at $144,000,000, not because of the sheer number of millions I could potentially win but because 4's and 1's are "my numbers," and I felt it was a sign that I should play. The next day I eagerly went to the Mass State Lottery website and discovered I hadn't matched any numbers out of five quick picks. That wasn't the worst of it. Right below the winning numbers I saw that the probability of winning the jackpot was 1 in 175,711,536! Wow! But you know the saying, "If you don't play, you can't win."

So, you're probably wondering...what does playing the lottery have to do with career counseling? Well, if you win the Mega Millions, you won't ever need to look for a job again! Just kidding! Some students I meet with seem to believe that the odds of getting a job are as slim as winning the Mega Millions jackpot and make a decision to not even apply to some positions based on their pre-conceived suppositions. They say things like, "that job is so competitive," or "so many people are going to be applying for that job," or "I bet the other candidates have better GPA's than me." It's amazing to me how many students create myths in their minds about why they won't get the job. I always say to them, "Why are YOU taking yourself out of the running without even applying? Let the company make the decision as to whether or not you're a good candidate." Just like you can't win the lottery if you don't play, you can't get the job if you don't apply! But unlike playing the lottery, the odds are much, much greater that you'll get an interview and land the job, and you don't even have to pay any money!

Also, the odds of landing a job greatly increase the more jobs you apply to so don't just sit back after applying for 10, or 15 or 20 jobs and think you're done. And please don't give up if you haven't heard anything from those first companies you applied to. Keep on applying! What have you got to lose? The odds are in your favor.