Embarking on One’s Career: The Job Hunt, Applications Process, and Interview

While it’s still fresh in my mind, I thought I’d write up a quick post on my applications process and include some tips I found useful. If you’re job hunting, stay hopeful and don’t just settle. I’m sure you that deep down, you know what you want. Stay confident and do not give up!

*Note: This post was drafted in Feb 2013.

What do I want to do?

  1. Be Self Aware
    1. Ask yourself the basics:
      a) Which industry do I want to work in?
      b) What do I want to be doing day-to-day?
    2. Identify your passions and interests: figure out what gets you out of bed in the morning.
      Look at your lifestyle and see what gets your heart rate going. Do you enjoy reading about articles on certain industries or topics? Do you find yourself asking a lot of questions or doing research in your own time on something in particular? This IS it. (Note: You may distinguish between a hobby vs. a career pursuit.)
  2. Determine the lifestyle  you want in the future.
    Are you ok with simplicity? What is simplicity? What are your values and how do you prioritize them?
    How important is money for you? Education? Family? Travel?
  3. Identify skills you want to learn
    Whether professionally or personally.
  4. Travel & Learn Something New
    This will change your perspectives and you will learn the type of lifestyle you want. Interacting with people from different cultures and being put in unexpected situations will prepare you to be flexible and adaptable.  It will also expose you to a completely different side of yourself and of other people. Travelling takes you out of your comfort zone and you will learn to make decisions fast, independently!
  5. Gain exposure and do your research
    1. Talk to people in different fields and industries. (Ex. Ask someone out for coffee, attend an industry event, ask a friend to connect you with their friends, watch online videos to learn about different areas, take an online course in a subject matter that interests you, apply what you’ve learned on a project of choice, etc.)
    2. Talk to your university career counsellors.
    3. If you don’t know something, research it. Ask. Don’t be afraid.
    4. Another option: volunteer for a bit, take an internship, sit and observe, do something to get your feet wet, or read a lot and learn from other’s experiences. (Note: Learning  by doing is still best, in my opinion.)
  6. What is your 3, 5, 10, 20 year plan? (Goal Setting)
    What steps do you need to take to get there? Break it down. (Know that your experiences will guide you and it is ok to be flexible/change your mind.)
  7. What is your purpose in life? *Attempt*
    Why do you do what you do? What are you aiming for? What gives you meaning in life? Do you believe in a higher being?

The Applications Process

  1. Utilize online job boards, your university job postings, company websites, your network, talk to your co-op counsellor, talk to your friends and family, etc. (It is an exhausting process, but so worth it! Instead of checking the website often, some companies have email notifications you can sign up for as well.)
  2. Research what certain positions mean or email HR to ask.
  3. Do your due diligence – what is most important for you when working for an organization?

Some of you have asked about the application process. I applied via the website and was contacted by HR. The rest went from there. For any application, my suggestion would be to ensure your cover letter and resume address everything that’s written in the job description and use concrete examples to highlight what they are looking for. Research the company and really showcase your “fit.” Ask yourself if the job you’re applying to is really what you want because it will show in the interview if it isn’t. There are many great online resources and your school’s career counsellors are extremely helpful.

Lastly, the job hunt process will require perseverance. If you don’t get an interview the first time, try again. If you get the first interview and don’t make it to the second round, try again. Ask for feedback and reflect. Rewrite your cover letter/resume and submit. “Preparation is key.”

The Multi-Interview

Depending on the company or position, your interview process could vary. You could have multiple interviews, you could have all your interviews over the telephone, you could be flown in for your interview, or you might be asked to prepare a presentation. All of these are possibilities. Ask friends, HR, or read online career websites on the different types of interviews. At the end of the day, an interview serves 3 main purposes:

  1. To get to know you
  2. To tangibly showcase your skill
  3. To assess for fit with the interviewers and fit with the company

Your goal  of the interview is to: a) Have the interviewers like you, b) Get the second interview. This is some key advice my cousin gave me when I was interviewing. (He’s a role model to me and a successful one.) All the other stuff you have in your head… well, it’s all in your head and likely, secondary. Just focus on these two goals and stop worrying. (It worked for me!)

I could go on about the interview process, but I feel these are the essentials. I’ll leave you with a few rules of thumb that another role model of mine gave me. Note that everyone has a different style, so these might not be your rules of thumb.

  1. Keep your story < 30 seconds. If the interviewer wants to know more, they will ask. (Situation, Action, Result)
  2. Just be yourself. (If you have already established a passion for the position/place, your excitement will flow.)
  3. Know a few key facts about the organization/company.
  4. Be able to answer: a) Why you would like to work for X? b) Why you want X position?
  5. Don’t worry about the end result.

Before I end off, I should say that this post is a sharing of my experiences and takeaways, and simply reading or following every “step” will not land you a job. But I personally believe that if you’ve taken the time to think about all these things, you will be well on your way. Remember, your first job doesn’t have to be that “dream job!” Walk ahead with that mentality, yet keep that dream and walk ahead with it. All the best!


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