This roundup of reader questions and answers takes a look at questions related to college students and graduates, resumes and finding telecommuting jobs.
I’ve tried to keep the questions and answers as close as possible to the actual conversation but in some cases I’ve changed things to protect the reader’s identity or I’ve given a longer answer than what was possible at the time due to the fact that Twitter – where many of these questions are coming from – only allows 140 characters per message.
First job search
Do you think its better to look for a paid-internship or an entry-level position?
Internships have a set timeframe with no guarantee that the hiring company can keep you on afterwards even if they want to. Full time jobs don't have that problem, from entry-level upward. However, if it will be much easier to get a paid internship quickly, do it. Then build your network while keeping your future job search in mind.
School or work
I know a guy who was looking for a job, didn't find one, then took up a master's degree. Now this raises a question: what to do when job search and studying clash? Suppose he finds his dream job tomorrow? Should he quit the academy?
For this reason, most people stop job hunting during their studies and only continue when the end is in sight and the need for a job reappears. Unless they need money desperately, in which case a job would take precedence. Another case is when a job opportunity is simply too good to pass up, especially when the person knows they can go back to their studies later or continue at a slower pace (night school, distance learning, etc.) in parallel.
What to put on your resume or CV
I am currently working in IT. In my CV, I have listed all the employers and projects I have participated in. I also mention my previous jobs, most of which are not related to IT but are part of my general career, as I have been working already for many years. My colleague claims I should not mention anything that is unrelated to the type of job I am applying for. Is she right? After all, it is showing skills I have acquired as well as the fact I have been working in the past too.
Your CV should have any true information that can increase your value in selling you to the company that's reading it. That's how you should define what ‘related' work experience is. Most of the time that means only listing past positions, achievements and skills in the same industry or role, but if you had outstanding success doing something else it may be worth mentioning.
For example, if I'm a programmer, I would typically list my past programming jobs. But if I'm aiming for a Programmer Team Lead position for the first time, I would also add that I managed course project teams to success at university. It's not directly related, but shows that I have additional skills (leadership, organizational) that would be important for the job applied for.
Telecommuting from Israel
I have applied to jobs in the US that allow telecommuting. I found the open jobs on lists such as Craigslist and Monster.com but I've never received a response from any of these companies. Do you have insight or experience as to whether it's even worth spending the time to apply, or do companies automatically rule out someone who's not in the US? I always write that I'm a US citizen, pay US taxes, and am available to travel to the US several times a year.
- Find someone who's doing what you'd like to do and try to understand how they're doing it. That's the most effective.
- On LinkedIn, try contacting people in relevant US companies and see if they have any suggestions for you. You might want to join a US-based LinkedIn group in your field and draw attention to yourself by becoming an active member and having a profile that sells your skills well, but be clear that you're available for hiring or people won't think to ask.
- Another tactic is to grow your profile on freelancing sites like Elance.com, Guru.com, etc., where you can quickly check if there are projects for people in your field. A good freelancer can sometimes be converted to a full-time telecommuting employee if things go well consistently. Once a company likes you enough, they won't want to take a chance at losing you or even just waiting for you. But you can also nudge things in that direction if it's your goal.