I attended an event at Temple’s Fox School of Business. It was hosted by students of the American Marketing Association and we TAC members were extended an invite. Today’s guest speaker was alumni Joe Ferry (SCT class of ’01). He spoke on his growing pains as he transitioned from a fresh-faced TU alum to Apple Inc. field recruiter. Before he said anything, he assured us that the Temple brand is strong in New York. Because our school made such a powerful impact on him, he gives back by showing preference to Temple students when recruiting. He began his speech with some recommended reading. Joe recommends Jack Foster’s “How to Get Ideas.” This book will help us re-evaluate ourselves and give us insights on how to get our names out. Here are Joe Ferry’s 5 tips to landing a job…
1.Written Communication. (Be personal!)
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and they never look you in the eye? It’s not because they’re lying or because they’re inherently dishonest—it’s because they’re texting! Thanks to the internet, mobile technology, and social networking, people have become less sincere and less personable. Apple has 67 skill sets that an ideal employee must possess. Of the 67, “written communication” ranks number one. When writing a cover letter, be personal and be sincere. A handwritten thank you letter adds credibility. You’ve heard the cliché regarding the difference between ordinary and extraordinary, right?
2. Peer Relationships (If you help others progress, they’ll help you to progress!)
This is based on the economic principle: “invisible hand.” By helping someone else, we’re really helping ourselves. What does this mean for the job hunt? Employers like to see that we’ve made a positive and lasting impact in our previous position. It may be hard to prove this, but it’s necessary because it’s how we justify ourselves as an asset. It’s about being a team player. If we only help ourselves, why do we need a boss? In a romantic relationship, the partner you choose will either be an asset or a liability. They’ll either bring something to the table, or they’ll take something away. Every employer wants people who add to the pot—people who bring something to the table. We have to engage others in our work and they’ll reciprocate. In the moment, we learn from each other, but people come and go. Peer relationships are about having a lasting impact so even after we’ve gone, an employer has equity in what we’ve brought to the table. “Anthony doesn’t work here anymore, but he’s still here in spirit.”
3. Fearless Feedback. (Be receptive!)
This is similar to a “problem-action-solution” scenario. Superiors don’t like excuses and they don’t like problems, but problems have to be dealt with. Should a problem arise, we should be able to suggest a possible solution as well. This is often an interview question. “Think of a time you’ve had a problem. Now tell us what you did to solve it.” A question like this is used to gauge one’s accountability and initiative. However, it goes both ways. Joe told us that we have to be willing to grow—willing to accept criticism. One has to develop a thick skin. It’s good to have a solution to a problem, but we have to be willing to accept that maybe our solution isn’t always good idea. I think he hinted that no one is safe from “fearless feedback;” Not even the higher ups are safe. Keep in mind he was speaking on his particular employer. (Apple) I don’t think this would fly everywhere, but that’s cool if even the boss is grounded enough to listen.
4. Drive for results. (Find a mentor!)
Joe made an excellent analogy. A mentor is like a driver. We may know where we want to go, but we might need someone else to get us there—to steer us in the right direction. Based on a case study, he threw out a statistic that roughly 70% of people fair better in their career under the guidance of a mentor. To find one, first see who’s most productive and then see who offers the most constructive criticism. Someone who’s strong in each of these areas is more likely to expose us to career building experiences. I think it’s a given that this person has to work within our field of interest. We must swallow our pride and acknowledge someone who is greater than ourselves because that person used to be in our shoes and they’ve made our mistakes already.
5. Company Culture. (Find your fit!)
A company isn’t just a product. It’s a culture within itself. It’s important that employees buy into the mantras, the customs, and the creed of the company. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Joe said that he meets people who praise the iPhone and praise the Mac Book, but when it comes to Apple they don’t have a clue. Due diligence is not to be taken lightly when applying for a job. Thousands of people apply to work at a place like Apple. Joe confirmed 20,000 in his own experience. All things being equal, the person who knows more about the company has the advantage at becoming a better fit. We need to be true to ourselves. We should acknowledge when a particular workplace doesn’t coincide with our career goals and expectations. It could mean the difference between a short term gain and long term success. A Phyrric Victory is as good as a loss. (“I hate it here, but at least I have a job.”) Don’t kill your dream by investing too much time into the wrong place.
Before we do any of these things, it’s important that we get involved and gain experience. Joe started out by getting involved on campus and within his major. That’s what this blog is about and it’s why I’m here. I’d like to thank the AMA for the invite and Joe for the insight. I had to leave a bit early, but I think I scribbled down just enough to get his points across. Wouldn’t you say?