JustJob Interviews: Consultant

JustJobs interviews professionals working in a variety of fields. The good folks there have given me permission to post some of their interviews here. So if you’re wondering what it’s like to work in a specific field, you might want to check in here frequently. I’ll be posting interviews as I get them.

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This Consultant decided to limit her use of social media technology to make sure the information about her available online only reflected what she wanted to potential employers. Her true story was told to AsianHires.com. Other similar shared with AsianHires.com include stories like one from a Senior Systems Programmer and another from a Product Merchandiser.

I am a female of Chinese-American descent (born in China but raised in America). I work as an associate management consultant for a major American consulting firm. I found my job through a combination of online searches on corporation websites, contacts through internships I obtained, and networking events hosted by my college. I was searching for a full-time job for nearly a year before getting an offer from a company I found acceptable.

While on the job hunt, I limited my use of social media technology like Facebook and twitter. I didn’t go as far as deleting or making completely private my Facebook account, but wanted to make sure that the information presented was stuff that would only help my job search. I limited my use of other social media sites to pseudonyms. Job search website were largely unhelpful in my particular search, though I did try them.

If I had to apply for the same position again, the biggest thing I would do to stand out is try and emphasize my leadership skills experience. Beyond simple knowledge of technologies and industries, most corporations are just looking for great leadership and interpersonal skills. A candidate with strong leadership experience shows a wide variety of skills, from initiative to working well in teams. I may not be able to go back in time and gain MORE leadership, but I do actually have leadership experience that I didn’t play up as much as I could have.

Communication with other professionals in my field is almost entirely through email. Telephone conversations are still used for immediate issues, but electronic communication is preferred. My company also uses an internal chat system that allows communication within departments by instant message that is also frequently used. My Facebook usage is still limited, but is still useful for connecting informally with co-workers and developing a good working relationship. Other services such as LinkedIn have provided little help in my professional connections, generally being a lot more trouble than they are worth.

I had a number of pretty intense (day-long, very involved) interviews to get to my current position. There were two in particular, one that went really well, and another that went really poorly, that really give good examples of simple things that can put you ahead of the rest in terms of eligibility. Both interviews involved working with a team of other candidates working to evaluate and respond to a particular case in our field. We had to work together to solve a specific problem and communicate what our suggested solution was to upper-management (though the communication was slightly different in both cases). They observed us for the duration of the activity, and used this study in connection with another couple personal evaluations to make their decision. The first group project I participated in went horribly. The main problem ended up being that the entire group wanted to pass responsibility off on everyone else for the more “risky” solutions or proposals. As a result, we wasted a lot of time arguing over what would be the optimal way of approaching the problem, and left ourselves short on time to actually work out the problem. Needless to say I didn’t get the job. When the next interview came around (not actually the one for the job I have now, because that interview process was a little different), I realized that the evaluators weren’t really looking for our ability to solve a problem, but rather to work together as a group. I decided to “take responsibility” for the direction of the group and effectively led them through solving the problem by making sure that all opinions were heard and then decisions were made quickly and effectively. The group got along together much better as a whole, dividing responsibility and coming up with a pretty effective solution to the problem.

The most important lesson I’ve learned about the job search came, ironically, after I’d already obtained my job. It was from an informal recruiter for a similar job to mine. The lesson is to make sure that you are being yourself during an interview, and are not misrepresenting your abilities or goals. The recruiter said that attempts to misrepresent your skills generally just fail, and that recruiters in general are very turned-off by fakes.

I used my University’s career search services extensively. Career counseling helped me figure out what path I wanted to pursue, as well as planning what steps I would take to get there. In particular, some of the business-career-related career fairs were very useful in finding internships and meeting people in the field ready to give advice. They also offered stellar resume-writing workshops, which lead me to understand some of the most important points to recognize when representing yourself to an employer.

It’s tough to think if there would be anything I would change about my current career path. I’ve been relatively lucky to find the job that I have, but I think perhaps one of the biggest things I regret is not taking the time to explore other fields that could be more closely related to some of my deepest passions. My field is interesting and lucrative, but I don’t fall asleep at night pondering how to effectively solve problems at work. I have some friends who work at jobs they really love, and I sometimes wonder whether I should have pursued a similar route.

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