Today’s job search advice comes from Peter Strandquist, Senior Director of Operations at MATTER. Peter is also a DePaul alum and part of ASK- Alumni Sharing Knowledge. MATTER is a Chicago health care startup incubator and community. Interested in learning more about startups, health care and technology? Join the Health Care & Science (HCS) Career Community for our Virtual Career Trek at MATTER on May 28!

You might be wondering how to approach a job search during a global pandemic. Peter offered insight on this very topic, as well as advice for the DePaul class of 2020.  

What tips do you have for students conducting a job search in health care/tech right now?

“You’ll be stepping into a much more competitive landscape due to the overall economy compared to any time in recent memory. You’ll have to find ways to stand out. For students, this can be tough to navigate. A great place to start would be to keep up with the news in your desired industry, which will help you be able to speak to emerging trends as they happen. 

Look for opportunities to attend as many virtual networking and informational events as possible. Many healthcare and tech incubators will have regular events and webinars that are open to the public, and many of those are free. If you find a company you like, research your own LinkedIn network to see if you’re able to make a 1st or 2nd connection at that company who may be willing to help you. These are easy ways to learn about your desired field, and they will help you stand out in your search.”

How can students make themselves stand out to an employer?

“Always try to find out who the hiring manager is whenever possible before applying to a position. That way, you can personalize your cover letter by addressing it to them. If you call or email many businesses and politely ask, they will volunteer the information. (Note from Debbie: The Career Center may also know! Check in Handshake or email us if you can’t find a hiring manager’s contact info).  It is also important that your cover letter not seem canned. There are ways you can either weave in something you learned about the hiring manager or the company through your research. This demonstrates initiative and true interest. 

Edit your resume so that your experiences and bullet points align with the job description. The easier it is for a recruiter or hiring manager to imagine you in the role, the more likely it is you’ll make it to the interview stack. Confirm that your resume and LinkedIn profiles are both accurate, up-to-date, and consistent with each other. If any of these efforts results in an interview, prompt follow up is important and if reasonable, a hand-written thank you note can help you stand out (as a compliment to an email).”

What advice do you have for students whose job or internship offer have been rescinded?

“Politely ask for more information and/or feedback on you as a candidate as a way to improve your efforts towards future opportunities. Most employers will respond positively to this honest approach. 

If it is an internship, they may have project-based work for you to do beyond their standard internship program, depending on their organization’s needs. Offering assistance beyond the internship is a way to support their business, with the added bonus of gaining a small dose of industry exposure/experience.”

What advice do you have for students looking to enter the startup world?

“Be ready to hit the ground running and wear multiple hats. You may be hired for a technical role and asked to take on other responsibilities. The more you step up with enthusiasm, the more you’ll learn, and the more respect and opportunities you’ll be offered. 

Tenacity can lead to a faster track towards advancement, whether that is within a startup company or beyond. Also, if you’re unsure of whether or not you would be a great fit for a role, don’t be shy about reaching out for an informational interview prior to applying.”