Career advice from job guru Ryan Kahn

Though Ryan Kahn specializes in connecting students with very hard to get jobs—working at HBO, Warner’s Brothers, or MTV—he knows that not everyone is up for the highly-competitive, not so stable nature of a sports broadcasting position. For those people, he recommends marketing.

“All areas of marketing are sure to get you a job. You can go down the public relations, event planning, or social media path; there are just so many ways to use that experience. Every major company in every city has a marketing department. It is incredibly stable,” Kahn said.

Kahn is a nationally recognized career coach. He stared on MTV’s documentary series “Hired,” and helped dozens of recent college graduates land their dream job. His book, “Hired: The Guide for the Recent Grad” received a five from an average of 26 Amazon customer reviewers.

We spoke with Ryan from California on August 22.

What questions do students most often ask you?

Probably, how to respond to what’s your biggest weakness? You know, employers love asking that question. And the best way to handle that is to be honest, but you always want to include too what you’ve done to correct that. For me, it’s taking on too many projects that I could ever accomplish in one day. So now that I have a cell phone, I use the calendar, and check of the day’s list.

When an employer is reviewing a resume, what are some pet peeves?

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At the bottom of resume, you know how you can write ‘references upon request’? Don’t do that. It’s really just a waste of space. If employers wanted to ask or references, they would ask. I’d much rather see someone use that space to offer another bullet of what they accomplished in school.

What’s the most important thing on a resume?

I’ve actually had people who didn’t put their number on it (laughs) But, the most important thing, when applying for any position, say marketing, is to clearly tailor it to that position. If you worked at a local grocery store, that’s ok, because you’re applying for an entry level position. They’re not expecting great experience at that stage. What you can do is broadcast your relevant skills. Say how you consistently showed up to work on time, how you helped co-workers, etc.

During an interview, what irks employers most?

Talking negatively about past employers. They’re immediately going to wonder, well, will you say something like that about them? Try to be positive throughout the interview.

Should students go for unpaid internships?

I am huge advocate for unpaid internships. They’re a great way to test out an industry. Just for a couple of days a week, you can gain the experience to decide whether you want to spend the rest of your career in that field.

What else should students know?

Network is net worth. If you’re applying for a position at HBO, and you think you don’t know anyone—there’s no way you can get that job—well you may be a part of 1,000 friends on Linkedin who does know someone. Networking through social media is so valuable.

Top 5 interview tips

“Never ask about salary until the moment they say you’re hired.  A negotiation tactic I’d recommend is always let them tell you how much the offer is for and avoid giving them your desired salary.  If they ask what range are you looking for, turn it back to them and ask how much someone with your level of experience would make at their company.”

“Most people say show up 10 minutes early to an interview.  I tell my clients to arrive 30 minutes early, park in the parking lot and relax in the car, call a friend or family member, and then walk in the door exactly 10 minutes early calm and collected.  The last thing you want to do is feel rushed getting to the interview. You have enough pressure and stress on the interview day, so give yourself every advantage to make a great initial impression.”

“Research the interviewer’s online presence. It’s best not to broadcast that you were researching them specifically, but to look for common points you can casually bring up during the interview.”

“The interview starts with the receptionist.  The casual conversation you have with the receptionist could help you in the final decision. Often employers will ask his or her opinion and I don’t want you to miss any opportunity to make a great impression. It also helps you look great when you enter the interview with the boss and mention the great conversation you just had. It will show your great people skills.”

“Prior to the interview, have a stamped, addressed blank thank you card ready and with you. This way, right when you walk out of your interview you can write your thank you note while everything is fresh in your mind and drop it right in a mailbox.”