Written by Michael Ruiz, Bioengineering M.S. 2020
This week I want to address a different aspect of life here at Tufts: that period when you are preparing to finish your program and enter the work force. That’s why we came to graduate school right? To graduate. As a graduate student currently applying for post-graduation positions, I want to share my experiences and the resources at Tufts that will bring your job search to the next level.
When reviewing resumes of potential employees, approximately 98% of companies use an applicant tracking system (ATS) and/or some form of a cognitive aptitude tests. I have found that the ATS can be both interesting and frustrating. It’s meant to streamline leading talent to the top of an application pile, but may make it difficult for companies to locate diversely qualified candidates without proper user input specifications on the front end. In other words, the potential to screen out qualified candidates can be high without proper ATS software training.
When I first started my job search, prior to studying the ATS and utilizing my resources at Tufts, I sent out countless resumes with little to no response, and did a few first-round interviews with companies that didn’t go any further. Follow up emails didn’t produce results and employers didn’t provide feedback. In short, it’s a tough time to be on the job market, and I wondered what I was doing wrong.
I visited Tufts Career Center and, with help from the staff there, spruced up my resume and cover letter template. I used Big Interview to practice my responses for job interview questions, and I also learned how to use LinkedIn to conduct informational interviews. On my own, I also decided to utilize a different, experimental approach to finding a job. In one week, I carefully crafted a handful of job applications with custom resumes, cover letters, and a few short essay prompts for four categories of jobs in which I am currently seeking employment. I used a word cloud search approach to scan job descriptions and found commonly used words in the different categories and made sure to strategically integrate those words (where appropriate) into active and achievement-oriented highlights of my career experience.
Within the first week, I received seven invitations to interview. After another week and going to those initial seven interviews, I was called back for several second- and third–round interviews.
As new graduates, we can find ourselves facing more barriers to entry than previous generations. Therefore, it is very important to be creative and utilize as many resources as you have available to you, and Tufts provides those resources for graduate students. While I’m currently continuing to send applications and waiting for the right offer, I am working with a Tufts professor of the practice (professors of the practice are faculty members from non-traditional academic backgrounds, often senior-level executives from top companies across a number of industries in the Boston area, who teach at Tufts) to improve my resume and interview skills. Wish me luck! And good luck to all fellow job seekers.