When I met Fearghal Ryan in Bewley’s cafe on Dublin’s Grafton Street, he was an Easter weekend away from beginning his new job as a Support Consultant in SAP.
Fearghal had graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 2009 where he studied Civil Engineering, and went on to the University of Notre Dame in Indiana under the Naughton Fellowship (the first Irish student to participate in the ESTEEM Masters Programme), completing a masters in Engineering, Science and Technology Entrepreneurship for another year. Following his stint in Notre Dame, he worked in San Diego at Qualcomm for 12 months before realising he wanted to come home.
So why leave the US where all things technology are in high demand?
According to Fearghal, the rules of his US Visa were too restrictive for him to really develop his career, whereas his options at home in Ireland were quite good considering his educational background and work experience so far with Qualcomm. He wanted to work in a client-facing role, with a global technology or consulting firm, and to be Dublin-based to be near his friends and family.
How did he go about finding a new job?
His job search process began back in San Diego, where he hired the services of friend and Career Coach James Seetoo to discover what he really wanted to do for a living. This was paid-for advice, but Fearghal says he found it really helped him, as James’ experience in executive recruiting and coaching helped him map his career plan and goals, and set him up for the transition. Fearghal still keeps in contact with James, and was able to get his valuable perspective throughout the job hunt.
When he got home, he immediately began building up his network, looking for in-person referrals to companies where possible and then submitting his CV. To companies that he had no connection with, his applications were often ignored. His advice: referrals are the main way to be introduced to companies.
He also attended The Communications Clinic for job-interview practice, another paid-for service (they do a ‚¬150 discount for unemployed people and students) but one that Fearghal believes was invaluable. Working with Barry McLoughlin, they filmed his interview, giving him an outside view of how the interviewer perceives him. It was through this method that he realised he needed to work on specifics and figure out how his skills and experience would benefit the interviewer’s organization.
SAP and Trinity
Through collaboration with the Careers Office in Trinity College, Fearghal was invited to come in and give a presentation about the Naughton Fellowships during the “Your Career: Study or Work?” week in February, to explain about the masters and the benefits of studying in Notre Dame.
SAP had sponsored the weeklong career fair, and having been introduced by a Trinity Careers Adviser, Fearghal later had the opportunity to have a meeting with the SAP recruiters. A few weeks later he was called for interview. With his newly acquired interview skills and thorough company research at hand, he won them over and was offered a full time role in the Client Support team.
Fearghal’s top job-hunting tips:
- Finding a job is a job.
- Having a great University education wasn’t enough when it came to companies responding to his applications when they had no idea who he was. Warm introductions as opposed to cold applications were the best method to landing an interview.
- Build up your network of people in to groups, “Really know” to “barely know” etc. It’s from the people you know well that a warm introduction will be both most genuine and often most successful, but don’t limit yourself to this group.
- Meet as many people as possible who are as important as possible. Networking at graduate or associate level isn’t as valuable as manager or executive level as they’ve less leverage.
- If you’re a graduate, use your University links. Add some value for the University too, instead of just taking all of their advice and help and not giving anything in return. Try to give something back, such as presenting to undergraduates about courses and career options.
- Something people rarely do but can really work is speaking with (or sending a letter to) C-level management, detailing what the company has done recently and what new project they’re launching in to, and what you can do to help them in this new venture based on the skillset you have. This is a tip I picked up from Sinead English, a Career Consultant, when she spoke at the Trinity Alumni Career Network Event in February.
- Write down your key strengths and the key things that the employer is looking for, and match them up. Do this for every interview, use it as a framework for competency interviews, showing examples of where you’ve used these strengths in the past, and how they can help the employer.
- Be relaxed about your interview, making sure to come across as someone who is friendly and easy to work with![/box]