IME Colloquium Presentation By Larry Phelan
Cal Poly Pomona
February 12, 1998
The structure of the following presentation summary was created from Mr. Phelan's presentation outline. Additional notes were provided by Vicky Davis and Yogesh Mistry.
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Table of Contents:
Objectives of the Presentation
Taking Control of Your Career
How a Job is Created
How a Qualified Candidate is Found
The Papers (resumes, cover letters, etc.)
The Interview
Other Ways to Get into the Company
Future Advice
Additional Comments

BACKGROUND (Return to Table of Contents)

Mr. Phelan is currently a quality assurance manager for Beckman Instruments, Inc. He has been with the company for over 17 years. He has a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering from Cal Poly Pomona, an MBA from Pepperdine, and Professional Designation in TQM from UCLA. Larry is a Certified Quality Engineer and currently a member of ASQC and of the IME Department Industry Advisory Council.

Mr. Phelan has considerable experience in interviewing people and from his experiences has organized this presentation to inform graduating engineers of what is expected of them in the workplace/job market.

OBJECTIVES OF THE PRESENTATION (Return to Table of Contents)


TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR CAREER (Return to Table of Contents)

Control of your career belongs to you; therefore plan it and guard it. There is a difference between a job and a career; the career is a function of time. Furthermore, Mr. Phelan cautions against those wanting to help you with your career. So, outline your career goals, now, and stick to them. Don't allow others to deviate you from your career path. Mr. Phelan offered three rules to design your career path:
  1. Decide what do you want most out of your career and keep it in mind.
  2. Decide what your # 1 goal is and be focused.
  3. Decide what your priorities in life are and use them to help you make decisions.

Be sure to review these three rules at the end of each year as they apply to your career growth.
In considering the above three points, the following areas should be contemplated when assessing your career:

  • Money
  • Desire of a specific industry
  • Job security
  • Social impact of your work
  • Pension benefits (i.e. 401k plans, health plans, etc.)
  • Flexible work schedule
  • Size of company

Mr. Phelan emphasized two rules of business:

  1. Companies are in business to make money
  2. You are there to help the company make money

COROLLARY: Today, a company's competitive advantage is hiring and maintaining the most qualified people.

HOW A JOB IS CREATED (Return to Table of Contents)

There are 2 reasons a company is looking for an employee:

  1. New position (expansion) - the company has the time to look for the best-qualified candidate. Response time may not be immediate.
  2. Replacement - this usually occurs when a highly notable employee has given a two weeks notice for resignation. Response time may be quick.

HOW A QUALIFIED CANDIDATE IS FOUND (Return to Table of Contents)

Jobs are filled through:

  • 60% Referrals, informal contacts refer to networking section
  • 15-20% Classified ads
  • 20% Other. This includes search agencies and job banks, such as monster board (an Internet service).
  • 1% Unsolicited resumes (sending resumes to companies when a position is not open)

NETWORKING (Return to Table of Contents)

Networking is more like farming than hunting. Prepare and plant your field. Tend your crop.Wait for the plants to grow before you can harvest them. Your goal is to get a referral from someone for a position that may be open. Referrals are best because a person will not refer you unless they know you, trust you, have confindence in your abilities, or have some relationship with you. This implies to the prospective employer that you are trustworthy.

How do you get a referral?

  • In-house (Other divisions within the company)
  • Outside (Professional societies, seminars/lectures, and continuing education classes)

How to make better contacts?

Have networking tools. Prepare the following ahead of time:

  1. Your Introduction
  2. Name
  3. What you do, type of business or industry you are involved in.
  4. Benefit statement
  5. Practice, practice, practice
  6. Name tag (Your name, title, career field)
  7. Business cards (On the back write date and event at which you met the person & any notes)

When you are at a social or business event, here are some networking tips and etiquette:

  1. Have a goal of the number of new contacts
  2. Act like a host, not a guest
  3. Listen
  4. Give information whenever possible
  5. Describe YOU
  6. Follow-up each contact
  7. Don't waste a person's time - keep in touch
  8. If given a lead about a possible job opening, ask if you may call the person.
  9. Ask if you may reference the name of the person who gave you the lead.

THE PAPERS (RESUMES, COVER LETTERS ETC.) (Return to Table of Contents)

Transmittal Letter - To catch the attention of the person who has the job.

  1. Tailored to the person
  2. Attention grabber
Resumes: The Purpose of the resume is to get you to the interview, the face to face meeting.
Electronic resumes
  1. Scanned in resumes - Goal: To make your resume Scanner Friendly. Do not underline. Use 12 pt. font. Use white paper. Do not use colored print. Do not FAX it.
  2. Electronic file - ASCII When going from Word processor software to ASCII, formats are destroyed. The following guidelines should be used to avoid catastrophes: No special characters. Everything is left justified. No tabs, instead use spaces. No word wrap, must use carriage return. No special fonts.

Remember what is going to happen, your file is going to be extracted using only key words. Each industry has its own vocabulary. This is one time that if you have any questions call and ask the Human Resource department for help.

Follow-up Letter - Write a follow-up letter after an interview to show commitment even if you don't get the job and to show you know the game and are willing to play.

Processing of Employment Packages - Performed by Human Resources - It is a go/no go review, very prescriptive. If your paperwork doesn't get past HR, the person with the job will never see it. Try to get around HR as far as possible. It's better to interview with the person you will be working for.

THE INTERVIEW (Return to Table of Contents)

Tips on how to prepare for an interview:

  1. Develop sample questions that you will be asked.
  2. Develop responses to these questions.
  3. Do not have indecisive or rambling answers.
  4. Do not criticize prior companies or supervisors.
  5. Glowing reports of skills or performance have credibility only when they come from a reliable third party.

The phone interview

  1. Prepare for it.
  2. Do not conduct the interview surrounded by distractions and noise. If interview time is not suitable setup a time when distractions may be avoided.
  3. Avoid using a faint or hesitant tone of voice. Sound confident.
  4. Provide answers of sufficient depth to project a thorough understanding of the issue. (Don't have to prove in depth knowledge, here)

The interview

  1. The good interviewer is going to tell you about the position and want you to tell all about your skills and experience that make you the right person to fill that job and a good choice for the future. (The company looks specifically to fill a job position but also for future growth)
  2. What to take with you to the interview: Information to fill out the forms, Letters of reference, Copies of awards, Copies of published papers.
  3. The day(s) of the interview: Fill out the job application . Arrive early to fill out any necessary documents.

    Interview with the HR person . This process usually involves the assessment of your personality and moral behavior. They may also be involved with the negotiation of your salary package. A handout, provided by Mr. Phelan, lists possible questions an H.R. representative may ask.

    Interview with the person that has the job . This process is usually very technical and may involve more than one person; sometimes a group or the entire department. The aforementioned handout also provides a sample list of questions that may be anticipated in this type of interview

    Typically, the following activities may occur on the day of the interview:
    Brief meeting with the person who has the job.
    Interview with the person's supervisor.
    Interview with team members
    Interview with experts from functional areas that you will interface with
    Interview with direct reports

    NOTE: H.R. should handle the discussion of money/salary at the appropriate time.

OTHER WAYS TO GET IN A COMPANY (Return to Table of Contents)

  1. Temporary employee. Find out the Temporary Placement Service, the company utilizes and try to obtain temporary employment with the company. Once inside the company, networking can begin.
  2. Contract employee.
  3. Sub contracting companies
  4. Consultants
  5. Internships or co-ops prior to graduating.

    NOTE: Once inside the company, networking is imperative for possible future employment.

FUTURE ADVICE (Return to Table of Contents)

  1. Keep resumes up to date.
  2. Interview every 2-3 years just for the sake of interviewing. The benefits of doing this are that you can compare with others in the industry, determine whether present working conditions are acceptable, and assess you interviewing skills and whether or not you are still current in your field.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS (Return to Table of Contents)

Overall, the presentation was very informative and well organized. This was Mr. Phelan's second presentation, here at Cal Poly. (The first presentation occurred in Spring Quarter of 1997) Both presentations have been exceptional. We highly recommend attending future presentations.

(Return to Table of Contents)