• Get It Together: Get Your First Grown-up Job

    Meet Mary Grace Clark, our college recruiter who will give you the A to Zs about getting your foot in the (figurative) door. Here we talk resumes, cover letters and how to stand out.
    Interview by Ally Mullen

    Hi Mary Grace! So what do you do here at URBN Inc.?

    I'm the college recruiter and I hire interns for all of the URBN brands. I work in the talent development department, which handles our entry-level college recruiting program as well as all our training programs here at URBN.

    What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
    My responsibilities consist of a lot of prescreening and sourcing. The volume that our team gets is really heavy. For example, our summer intern posting we probably had over 1500 applications, so my job is to make sure that I get the hiring managers the best candidates—you want to send them the top 2-3 for every position. 

    [Now fry like bacon, you little intern piggies, fry!!!]

    Where do you find most of your candidates?
    I do a lot of traveling to different college campuses, giving presentations, talking about opportunities. I travel to our stores to find out who the strong store associates are that are interested about getting into corporate, and I tell them what we have to offer. I do a lot of interviews. It's a lot of communication. I think the biggest thing for me is making sure the hiring managers are content and that everybody is pleased with the talent that they're seeing.

    What is the first step somebody should take when they're deciding to apply for a job?
    For our company, we like the candidates that know which brand they relate to the most and which brand they want to work for. At least be able to speak to the company and what we're doing and things like that. I think that's probably the most important thing. Even building your resume and cover letter around the position that you're trying to go for—tailor what you're going to be sending in to show that you're a good fit for the specific position that you're applying for.

    How would you describe a perfect resume?
    Speaking for mostly entry-level, we're not expecting you to have a ton of experience. We want to be able to glance at it, see where you went to school and just quickly take a peek at whatever relevant work experience you might have. It's nice to see people with leadership experience and volunteer activities and anything like that that will show that you're involved and doing other things to keep busy and be a well-rounded candidate. Easy to read, one page, and make sure you highlight the most important things which are more than likely your education, obviously your name and email. You get so many resumes from people who don't even have their email address or contact information on there!

    What should a cover letter be about?

    The idea of it is really to give whoever is reviewing the resume a quick snapshot, a paragraph or two, of what they're going to see on your resume. Highlight a couple important things as to why you would be suitable for whatever you're applying for, like why you want to work for our company, why the position that you're going for is a good fit for you, what skills you have that lead us to believe that you'll be able to do this job, and anything you think we should know about you as a candidate. I'd say this is for UO specifically as a company, but we like quirky things that might make you giggle or laugh on there. It doesn't have to be overly serious—we're a creative, artsy company so any way you can describe yourself in that way is ideal.

    [Not the type of standing out we were talking about...]

    How important do you feel that networking is when applying for a job?

    Networking in general is a really important concept. I think a lot of the time it's a lot of peoples' way in. Having a good network is helpful in terms of what you might do and what your next thing might be and once you've got your foot in the door, you can recommend others. That's a lot of what recruiting is like—whom else do you know? When we find somebody great, we want to know who else is in their network that might want to come and work here.

    Should people be discouraged if they don't know anyone in a company?

    Absolutely not. It's something that some people do have but it's not to say that you're never going to get in someplace. I think it's an important thing but nothing to discourage candidates if they don't have an in somewhere. Outside of that it's an important concept just to get yourself out there. The more people you know the more opportunities you might have.

    What is something that would make an applicant stand out among the others?
    It’s the little quirky things that make you known for something. It's nice to be remembered by something. We appreciate humor here as well—I think that's something that goes a long way and I think that's something that people appreciate. I remember this kid, he was last year's graphic design intern, a lot of people put hobbies on their resumes but he put food that he liked and all these different random quirky things that just stood out. He said this guy likes spaghetti but he doesn't like syrup. So just somebody like that that just took a little bit of a different approach. It doesn't always have to be so serious and so corporate and so boring, try to make it exciting! We look at so many resumes so the ones that do something a little bit different we certainly remember.

    Do things like fonts and nice paper help at all? Does that help or is plain paper also okay?
    I'd rather see something a little more funny and a little less serious, especially for us. I would say that a lot of people would disagree if they didn't work here. They might want to see a very formulaic booklet handed to you. I don't think it's necessary. It's not one of those things where if you don't have it you'll be crossed off the list, it's the things that make you stand out a little bit more – even a graphic designer, if they have a regular resume but they have killer experience it doesn't matter if it's not fancy or beautiful.

    If you land an interview, when is the appropriate time to follow up, what should you say, and hand-written or email?
    I think that the traditional follow-up is a handwritten letter, but I've never heard anyone say, “Oh my gosh, I got an email from this person.” I think either are fair game, I get a lot of handwritten letters but I get a lot of emails too and I think as soon as you can, to be honest, is appropriate, once the interview's over either later that day or the following day, send a follow up email and thank them. Typically people will reiterate what they learned and why they think they'd be good for whatever position they're interviewing for. 

    ["It's been 25 minutes since the interview... should I email him yet or will that look to desperate???"]