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The Dirty Little Secrets of Getting Your Dream Job

The Dirty Little Secrets of Getting Your Dream Job

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The Dirty Little Secrets of Getting Your Dream Job

1/5 (1 rating)
170 pages
2 hours
Apr 5, 2016


Drawing on his extensive experience evaluating applicants for his marketing agency, and featuring stories based on real-life situations, sample cover letters, resumes, and straightforward advice, Don Raskin’s The Dirty Little Secrets of Getting Your Dream Job offers all the necessary tools for navigating the tough job market and securing your dream job.

Don Raskin owns and operates MME, an advertising and marketing agency in New York City. During his twenty-five years at the agency he has interviewed hundreds of new college graduates for positions within his agency and has placed a strong emphasis on entry-level recruitment for positions in creative, account management, traffic, and production. Raskin has also mentored countless students and their parents on best practices for the job search. Over the years, Raskin has kept exceptionally detailed notes on the interviews he has conducted, observing the good, the bad, the ridiculous, the irreverent. He also has a treasure trove of over-the-top cover letters, resumes, interviews, and post interview follow-ups he has conducted and received. Now, he wants to share all the wisdom and insider secrets he has gathered to help students and first-time job seekers find a job in this economy.

Based on his remarkable expertise, Raskin's book provides exclusive insight into the job search process and lets readers in on all of the dirty little secrets to landing their first job—or a new one—and finding career success.
Apr 5, 2016

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The Dirty Little Secrets of Getting Your Dream Job - Don Raskin



My phone buzzed from an incoming text message. It was a number I didn’t recognize, but after reading the text I soon realized that this was the daughter of a friend of mine. She was graduating from a major university in a few days. The text read, Hi, Don, it’s Jordana. Hope all is well. I was wondering if I could e-mail you something and you can give me your opinion. Thank you so much! Shortly after her text, I received an e-mail in which Jordana told me that she had been on three interviews with a major retailer for what she described as my absolute dream job. After a successful first round of interviews, Jordana stopped hearing back from the company. Jordana was very concerned and clearly frustrated, feeling like her dream job was slipping away, and she didn’t know what to do.

I wrote back:

Jordana, what you are experiencing is very common in the entry-level job search, and the lack of reply likely has nothing to do with you personally but rather a process that companies go through when hiring. What you need to do is execute a game plan, and regardless of the company’s reply or lack of reply, you need to keep communicating with the company. Don’t fall prey to what I see a lot of new grads doing when they hear silence after an interview, which is to be afraid to e-mail, become emotional with content, or simply quit trying. Getting your first job is a full-time job, so you need to have a solid game plan.

From that starting point, Jordana and I built a great game plan, and she executed it to perfection. Two months after she contacted me, when hope seemed to be slipping away, she sent me another text message. It simply said, I GOT THE JOB!!!

•  •  •

Want to know the dirty little secrets of getting your dream job? I know them all. That’s because I have interviewed and mentored close to a thousand young entry-level candidates in my career and have seen what it takes for them to land their first job. In fact, seeing how candidates went about the process of marketing themselves became so important to me that about ten years ago, I started keeping notes from interviews I conducted in order to tell future candidates everything I had observed. I kept track of the good, the bad, the funny, the polished, the offbeat, the over-the-top, and the standout candidates I met over that time period. I kept a file on interesting e-mail cover notes, cover letters, résumés, interviews, and post-interview follow-ups that either propelled candidates into jobs or prevented them from getting hired.

So who am I? I am a businessman who has spent many years in marketing, first at large corporations and then, for the past twenty-five years as one of three partners at MME, an advertising and marketing agency in New York City. Although it is true that the candidates I have interviewed are mainly for marketing and advertising positions, what I’ve learned applies to all industries and all entry-level positions. From nursing to banking to teaching to whatever you have studied for, these are tips, insights, and approaches that work across all professions.

I’ve interviewed candidates from Ivy League schools, quality mid-level schools, and several schools that don’t quite make the U.S. News & World Report Top 100. In other words, I’ve pretty much interviewed every type of candidate there is.

Although the school placement director and the recruiter can be very helpful in your job search, wouldn’t you like to know what the person you are interviewing with is thinking? Ultimately, I am the one deciding whether I should hire you or someone else. I will likely sift through two hundred résumés of new college graduates to fill one entry-level position. One of these candidates is going to get the job. The rest will not. It’s that simple. I have to make that decision based on what I see, what I think, and my own intuition.

Since I have read your résumé before meeting with you, I already know the facts about your education and experience. What I don’t know is your strength of character, your work ethic, and your level of confidence. I have often heard in interviews, I worked on a team project with five other students in my class. I became the team leader and the go-to person on the project. That kind of revelation will propel your candidacy into a lead position, because now I know you are a leader with a solid work ethic and strong sense of self. I also want to know what type of person you really are. It would not be uncommon at the end of an interview for me to ask a candidate about his or her family. I’m trying to understand that candidate better, know where he or she comes from and see what type of relationships he or she has with their parents and siblings. That will give me insight into the type of relationships the candidate may build with co-workers if I were to offer him or her a job.

If you have properly planned, prepared, and presented yourself as the type of job candidate every company wants to hire, it is important for you to know that there are jobs out there and companies are hiring. Don’t let anybody convince you there are no jobs. The economy is improving and the job market is getting stronger. However, many college graduates are finding themselves in a position where they are accepting jobs in which a college degree is not necessarily required. This is known as underemployment, and it has enabled me and all other employers to hire better-qualified entry-level applicants. We can insist on seeing a relevant internship and expect that you will do interview preparation work before we sit down with you. I may have overlooked one of these aspects of your qualifications before, but now I don’t have to. The marketplace has allowed me to be more selective.

There have been candidates who have interviewed at my company who did such an outstanding job in their interview process that my partners and I have said, Don’t let that candidate leave this office, because some other company will snatch them up—make them an offer and get them started! I am going to tell you everything those candidates did so you can turn yourself into someone companies won’t let out the door without a firm job offer in hand.

This book is for everyone beginning their job search and looking for a successful career in whatever field they have chosen. It offers insights, opinions, and thirty years of real-world experience. The candidates you will read about are all real, although I have changed their names to protect their identities. Some of their stories will impress you. Some will make you think twice. Others may leave you laughing. But from all of them, you should find inspiration and guidance for your career planning process and job search.

Are you ready?


Being Prepared at College Graduation

Let’s face it. College is an amazing time. For four years, you will learn from great professors, meet friends you will have for the rest of your life and, oh yeah, you will have lots of fun. While you are soaking up all that college has to offer, you should also be planning for your professional future. Freshman year is a time to start thinking about the type of career you can picture for yourself, and senior year is the time to identify industries and companies where you want to work. You will then prepare a professionally written résumé, cover letter, and e-mail cover note in order to get yourself ready for the job search process. You must be prepared at college graduation for your job search so that you can be in the best position possible to land your first job. Here are the things you need to pay attention to while in college.

GPA: Your grade point average matters to a prospective employer. Remember your ACT and SAT exams in high school? The colleges you applied to reviewed those scores and used them as part of a process to determine if they would admit you. Employers will look at your GPA in a similar fashion to decide if they are interested in calling you in for an interview.

You need to keep up your GPA for all four years of college. Freshman year counts every bit as much as senior year. Do not fall into the trap of scaling back on the time and effort you put into your classes for a semester because you feel you need to take a mental break from school. If you do feel this way, you would be better off to leave school for a semester and come back recharged. A 2.0 in any given semester will drag down your overall GPA. Think about it. If you get a 2.0 in the first semester of your freshman year, you will have to get a 4.0 in your second semester just to maintain a 3.0 for the year. It simply isn’t worth sitting in front of a recruiter when you are looking for your first job and explaining why your GPA was less than stellar freshman year when that recruiter can choose a candidate that kept their grades up all four years.

If you do find yourself in a situation where your overall GPA is lower than you would like, be honest and explain to the person you are interviewing with what happened. I was a chemistry major freshman year and realized it wasn’t for me, you might say. My grades suffered as a result. I switched my major to journalism and found my passion in writing. After switching majors, my GPA rose considerably. No fair-minded employer would hold a situation like that against you.

College major: You should major in something you love, but make sure it will lead to a successful career as well. Why spend all that money on a college education only to find out that you are unable to land a job after graduation? Make sure that you do research on the job market within the field you have chosen to study. If you love philosophy but also enjoy writing, and don’t think you can get a job with a philosophy degree, pursue a double major with English, write for the school paper, and get a job after graduation as a journalist.

You don’t want any surprises after you graduate. There is no reason to find out after you leave college that there are few jobs for graduates in your major. If you do find yourself in this situation, tell a potential employer why your major is in fact relevant to the job you are interviewing for. I had a candidate tell me that he selected a liberal arts college because at eighteen years of age he thought it would offer him the best opportunity for a broad-based education. Once in college, he realized he wanted to major in business, but his liberal arts college didn’t have a business program. So he loaded up on economics and writing classes, and during his interview he told me that his economics classes gave him an understanding of business and the economy and his writing classes polished his ability to communicate, two things that were valuable to me in my search for a candidate.

Today, there are undergraduate and graduate majors that have been around forever, including business, social sciences, and education. Take a look at how many degrees are conferred within each of these majors in a year:

Undergraduate degrees


Social sciences and history—179,000

Health professions and related programs—163,000



Master’s degrees



Doctoral degrees

Health professions and related programs—62,100

Legal professions and studies—46,800



Biological and biomedical sciences—7,900

(U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Studies, 2011–12)

Tomorrow, however, this will change. There are many emerging fields that are being driven by trends in technology. (For example, this has been a period of great prosperity for those entering careers in digital media: app developers, coders, programmers, web designers, social media experts, and much more.) Look into each and every one of these fields. Can you see yourself with a career in one of them? If so, try to talk to people in that field and find out how you can best prepare for a career. What should you major in? What should you minor in?

You will not be competitive if your major has little or no value when it comes to landing in-demand jobs. Don’t put yourself in that position. If you love a field of study in which very few jobs are available, you should minor in it. This way you can still fulfill your passion while putting yourself in a better position to land a job after graduation by majoring in a field with available jobs.

In addition, you must develop an understanding of the entry-level salary range for the job you want. This will allow you to

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