Jaime Petkanics founded The Prepary after 7 years in Recruiting & HR at JPMorgan and Tory Burch reviewing thousands of resumes and interviewing hundreds of candidates.  Jaime learned not only how to spot a great candidate for any role, but also developed a passion for educating applicants on best practices for interviewing, updating their resume and even making a career shift.  Jaime tells bSmart readers her essential tips for landing your dream job and how you can receive her career advice through coaching sessions, events, and on Prepary.com.

I want people to benefit from what I've learned and make the process of finding a job more strategic and less frustrating.

Prepare for your Next Job

How did your 7 years in Recruiting & HR prepare you to launch The Prepary

My 7 years of experience in Recruiting & HR is not only what inspired me to start this business, but it's also a big part of what enables me to be successful with offering career advice and helping my clients.

During my time at JPMorgan and Tory Burch I screened, interviewed, and hired candidates into some of the most competitive internship programs and full time roles available.  I learned first hand what separates good candidates from great ones.

People around me (friends, family, etc.) knew this was my area of expertise and would often approach me with big and small questions about their own job searches.  They were looking for help with their resumes, interview preparation, and often times some guidance on the random questions that popped up throughout their search.

I started thinking about all of the people who didn’t have a 'Recruiter friend' and how they probably could use a trusted adviser in their job searches as well.  That’s when I knew I had to start The Prepary.

Every time I write an article on my site or work with a client to help them reach their goals, I draw from my past experience.  I want people to benefit from what I've learned and be able to make the process of finding a job more strategic and less frustrating.

What are some of your favorite success stories for The Prepary clients? 

I'm so proud of many of my clients for gaining confidence throughout the job search process and being able to effectively communicate their strengths to a future employer.

Sometimes this happens when we’re working on a resume (so many people accidentally undersell themselves on paper!), but I see it the most during the interview preparation process.  People go from being nervous, shy, and way too modest, to being confident, ready, and prepared to articulate all of the amazing things they’ve done.

I work with everyone from students looking for a great summer internship to people well into their careers looking for their next step. The thing about job searching is that it’s something most people are a little rusty at regardless of level…because it’s not a muscle you flex every day!

I learned first hand what separates good candidates from great ones.

What is the key to having a successful interview?  

Having a successful interview comes down to 3 main components:

1) Doing proper research to ensure you understand the company, their mission, and their business (and knowing why you want to be part of it).

2) Being able to articulate why your past experiences, education, and unique strengths make you the absolute best person to do the job.  You can figure all of this out by doing some serious preparation using the job description.  If you’re being called in for an interview, the employer already thinks (at least on paper) that you have what it takes, so this step is about bringing it to life and driving the points home.

3) Being able to talk about yourself and your experiences in an intelligent and impressive way.  You’re probably going to be asked for many examples of your experiences throughout an interview (a big accomplishment, a time when you made a mistake, how you effectively used your strengths, a time you worked well with a team, etc.).  Preparing for these common questions and giving yourself a refresher on your own experience is huge.

When I work with clients on interview preparation, I have them think about all of these things ahead of time and fill out a worksheet.  We then do a mock interview (or 2) to practice and make sure they’re comfortable and confident with their answers.  While what you wear, the way you shake someone’s hand, and many other things can be a factor in the hiring process, the 3 keys above are so much more important to landing the best job for you.

A great resume is a well curated document that shows your reader exactly why you’re the right person for a job.

What are the best resources for improving our resume?

I have a few tips on this one!  The first is pretty simple and logical.  Make sure your resume is formatted nicely, on one page (unless you’ve been working for many years) and is error free.  Otherwise, it can be difficult to even get to the starting line.

Beyond that, make sure you are taking the job you are applying for into account and customizing your resume accordingly.  Most of us have many different experiences and not all of them fit on a one page resume.  Pick and choose what you want to include based on what you know is important for the job (which you can find on the job description).

A great resume isn’t a data dump of everything you’ve ever done.  It’s a well curated document that shows your reader exactly why you’re the right person for a job.

I love giving clients feedback and suggestions on their resume because an outsider's perspective can be enormously helpful.  When you write your resume, you’re so in the weeds of your own experiences that it can be tough to see the bigger picture (I’ve even suffered with this when updating my own resume!) 

Prioritize high quality applications over sending out a large quantity.

When is it appropriate to ask for a raise? 

This is a complicated question because each situation is unique.  As a general rule, if you’ve taken on more responsibility, are in a new role, or have spent a number of years at a company without a cost of living increase, it’s probably time for a raise.  Making sure your compensation is fair is also about understanding the market (i.e. what other companies are paying for this type of role).  If you are being paid $10,000 less than others doing a similar role, it could also be time to ask for more.

Ask Jaime your question on bSmart here or on The Prepary here!

When is the right time to leave our job?

I have this conversation often with both friends and clients.  For those who are feeling 'meh' about their current job I’d say to consider the following things: Have you given the role a fair chance?  Do you still have things to learn that could benefit you?  Do you like the people you’re working with? Do you think you’d be happy doing your boss's job?  Those are all good things to think about before making a move.

On the more positive side, many people really like their jobs, but an opportunity comes up that’s tough to pass on.  Maybe it’s a similar (but elevated) role at another company or maybe it’s a slight shift in direction.  For me, this was the case at my last job.  I loved my job but knew that ultimately I wanted to run my own business and it was the right time to go for it.  And I’m so happy I did.

If you'd like to chat with Jaime about your job search or career challenges, email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Meet Jaime Petkanics

Neighborhood: Noho, New York City

Occupation: Founder & Career Consultant, The Prepary

Can't Live Without Product: Evernote, Wunderlist & Mailbox 

Best Advice: It doesn’t really matter how high you’ve climbed if you’re on the wrong hill.  I think this is great career advice because I believe success isn’t just about how far you’ve advanced, but also very much about doing something you care about.

Favorite Quote: 'Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.' Oscar Wilde

De-Stress Technique: Spin class or a glass of wine on the couch

Latest Gadget: My iPad mini and hopefully an apple watch when it’s out!

On My Playlist: Haim, Arcade Fire, Sam Smith

University: New York University

Graduation Year: 2007

I work with everyone from students looking for a great summer internship to people well into their careers looking for their next step.

Bsmart like Jaime

What is the best job advice you've every received?  

Be yourself, trust your gut, and go for it.  Making career moves can be scary.  There are a million reasons not to do things that are outside your comfort zone.  I have to say, as scary as it is to do certain things for the first time, or stretch yourself on a project or task, it’s the scary things that are the most rewarding.  Sometimes you just need a push!

What have been some of your biggest accomplishments since founding The Prepary?

I'm so thrilled to be running this business full time after 2 years of building it on the side.  On one hand, I feel like I’m just getting started but I’m also really proud of the foundation I’ve built.

I particularly enjoyed running 2 workshops this summer.  One was at Parsons as part of NYC Fashion Career Week and another with the Tory Burch Summer Interns on how to make the most of the internship they had just wrapped up.  I’m looking forward to running more workshops in New York City, on campus (through club & sorority partnerships), with companies, and with the networking groups I’m involved with.

For more information on attending a workshop or hosting me at your school, or club, email me or visit this page on my site.

Reach for the stars…but be realistic that some days are simply going to feel like work, and that doesn’t mean you should give up.

What have been your biggest lessons learned since founding The Prepary?  

One thing I learned is that you have to start somewhere, and you shouldn’t let the fact that things aren’t going to be perfect from day 1 stop you from going for something that excites you.

I’ve had to remind myself of this many times…on day 1 when I launched my site (of course it didn’t look exactly the way I wanted), when I lead my first workshop (voice shakier than I would have liked!) and on many other occasions.

Everyone you look up to and admire had to start somewhere.  Their perfect product or business wasn’t always that way. It’s so important to get started, move forward, and learn from your wins as well as your mistakes.

The entry level role in most careers is not going to be glamorous or fun all of the time.

What are your bSmart words of wisdom for finding our dream job?

I believe in the concept of doing something you love or a 'dream job.'  However, every single job is going to have good days and bad days…the entry level role in most careers (even the coolest ones 'on paper') is not going to be glamorous or fun all the time. So reach for the stars, and aim to do something you care about…but be realistic that some days are still simply going to feel like work, and that doesn’t mean you should give up on it.

When it comes to finding a dream job, consider the things that you get excited about doing (is it working with people or analyzing data?) and also the companies you admire.  Apply only to the jobs you’re genuinely excited about and prioritize high quality applications over sending out a large quantity. 

Being focused on what you want, creating quality applications, and effectively leveraging your network, will help you land interviews at companies you’d actually want to work at. The beauty of this approach is that when you apply for roles you are legitimately excited about the interview process is 100 times easier and more enjoyable.

It’s the scary things that are the most rewarding.  Sometimes you just need a push!

 

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