As graduation approaches and excitement builds to get out and find a job, it’s easy to make the very common mistake of being under prepared. First, decide on a few target jobs. Think about what would be the best fit for you based on your major, internship, clubs, associations, work experience, and interests. Research these targeted jobs and determine possible career paths. Think about where you want to be in five years, and create appropriate career goals.
Keep in mind that your targeted jobs and career path may change as you learn more about your industry, but having a set of targets and goals will bring your job search into focus. The following will help you make the most of your search.
Create a well formatted, eye-catching, professional resume and cover letter template. These templates should be tailored to your targeted jobs based on the information that you collected during your research. Note that these are templates because they will be modified and further tailored to specific positions for which you apply. Have a career counselor and a few other people proofread these templates. Need a template to start with? Try a Google search and you’ll find plenty to choose from.
Start with your target companies. Go to their websites to see if they have a list of available positions. If this is not an option, you may want to contact the company’s human resources or recruiting department to inquire about opportunities. Create profiles, post your resume, and search for opportunities on the various online job boards, like Monster and Career Builder. Check your industry’s association website for available opportunities. Visit your school’s career center for additional resources and to learn about upcoming career fairs at your school and in the area. Staffing services can also be a great resource for finding jobs. This is especially true if you register at one that is specific to your industry. Just remember not to rely solely on the staffing service to find you a job. Look at the staffing service as just another job search resource. Even temporary or seasonal positions are valuable because they are opportunities to network with employers. Besides, you never know, a temporary position could become a temp-to-hire opportunity.
Remember that throughout your years at college, you have created a very valuable network. First, talk to your professors and see if they know of any companies that are hiring for your target positions. Recruiters often contact professors in search of candidates. Professors can also provide you with some additional resources and can provide you with a letter of recommendation or reference. Contacts at previous internships are also extremely valuable. Check back to see if they are hiring or if they can provide references. You have a great advantage with these companies because you are familiar with their company culture, their challenges, and their needs. Use this knowledge to your advantage when you are speaking to them. If you joined associations or clubs that are specific to your major, you can use them as sources as well. Many associations place job advertisements on their websites and your club’s members may know of valuable contacts or open positions.
By the time you get an interview you should already be very familiar with the position and the company. This knowledge is extremely useful because it allows you to anticipate the types of questions you will be asked during the interview so that you can practice. Create a list of possible interview questions and practice your answers. This will help you get over your nervous jitters and make you more confident. Bring a few copies of your cover letter and resume (ones that you have tailored to the position and printed on resume paper), dress professionally, and use a firm handshake. Remember not to wear any lotions or perfumes with strong scents, turn off your cell phone, don’t be argumentative, and fill out all paperwork carefully. After the interview, remember to send a thank you note to the recruiter or hiring manager. Follow up in a few days unless you’re told otherwise.
Depending on the industry, many students start their job searches as early as three months before they graduate. With so much competition in this economy, it’s important for you to get a head start. Prepare early. Get your resume and cover letter templates together, obtain references and letters of recommendation, start to research jobs in your industry as well as potential employers, and make a list of job search sources. Once you’ve made these preparations, get out there and start your job search. Just remember to let hiring managers and recruiters know if you have to wait to start the job after you graduate.
These days it is essential that you use social media for your job search, not just your personal life. Remember that part of your job search involves marketing yourself. First, protect your personal brand. Make sure to set your personal Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts to private, or delete any pictures, messages, and videos that you wouldn’t want a hiring manager to see. Google yourself to see if there are any results that might put your job search at risk. Next, create appropriate social media accounts for business and job search purposes. You can use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to follow your target companies and learn more about them. You can also use these sites to find contacts from within these companies and connect with them. On LinkedIn, you can join associations and groups, and network with other contacts in your industry. You can also find job postings on all of these sites. Recruiters are using social media more and more to find talent. You are missing out on many job and networking opportunities if you ignore these sites.
There are hundreds of reasons that a company might have for not making you an offer. They may have had an internal transfer or promotion; they might have canceled the requisition or put it on hold. Just because they didn’t make you an offer, doesn’t mean you’re not qualified, so don’t take it personal. Instead, look at each opportunity to interview as practice. Each time, think about the things you did well and the areas in which you could improve. Like anything else, interviewing should become easier and more natural the more you do it. The interview also gave you a chance to meet contacts at the organization that might come in handy in the future, so you can also look at it as an opportunity to network. Keep thinking positive, keep up your confidence, and continue your job search!
Remember to use every resource possible. The more places you look and the more you submit your resume, the higher your chances are of being hired.
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