While a few lucky students receive offers from their internships senior year, many students finish their final semester without a post-graduation plan. I have many underclassmen reach out to me, and ask how I landed my dream job. My answer is always the same: time.
After graduation, I spent a fair amount of time searching through job postings and filling out job applications. You quickly learn what works, and what helps you stand out from the hundreds of other applicants. Whether you graduated in May, or are looking for a new career path, below are a few practices that I found indispensable during my job search.
Customize Your Story
One of the biggest struggles when searching for a job is finding a balance between quality and quantity. If you’re serious about getting into a specific company then do your research. Carefully read the job description and know what the company is looking for. Does the company value previous writing experience or do they heavily focus on social media marketing? If you don’t have the time to customize your resume for every job application, then customize your resume for the different industries you are applying to. For example: agencies, non-profit organizations and corporations.
Network, Network and Network Some More
Networking is one of the most important things you can do to increase your chances of getting a job. If you don’t have a LinkedIn, then you’ve found your next homework assignment. LinkedIn allows you to stay connected, and find connections you may not have otherwise. Don’t have any connections at your dream company? Search LinkedIn. You may realize that your professor has a contact at that company, and is willing to e-connect you.
You can also use LinkedIn to search for alumni from your university. I found this to be one of the most helpful tools when looking for a job. No one is more willing to sit down and give you advice, or help you get into a company, than an alumnus.
Informational interviews are the best way to get your foot in the door and learn more about the company. Whether it’s a neighbor from your hometown or an alumnus you met through networking, always ask for an informational interview. It’s also important to try and network with employees who are closer to entry level. Although it is great to speak with someone at a senior level, someone who is closer to entry level gives you a much more realistic expectation of what to anticipate if you’re hired.
Ask the Right Questions
Don’t ask the typical questions. Although it’s great to know “What a typical day” looks like, focus on the details and what really matters to you. Below are some of the questions I like to ask:
- What clients do you work on? Who is your favorite and why?
- Is everyone broken up into specialties or does everyone work as a generalist?
- What’s the culture like?
- What is one skill that drastically helped you when you were first transitioning into the company?
Ace Your Audition
One thing that I have noticed among many recent graduates is that they apply for random jobs, and then wonder why they don’t get an immediate response from companies. Every part of the job process is part of your audition, from your initial inquiry to sending a handwritten thank you card.
Although your previous experience and GPA from school are extremely important things to highlight, companies need to buy into your personal brand. Demonstrate that you are someone the team will enjoy collaborating with daily. Treat everyone you connect with as if they are solely responsible for giving you the job.
It’s always a good idea to go after your dream job, but it’s important to follow the correct steps to get there. If you love the company it’s worth the extra effort, because your first post-grad job will affect the trajectory of your entire career path. Make sure to follow the steps above and good luck in your job hunt!