If the date of your college graduation is rapidly approaching and you have yet to snag the entry level job of your dreams, don’t worry. Instead of panicking at the thought of graduating unemployed, take this as an opportunity to hone in on what exactly makes you a marketable candidate among a sea of similarly qualified individuals. Here are ten steps that will not only mentally prepare you for the job search process but will also teach you how to make yourself “hire-able.”
- Create a LinkedIn profile. The use of technology in the modern world is extremely important. Just like you use Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook to stay up to date on all of the latest trends and posts, career building tools, such as LinkedIn, has much more to offer than the ability to “connect” with that woman who gave you her business card at a career fair. LinkedIn offers job finding tools, trending articles that are relevant to your growth as an individual in your field of choice, and an opportunity to easily look up virtually any successful person in your market. You need to create a LinkedIn profile that details your skills, experience, and education. Many employers utilize LinkedIn nowadays to find potential job candidates so it is extremely important to have a polished presence on the sight.
- Give yourself value. You are unique. You know exactly how to utilize your vast skill set to make you a great employee. However, future employers can’t always gauge your uniqueness from your resume or from an interview. Many employers use standard questions and before you can answer these questions, you need to figure out what exactly makes you more valuable as a future employee than another candidate? Are you an incredible public speaker? Are you impeccable at defining budgets? You need to know exactly what makes you stand out. Employers don’t hire people. They hire value. If you as a person have more to offer the company than any other candidate, that’s when the hiring happens.
- Refine your resume. After defining what exactly makes you unique, revise your resume. Employers tend to glance at resumes for no longer than a minute. If your resume is unorganized, cluttered, or has editorial errors, odds are that the employer has already placed your resume in the “no need to contact” pile. Using websites like Canva or software like Adobe Indesign can really help you create an organized and appealing template that will catch the employer’s attention.
- Write a cover letter. If there is a specific role that you are applying for with a variety of companies, it is important to craft a well thought out cover letter. This is where you can expand the details of what you have to offer a company and express your value. It can be beneficial to create a single cover letter as a basic outline to use for all jobs that you are applying to. For each application to a different company, tailor what you have already written to add some personalization for the role and company you are applying for. Also, make sure to proofread – nothing is more embarrassing that mentioning the incorrect name of the company on your cover letter! Recently, there’s been stories of getting super creative with their cover letter like doing it in song form, creating their own website, or even sending the results of a stock portfolio. Remember to think about who will be reading your cover letter before doing something too crazy, but also don’t be afraid to be you.
- Use student resources. Once you have perfected your resume and cover letter, get them professionally revised. Most student centers offer services where a student can drop in and have their resume and cover letter critiqued. Utilize these services as they are easy ways to catch simple errors that you may not have previously noticed.
- Apply, apply, apply. Now that your resume and cover letters are perfect, time to start applying for jobs. Look for jobs that fit your skill set. Look for companies you want to work for. Now that you have a LinkedIn account, you can easily look up jobs in your desired field. Apply to as many jobs as you can because most likely, you will be up against hundreds of other candidates all vying for the same jobs. Plus, it never hurts to have options.
- Research. Once a company reaches back out to you after reviewing your application, it is extremely important for you to research the company. Know the type of work that they produce, know their values as a company, know what clients they work with, and be aware of anything else that is important to know in your field. The next step after they have reached out to you is offering you an interview. Do your research before your interview so that you can be as well prepared as possible.
- Dress for success. When you go in for an interview, you need to dress like you already work there. In most cases, going more formal is better. For example, if you are in the business industry, medical field, or communications field, make sure to wear your business attire. If you are interviewing for a more creative role, such as a copywriter or art director assistant, it is safe to stick with business casual attire, as you can expect the person that is interviewing you to be in jeans and a shirt. But hey, they can dress like that because they already have a job.
- Be yourself. This is a term that has been played out and repeated time and time again. But it’s so true. Don’t rehearse your answers to a potential question so much so that the employer can tell that you’re answer is stiff and pre-planned. Don’t have a smile glued to your face if the timing is not appropriate. Take a breath, relax, and odds are that that the normal person interviewing you will greatly appreciate that.
- Be mobile. Lastly, be mobile. Be flexible with future employers if a business meeting comes up and they have to reschedule your interview once or twice. If an interviewer tells you that they can see you as a better fit for a different position within the company, be open to that. If your dream company has an opening for a position in a different state, apply even though it may scare you. Having a very structured application to interview to hiring process is not always the case and some of the best opportunities are the ones that frighten you a bit.
Getting hired is a process that takes a lot of time and energy. If you follow these tips, keep positive, and believe in yourself, you will find that dream post-grad job.