Full disclosure: What worked for me may not work for you. These are just some general tips.
- First of all, make a LinkedIn. Have a friend take a professional photo of you. Use correct grammar and punctuation because that really does matter, and don’t just one-click apply. If you want, use bullets under your work experience and be specific, but don’t write a novel. Then, make connections. Personally, I don’t really like to connect with recruiters unless they’re working for a specific company that I’m familiar with. They clog up my timeline. Don’t be afraid to connect with people you’ve worked with or for in the past. If you did a good job, they’ll gladly connect and might even write you a recommendation! Professors are great LinkedIn connections, too.
- Utilize LinkedIn when looking for a job. BUT – don’t just look for job openings. Look to network instead. For instance, in the search bar I can type in ‘St. Bonaventure University’. My connections obviously pop up, but so do other tabs. These tabs are categorized into locations, connections, and current companies. If you see that an alum from your school works at a company you can see yourself at – send them InMail. My school has the reputation for being extremely prideful and helpful when reached out to, so I’m lucky! Utilize alums. They want to see you succeed!
- Put your heart and soul into every cover letter you send out. Ultimately, the organization you send them to wants to see that there’s a good chance you’re going to stick around a while, so add why you’re applying. Do some research. Your personal and professional beliefs should mesh well with theirs, so finding something that you like about the job other than the salary should be easy. They need to know you’re putting stock in them as much as they’re putting stock in you.
- Go to networking events. This is one I’m terrible at. I end up going for the free food and talking to one person. It’s definitely a scary thing, but these people wouldn’t be there if they didn’t want to talk. They’ve come to help with securing internships, general advice, or to speak on something in a specific field. Use them. Find common ground. Get their business card or LinkedIn. Bounce. Repeat.
- Prepare for your interview. Whether on the phone, through Skype, or in person, preparation is key. Write down common questions, do mock interviews, practice in the mirror or an empty room if you have to, but just be prepared. Research, research, research – know about the company! They want to know you’re invested, so they will ask. Have a prepared answer for, “Why do you want to work at … ?” Have questions for them prepared, too. Be professional and confident, yet relaxed and not boastful. Be yourself. Interviews are the hardest part of the process but you’ll get through them. Normally by the third or fourth interview, you’ve got your answers down for the basic stuff.
- Write a thank-you. If you want to go the extra mile, write an actual thank-you card with an actual pen. If you can’t in time, it’s acceptable to write an email. Keep it short, sweet, and memorable. Try to write something about the tips your interviewer gave you or a commonality you shared. Then, of course, thank them for their time.
Trust me when I say I know how nerve-wracking the interview process can be. I break out in hives on my chest and neck every time I’m nervous – so special attire (TURTLENECKS) is required. I also have the sweatiest hands on the face of the earth, so I try to stay as cool as possible and keep special deodorant on-hand for that first impression handshake. Most of the time it does not go well – but I keep a smile on my face and try to charm my way into my interviewer’s heart. Sometimes that works. But most of the time, being prepared works better. Applying for jobs is a job in itself. Just be smart about it and you’ll have one in no time. Just don’t give up. The more you apply, the better you’ll get at it!