Wish Knew Job Search College

6 Things I Wish I Knew About Job Search In College

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I remember my senior year in college like it was yesterday. I was stressed out for most of it because I was afraid I wouldn’t find a job and end up living in my parents’ house until I was 30. I was applying to tons of jobs and either never hearing back nor receiving a “sorry” email and I was not sure why. I had decent grades, a college degree (almost), a resume, and a standard cover letter. What was I doing wrong?

The couple of interviews I did go on, I did horribly at. I answered all the questions wrong and did not elaborate on my answers. I never heard back from any of those companies.

By going through this unpleasant process, I am now able to share with you college students what I wish I knew about job search in college.

1. Join LinkedIn

LinkedIn is great. You can post your updated profile, any of your work/projects, as well as recommendation from your ex-bosses or teachers. The more of a complete profile you have, the more likely you will show up in search. The more you show up in search, the more likely a recruiter will find you and contact you. Always have your profile up to date. Include keywords that are important for the industry you want to work in. Include a nice picture of yourself. Include a good tagline. Apply for jobs through LinkedIn and if possible contact the recruiting manager afterwards to let them know you applied and how excited you are about the thought of working at their company.

2. Always Have An Updated Resume On Hand

I can’t stress this enough. Always have an updated resume on hand. Make sure it has correct spelling and grammar, good and simple format, and be well written. You might have to make minor changes to it depending on the job that you are applying for. Most resumes don’t get seen by a human eye, so make sure your resume matches the job description before submitting.

3. Create A Cover Letter For Each Specific Job

Don’t just send the same cover letter to every job you apply to. Customize it to fit the job. Direct the cover letter to a specific person if you can find out their name. Make the cover letter interesting enough for them to want to look at your resume. Intrigue the hiring manager with a story about yourself or list a couple of great achievements and how you can bring what you learned from them to the position.

4. Network

I know it can be scary to go to Networking events and mingle with people you don’t know, but trust me, networking is one of the best ways to get a job. You never know who you might meet at an event, could be your future CEO.

You can also network on LinkedIn in industry groups or groups in your area, or by directly messaging people who are interested in chatting with. Ask people with a profession that you aspire for informative interview to learn more about what it entails. In return, let them know you are available for an unpaid internship or for some freelance work.

Make friends wherever you go. Talk to anyone near you. You never know who you might meet next.

5. Get At Least One Internship

Getting at least one internship in college related to the field you want to get into is important. Most employers want to see some sort of experience prior to hiring you even for Entry Level positions.

Take an internship even if it’s unpaid. What you will get out of it is going to be worth way more than the minimum wage, it’s experience, something that most college students lack. Your great GPA from a private university is not enough to land you that job you want. Plus you never know, your internship might turn into a permanent job after college.

6. Prepare For Interviews

Never go to an interview unprepared. There is nothing worse than being asked questions you don’t know the answers to. Read up on the interview questions online and hold a practice interview with you counselor or friend. Have an answer ready for any possible question that they might throw at you.

Most importantly, always know what the company does. Showing the interviewer that you know what the company is all about shows them that you prepared and that you actually want the job.

Always be excited at the interview, because why would they want to hire someone who doesn’t care if they get the job or not?

I hope my pointers help you in your journey to finding your dream job!


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Nadia Kuznets

Nadia Kuznets is a marketing specialist and a blogger. She has recently started a blog for marketing and blogging beginners.

15 comments

  1. John, are you a recent grad? I am very interested in learning more about your unsatisfactory networking experiences, as I am a job hunting training coach that specializes in recent college grads (I am not selling anything here, just trying to better understand the world from your perspective). What you described about some people not responding to your efforts is not uncommon, but in my experience it is the minority of people IF YOU APPROACH PEOPLE CORRECTLY. From what you described, you seem to do many things right, so I don’t know why the people you are networking with are not more helpful. But we also have to have reasonable expectations from people, with respect to landing/finding a job. People do not like to be the one to tell you “we are not hiring” so the tone of the conversation is critical. I have some specific ideas if you want and , again, I would like to learn more about your personal networking experiences so I can be a better coach. Let me know and we can exchange contact info. I will NOT try to sell you anything, scout’s honor!

  2. Even though I am grateful for variety of positives, one thing I have discovered after college is the obstacle with networking in how it hasn’t been as helpful as I have thought. This is mainly from at times going out of my way for some people and trying to build a relationship, but never hearing back from them as it seemed that would happen when 1st meeting them. This has happened no matter how nice, genuine or interested I was in the other person. Also, seasoned professionals and experts have offered their time to conduct an informational interview during college and we formed a nice relationships and exchanges, but sadly after sometime they just not responding anymore which is unknown despite me going out of my way and sending articles in their field and asking how they are time to time. Now, please know there have been some people who still keep up and are good at replying well after long, but with certain ones who don’t after a positive relationship I wonder why such and seem to get stuck.

    It would be nice if we can guide all youngsters starting out on how to detect who will always stick around and reply back years later after positive intent and energy put in, but seems like that is unrealistic. Also, in the future it would be nice if everyone was able to discern what workplace they can fit into and encounter a positive workplace environment with no bullies top to bottom. Bullies or mean-spirited people are the worst, damaging resources in any workplace and wonder when they will be rid of in all industries? The good and genuine must only stay.

    Thanks!

  3. Debbie hit the nail on the head…college grads are being churned out with little or no useful training on how to compete for scarce jobs. I have tried several times to teach a semionar series or class on Modern Job Hunting techniques, but the schools are not biting…they say “we already have an Associate Professor who offers a short seminar on career counselling”. What would a career academic know about how the real job market works? But I keep trying…I will eventually find a college that “gets it”!

    • You are right Bill, if their short seminar was effective, there wouldn’t be so many underemployed youth. It requires connecting with forward thinking educators that do get it, or holding your own seminar and inviting youth to learn modern job hunting techniques. I would bet you would have a packed room.

  4. These are great tips. Something that is often overlooked is utilizing your knowledge, skills, degree and passion and starting your own business. I recently had a conversation with a young women that was building a freelance webdesign business. I asked her if she had been taught to do this in school, and she replied, “no, we learned to write a resume, and how to dress, talk and act in an interview”. This is a huge missing link in education. The business world has changed, no longer can you rely on an employer to grant you a job in your field. However, you can take what you’ve got and build a business freelancing with several companies. This creates more stability, more flexibility and self reliance.

  5. Yeah, like Matt says, Linked In is really something. But don’t forget the human touch still matters. Especially for college grads just starting out. We all were there at the beginning of our careers, and I think most people have a soft spot for new grads and want to help. So as a new grad, get in the habit of just asking people for advice, opinions and information, and that will lead to additional contacts they will give you. Your next job will be from one of those contacts.

  6. LinkedIn seems to be so underused by college students nearing graduation. It is a great tool to use. As Bill stated in the previous comment supply and demand was more in balance so networking is now more important than ever. Take advantage of free services like LinkedIn.

  7. Back in the “old days” when I graduated college, the job supply/demand was more in balance, so things worked out for most grads. Its not the same now, at all. I have 2 sons in college and since I am a job coach I have been able to get them positioned pretty well for when they graduate. At least when they listen to their old man. The keys have been: their jobs through out high school and college for the most part have been aligned with what they want to do after graduation, so the hiring manager can quickly see that they have an interest in the subject and some practical experience. The other thing is learning how to network by simply asking people for advice and opinions, not a job. This little tip got my son a summer job as a technician (he is an engineering student) at H-P. he arranged for 3-4 informational interviews with H-P one summer and then the following spring, they brought him in as a Tech. College students and soon-to-be grads have an advantage when asking for advice and opinions from people like me…we want to help young folks.

    • Interesting you mention that. I have yet to land a job from the people I conducted an informational interview with and I specifically asked for advice and guidance rather than jobs. I will try to keep on with other types of people with perseverance. Just now I tried calling a seasoned professional who allowed me to conduct an informational interview with her in 2007 and we have had exchanged with me sharing articles with her ever since, but after 2011 March I suddenly and illogically would never hear back from email wise which I wonder. This is the biggest frustration I see when one party for no clear reason responds back like before. So just now I left a brief message wondering how she is doing and briefly introducing myself with few details. She is one of the people I had a great impression from and would always imagine a well-nourished relationship between us. Please let me know how I should further handle the situation with her. I plan to respond to your previous question to me later.

      Regards,

      Samar

      • Samar,
        I think we all have to realize how busy everyone is these days, all the distrations with social media and everything. We live in an A.D.D. culture. So just because someone has been less responsive than in the past is not necessarily because they are a jerk or something. In my experience people I reach out to generally reciprocate (80% of the time) as long as I am helpful to them, share interesting information with them that is relevant to them and their careers. I do not waste the time of others by blathering on about myself and irrelevant topics. There is no magic formula…people are different and some are very generous with their time and others not so much. So for you Samar, I would send an e-mail to her with an attached article about something that you think she would be interested in and would find helpful/relevant, along with a reminder of who you are and your history with her…breifly! Say something like “I saw this article and it reminded me of our last conversation” or something like that. Do not ask for anything! Just reach out. Test her response…if no acknowledgement at all, she is probably not a good source for you, for reasons we will NEVER know.

        • Thanks Bill. I notice with certain people I usually go out of my way and write something brief with a thoughtful article, but at times don’t hear back.

          I don’t understand why this gentleman who was so sincerely nice to me when first meeting and helpful with taking the time to meet up before just won’t at least return my calls or emails of getting together even when we are in same city? I see how a simple response to someone who is expressing interest in getting together and wants to help doesn’t hurt.

          Also, I feel it is decent and professional generally for anybody to at least be upfront with the other party whether the relationship will still last rather to lead one one and leaving him/her hanging. Also, in the professional world apart from the dating scene even if both are parallel, just don’t see why one shall ever end something with the other party if that other party sincerely means well and takes the time to stay in touch with thoughtful links, articles?

          I always agree on to never burn bridges which I don’t understand why many senior people do and for everyone to treat any kind of person with utmost dignity, respect and acknowledgment no matter how senior a person is professionally. “What comes around, goes around.”–Karma

          I will try to keep on while wishing for best for everyone with prayer.

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