My strategy for my job search during my last semester was pretty simple: apply for every job that I was even remotely qualified for.
While not always the easy road, I learned a lot along the way. Here are some of the lessons learned that college students can use in their own job search.
Testing the “Application”
Of course, most “professional” jobs require you submit a resume, not an application. I have already talked at length about how a resume is your ticket to landing an interview, but it is worth mentioning again here. Simply put: When you apply for a lot of jobs it is easy to “test” your resume… to tell if your resume is doing the one thing it is supposed to do: get you interviews.
If you aren’t getting a response for nearly every resume you submit, something is wrong.
Try making a few adjustments and measure the results. Once you are getting an interview nearly every time you apply for a job you know your resume is where it needs to be. And by limiting the number of times you submit your resume, the longer your test period becomes.
Become an Expert Researcher
Everyone talks about the importance of researching each company you send an application. And it’s true: companies are doing a lot of research on you prior to your interview, so you must do the same to them.
Another benefit of doing research on a company is that it really sets you apart from the crowd. Sure, other people may do research as well but do you really want to be part of the group that doesn’t? I know a recent graduate who interviewed for a job recently. In the interview, the interviewer told him that they were conducting interviews with about 50 people. 50 people!!!!
In a situation like that you need to do everything you can to make an impression and being able to talk intelligently about a company’s products, position in the market, executive team, etc. is just one more way to do that. And the more you research, the better the researcher you become; you learn what works, and what doesn’t matter once the interview begins.
Greatly Improve Your Interview Skills
At this point your resume is working and you have researched the company, now it is time for the interview! I was REALLY nervous for my first “professional” interview. As the saying goes “practice makes perfect”. I learned a lot about interviewing during this process but the most important thing that happened…
I learned to stop being afraid in interviews.
In my first interview I was so nervous that I couldn’t remember things I knew. Since I was interviewing for a job as a software developer and I needed to be able to write code on a whiteboard, this was a huge problem! I bombed that first interview terribly, and that was good. After that interview I no longer had a fear of looking dumb in an interview; I had already performed as poorly in an interview as is possible… I couldn’t do any worse.
Turning the “No” into a Positive
That wasn’t the only job I didn’t get. One thing to know about applying for every job you see is that you aren’t going to get an offer from all of them. Getting used to being turned down removes some fear, but I wanted to take things one step further…
I decided that every time I got turned down for a job I would email the interviewer, thank them for their time, and ask them if they had any advice for how I could become a better candidate in the future. While I did not always get a response, sometimes I got nuggets of wisdom that helped me become a better interviewee in the future, and they were very tailored to my actual weaknesses – a double bonus.
On several occasions my applying for every job (and my attempts to improve my interviewing skills) led to great networking opportunities.
Whether this manifests itself in the form of people helping me with my resume or thinking of me for a future job matters little to me. The benefit here is that I am forming relationships and getting my name out there with recruiters active in my industry. Networking provides a huge potential value to my career and I love any opportunity to form new relationships!
While I was job hunting I applied for all types of jobs in programming, data analysis, web analytics and more. During those interviews I got to hear a lot about what these types of workers do all day and it really gave me an opportunity to discover what I wanted to do all day. Not only did this help me narrow down my job search, it helped me narrow down my school focus and personal goals, too.
By the end, I really knew that I wanted to be. I’m sure that narrowing that down saved me a lot of job dissatisfaction in my life, and I couldn’t be happier with the field I chose! There is definitely something to be said for having a broad range of interests and skills, but narrowing things down at the beginning of your career pays a lot of dividends.
While these are not all the lessons I learned during my initial job search, they are some of the things I have been most immediately grateful for. I gained a lot of confidence throughout the process – and was eventually able to land my first “professional” job several months before I graduated.
I feel pretty confident to tell you that if you take the same approach in your job search you will learn a lot about yourself. And, like me, you just may end up getting a better job right out of school than you would have ever imagined.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at A Young Pro!
About the Author: Nick is a recent college graduate trying to find his way in the crazy corporate world. He is the owner of A Young Pro, a blog aimed at helping Millennials succeed in life, personal finance, and their careers. He is a happy husband, and a proud father. You can connect with Nick on Google+ or Twitter.