A student’s senior year in college is full of firsts and lasts. The last homecoming game, the first cover letter, the last meeting with your advisor and the first time you head into a real job interview.
College is great and so are the internships you have during that time, but nothing is scarier than finding your first real job. You have the enthusiasm, the experience (if you did enough internships), the grades and the recommendations, but putting that into words may be hard.
Interviews terrify me. I know that's ironic because I interview people often as a journalist; but it is completely different when I’m the one being interviewed.
When they ask me what my greatest weakness is, I’m afraid that I’m going to blurt out “dogs” or “cute guys” or something equally cringeworthy.
I’m slowly starting to prep myself to have replies to questions like, “Why do you want to work here?” (besides the obvious, “Because I need a job.”).
I already know that I have the skills and motivation needed. I know what I’m worthy. So all I need is to convince my future employer that they need me as much as I need them.
If that doesn’t motivate me, my nightmare of failing to snag a job after graduation does. I don’t get to move off to the big city; instead I move back home to live with my mom and work at the local grocery store bagging up fruit for little old grandmas.
For me, the worst nightmare is the best motivator. My mom is lovely, but I have big dreams. That one bedroom apartment which costs too much in a city six hours away will be mine come May.
I’ve been seriously searching for future jobs since June of this year. I’m way ahead of the game. I’ve had my LinkedIn profile perfectly composed and my résumé professionally analyzed.
I’m not actually applying to any jobs until five months before graduation (no one wants to hire too far ahead of time), but I know what I’m looking for.
I’ve gotten plenty of advice so far, from people in all different career paths and stages in their careers. Here are some of the top tips I’ve gotten from professionals.
If you’re not on LinkedIn, you don’t exist in the job market.
Considering that more than 90 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn as their primary search tool, this is not an understatement. If you’re a professional, you not only need to be on LinkedIn, you need to be using it to your full advantage.
Think about it this way: If tomorrow morning a recruiter logs onto LinkedIn looking for someone in your geography, with expertise in what you do, and you’re not there, guess who they’re going to find and contact? Not you.
2. Don’t get a Master’s degree if you only want to prolong your job search.
This applies more to a career like journalism. But if you received practical experience in internships in college, graduate school may be unnecessary.
I hear so many English students say they don’t want to teach and still go to grad school. If you are continuing your education because you don’t know what else to do, it's a bad idea.
Don’t make grad school a default move. If you must go to grad school to be able to even land a job (such as psychology, history, or theory work), do so.
Try to find an assistantship if you can to lessen the burden of another looming tuition payment.
3. Write thank you notes to interviewers.
A quick note (by email and/or postal mail) of thanks that emphasizes your interest and fit with the job and employer will not get you the job offer, but it will help make you stand out from the majority of job-seekers who do not bother with this simple act of courtesy.
I’ve customized mine towards my personality and handwrite the ones I send by mail.
4. Be open to options.
Moving even three hours away from home will be a pretty big change for me, considering I only moved one and a half hours away for college.
For my career field, I need to look in a variety of different places. Even in a city as nicely sized as Toledo, there’s only a handful of places for me to look for job.
And that’s even thinking that they might have a job opening available.
The end of my schooling is scary, but it also opens up a gigantic world of incredible possibilities. In the end, I should never settle for something, including a job. You shouldn’t either.
Shoot for the stars, and all other sappy words of encouragement. Be the you that you are meant to be.