As we all know, job hunting can be an arduous process, and a frustrating one at that. For those of us who didn’t land a job immediately after graduation, it may seem that no matter how many jobs you apply to, nothing is really sticking. Fear not, I have been in your shoes, and I’ve come up with a short list of tips I find most important in surviving the job search. Or saving your insanity, whichever you deem more accurate.
1. Keep an open mind.
Don’t be afraid to look outside the box, or rather, outside of the job you really want. As I’ve said in previous posts, don’t dismiss jobs that don’t fit the exact description you were initially looking for. With a degree in School Counseling, I looked at paraprofessional jobs, education coordinator, teacher’s assistant, guidance department secretary, admissions counselor, academic advisor, etc. Were these my “dream” jobs? No, but if I got any of them, they would most certainly be a foot in the door, and definitely a step in the right direction. Apply to all positions related to the job you really want.
2. Utilize your industry websites and organizations.
It’s 2016, there is probably a membership organization for every job/career out there. Find it and become a member. Student memberships are usually less money, but it’s totally worth it to join. Not only do they post jobs on their websites, but they also have resources and sometimes newsletters with useful information. During my search, I used the ASCA newsletter to keep myself up to date on current trends and issues in the school counseling realm of education, and it really helped. There are also job search websites specifically for a particular field. Anyone who has done anything in education knows about SchoolSpring to be sure, but there others out there for different fields, like this one for Human Resources . Use these kinds of sites and visit them often.
3. Make sure your resume is cleaned up and up-to-date!
This is self-explanatory. Once you graduate, or even before, update your resume with your internships and degree information. I cannot stress enough how important it is for potential employers to know about your most recent and related experiences. Don’t let the shining star of your resume be 5 summers as a pro ice-cream scooper (unless of course you’re trying to be a Ben and Jerry’s taste tester or scooper extraordinaire).
4. Make sure your interview etiquette is on point.
This should be a no-brainer, but you would be surprised what some people wear and say during an interview. I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will: NO JEANS OR SNEAKERS!!! They shouldn’t even go through your mind when dressing for an interview. Even if you know the dress code for a particular place of employment is “business casual,” take it up another notch; keep it business-professional, always. A future post about interviews is coming, but for now:
- Don’t chew gum. If you drink coffee on the way to interviews like I do, keep mint gum in your car. Chew it for a few minutes before you go in, so you don’t have coffee breath, and spit it right out. Chewing gum during an interview looks really unprofessional, even if you’re doing it discreetly.
- Don’t wear too much cologne or perfume. This may seem insignificant, but some people are extremely sensitive to smells, and while you may think you smell great, your interviewer may not agree. Keep it to a minimum.
- Always bring a pen and at least one copy of your resume. Chances are, they already have your resume in front of them, but some employers like to ask anyway to see if you’re prepared. A pen is always useful; use it to take notes and write down some follow-up questions if any come up that you don’t feel comfortable asking in the middle of the interview.
5. Thank-You’s go a long way.
When I was in grad school, they drilled it into our heads that you should always, always, always send a thank you e-mail or handwritten note after an interview. Even if you think the interview didn’t go very well, a thank-you could set you apart from the other candidates and make a perspective employer give you a second look.
6. Clean up your social media.
My current supervisor actually disclosed to me a few weeks ago that she googled me before interviewing me. Again, I will say: This is 2016. Expect this to happen frequently. Get rid of the pictures of you doing a keg-stand, that doesn’t count as a useful skill. Make sure your Facebook page is private, and your profile picture is something at least semi-appropriate. If you’re on LinkedIn, spend some time to build up your page. You don’t have to post things every day or every week, but at least make it up to date.
7. Stay positive!
After a few rejections, this is undoubtedly hard to do. Your mind can be your own worst enemy, and it’s important to realize that. Yes, looking for a job is a full-time job in itself, but you need to make time for yourself as well. Take a day or two to not do any job stuff at all. Do things you love; hang out with friends, run, cook, whatever…nothing job related. It will allow you to regroup and come back with a fresh attitude.