It is crazy to think that I graduated college seven months ago and began my professional career. Though I am extremely happy and grateful with where I am now, the journey to finding and landing a full-time job out of college was not easy.
I like to say that my professional career started in my spring semester of college. Why? Because that was the start of my job search. Not all job searches are smooth and easy; in fact, the time from when you start your job search and begin interviews and then finally accept an offer varies greatly in length. Some companies will move the process along fairly quickly while others will require a bit more effort on your part. The job hunt is truly a waiting game.
Photo: Marten Bjork on Unsplash
Here are some job hunting tips for college seniors who are preparing to enter the workforce.
The job search process
This seemingly obvious step to your job hunting process is certainly not an easy one. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of career options for you, even if it means becoming an entrepreneur. If you are unsure of what you really want to pursue, try taking a Myers Brigg personality test on 16personalities.com to find out which careers are best fit for your strengths and weaknesses. After finding out my Myers Brigg personality(anyone else an ENFJ?), my career options became much more clear. It is also not a bad idea to make a list of important qualities that you are seeking in a position or a company, as well as all the information about relocating if you desire to live and work in a specific geographic location.
Figure out your branding strategy
Once you have decided on a general career path that you are heading towards, work on branding yourself through social media and other networks. To start, I updated my LinkedIn profile and highlighted my experiences and skills that would drive me to be a success in my chosen career field and industry. I then decided to create and utilize other media, including Pinterest and Twitter because I saw them as a necessity for my field. The best advice for this step is to choose one professional headshot and one personal headshot to use across all media so they are consistent and recognizable. Branding yourself as a professional ready to step up in your industry after college will show that you are a leader who is both passionate and innovative.
Craft your cover letter and resume – again and again and again
Yes, I would do this step even before applying for jobs. Why? Because it takes time to design and revise cover letters and resumes that speak to your personality. Of course, if you are not sure about which jobs and companies you will be applying to, it is still good to note some of your important characteristics and specific examples that help tell your story. Resumes are the place to showcase everything that you have achieved in your field. For both cover letters and resumes, always try to include data and strong action verbs; the more concise, the better. Have other people read and proofread it several times before sending it out; the more eyes, the better. It is especially crucial to include any internships or strong academic opportunities you have had.
Apply for jobs
Some professional fields rely heavily on networking, such as business, while others depend on strong academic performances and fieldwork, such as health care and medicine. If you do not know where to start in your job search, it is good to connect with your networks as well as previous places where you had internships to see if there are available positions at their companies because they would serve as a great reference. Search engines, such as Indeed.com or monster.com, are the next best way to seek entry-level job opportunities. If you have a certain company or organization in mind, then search for job opportunities through its website. Once you read the job description and see that it is a good fit for your pursuits, prepare your cover letter and resume (and all other application materials that are required). It is best to find the name of a specific contact person when addressing cover letters; if it is not listed on the job description, then call the company’s human resources department and request a specific contact. I would also advise you to read all the application instructions very carefully to ensure that you submit all the required materials to the appropriate email or mailing address.
I would say the hardest part about the job hunt is playing the waiting game. For me, there were some companies and organizations that reached out regarding my application right away, while others took a longer time or did not respond at all. When I applied, I created a spreadsheet of all the companies, contact names, and information so I could track all of the follow up responses in a timely manner. If I did not hear back within three to four weeks, then I sent a follow up email to the contact person, reiterating my interest in the position and actively seeking an interview or an opportunity to chat. When I did not hear back after another couple of months, I called. While you are waiting to hear back, I recommend that you actively keep applying to jobs while staying strong and persistent in current, ongoing applications. You should also consider the hiring timeline, which varies according to each company. At this point, I would also begin to think about your personal and professional mentors who could serve as references should you need to send along their name and contact information to the hiring manager… and bonus points if your references have worked in the industry or company!
Of course, the job hunt can be quite stressful and my best advice is to continue to thrive in your senior year and the follow ups and offers will come in due time.
What are some ways that you are balancing the job hunt with senior year fun?
My name is Sara Kim, a recent graduate of the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College. I majored in journalism with a double minor in Health Policy & Management and Asian American Studies. In my free time, I enjoy working out, reading books, watching movies, and cooking. Fun fact: I am a foodie and love to try out new places and recipes.