It feels like summer is flying by and I am actively trying to soak it all in. Since it is almost the middle of July I thought it might be helpful to compile a list of tips for those of you that will be graduating from college this year and beginning your job search or those of you that are still in college and will be beginning your internship search.
This list is by no means comprehensive, you could write a book (and some people certainly have) on everything you need to know before landing your first job, but, it is meant to be a quick reference with a few helpful pieces of information as you begin an otherwise daunting process. I’ve tried to keep these tips as general as possible so that they can be applicable to any industry: marketing, advertising, sales, consulting, finance, public relations, etc. It is becoming increasingly competitive to break into certain fields or industries and the better prepared you are the more of an advantage you have.
ONE – Nail the “phone screen”
If you are a senior in college or university this year, on-campus recruiting is traditionally September – Early November. It is important to note that hiring dramatically slows down in November and December and picks up again after the holidays. In addition, January and February are also good times to be job searching because it’s in the first quarter of the year and companies and hiring managers are assessing their needs and budgeting for full-time hires, as the year goes on it becomes a little trickier as there is less money to bring on a full-time hire. In the summer, hiring is almost dead as people are on vacation and out of town and then the cycle repeats itself when things pick up again in early September.
With that said, the first part of the onboarding/interview process for your first job is going to be some sort of “phone screen” with a recruiter (it might even be a third-party company – for example: Amazon wants to hire a couple of software engineers or sales representatives and they hire an HR Firm to search for talent that exclusively fits the list of requirements they have given this outside firm) or human resources professional, not the hiring manger or person that you might be directly reporting to should you accept the job offer.
These people speak with hundreds of people a week and will spend 15-30 minutes with you to determine if they think you are a “fit,” this includes everything from relevant educational background, internship experience, GPA, foreign language skill and general interpersonal skills.
THIS is the time to shine – it’s a tricky and awkward thing to feel like you are “selling” yourself to someone but that is exactly what you have to do.
If you put yourself in the recruiter’s or human resource professional’s shoes they also have a tough job. Their performance is measured by the number of people they bring to a hiring manger’s desk that meet the requirements of the job – if they consistently bring someone in for an interview with the hiring manger that is under-qualified or mismatched for the position that reflects poorly on them. It is actually quite stressful when you put yourself in their shoes and I think it humanizes the process a bit.
However, the bright side is that if you are chosen for a phone screen for a job that you have submitted a resume for it means that the person who looked over your resume:
a) thinks you are a potential match for the position and b) it is in their best interest for them to pass you along to the next person as it is less work for them than to keep searching – they WANT to fill the position, these people have a job to do as well and the faster and more efficiently they can fill the positions they are responsible for the better they are doing in their personal career journey.
With all that said, you can DEFINITELY nail the phone screen by keeping in mind a few simple things:
1- What does the job description say? Read it and then read it again and then read it a third time and try to think of a few examples for how you represent the qualities they are looking for, even if you’ve never used Microsoft Excel or Tableau for the particular way that the company wants you to use it for the position, think of a way that you have used it that would show that you are adaptable and can learn quickly.
2- Develop a “short elevator pitch” at the beginning of the call to introduce yourself. “My name is, I went to this school, I studied this major because x, y and z and I am so excited to be interviewing for X Job because Y and Z Reason.”
Again, these recruiters speak to hundreds of people a week so briefly introducing yourself and providing some context and background as to why you are a good fit for the position and more importantly why you want the position and are passionate about the position makes their job easier and you sound excited and humble at the same time.
3- Remember to say thank you and follow up with a thank you note// email after the call and then follow back up again in a week if you haven’t heard anything (respectfully).
PERSISTENCE IS KEY!! Again – you are fighting statistics here, if a hundred people apply for the same position you want it is NOT necessarily the most qualified or talented person that is going to get the job – it’s going to be the person that is smart but also continues to follow up and stands out in a respectful and diligent way.
Don’t give up!! The job search can be so frustrating and difficult but you just need one 🙂
TWO – Relevant Experience OR Relevant Coursework
For those of you that may not have a lot of internship experience, relevant coursework can be an excellent substitute!
For example, let’s say you are applying for a journalism position at a magazine or major broadcasting company in NYC or Chicago and you’ve never had an internship in that particular field but you’ve taken an advertising elective in college where you worked on a couple of business cases related to the job you are applying for – that relevant coursework is absolutely fair game to talk about in an interview.
Did you participate in a case competition in college? Did you work on endless group projects within your major that taught you about teamwork? All of these experiences within your coursework are relevant and useful to talk about in a job interview. Do not neglect to mention the experiences that show how smart and capable you are.
THREE – Details matter
This tip is a bit more intangible but I think it is important nonetheless, the details matter. If you are lucky enough to make it past the first two or three phone screens and receive an invitation to have an in-person interview take it as seriously as possible.
-Keep your nails clean and free of polish to avoid distractions and maintain professionalism, the same goes for hair and makeup – an interview is not the time to wear bold makeup, flashy jewelry or tight clothing, this usually goes without saying and there are very few industries other than creative fields where this is acceptable or will make a good impression.
-It’s better to be overdressed – you might be interviewing at a company that you know and love and one that has a business casual or relaxed dress code but it’s not going to kill you to wear a classic pant suit or sheath dress to the interview – you will stand out in a good way, you will look professional and prepared and you will project a respectful image to the people you are interviewing with. Do not underestimate how much of a difference this will make – no one likes a sloppy person, and if you aren’t dressed up you might appear lazy at worst and then you’ve lost the job, no recovery.
You only get one chance so you should make the most of it, by the time that you’ve made it to an in-person interview, the hiring manager wants to make a decision and they WANT to hire you. It takes time and resources for a company to bring you into their offices and interview you – they want you – just let yourself shine.
– Bring multiple copies of your resume and keep them in a clean and professional looking portfolio (your university might sell them in the student stores with the logo or seal of your school – they’re super cool and will add instant “wow” factor to your interview ensemble)
FOUR – The more specific the better
If you have a specific degree or have high career aspirations – let’s say you want to break into management consulting or you want to work in an industry that is extremely competitive to be hired in – that could actually be an advantage to you!
If you have focus and specificity in your job search that will shine through in your interviews – you will be able to focus intensely on every detail and facet of the industry you are interested in and any difficult interview questions you are asked will be no problem for you as you will have lived and breathed the industry you want a job in.
FIVE – Social Media // Privacy
You will be googled and if you haven’t already googled yourself using various combinations of your first, middle and last name you should and take inventory of the results.
I would recommend using your first and last name for your LinkedIn Profile so that that is one of the first things that shows up in your Google Search Results and maybe your first and middle name or a nickname for your various social media profiles.
If future employers can find your online presence and it is positive that works in your favor, if they see a strong LinkedIn Profile and a few snapshots of your life that can help paint a picture of who you are as a person and as an individual – make social media work for you – you can control the narrative of what people see and are exposed to when they are searching for your name.
One last tip***** make yourself unsearchable by your cell phone on various social media sites – if you have that on your resume you don’t want a recruiter being able to type that into Facebook after you’ve worked hard to keep that private.
If you’d like to read other parts of my #GirlBossMonday Career Series you can find two other articles here:
Have any of you started your job or internship search? Do you have any tips or tricks you swear by related to your career? I would love to hear your feedback, tips, tricks or questions in the comments or via email