Attn: College Seniors – Job Hunting 101

As the anxiety of senior year continues to hang over my head this summer, I decided that I needed to develop a written comprehensive plan. The more I thought about it, the more the job hunt reminded me of the college application process. Remember all those timelines you researched and followed senior year of high school? The time has come again; this time without Collegeboard’s help. Here is my tentative timeline as a senior in college:

Summer

Identify the companies you want to work for and the basic requirements for various entry –level positions you are interested in. Will you be a qualified candidate by the time you apply? Follow these companies and remain up to date on current news, their application and program deadlines and develop an execution plan. Make sure you prepare all materials well in advance and set your own deadlines to have things completed.

Other things to keep in mind: Do you have any contacts that can pass your resume along or give you leads on open positions? Do you have a mentor that can assist you during the job search period and beyond? Do you have enough extra-curricular and internship experience? Have you updated your resume and cover letters and developed different versions for different positions? The answers to these questions will allow you to assess your skills and networks and identify your next steps.

Fall

After you have your materials in order, you can begin to reach out to those mentors and contacts expressing your interest in their company or particular field. You can include your most recent resume and career goals so they can help guide you in the right direction. Don’t have contacts? Now is the time to make them. Attend as many networking and professional development events as possible. Have your elevator pitch ready and treat every encounter as a potential job lead. You never know who you will meet, where they work, and who they know. Also do your best to ensure you are gaining valuable experience within a student organization, job or internship.

Winter Break

Set up informational interviews to get a feel for the company and what it can offer you and your career. (If you don’t have job interviews already set up).  Network your way into the company by using the names of the contacts you have. Ask them for the names and contact information of hiring managers and others at the company. Call first, mention your contact and try to schedule at least 30 minutes of their time.   Follow-up after a week via email.  Remember there is a fine line between persistent and stalker. Make the email subject: X person referral. So they do not think that it is spam. Employers are more likely to return calls and emails and hire people who were recommended by a contact of their own. Employers get hundreds of applications, so having some connection helps get your application to the top of the pile. The higher your contact’s position, the better.

Application Materials

Like the college admission process, there are certain materials that you need to have prepared.

  1. Application

Your resume – You should already have various versions, printed and ready to go.

Cover Letter – Make sure it is specific and tailored to each company.

Portfolio – You should have a well put-together portfolio filled with work samples from previous internships and jobs. Place them in a presentation binder or get them bound at your local Staples or Kinkos. Again, these should be specific for the position you are applying for. You should also have an online portfolio that includes electronic versions of your work in addition to any blog sites.

LinkedIn – If your profile is blank, change that and fast! The Internet is the easiest way to find information on a potential candidate and if yours is incomplete or blank, it decreases your credibility. Join groups in your industry and your university’s alumni network. Get endorsed by previous employers and add as much information as possible. LinkedIn is a great way connect with contacts, potential employers and mentors, showcase your work and seek advice. Use it!

  1. Recommendations

Ask for your recommendations early. It is appreciated when you ask for things in advanced with specific directions. Remember to include a copy of your cover letter and resume so the person writing your recommendation letter knows your skill set, work experience and goals.

  1. Personal Statement

Spend the next few weeks thinking about your personal statement. What do you have to offer to a potential employer over the other thousands of 2012 graduates?

Do you have any ideas on what the next steps should be or any other advice for the job search?

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4 thoughts on “Attn: College Seniors – Job Hunting 101

  1. Meg1189 says:

    Having just gone through it, I found the hardest part was having patience. Because of our field, most appropriate jobs won’t be posted until late spring. All of the prep work you mentioned is incredibly important so that when those jobs do in fact post, you are ready to go!

    • I absolutely agree. I feel that many seniors are not prepared when the job opportunities do come along. I see this as a proactive response plan. Once the opportunity comes knocking you are ready to answer the door resume, portfolio, and contacts in hand.

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