Help Me Job Hunt
Searching for your desired job comes down to developing a proper strategy. The best job search is a combination of networking, targeting employers you want to work for AND applying for positions that are posted. Use the checklist below to help you organize your job/internship search, learn about various career options, identify potential employers, and find job listing sites relevant to your career goals. Following the checklist will maximize your success.
Your job search will be more effective if you first take the time to create a plan. Make a weekly or daily schedule of job search activities. This plan will help you keep on track during your search. Here is a sample job search plan:
BLUE = NETWORKING | GREEN = Market Intel | ORANGE = Career Plan Mgmt. | PURPLE = Wellness
Click here to learn more see a great sample resume for a mid-level employee.
What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a targeted letter that introduces you and your resume to a specific prospective employer. Cover letters are often required by employers as part of a job application along with a resume and sometimes, work samples. Even when not specifically requested by an employer, they are highly recommended. As the first communication between you and a prospective employer, a cover letter should convey professionalism and strong written communications ability while introducing yourself and explaining your credentials.
You’ve gotten yourself an interview! Congratulations! You’re well on your way to securing an awesome job. An interview is simply an employer’s way of getting to know the candidates for a job, so they may select the best fit for their organization’s needs. Think of an interview as a final examination. It’s your chance to show a potential employer that you’ve got what it takes to be a part of their organization. Like any examination, the interview is best taken when you’re well prepared. While there’s no way of knowing exactly what questions you will be asked (just like a college final!) you can follow 10 simple rules to help you give your best performance possible!
The 10 Commandments of Successful Interviewing
In the Days Before Your Interview
One thing you can be sure of: nearly all the questions you will be asked on your interview will be about YOU. It is important to remember that the only thing your interviewer knows about you is what is listed on your resume. Be prepared to explain each point in detail.
Sharing stories is an incredibly important part of the interviewing process. An employer isn’t just looking for a person with a certain skill set, but someone who can provide examples of how she applied her skills in a professional setting. Take some time and write down your biggest triumphs from past jobs. These stories could be about projects you completed, group-work you led, even a story about how you overcame a weakness. If you’re having some trouble getting started, refer to the Self-Help Interview Resources section.
Know your strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has things they’re good at and things they’re bad at. Being able to recognize both is important for the interviewing process as employers are looking for candidates who are self-aware. Single out your three strongest skills and be ready to share a story about how you applied them in a professional environment. Be prepared to discuss a weakness with a story about how you are working to improve/overcome it.
Know where you’re going. Employers want goal-oriented employees. Ask yourself where you see yourself in the future. What do you still want to learn after you graduate? What sorts of projects do you want to undertake, and how will this job help you realize your goals?
Also know why you’re interested in the job you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a job “just because,” you’re going to sound incredibly unenthusiastic to your interviewer and are probably not going to get hired (or even interviewed again). Be prepared to explain how this position fits your career goals.
Who are the major companies in your industry? If you’re applying for a job at Staples, you’ll probably also want to know what Office Max and Office Depot are up to! Pay attention to industry-specific current events, especially mergers, new regulations, newcomers to the market, IPOs, etc.
Visit the employer’s website. Find answers to the following questions:
- What does the organization sell/manufacture/do?
- Who do they serve?
- What is the organization’s mission statement?
- Where is the organization’s headquarters? Regional branches? YOUR branch?
- Who is the CEO of the organization? Your regional manager? What is the position of the person who is interviewing you?
- Is it a public or private organization?
- When was the organization founded and how has it expanded over the years?
- What are some new projects the organization has under development?
From this research, prepare a list of questions to ask the person interviewing you. The questions you ask have the ability to teach the recruiter more about you.
The Day of Your Interview
The second most important thing is to have a good breakfast. Treat yourself to a hearty, protein-rich breakfast to give you a boost of energy without jitters!
The third most important thing is to have a well-polished look. Dress professionally!
Dressing professionally does not have to mean dull, stiff or boring. You can still explore your personal style within an atmosphere that requires professional dress. When putting together an interview ensemble, remember one simple rule – quality over quantity. Employers understand that you, as a college student, have limited funds. You don’t need to drop your life savings on a closetful of interview clothes when one great suit and a few nice shirts will do.
There are no set laws for dressing for your interview. Different industries have different expectations for candidates. The information on the Build Your Brand page is an excellent starting point, especially for most non-technical and non-fashion jobs.
When getting dressed the day of your interview, be sure to double-check with your prospective employer whether you’re expected to wear “Business Formal” or “Business/Smart Casual.”
This requires no explanation. You should know exactly where your interview is and plan multiple routes to get there in case traffic problems force you to take a detour. You should be walking in the door 15 minutes before your interview is scheduled to start. Part of success is being there on time! Keep your interviewers contact information readily available in the event you experience something unexpected during your travel (ie. flat tire/train delays), this will allow you to contact the recruiter before you are late and can demonstrate responsibility.
Remember that your interview begins when you arrive. How you treat others and how you behave while waiting may be noted even if the official 'interview' has not yet began.
The Screening Interview – Typical of On-Campus Recruiting and the first interview, a Screening Interview is typically a short-duration interview designed to eliminate poorly qualified candidates from further employment consideration. These interviews are frequently conducted by a organization’s human resources or recruiting department and are based on general questions to measure how well a candidate will fit with the organization.
The In-depth/Technical Interview – These interviews are almost always held in the building where you’ll be working and are led by a supervisor or hiring manager. Questions will be job-specific and designed to determine the extent of your knowledge of the industry and your skills.
The Behavioral Interview –This technique is used by interviewers to get a candidate to tell specific stories about past professional experiences. Often these will end up coupled with Screening Interview questions. For example: “Many of your projects will involve working closely with technology professionals. Are you comfortable with working in groups? Have you ever worked with professionals in a previous job?” These questions can also focus on using specific job skills to complete projects.
Sometimes you may be asked to perform a simple task to demonstrate your skills. For example, you may be asked to make a mock phone call to a customer.
The Group Interview – Two or more interviewers will be asking questions to a group of several applicants at one time. Questions may be asked of the entire group, or one or two candidates only. Be sure when answering a question that you meet eyes with every member of the interviewing panel. Also treat your fellow candidates with respect; you never know which of them you may end up working with…or FOR!
You should also be aware that organizations might decide to have you interview with multiple people throughout the day. Do not schedule other important meetings or appointments on the day of your interview, because you don’t know how long you’re going to be there.
Remote Interviews - Increasingly interviewers are utilizing technology to conduct interviews. Whether your interview is over the phone or via video chat, you will want to set yourself up for success. Find a place that is quiet and will have limited interruptions during the interview time. Make sure that your phone or laptop is charged to be able to complete the interview. Choose a location that has a clean simple background, you would not want the recruiter to be focused on the messy bedroom behind you during the interview. If your interview is via a video chat, you should dress the same way as you would for an in-person interview.
Being confident does not mean not being nervous! It simply means pretending to not be nervous. Before you step into the interview, take a moment of introspection. You already feel great because you had a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast, and you look great because you’re rocking your best clothes! You look just like (fill in your favorite celebrity)! Now get in there and act like it!
During your interview, pay attention to your body language. Are you sitting up straight? Are you in control of your nervous habits (hand wringing, leg shaking, etc.)? Are you making eye contact with the person you’re talking to? Most importantly, are you SMILING?
Also pay attention to what you’re saying. Are you speaking slowly, at a good volume and enunciating? Do you understand what questions the interviewer is asking, and are you responding appropriately? (Don’t be afraid to ask an interviewer to clarify something you don’t understand!) Are you spinning even your most negative experiences in a positive manner? Are you comfortable with pausing briefly in your speech to collect your thoughts without saying “like” or “um”?
Every interview is going to end with the following question: “Do you have any questions for me?” Don’t be caught off guard by this! You should have a list of questions about the organization, position and the application process prepared when you enter the interview. Use these questions as a chance to show an employer just how interested you are in this position!
- Ask the interviewer things about the company you’re curious about based on your research.
- Ask what projects you may be assigned if you get the job.
- Ask about employee development programs.
- Ask how your work will be evaluated.
- Ask about the future of the department and how your position fits in with the bigger picture.
- Ask your interviewer for his/her card and the next steps in the interviewing process.
- DO NOT ASK ABOUT SALARY AND BENEFITS
After Your Interview
At the conclusion of your interview, ask if there’s anything else you need to do to complete the application process. The last thing you should say to an interviewer is always, “Thank you, it was very nice to meet you. I am excited about this opportunity.” Remember to make eye contact and offer a firm handshake.
On your way out, thank everyone who helped you find your way. Do not linger to chat!
As soon as you get home, e-mail the person who interviewed you a thank you letter. Refer to the sample thank you letter on this page for help.
Self-Help Interview Resources
Why Do You Need LinkedIn?
1. Online Presence
Nowadays, recruiting is increasingly done via technology. In order to demonstrate your versatility in the changing job market, it’s important to have a professional online presence . Many employers now perform background checks by simply entering your name into a search engine. By making a LinkedIn profile, you can guarantee that the first search result is work appropriate and further advertises your skills.
LinkedIn is a way to network with employers, mentors, professors, peers, or other people in your industry. It’s also extremely useful in finding and networking with alumni, who can be key advocates and mentors for you in your professional career. You never know who you might meet through your LinkedIn network—in some cases, you could get an interview!
3. Job Search
LinkedIn is also a platform for job postings; while you’re job hunting, check out open positions in your industry by searching for them on LinkedIn. LinkedIn also provides statistical information on each employer like common positions, company headquarters, past and present employees, and much more! After doing research, you can apply to positions that you’re interested in with your LinkedIn profile and uploaded resume.