10 Unique Tips for Graduating Seniors on the Job Hunt

1:16:00 AM

It's February.  You're a senior.  And you have NO clue what you're doing when you graduate.   Sound like you?  If so, don't worry, I got your back.   Every day I feel fortunate to be working at Zappos.com, but it certainly wasn't smooth sailing to get there.  Job searching in this economy is all about committing to a strategy and not wavering when discouraged.   Here are a few tips that helped me secure my job.

1. 50/50.  Your job right now as a student should be 50% academics and 50% job searching.  Allocating this much time to the job search is daunting, but spending 2-4 hours a day on applications and cover letters is beyond worth it. 

2.  Utilize every single avenue.   It's easy to rely solely on your college's job-search portal, however, this funnels many applicants with similar qualifications to one company-- your ability to stand out decreases.  Tap into these options...
  • Yahoo jobs
  • Your local newspaper
  • Craigslist (careful!)
  • Industry-focused websites (i.e. http://www.stylecareers.com/)
  • Local newspaper websites of states you want to live in
  • LinkedIn
  • Career Builder
  • Indeed.com
  • Monster.com
  • Snagajob.com
  • Postings on other colleges' job portals
  • Company websites' job postings
  • Alumni from your high school
  • Alumni from your college
  • Your friends' parents' companies 
  • Your professor's connections

3.  Email timing is key.  Don't email recruiters first thing in the morning-- they are probably swamped with emails and more likely to put yours on the back burner.  Don't email during the lunch hour-- again, it may get lost in the shuffle when they return to a full inbox after lunch.  Don't email at the very end of the day, as you are most likely to get forgotten here.  The person has likely mentally checked out, and they'll put it off until tomorrow, when of course they're swamped again.  When do you email????  Do email mid-morning, after you feel like they have settled in and caught up on emails from the night before.  They're likely to want to maintain their clean inbox and respond right away.  That is when I've had the most success.

4. Resume reminders.  
  • Always save your resume as a .PDF rather than a .doc or .docx.  This will preserve the layout and prevent them from opening a janky looking document.  
  • No one should ever have to dig for your resume, or worse, ask you for it.  Always offer it to them first.  For example, "Thank you for your consideration, and I have attached my resume for further review."
  • When following up, I always included the resume as an attachment, referring to it at the end of the email.  This way, the person can click on it for a quick reminder of who you are.   
  • Frequently synchronize your LinkedIn profile and your resume.  Consistency is important.

5.  When networking, arrange a phone call vs. emailing when possible.  Why?  It shows your confidence.  A phone call offers a more personal connection.  It accomplishes your goals faster than dancing around your objectives with wordy emails.  A busy career-person who is glued to email all day long might appreciate the ease of a phone call.  Your job is to make communication with you as easy as possible for them.

6.  Even if you're applying to 100+ jobs, don't make it obvious.  It will look like you're throwing darts to get any job-- huge red flag to employers.  Always have a personalized cover-letter and several versions of your resume, catering to each industry you're applying to.   Remember, in this economy you're going to have to attend to both quantity (i.e. 100+ applications) and quality.  Quantity may get you exposure, but quality will get you that phone call.

7.  Treat each company like a research project.  Know everything about the company when you interview.  During the phone interview, have their website open on your computer.  Look up news articles featuring the company from the past 6 months.   Look at their financial statements (if public).  Know their competition. Understand their long term goals and how you can help.  Lastly, look up your interviewer or recruiter on LinkedIn and know their background.  Knowledge is your ammunition.

8. Have as many plates spinning as possible (within your means).  In other words, don't put all your eggs in one basket.  If you get an interview at one company, do NOT stop pursuing your other options.  You don't have anything guaranteed, and in case you get rejected you don't want to be starting from ground zero again.

9.  "Cold-calling" methods work.  I didn't want to go into accounting, finance, or consulting-- industries that most William & Mary business graduates enter.  My college professor's connections got me in touch with 4 retailers, but after that, I was on my own.   I chose about 10 corporate retailers that I thought I may want to work at, and I reached out to about 10-15 people via LinkedIn who worked for those companies. I didn't know these people, but I sent them individual messages (figuring that 1-2 may respond per company).  I ended up getting interviews at most places, and that's how I got my job at Zappos!  Remember, if you feel like you have no connections you can make your own.  You have nothing to lose!

10.  If you're not 100% sure you want the job, still go through with the interview.  It's good practice!  It will make you a more confident interviewer.   If you're single and go on many dates, you feel more confident, you feel pursued, and you feel like you have options.  You lose that vibe of desperation.  Interviewing is very similar in that way!  Just do it.

Good luck, and if you have any questions or need advice, leave a comment or email me.


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