Starting a job search is incredibly stressful for college seniors as spring quickly approaches. There are thousands of other college seniors, in your exact position, vying for those jobs as well. How do you stand out? To seriously begin your post-grad job search, prepare to invest as much time into the search as you would a job itself. Consider these tips to help you save time and stand out from the masses.
1. Boost your resume by including action words and specific numbers
You know that a standout resume is a must for attracting the eyes of recruiters. You’ve already edited your resume for spelling and grammar errors and added all of your previous jobs, internships, and leadership roles. Now you need to add some powerful verbs to help prospective employers take notice. Action words increase the strength of the tasks you’ve completed—not to mention they improve your writing. Instead of a weak word such as “did,” try starting your description or bullet point with “executed,” “lead,” or “spear-headed.” Replace “made” with “created,” “implemented,” or “developed.”
You will also need to edit your resume to include specific details, which means numbers and statistics! How many customers did you interact with daily at your part-time job? Exactly how much money did you fundraise for your organization? Employers want to see the hard data of your accomplishments.
2. Gather a list of potential references
Many of the jobs you apply for will likely ask for references, letters of recommendation, or contact information from previous supervisors. Save yourself time by creating a list of these people now, before your job search actually begins. Reach out to two or three individuals who know you well and can serve as professional references. Let them know you are beginning a job search and ask if they would be willing to write letters of recommendation if necessary. Then, when you find your dream job, you won’t be hustling to find someone who can speak on your behalf.
3. Complete informational interviews
An informational interview is a meeting with an employer or employee (who may or may not be hiring!) where you can gain insight about the company, the position, or the industry. Not only is it a great way to learn about a field you want to work in, but can often open doors into companies. It is also a great opportunity to practice your interviewing skills.
4. Use social media for good
Hopefully, you’ve cleaned up your social media profiles during your pursuit of a job, erasing any embarrassing or inappropriate posts. However, searching for a job does not mean you have to swear off social media completely. Instead, use your social media accounts to follow companies you are interested in and to research their culture and previous work. You can also post relevant articles about the field you want to go into, which can impress any recruiter who is searching through your pages.
5. Follow-up is key
You can’t expect a company to have you on their mind at all times during the day—never doubt the importance of a follow-up! After you apply for a job, wait three to five business days before checking in to ensure your application was received, and reiterate your interest in the job. After an interview, make sure to follow up 24 hours after with your interviewer(s) to thank them for their time. Add in details that were discussed, anything you didn’t bring up during your interview but wish you had, and your knowledge of the company. Still don’t hear back within a week? Make sure to send another polite follow-up. Be tactful about how and when you contact a company, but make sure they haven’t forgotten about you.
6. Develop a job tracking system
Searching for a job is a full-time job in and of itself. Develop some sort of system so you can remember which jobs you applied for and when you applied for them. You can also track your important follow-ups and keep a list of contacts for each position. Bookmark job sites, whether they are through your university, general sites, or sites pertaining to your field of interest, and check them daily. You never know when your dream job will pop up!
7. Utilize your college career center
You may have been avoiding this place since you stepped foot on campus, but now is the time to finally use this resource. Your college career center can help you revise your resume, connect you with alumni in your field, or even connect you with job openings. Some career centers offer services like mock interviews or job fairs as well.
Although you are one in thousands looking for a job, you have the tools to stand out and wow an employer. Above all, remember that persistence is key. Your dream job is out there somewhere waiting for your application.
Brittany Phillips is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.