Everyone wants one now. Everyone wants one right now!
What, a golden goose?
Nope. Something even better.
A job, of course!
But, just like good ol’ Veruca Salt learned at the Chocolate Factory, simply wanting something doesn’t mean that you’re going to get it.
Don’t worry, though. We’ve found a way that you can get what you desire. We’ve worked through the process—from figuring out where you belong in the workforce to following up after an interview—and put together a list of steps to help you find a job.
Here are the ten things you MUST do in your job search:
- Play career detective
How are you supposed to look for a job when you don’t even know what kind of job you’d like? Career exploration is probably the most important part of any job search. Unfortunately, there’s no manual to tell you what kind of job you’re “supposed” to get after college.
But what you do have is AfterCollege’s Explore. Type in your college, major, and graduation date. Then you can start by looking at jobs that people who have a similar educational background to you have applied for.
Once you get a better idea about the job titles/types of jobs that people with your background work at, start doing some research about what it’s like to do them. We have quite a few industry profiles here on the AfterCollege Blog—both general outlines of different professions as well as interviews with people who work in them.
Internships are perhaps the best way to get an idea about what kind of company you want to work for. Other options you might want to look into are externships, volunteering, or informational interviews.
- Tell me what you want, what you really, really want
Now it’s time to focus on Y. O. U. Start thinking about what you’re really looking for in a job. Would you be happy working for a smaller paycheck if the company culture was fun and playful or you agreed with its mission and vision? Do you want to work for a company that does a large amount of philanthropy? How do you feel about working for a large company vs. a small one? Are you happy in your current location or do you want to move? Write all of this down.
- Find companies
Now, that you’ve discovered the industry you’re interested in as well as what you’re looking for in a job, you can start finding potential companies to apply for. Start looking up companies within your industry. Make a list of all of the ones in your location (or target location).
- Dig up the dirt
Start going through your list of companies and see what you can find out about each one. What is their mission? Have they been featured in any articles recently? What is the company culture like? You can find a lot of good information about what it’s like to work at certain companies on Glassdoor.com. Then, compare that with your list of “wants.” Identify what it is about each company that appeals or does not appeal to you.
See if they have a careers page. If they do, check out whether they have any open positions you might want to try. If not, you might consider reaching out to the hiring manager directly to let him/her know you’re interested in a position if something opens up.
- Tap into that network
Start with the network you already have. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family members. Make it known that you’re looking for a job. Check out your alumni groups on LinkedIn or Facebook. Start looking for industry players on Twitter and LinkedIn.
You can follow in this recent grad’s footsteps and find industry events in your area to attend. Make sure you’re well-versed in what you like about the industry and how you plan on making it even better. That way, when you meet professionals within your field, you have something to talk about. People want to help you if you express a genuine interest in their industry.
If you’re really nervous about this process, check out the section of the AfterCollege Blog dedicated to helping you get over those fears and learn to network like a champ!
- Do a résumé makeover
From all that super sweet networking you did, you might be able to get your résumé into the hands of an actual human hiring manager. BUT just in case you can’t, you need to make sure that yours is applicant tracking system (ATS) proof.
That means using keywords that were in the actual job description. You also want all of your experience to match with the job listing. Check out what these hiring managers had to say about these real résumés.
- Get that cover letter covered
Let’s not forget about the cover letter here. First of all, you might want to experiment to see if your industry wants you to send one in or not.
If the hiring managers in your field do want you to send one, make sure that you’re not sending a generic “To Whom it May Concern” letter. You want your letter to really emphasize the reason you’re an ideal candidate. You’re not just sharing the information on your résumé in paragraph form. Instead, you’re explaining what pulled you to this company in particular, what you hope to be able to do for the company, and why you are interested in this field in general.
We’ve made a list of cover letter “don’ts” that you should definitely check out before writing one. And if you’re still in need of more advice, check out this post about writing cover letters that don’t suck.
- Practice interviewing
Interviewing may seem like one of those things that you just have to do and hope for the best. This is not the case. Sure, the actual interview can only happen once, but you can practice it beforehand as many times as you want. Career services at your college will probably have people to practice with or even put on an “interview day” where students can come to practice together.
There are a lot of sites that list typical interview questions and good answers. If you want more advice about what hiring managers are looking for in your interview, you can check out our video series with three real managers in the sales, engineering, and product industries about what they look for in entry-level candidates.
- Turn the tables
Be ready to ask your own questions. At the end of your interview, you’ll more than likely be asked if you have any questions for your interviewer. Not only should you be using this time to figure out whether this is really a company you’d enjoy working for, but you can also use it show the interviewer that you’re an inquisitive candidate who really wants to understand the company.
The Brazen Careerist writes for YouTern all about the best questions a candidate can ask and why.
- Follow up
Following up is SO important. Not only does everyone like to be appreciated, but sending a thank you is also a great way to solidify yourself in a person’s mind. First and foremost, let the person know you appreciate the time they took to speak with you. Then, make sure that you mention something that you two talked about. What is a part of the conversation that stood out? Is there anything you can offer this person? Maybe share a link to an article that relates to a topic you discussed in the interview.
If you need help getting started, check out these awesome job search email templates by NewstoLiveBy.net.
Homework time! There’s a lot that goes into every job search. You don’t want to miss a step, so make sure that you’ve organized everything and set yourself up for success. Check out our tips for staying on top of everything (even if you’re naturally unorganized). The best way to get a job is to be prepared for the job search. Make sure that you’re working on all of these steps from the prep work (like career exploration) to the follow up.