As we enter into the end of January and head into February, seniors in college everywhere are beginning to look at their calendars with excitement and… a little dread, honestly. At least I know I did! Being a senior during the fall semester is usually fun and exciting. The prospects of what the future holds is endless and you’re ready for what this year holds! Then Christmas and New Years goes by and you begin to realize once you graduate and move that tassel from the right side of your cap to the left, real life starts. Applying for jobs and getting one is on the horizon!
For those soon-to-be graduates who are in panic mode right now- I’m with you! Or, at least I was there. If you’ve read my posts before, you’ll know that I didn’t start my full-time job until January 2018- 6 months after graduating. I interviewed in late November, but was unable to start until January due to my part-time work policies. So, how did I get this job? Honestly, luck had a lot to do with it. During late Fall/ early Spring semester, I started looking at every company I would want to work for. I wrote down different job titles I would be interested in, different companies I could apply for with my degree, and internships I could do during time between graduating and finding full-time work. Below is how I stayed organized during my time of applying for jobs!
KEEP IT CLEAN
Staying organized is a must for me! When it came time to applying for jobs, I kept with my organization habits and created a list. Below is a mock of my job application list:
I would write down the company name, job titles, job description, employer info (names, emails, phone numbers), the date the app was submitted, the date of my interview if I got one, and the status of my application. One thing about applying for jobs is that sometimes you will apply to a lot of them and then they start to get jumbled up. By keeping this list, you’ll be able to look back and see who to contact for an update on your application, who already declined your app, and who you’ll be interviewing with.
If I’m being honest, my list was a life-saver! Although it can be a bummer to see which jobs you got rejected from, it also helped me find a correlation to jobs that I was getting good responses from vs which ones did not find I had the experience for. This list also showed me which jobs I seemed to be applying to more often than others. I found what opportunities attracted me the most and then focused my time on applying to more jobs like it.
DON’T CENSOR YOURSELF
This one is a major point to make! One downfall in my field is that most companies want their employees to have more than a BS. Although I plan to one day go to medical school, a BS is all I’ve got right now. During college, I worked and volunteered in various fields- an example would be research. I was a research assistant for 3+ years, but unpaid since I was a student researcher. Some companies did not count these 3+ years as experience because it was unpaid! Although this hindered my chance at some jobs, I still applied with my experience as a job because I did everything a paid employee did. So, if you have the experience, use it (paid or not!). The current job I hold did ask for 1+ years experience in this field. Although my experience was unpaid, they accepted it as experience, because it’s just that.
KEEP ALL OF YOUR EMAILS
During this time, emails are your best friend. You will receive tons of emails. Emails confirming your application has been accepted/ received, emails rejecting your application, emails for interviews, etc. You will receive so many emails you may even get overwhelmed from them. I realized at the time that mixing my regular emails of clothing stores with emails from job applications was not the best idea for me, so I created a new email with a professional username and began using that to submit my apps or to sign into accounts with for each company’s career portal. Once I created this new email, I created folders for each company I applied to:
Once I received a submission approval, rejection, or interview, I would create a sub-folder for that specific job and keep them there. This way, the emails are safe and I am able to easily go back to them should I need to get information from them for future apps or future reference.
SAVE CUSTOMIZED VERSIONS OF YOUR RESUME & COVER LETTER
When I first started applying, I would have one resume and cover letter that I would go back and forth editing and saving. But then I would end up throwing away that new one and revert it back to normal. After a few times of doing this, I realized there had to be an easier way. I noticed I was applying to jobs with similar titles and job descriptions. I realized, why not have a set resume and cover letter dedicated to each of those jobs? If I applied to multiple Research Assistant jobs, I would have one cover letter dedicated to that job title. If I applied to multiple Physical Therapy Technician jobs, I would have one cover letter dedicated to that job title. Continue this for other jobs as well! Keep it easy on yourself and customize your resumes and cover letters. Your future self will thank you as you are applying to multiple jobs!
CREATE A LINKED IN ACCOUNT
When I first signed up with LinkedIn, I didn’t think much of it. It was a job site I never really thought I would use. I kept my profile simple and didn’t add very much to it at first.
Once I started applying for jobs, I saw how LinkedIn could improve my chances of an interview or hire. I immediately began to update mine. I added my work history, education and awards, societies I joined, research labs and what we accomplished in them, etc. Writing about your work and what you’ve accomplished in each of these jobs or internships will show to future employers that you are willing to put in hard work for a job you love.
I’ve heard many cases where Linked In has helped someone find a job, or even network with someone in a field they are interested in. Don’t be afraid to add that person you look up to in the field you are dedicated to! Adding these people and spreading your profile to others may help you find your future employer!
These are just a few things I found were helpful when I was applying to jobs during and after college. My last advice before I leave is… STAY POSITIVE! Staying positive is the number one thing you should always do! Never let a job hunt get you down. I know it can be trying and you can start to feel like you’ll never find the right job. That’s not true! The right job will find you, but you need to stay strong and stay positive.
Good luck out there to all my seniors (or non-seniors)!