It’s all too easy to pick up terrible job-hunting advice as a student. How do you know what to believe and who to trust? Sometimes you feel like you’ve tried everything but haven’t seen a hint of success. Believe me when I say that I’ve been there and done that!
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As a college student, I searched for jobs in classified ads, on help wanted signs or community bulletin boards, and on sites like CareerBuilder or Monster. Although I managed to find a steady job to pay my bills, it wasn’t anywhere near my ideal career path so I went back to school and kept my eyes peeled.
When I was months away from my Bachelor’s degree in 2009, I decided to extend my reach beyond the traditional. I’m glad I did, because soon after that I secured a wonderful internship in my field (which turned into a wonderful full-time job in my field upon graduation). No, I didn’t do anything crazy or unusual to obtain what I did; I just strayed from the beaten path and never lost sight of my motivation. You can do the same if you’re determined enough!
By “be creative,” I don’t mean that you should put pictures on your resume or rent billboard space to advertise your name to prospective employers. Be creative with HOW you look for a job. I have quite a few friends who are dependent on CareerBuilder, Monster, or Indeed for their job searches. They usually say something like: “I just don’t know what I’m doing wrong…I applied for over 100 jobs and I haven’t heard back from a single one!” Even though my friends are on the right track by applying for jobs, they don’t understand that they’ll have to do more than that to score an interview (at least in most cases).
If you search for jobs online (as the majority of people do), then try to think creatively. Visit your school’s counselor or career development adviser to inquire about job boards—I found my internship through my college’s job network website! Most schools offer a job website and provide free access to students, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask. Also, check with your local Chamber of Commerce. This is a valuable tool because you’ll be able to see a list of businesses in your area, and some Chamber sites will even post job openings that aren’t listed on CareerBuilder. Even if there aren’t any jobs posted, you may stumble upon a business you didn’t even know existed; don’t be afraid to polish your resume, put on your interview outfit, and stop by to introduce yourself if you could see yourself working there.
Also, expand your reach with online job searches and look past the common websites that everyone uses. For example, LinkUp.com is a fairly new job site that allows users to search company websites for job postings, and I’ve found it to be quite intuitive (this isn’t to be confused with LinkedIn, although I’d highly recommend networking there as well). Of course there’s nothing wrong with the more traditional online job sites, but don’t let those be your sole resources. Branch out and prove that you really want it!
Don’t Run out of Steam: Be Persistent
Get out there and follow up after you apply for the job you want! Instead of committing countless job applications to memory, record each one in a spreadsheet (along with the employer’s contact information and the date you applied) and make note of the ones that excite you the most. Then, wait 2-3 business days and follow up on your application. I can’t stress this enough; following up truly makes a difference! I’ve found that phone calls receive better results than emails, but don’t shy away from sending an email if your call isn’t returned.
Also, don’t sit back and twiddle your thumbs once you’ve submitted a few applications. You may feel qualified for the position, but keep in mind there may be fifty other applicants who are just as qualified. Even if you’re confident about a particular job, keep applying for other interesting jobs and continue to follow up no matter what.
Don’t Hide Your Job Search from Others: Be Direct
Tell your friends and family that you’re looking for a job and ask them if they’re aware of any openings. Have you ever heard the expression: “It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know?” While that’s not completely true, it does bear significance to your job search. Many companies value employee referrals over unknown applicants, so vocalizing your employment status could be the key to getting your foot in the door. For example, what if your uncle’s employer decided to expand a department and needed to hire an extra person? If he knew that you were looking for a job, perhaps he could tip you off and urge you to send in your resume and application before anyone else. That’s an advantage you wouldn’t have received if you kept your job search a secret.
Use caution if you’re already employed and pursuing other opportunities, though (especially if Facebook is your primary communication tool and you’re friends with your boss). I’ve heard horror stories about poorly-targeted Facebook status updates that bring about firings, and you don’t want to be in that situation.
After all is said and done, YOU are the one who has to make things happen with your job and career search. If you’re not happy with the way things are, then change them! I wouldn’t be writing this right now if I hadn’t taken advantage of the amazing resources available to me, and I’m eternally grateful. Unfortunately, there’s no magic button that will deliver the perfect job to your doorstep. Use your school and your family and friends to establish connections and you’ll go a lot further. Never stop expanding your efforts!
Jill Tooley is the Social Media Marketing Manager and Content Marketing Manager at Quality Logo Products. In addition to overseeing QLP’s social media efforts and composing site content, Jill also manages and writes for the company’s marketing blog.
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