Whether you are a recent graduate or on the verge of completing your college degree, and no matter how much relevant experience you have under your belt, the graduate job market is an extremely competitive place.
My co-worker Janet, CI Program Assistant, said: “If you’re not tough enough, New York is going to chew you up and spit you back out!” What did she mean by that, exactly?
You’ve probably already applied to at least one job in your life that you didn’t end up getting. Rejection from a few more only adds to the gradual build-up of resentment towards the job search. So, how do you combat that feeling of helplessness when it comes to landing the dream position?
Here are some steps that you can take to further your chances at landing a full-time position:
LESSON #1: NETWORK AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
An easy one, you think. Speaking with people in your industry at networking events or even in restaurants you eat at. But then again, it is not only about talking, but also about what you say to those people. The challenge is to find the right balance between passion for a certain field and professional restraint, meaning that it would be disadvantageous for you if you seem too needy.
Keeping this in mind, show your worth, highlight your skills and your work experience so far. It will no doubt look good if you also emphasize how passionate you are about a certain brand or field of business. But also try bringing across that you do have other options and are an invaluable employee for potentially many companies. Finding the right balance isn’t always easy, but practicing this will make you less nervous and more self-assured.
LESSON #2: ALWAYS IMPROVE YOUR SKILLS
Whilst already interning in a city full of opportunities, make use of your time and learn as many new skills as possible.
Talk to your supervisor about opportunities to learn more and improve. For example, if you are working for a marketing company right now, ask about online classes in marketing or even just a run-through of associated projects from your supervisor. Another way to improve your skills is to take initiative and make use of the array of classes on offer online or in person in your chosen city.
LESSON #3: PERFECT YOUR CV
Right now, most of you probably have a standard CV that is saved in several folders on your laptop and also backed up in the Cloud. That’s great. But do you regularly pull up your CV and work on it, not only when you need to put a new bullet point or work experience on there?
A Curriculum Vitae should reflect who you are, your work experience and your relevant skills on one single page. Recruiters don’t have much time to look at each resume, so yours has to be clear, concise and shouldn’t contain any fluff.
Dr. John Sullivan, hiring expert and President of John W. Sullivan Communications LLC, calls the time a recruiter spends looking at your resume your “six seconds of fame”. Six seconds, a number that sounds awfully small, is the average time a recruiter takes to read your resume, according to a study conducted by TheLadders, an online job-matching service.
Make use of these six seconds and create a polished, up-to-date CV. CI’s CV drop-in and CV surgery sessions will also help you with that.
LESSON #4: STAY OPEN TO ALL OPPORTUNITIES
Unfortunately, the business world doesn’t offer jobs on a silver platter; we’ve already established that.
This also means that you’re probably not going to find an entry-level job at your dream company with your desired compensation and your desired field in your chosen city straight away. You might have to branch out and add more locations, tasks and job titles to your job search.
Here is an example: If you are in the media industry and your ultimate goal is a job as an Editor for the New York Times, don’t meet up with a recruiter and say just that. Even though it is good to have big goals, you might have to be patient and work your way up with different jobs before landing your dream job. When a recruiter asks you about your options, list as many as possible. Go into fields that you have never worked in before and also - and this is going to hurt - be flexible with salary. You will almost definitely end up learning a thing or two in other fields that are transferrable skills for your dream job.
LESSON #5: REACH OUT FEARLESSLY
Don’t be afraid to reach out to potential employers, recruiters or other people associated with your company of choice.
A quick, professional e-mail with your CV attached doesn’t hurt and you have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. This is one of the ways you can stand out. It shows initiative and your willingness to actually fight for a job. Remember, with so many applications rolling in, recruiters and HR managers don’t have much time to look at each and every CV. This is a way you can make yourself known and stand out from the crowd.
LESSON #6: FIND WAYS TO STAND OUT
What I mean by standing out relates to Number 5 on this list. By emphasizing skills or experiences of yours that have been different, you can make yourself memorable during an interview and your CV.
Also, some of your leisure activities or fun things you have done in the past might have taught you lessons that are useful in your future job. As sad as it sounds, solid work experience and a bachelor’s degree just don’t cut it anymore when it comes to landing a job.
Try this instead: Look at your contact’s LinkedIn profile and find out which activities they have been involved in apart from their professional life. This might be them enjoying yoga classes or having spent six months in New Zealand travelling.
Try to find a connection with them on that level. Maybe you did a tour around Southeast Asia two years ago. Whilst that doesn’t directly relate to the job you’re going to be doing, it helps to make yourself memorable in case of an interview and you can casually work that info into the conversation. They will most definitely respond with a story about their New Zealand trip and boom, you have made a connection on another level. After all, hiring managers are humans as well and do enjoy a nice chat once in a while.
Find ways to stand out in a special way, which don’t always have to relate to your professional life. Reach out to potentially valuable connections, like recruiters and HR managers. Stay motivated and try not to build up resentment towards the job search. Create a perfect CV that shows your relevant experience and skills. Keep it up and you will be able to reap the rewards!