In a world of unpaid internships, life after graduation may seem a bit tough for the average job-searching student. The thing is, the skills you pick up in the university are usually not the only thing you’ll need for career success – writing papers and multiple choice tests is all fine and dandy, but that doesn’t really predict your success in the workplace. There are, however, some things you can learn which will make the job search much easier.
1. Focus on one job at a time
You’d be excited to hear that (or highly disappointed) when assessing a job-searching student, what the manager looks at is not your GPA. According to data-crunching done by Google, there is absolutely no correlation between a high GPA and workplace success. What they do look at, however, is how invested you are in your search. Whether the student is actually trying his best to get the specific job, or if he’s just applying to a bunch of them, and hoping for the best. What this means for you, is to do your research. Before applying to a large company, you might want to find out how things are done there (the easiest way to do this is through GlassDoor.
Learn about the company culture, the competition, and about the industry in general. You could check out the company’s about us page for the general information, or for the specifics, comments on the company from ex-employees on GlassDoor. In addition, you could also look up the interviews of the founders – the more you know the better. There’s a good chance that the interviewer might ask what aspect of their company’s activities excite you the most and why. Even if that doesn’t happen, you’ll still seem more knowledgeable and confident. In addition, rather than going wild and sending your resume to every job opening you find, you could focus on a handful per week. Tailoring your resume and cover letter for each position makes it much more likely to get you hired.
At Enhancv, for our premium services, we ask our clients to name 3 of their favourite companies, and then tailor the resumes specifically for those. As a result, over 81% of our customers get invited to an interview in either their first or second choice – just because we make that extra step of customizing the application for the specific company.
2. Impress them with your resume
Crafting a resume is the nightmare for most job-searching students. While a minority of them have some work experience, the majority is stuck with some minor school projects and extracurricular activities. Staring at their blank resume in despair, thinking what else is there to fill besides their education? The answer to that comes off a bit surprising for most – most employers aren’t really expecting a lot of work experience from a job-searching student. What they are looking for is willingness to learn, and for them to actually be a good culture fit for the company. That means that if you can properly show your personality through the resume, you’re pretty much guaranteed an interview. There are a number of ways to do that, such as mentioning your key strengths, life principles, books that influenced you, etc.
Anything goes, there’s no set standard for a resume – the only thing that counts is whether this really describes who you are. What you shouldn’t do, however, is use fluff words. When you don’t have a lot to fill in your resume, there might be a temptation to fill them with generalities, such as “Great at critical thinking”, “open-minded” or “team-oriented”. These words, as you already know, don’t really mean anything. The HR also knows that, you know that, and so does literally anyone who looks at your resume. If you do want to include buzzwords, have something to back them up – you’re good at critical thinking, and you’ve done x, y, and z, which backs up your claim. In such a case, if you don’t get hired, you shouldn’t even be disappointed – you probably just weren’t’ a good culture fit for the company, and wouldn’t have liked working there anyway.
3.Ace the interview
This part may seem a bit scary for most job-searching students, especially the ones who don’t have any previous job experience. You’d be surprised to learn, however, that most interviewers actually ask the same questions. For example, “what would you consider your biggest strength and weakness?” or even quirkier ones, “if you had a choice, what would you pick as a superpower?”. For the quirkier questions, you need to provide an even quirkier answer. Maybe mention how you would manipulate the stock market in the past using time travel to become the richest man in the world? Or you could use the power of mind-reading in order to achieve world dominion?
Many career advice websites recommend being confident and in charge during an interview. Saying that, however, doesn’t help one bit. You don’t just grow confidence out of nowhere, right before an interview. Rather, be prepared. Prepare a list of the interview questions that they’re most likely to ask, and prepare set answers for them. Getting to rehearse the answers and the tone with someone you know beforehand can take you a long way. Even if you flunk an interview or two, you’ll have gained some experience with the process, highly increasing the chances of getting hired.
4. Put yourself in the shoes of the employer
The formula for success with the job search is remembering the fact that the employers are people too. Before submitting your resume or cover letter anywhere, try re-reading it from a different perspective. Ask yourself, does this make sense? Is this original and novel? The usual answer for this is no, meaning that you need to do more research. In fact, while doing interviews for a small project, me and a co-worker discovered that out of 15 student, only 2 were decent. The rest of them had either very plain resumes, or cover letters copy pasted from Google. When you realize that most of your peers are as clueless as you, creating a resume that stands out doesn’t seem so hard anymore.
Following all the above-mentioned advice may seem a bit hard at first, and it may take some practice to get the hang of everything. After all, reading an article doesn’t instantly make you an expert at job-search. However, after an interview or two, you’ll be wondering how you had difficulties with the process in the first place. And finally, remember that going out of your way to look for advice online, already puts you one step ahead on the path to scoring that sweet sweet internship. We bet on that.
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