Several months ago, when I was still in college, I remember applying for job after job after job, trying my damned hardest to get noticed by someone. It's certainly no easy task for almost any undergrad. I had a lot of experience on my résumé, but then again, so did much of my competition — journalism is a tough field to break into.
After days of endless applications and nerve-wracking interviews, I landed a job at POPSUGAR . . . before I had even graduated! I was elated to have been accepted to such a big brand in women's lifestyle media. I dedicated so much time to the job hunt, and it had paid off in the best way.
True, the majority of college students don't have a job lined up for them. One study from last year said that only 16.6 percent of college seniors surveyed had gotten a single full-time job offer. But since you're amazing and unique and driven to a "T," we know you can beat the odds and snag a job fresh out of school. Here's how to do it.
1. Create a résumé that stands out.
If your résumé is boring (aka, you're using too-small Times New Roman and placing your text in the most basic format EVER), it's time to spice it up — with both design and your words. "This doesn't mean you must have amazing work experience," says Jane Miller, CEO and founder of JaneKnows.com. "It means you need to tell your work and education story in a compelling way that highlights your unique accomplishments. Did you work at a restaurant during summer holidays? That's a great way to talk about your customer service experience. Use action words. Check for typos and grammar. Your résumé is YOU on paper!"
Check out this tutorial for inspiration on creative résumé.
2. Learn what you bring to the table.
Make a list of your abilities — what did you learn in or outside of school? (Be sure to add these strengths to your résumé, too!) "Recent grads don't always know their skills because they don't have the extensive work experience other professionals have," says Hallie Crawford, career coach and founder of HallieCrawford.com. "Think about what courses you excelled in during college. Identify skills and interests based on those classes and where you excelled in them." Crawford also recommends interviewing professors, parents, friends, and family about what your skills are — different perspectives mean a wide range of answers, and a bigger skill-set!
3. Use any and all connections.
Miller says that sending your résumé to the HR inbox at a company usually gets you nowhere. "But if that same résumé is forwarded to someone in the company who can then send it to the person who runs that inbox — well, you have a great shot!" she says. "Go on LinkedIn and see who you know who knows someone at the company that interests you. Reach out and ask to buy them a coffee!" Because Starbucks would win anyone over . . . right?
Crawford recommends asking teachers, friends, and family for networking connections: "Be very professional when leveraging them!" she says.
4. Conduct informational interviews to learn more about jobs and industries.
FYI: The purpose of an informational interview is to collect insight on a specific profession or field — which can be infinitely helpful for any student. "Don't ask [the company] for a job," Crawford says. "Ask them for information. Conduct yourself professionally when you talk with them, prepare questions, and research their industry in advance so you are prepared." Don't forget to write down everything you learned!
5. Don't worry if you don't land your dream job right out of school.
So you didn't get that PR job at that huge New York firm you were aiming for — that's OK! "Any and all jobs that you will have in your career will contribute to telling your great story," Miller says. "Once you get that first full-time job, you can develop a track record that will give you confidence to find the next (and better) job. Just show up with passion for doing good work and the mindset that this will lead to something even greater."
6. Don't give up.
Rarely does a collegiate land a job after the first application sent. More often than not, the job hunt becomes very exasperating and can feel never-ending . . . they key is not to give up, even when you want to the most. "It is daunting to go into interview after interview feeling that they have the job and you want the job," Miller says. "Put lots of lines in the water and be tenacious. And remember to learn something about yourself from every interview. You will just get better and better at explaining about fabulous you!"