Four years have flown by. After papers, projects, and exams (oh my), you are ready to get that diploma and move into the work force; that is, you and hundreds of others. So, how do you distinguish yourself from the competition to get that dream job you worked so hard to prepare for? While preparing for a career in education, I have spoken a great deal with the career development people on how to take those first important steps when applying for a job. So, here are 6 tips I have picked up along the way to land your dream job!
1. More is more.
Applying for a job can be a pain, but we are no longer in a bartering economy. Therefore, we need jobs. So, suck it up and do the work. Fill out as many applications as you can. There really is strength in numbers. If you have an online application that you have to fill out, I suggest making a word document with all your important information, having it open as you fill it out, and copying and pasting your information. If you have to print out an application, then type up the answers on Word so they can clearly read your handwriting. Bonus: it looks cleaner and more professional.
2. Things aren’t always black and white.
For most jobs, you will need a résumé. The bright side is once you have a resume, you’ll only need to do very minor changes to it for every job you apply to. In other words, you won’t have to rewrite it every time. A great thing to have on your résumé is a link to your Linkedin page or online portfolio to show a positive online presence. Employers look at your résumé for about six seconds, so having one that they will remember is vital. Lucky for us ESU students, the Career Development Center has some great examples of résumés for many different majors. Another tip when writing your résumé is to brand yourself. I recommend using your header—your name, phone number, email, etc—to create a brand. A great way to make a lasting impression is using color, especially in your header. Also, the people at the Career Development Center are awesome at looking over your résumé for you.
3. Separate yourself from the rest.
Along with a résumé, employers are also looking for a dynamic cover letter that separates you from everyone else that wants the job. There are specific things that go into your cover letter. The Career Development Center has some great guidelines and examples. The best thing you can do for your cover letter is to personalize it. Employers want to get to know you so give specific characteristics and examples. If the company is interviewing 20 candidates and they all have similar cover letters about how they have a Bachelor’s in this and experience in that, what would make them remember you? Also, be sure to include key words that reiterate what the job description is looking for. If the employer wants a good communicator, then be a good communicator. The Career Development Center will also advise you on your cover letter. I recommend having professionals who have been in charge of hiring before such as an old boss you are still close with, a professor, etc look over your cover letter to check for any possible errors.
4. The event of a life time.
You can begin to look for a job while still in school. Attend one of the many Career expos hosted by ESU’s Career Development Center. I know, I mention them a lot…but they really are incredibly helpful. You can attend, especially if you are doubting your major, to talk to professionals in your field. But, for more serious candidates, it is a great place to network. Bring your A Game by dressing up, researching the different companies, and perfecting your “elevator speech.” It would also benefit you to get some business cards made. I recommend using Vistaprint because they are cheap and have many different templates. If you want a more local option instead of delivery, then Staples will work as well. If you come into any professional environment as a student with a business card, you are sure to impress.
5. Nail that interview.
You have impressed the hiring manager with your résumé and cover letter, and you got that interview. Don’t blow it! Impress your interviewer by being the most professional and prepared candidate.
Prepare answers to common questions ahead of time.
The Career Development Center website has a great list of common questions you can expect to get. For the tougher questions, such as what is your greatest weakness, I suggest researching possible answers and putting your own spin on them with anecdotes. Another very important thing to do to nail that interview is to ask questions as well. This technique can make or break your interview so spend some time and prepare some questions.
Research the company for more personalized questions.
Otherwise, there are some great interview questions on the Career Development Website. Some other things to remember are to dress professionally and be courteous and respectful. Practice a firm handshake and have good eye contact. Also, if you do not understand a question, feel free to ask them to elaborate; they will respect you more if you do. I also recommend bringing with you a copy of your résumé and cover letter. For a recent interview, I also included an article about why English majors—my major—are the hot new hire. If you are trying to get hired at a place that is different than what your major would usually be used for, try to find something that helps reiterate why you are the perfect candidate.
6. A thank you goes a long way.
Finally, after your interview, it is important to follow up with a thank-you note. If the employer is stuck between two candidates, differentiate yourself by sending a thank you note. Not only will it remind them of who you are, they will be surprised at your professionalism. There are two types of follow ups you can choose from: the email or the handwritten note. If you found out that you will be hearing from them in the next few days, they may not get your hand written note in time, so perhaps an email may be in order. I bought some blank Hallmark thank you cards. Simply thank them for their time and maybe include something that you connected with in the interview. Do not skip this important step because if the other person does a follow-up, you may have just lost your dream job.
What are some other tips our readers should know about to land your dream job? Comment below and share this article with friends!
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Jenny Bront is a senior English Major at ESU. She loves literature, writing, and latin dance. Her biggest goal in life is to set the record for craziest cat lady.