To the class of 2013 – congratulations! Whether you recently walked across the stage, or will be accepting your diploma in the coming weeks, it’s time to celebrate your achievements and toast to your years as an undergrad.
Graduation season is an exciting time, and as you look to what’s next, here are 13 ways to take what you’ve learned and put it toward the job hunt:
When you’re hunting for the right opportunity
1. Have them at hello
When applying via email, unless you are provided with a desired subject line for the application, choose a subject that is eye-catching and informative. Include your last name and the position you are applying for, and if possible, mirror the tone of the original job description in your subject line.
2. Be succinct
Keep your cover letter and your resume to one page each and try to have them complement each other. Think of a cover letter as your opportunity to share the details and experience that you couldn’t include or expand upon in your resume.
3. Go custom
Don’t use the same cover letter for a wide range of positions and applications. You don’t need to rethink the wheel every time you apply, but try to customize your cover letter for the position you are applying for and include details from the job posting that make you stand out as an especially good fit for the job.
4. Read, edit, repeat
Think of every email, voicemail, cover letter, and thank you note as an extension of an interview. When communicating online, include a salutation and complementary close in a nicely formatted message to leave a strong impression each and every time your name appears in someone’s email Inbox.
5. Make friends with “Save As”
Save a formal copy of your resume and cover letter as a PDF with your last name in the title line. Also, be mindful of what title you choose when saving and remember to update it since your last round of edits. (Example: Atwell_Resume.pdf versus Resume for class_edited.doc )
6. Don’t rely on spell check
Yes, spell check is your friend, but spell check is often more of a frenemy who will deceive and mislead you. I suggest copy-pasting emails into a word document to use spell check before sending, but also do a final read-through yourself for anything Microsoft might have missed.
7. Understand your privacy settings
Use social media to your advantage, and make sure that a Google search of your name brings up positive results and images, or at least keeps the NSFW items private from potential employers.
8. Embrace the details
Don’t just say you pay attention to detail—actually pay attention to detail! Skipping punctuation, missing grammatical errors, attaching the wrong cover letter, or misspelling the company name are simple mistakes that can move your application down the list of potential candidates…or off the list altogether.
When you’re prepping for an interview
9. Practice, practice, and practice again
If you land an interview, research possible interview questions and think about your answers beforehand to get in the right frame of mind. If you’re unfamiliar with the area you’ll be driving to, map out your route to the interview in advance and give yourself more time for transit and parking than you think you’ll need. To ensure you’ll be physically comfortable, try on your outfit the night before and practice walking, sitting, and standing to make sure you can move easily. If you’re nervous about speaking during the interview, practice answering questions in front of a mirror to understand your body language and hand gestures. And finally, brainstorm questions you want to ask and learn about your interviewer as much as possible before you meet in person.
10. Ask genuine questions
Think outside the box and ask questions that will really allow you to learn about the position, the company, and the people you will be working with. The ideal position is one that is a good fit for both the employer and employee so take advantage of your time in an interview to soak up as much information about the job opening, and the company, as possible.
11. Sell your strengths, understand your weaknesses
Understand what makes you a strong candidate and look at your weaknesses as opportunities to grow. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself as the perfect candidate. Remember, every “weakness” is a challenge asking to be overcome!
When you’ve made it through an interview:
12. Say thank you
Whether it’s a handwritten card or an email, always say thank you with a personal message. This leaves a positive impression with employers and provides a nice reminder of your qualifications when they are reviewing all the applications after the interview phase. Plus, who doesn’t need a little good karma during a job hunt?
13. Don’t get discouraged!
In a competitive job market, don’t get discouraged if you do not move to the next round or receive an immediate offer. An employer’s timeline might be different than yours; stay busy and keep your feelers out so that if one opportunity doesn’t pan out, you’re already knocking on the next door that might open.