Five tips on how to land a job before graduation
It takes a little perseverance and a lot of planning.
If you’re anything like me, job hunting is a massive pain in the butt.
Rejection emails, less than stellar interviews, or even the dreaded crickets from HR is enough to make anyone recoil in pain and give up on finding a job altogether.
Little did I know that the eight weeks I spent job hunting would teach me a lot of valuable lessons about the working world.
Here’s what I did to land offers from two of my favourite media organisations a month before I graduated:
1. Start early
Ideally, one should start looking for a job a semester before graduation. To make the most of the time I browsed the web for openings, I only applied for jobs that are firstly, positions that I had the relevant skill set for, and secondly, job scopes I would enjoy doing.
From the first to final interviews, and the tests in between, it takes around a month to receive an offer. My advice is to not be complacent and leave the hunting to the last minute.
2. Work while studying
If you can’t take up part-time or freelance jobs all year round, make sure to at least take on internships during school breaks. Most importantly, ensure that these jobs are relevant to the career that you want to embark on after graduation.
Don’t be afraid to try different industries too, to get a better feel of what you’re really good at. Having working experience bolsters your resume, giving your application a chance at catching the eye of the hiring manager.
3. Take risks with your portfolio
While freelancing, I tried my hand at some of the most unexpected stories I could find – including investigating what happens to abandoned COVID-19 patients, and what female athletes thought about the Taliban’s ban on women’s sports. These articles made my journalism portfolio stand out, and brought me a step closer to landing an interview.
So whether you’re a computer science major or an aspiring marketing professional, the principle is the same. Have interesting and unique projects under your belt to set you apart from the rest of the graduates looking for entry-level positions.
4. Tailor your cover letter
For each of the four companies I applied to for full-time positions, I tailored my cover letter to match what they were looking for, making reference to their descriptions of the ideal candidate, and highlighting the skills and experiences they valued the most.
Instead of relying on online cover letter websites, I made it my own, showcasing not only my personality but work ethos. Simply put, scrap the cookie-cutter letters and tell the hiring manager something they won’t find in your resume.
5. Focus on quality, not quantity
While some career coaches might encourage you to apply to five positions everyday, I find that advice counterproductive. While sending mass applications may land you a job, it’s bound to be one that you may not like the best.
Focus on improving the quality of your cover letter, resume, portfolio and even your interview skills instead. Build up a personal brand and make sure it shines through during the application process.
While finding a job during the pandemic is a tall order, keep a positive attitude and always give your best. And in the face of rejection, accept and learn from it with grace. The best of luck to all young job hunters out there!