First of all don’t be scared. I know it’s intimidating and you feel inadequate and like you’re just a little baby in a sea of power suits. I know I was. Specifically, I was looking to move to a new city, out of Winnipeg and to Toronto (a much more difficult job market) and so the entire process seemed impossible. Although I still don’t have everything figured out, I did learn a lot from the experience and have some lessons to share that will hopefully save you half the stress and tears I went through when trying to find my dream gig. I should note these tips are also applicable to internships and summer jobs, go and get em!
Don’t be scared of salary expectations!
A lot of applications will ask for them, and don’t be afraid to give them. Realize what you have to offer based on your education and experience and do your research on what similar people in your situation are making. A great place to ask about this is your advisors office, they have all sorts of stats on what their grads are making 6-months, and a year post-grad. I would also recommend you give a range, rather than a hard number, it shows that you’re flexible while also giving you room to negotiate your wage when the time comes.
Don’t let the experience requirements scare you off.
Ok obviously if it’s asking for 7-10 years experience, or is a C-suite position, or you’re like a surgeon or something maybe steer clear. But if the positing says 2-3, or even 3-5 years of experience in blank, and you’re not sure if you have that completely, but you’re versed in every other element of the job requirements and you think you could do it, apply anyway! My only advice would be if you do land the interview be prepared to defend why your lack of experience isn’t an issue and why you think you can perform the job despite that fact.
ALWAYS include a cover letter…and ALWAYS personalize it.
I know there’s plenty of job sites out there where they say “cover letter optional”, I see those too. They look so easy and when you’ve applied for 300 jobs already they’re so tempting. BUT DO NOT TAKE THE OPTION TAKE THE COVER LETTER. Not just that, PERSONALIZE THE COVER LETTER. I sound like your boring careers teacher preaching here but I’m serious. I know those “easy apply” buttons on LinkedIn seem great, but you’ll be lost in a sea of other lazy candidates that get screened out almost immediately. Put in the work and you’ll be rewarded.
Apply as close to the source as you can.
When I was undergoing my search, my favourite sites ended up being Indeed and LinkedIn because they gather postings from everywhere and put them all in one place so you’re not site surfing. However, when I found a job I was excited about I would always see if I was able to find the posting on either the company website, or their HR providers website and apply directly from there. Even better, was if there was an email listed that you could directly correspond with, it made the application seem like you’d put in your work and really taken interest in the company itself.
Get your facts straight and study…HARD.
After applying for over 300 positions it can be confusing what positions you’ve applied for where and what they all entail. I kept a journal of the jobs I was applying to each day so I could cross them off as regrets came back, and highlight as phone interview requests came in. Once you know which ones you’ll be interviewing for, either via phone, video, or in-person, make yourself a fact sheet on the company and absolutely scour their website so you know about the company you’re walking into. Go through the job description and requirements and think of a specific element of your experience and/or education that corresponds to each one should they ask about it (and they most likely will). Lastly, answer all the frilly interview questions you know are common and study them. Things like why did you apply for this position? Why are you the best person for the job? and What are your strengths and weaknesses? Are all things that will come up over and over again…so be ready!
Remember that you’re choosing them too.
Don’t forget that you’re choosing where you work too, and they’re trying to make a good impression on you as much as you’re trying to make one on them! Make sure you have at least three questions ready for your interview, and even more if you’re presented with a contract.
Take your time, be patient, and go easy on yourself!
One bad interview or flopped application does not mean you aren’t trying! Make it your job to find a job (I’m talking 9-5 it) and make sure the positions you’re applying for are ones you actually want, rather than just for the sake of applying. Like anything, finding a job takes time, and finding a good job takes even more! So go easy on yourself and be patient with the process.
That’s all I have because in all honesty a lot of it is luck and good timing. Also try and have fun and enjoy this time in your life, because you work for the whole thing!