Conquering the job search

Go to college and you will get a better job. That’s the promise that inspires young high school students to spend four years and thousands of dollars on a bachelor’s degree.

The knowledge and experience that you gain in the semi-independent years after high school are undeniably valuable, but no one hands you a job offer with your diploma. What can be even more frustrating is that the job market is oversaturated at the end of May every year. Recent graduates are eager for any entry-level position, and employers have the cream of the crop to choose from.

A dozen times I have found myself in a black hole on job posting sites at 2 a.m. wondering when it became so difficult. It’s in these wee hours that I fiddle with regret, before dozing off with my computer still open on my lap.

As they say, the hardest part of the job search is getting your foot in the door. There seem to be a few techniques that work better than others.

If you can get a head start with an internship, you are definitely in a position to be hired. Employers want to hire people who they know can get the job done and who mesh well with the office community. If you’re already there, then ask about postgraduate opportunities.

Senior Austin Jacobs has been interning at Illumina for the past year and knew that he wanted to stay with the company in a full-time position after graduation. He took an opportunity to tell his supervisor and is in the process of negotiating an offer right now.

“I pretty much just said, ‘Hey, I want to work here after graduation really badly. I feel I’ve been doing a good job and filling in gaps. When I’m not here, a bunch of projects don’t get done and puts us behind the eight ball as a department and a business. You are the person I want to work for because you push me to learn and outgrow outside of my comfort zone. Other companies are trying to hire me, but this is where I want to be.’ He said, ‘Ok, I agree with that. Let’s see how we can go about getting you an offer.’”

While Jacobs was very fortunate, we can’t all intern at our dream company. Some students are forced to compete with everyone else who scrolls through the job boards. To make your resume stand out, you might try something different.

If you’re feeling really confident, you might take the approach of a college graduate who boldly relocated from Lithuania to San Francisco in hopes of working for a tech company. To get through the front doors, he has dressed up dozens of times as a Postmates delivery man and delivered donuts along with a message that reads, “Most resumes end up in trash. Mine—in your belly.” So far, he has landed over 10 interviews out of the stunt, according to an interview with Business Insider.

For those of us who aren’t bold enough to recreate the viral pitch, there are creative ways to get noticed without shoving your resume in front of someone. Personally, I have had astronomical success with informational interviews, including a few job offers. What started as a class assignment turned into my plan for building a post-graduate network.

Professor T. O’Rourke, who assigns informational interviews as part of his Interviewing and Negotiating class, explained the purpose of the assignment.

“Professional contacts are much more likely to agree to meet with students who are looking for information, rather than those who are just looking for a job,” O’Rourke said. “By asking if they can spare 20 minutes to answer questions about their experience, a student taps into a human desire to help others.”

You have to be genuine, and you should never expect anything beyond information out of it. Often these connections will go above and beyond. Sometimes that means offering their network as a resource and introducing you to more successful individuals, and sometimes it means a job offer with their company.

“The research shows that a large portion of professional jobs are never publicly listed or advertised, but instead filled through established networks.” O’Rourke said. “So informational interviews are invaluable for tapping into these networks, and building one’s circle of contacts.”

Regardless of the results of your informational interview, be sure to show appreciation with a handwritten thank you. If you decide to enter this career field, you will probably cross paths with this person again and you want to make the best impression that you can.

No matter how you get your foot in the door to secure the interview, don’t get too comfortable. Invest time in preparation and practicing. That is key, according to O’Rourke.

“No one expects to be an expert swimmer the first time they jump in a pool. With each interview and negotiation, we gain experience, knowledge, and confidence.”

Don’t let the job hunt get you down. Get organized, be persistent, use your creativity, and say thank you to anyone who takes the time to look at your resume, even if they can’t offer you a job. Good luck to my fellow soon to be college graduates.

By Brooklyn Dippo, Editor in Chief