By Mary Bloomer
Companies that recruit on-campus are actively looking for students from YOUR school! Your odds of (a) getting an interview, and (b) getting hired are higher than in any other approach to your job search. That’s why you need to start your job search RIGHT NOW! One of the best and easiest ways to find a job is right in front you, right on campus! Help companies find you by going to (and introducing yourself at!) their informational sessions and submitting your resume for an interview slot. Make the recruiting process work for you!On-campus recruiting offers college seniors a great opportunity to land their first job. Finding your first job can be tough under the best of circumstances. Add the demands of schoolwork and an active social schedule (yes, we realize that it’s not all studying, all the time!) and many seniors feel overwhelmed by the prospect of finding that first job.
- Don’t wait until after the holidays. Most large firms that hire ‘classes’ of college graduates begin the recruiting process in the early fall (October) and will be largely done with the recruiting process by February. Whether a company comes to your campus or not, if it is of a reasonable size, chances are they do their college recruiting in the fall. The recruiting “season” is short — don’t miss it! Become well acquainted with your on campus career center’s recruiting calendar.
- Give yourself enough time to figure out what you want to do. You need to decide what fields interest you — and then research targeted industries and specific companies. There are lots of terrific online resources, such as Hoovers and the Vault guides, to get you started on understanding industries and companies. Definitely attend on-campus company information sessions — even if you are not sure that it is the company for you — you’re sure to learn something and to make valued contacts. Even if you know what you want to do, the more research you do on targeted companies and positions, the more likely the possibility that you will be able to sell yourself to meet their needs.
- Build top notch “base versions” of your resume and cover letters. To effectively market yourself, you’ll need tailored resumes and cover letters — which usually take several drafts to perfect. Now is the time to perfect your “Base” version of your resume that can be adapted to suit each potential position. Get your resume written early and you’ll be able to act quickly as opportunities develop! (See for our blog on Resume Writing Tips!)
- Practice Your Interview Skills. Good interviewing takes practice — the more the better. If you begin honing your interview skills now, you’ll be prepared when that perfect opportunity presents itself! Many typical interview questions are obvious: “Tell me about yourself,” or “What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?” These types of questions should become a slam dunk for you! Practice with a friend!
- Your schedule isn’t going to get any easier. In my experience working with numerous college seniors, your schedule gets busier as the year progresses. Whether it’s familiarizing yourself with your school’s recruiting calendar or writing a draft of your resume — get started today! Devote these early months of your senior year to your job search - and you may be able to really enjoy your final term at college, knowing you have a job after graduation!
- Networking starts now – even if your ideal employer doesn’t recruit on campus. If you want to work for a smaller firm, be in a more entrepreneurial environment or have interest in a niche industry, now is STILL the time to start networking with organizations you’ve targeted. Many smaller companies use just-in-time hiring and are unlikely to make offers to current students until closer to graduation. However, these types of companies often move fast when they do hire – and they almost always rely upon students they’ve networked with in the past. To network successfully, you will have had to completed steps #2, #3, and #5 above!
- Treat your job search like a class. Pretend your job search is another class, and give it some of your attention each week. This makes the whole process less daunting. A little attention every week — attending a company information session, perfecting your resume, honing your interview skills — and you won’t end up with the dreaded term paper you begin the night before it is due!