It takes patience, aggressiveness, and perseverance to land your dream job. Here’s how. by Rochelle Sterling
For the first time in a long time, the job market is in better shape and the chances of being hired look fairly favorable. Prospects are flooding the inboxes – both physical and virtual – of employers daily with their resumes and cover letters. The process of finding a job is like fishing, your resume being the bait.
For most employers, your resume is the first step in a long getting-to-know-you process and deciding whether you are a good fit for a position and company. “A professional resume, tight cover letter, and personal statement are a MUST for students looking to be considered as serious candidates,” says Rhea Christian, associate director of recruitment at CCNY. She adds the CCNY Career Center provided resume services for up to one full year after graduation.
The Career Center’s Fatima Abbas says that fishing in the right body of water makes all the difference. In other words, it is more difficult to stand out in a heavily saturated area. Websites such as CareerBuilder.com, Monster.com, and SnagAJob.com allow you to create an online profile, post your resume, and specify your field of interest. Employers then sift through resumes based on the qualifications they require and the demands of the positions they wish to fill.
The problem with Career Builder and Monster, according to Abbas: They spend so much money on advertising that their popularity dilutes the quality of applicants to their sites. She suggests lesser-known websites such as SnagAJob.com tend to attract more ambitious prospects.
Catching the big fish might require going out on a boat rather than sitting on the dock with your fishing line dangling in the water. Some companies strictly use recruiters and/or the services of search engines like Career Builder to find applicants. However, Abbas stressed the importance of applying to the companies of interest with a personalized cover letter. It should address the company and position specifically, which will set you apart from other applicants. “Students rarely look directly at companies,” says Abbas.
Students who join clubs or affiliations are afforded countless opportunities to network in different ways. Members of affiliations, such as the Public Relations Student Society of America or the Society of Physics Students are privy to job alerts that are otherwise unavailable, or less accessible, to the general public. Abbas reiterates the age-old adage: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. “Word of mouth is still the best way to put yourself out there,” she says.
Typically, big fish are more appealing and attract the most attention. However, big fish don’t always have big names. According to Christian, students should look beyond the names of companies. “[Students] see names like ‘Sherwin Williams’ and ‘CVS’ and automatically translate them as ‘paint store’ and ‘drugstore’. But they forget to look at the job descriptions and room for growth.” Most jobs out of college are entry-level positions where employees are able to shine and eventually earn promotions.
Christian and Abbas advise that students know the recruitment cycles of their target companies and find job search engines that are devoted to their industry of interest to better their chances of employment. “Start looking around five to six months in advance,” says Christian. Additionally, students who are willing to relocate have a slight advantage, depending on the job.
All in all, employment numbers are going up. “I’m optimistic that the job situation is improving. Employers are hiring for more positions than last year,” says Christian. A good fisherman doesn’t always have to catch many fish; he simply knows which fish to catch. Good luck, and happy hunting!