Applying for jobs can be a stressful and time-consuming process. That’s why the MSL program recently invited alumni of the program to share their job search tips and strategies with our students. Here are the top 10 takeaways from the panel:
- Take the time to figure out what you want. Spend time understanding what types of positions and roles you are interested in. Ask yourself why you’re applying to a position; if you don’t have a good answer, it may be that the position is not a good fit for you.
- Stay organized. Find a way to organize yourself in your career search. You can take notes on all your interactions with potential employers, track the application status of jobs you have applied to, or create a plan for yourself as to the number of jobs you want to apply to each week.
- Apply for reach positions. Often times, job descriptions can seem overwhelming and you may not think you should apply if you don’t meet all the criteria. As a rule of thumb, if you have about 70% of the qualifications listed, it’s probably worth your while to apply for the position.
- Personalize your materials. Make sure your resume and cover letter are tailored for each position you apply to so that the reader feels like your materials are aimed at the job and organization you are applying to. You should tailor your cover letter (or even just your introduction and conclusion) and include key words from the job description to address the role you are applying for and revise your resume to highlight your skills that are specific to the position.
- Emphasize how you can benefit the employer. Although you are looking for a job, an employer wants someone who can add value to their organization. Don’t spend all your time saying why the job is a good fit for you – make sure you emphasize what the organization will gain from hiring you and how you will help the organization thrive.
- Practice, practice, practice! It is to your benefit to always be prepared – you never know when you might meet someone that can be helpful in your career search. Participate in mock interviews so that you are comfortable answering questions, have your elevator pitch ready so that you can easily and succinctly talk about yourself, your background and skills, and what you are looking for, and do your research (via the internet, LinkedIn or otherwise) on the organization and individual that you are going to meet.
- Have a goal for each conversation you have. Have a purpose in mind before starting any interaction. Whether you want to set up an in-person meeting as a follow-up to a phone call or get an introduction to someone else at the organization, knowing your goal before you speak with someone can help guide you, especially if things get off track.
- Be proactive in your job search. If you know someone at an organization you’re interested in, reach out to them for a preliminary call/coffee chat. If you don’t have a contact, find someone who is external facing at the organization (usually in Human Resources or Business Development) and reach out. Expressing your interest in a company can be helpful as all companies don’t necessarily post all their openings. It’s even possible that a company might create a position for someone they know is interested.
- Follow through. After you apply for a position, send a follow-up email saying that you have applied for the job and state that you are interested in finding out more and would like to schedule a conversation to discuss the position in greater detail. If you end up not getting a position you applied to, consider asking for feedback from the Human Resources department so that you can revise your approach going forward.
- Stay positive. Career searching can be an emotionally intense process, because you can spend a lot of time and energy and not necessarily get the results you want every time. Keep your head up, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that this process is a marathon, not a sprint.
To all readers who are in the midst of job applications, we wish you the best of luck!