Once you’re out of university or college, the next step is getting a job. Most research today suggests that the average person will hold around 11 jobs over the course of their lifetime — and that number is only increasing with time.
The first job that you’re hired for after college or university is only a steppingstone, but even with that knowledge, the application process can still be really stressful. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you succeed in your search.
DO build yourself a great resume
The first step in the application process to any job is a resume. There are tons of tips and guides out there, but essentially, you want to highlight your work and personal experience in the simplest way possible.
When you sit down to write your resume, start by jotting down all the jobs that you’ve held, even if they were unpaid. Note all of your responsibilities at each job, big events that you helped out with, or certifications that you achieved. Once you have all the information at hand, organize it into a format that makes sense for you.
There are lots of additional sections that you can add depending on which industry you’re trying to break into. Educational achievements, social media links, technical skills, and certifications are all helpful, depending on the type of jobs you’re applying for.
DON’T lie or exaggerate your skills
Whatever you do, don’t exaggerate or lie on your resume or job application materials.
It may get you in the door, but unless you’re able to teach yourself these skills overnight, your ignorance will be apparent as soon as you get to the interview stage. According to a study by CareerBuilder, 75 percent of HR managers have caught a lie on an applicant’s resume. Not only is lying a huge breach of trust with potential employers, but it could also lead to you being fired years down the line if you get caught.
If you feel like you have to lie to get the job, it’s probably not the right fit for your skills.
DO personalize each application
It’s never been easier to apply to jobs. Many job sites like Indeed allow you to keep a resume on file, so you can apply to jobs with just a few clicks. However, just because you can apply to jobs quickly doesn’t mean that you should. Every application you send out should have a thoughtful cover letter attached, as well as a resume that’s been personalized for that particular job.
Hiring managers read tons of applications, so if it’s clear that the cover letter isn’t tailored to that job, it’s unlikely that they’ll proceed with your application. It’s not the hiring manager’s responsibility to figure out why your skills are a match for the position. It’s your job to lay it out for them, preferably supported by evidence from previous positions.
DON’T rely on only one method of job hunting
Not only is using one method of job-hunting exhausting, but it’s also totally unproductive. Too many people get caught up trawling the same job board every single day and miss out on tons of posts as a result.
If you’re a recent grad, start with your school’s job board (if they have one). It’s a great place to find job listings that are tailored specifically for recent grads or alumni of your school. Then, branch out to looking on sites like Indeed, CareerBuilder, or Idealist. LinkedIn is also a great resource for open jobs.
Networking online or in person can help break up tedious job applications and is a great way to make meaningful connections that could lead to future employment opportunities.
DO use LinkedIn to make connections with potential employers
LinkedIn isn’t just Facebook for the workplace. It’s a fantastic resource for job hunting if you use it correctly.
In a recent interview, the CEO of LinkedIn said that being authentic and keeping your profile up to date are the most important things that you can do to utilize the site in your job search. If you’re just signing up now, use your resume to build an effective profile and add connections using your contact list from Gmail.
If you already have a list of companies you want to work for, follow them on LinkedIn so you’re one of the first people to hear when they have jobs available.
DON’T walk into an interview without practicing first
It’s a good idea to practice once you’ve landed an interview, so you can rehearse your answers and make yourself feel more at ease. Start by researching the company and learning as much as you can about their structure, values, and history.
Many interviewers start by asking you questions about your resume, so go through that and prepare a summary of each employment experience. The goal is to have the information in the forefront of your memory, so you can recall it without too much nervous stammering. Focus on preparation, rather than memorization.
DO dress appropriately for the interview
Unless you know that you’re interviewing at a very informal workplace, it’s best to dress in a conservative, professional outfit. Erring on the side of formal is recommended. No one will fault you for being the most formally dressed in the room, but it will definitely be awkward if you’re underdressed. Being underdressed signals that you don’t understand the atmosphere of the workplace and is a subtle sign that you haven’t prepared enough for the interview.
If you’ve bought new clothes for the occasion, make sure to wash and wear them at least once before the interview day, so you know they’re comfortable. If you’re nervous, lay out your clothes the night before, so everything is ready to go.
DON’T give up on job hunting after a successful interview
One of the hardest things you’ll have to do is go back to the job hunt after a successful interview. It often takes days or even weeks for companies to get back to applicants and that’s a lot of time to waste.
Even if you’re sure you nailed your interview and everything seems promising, there are a lot of steps between a successful interview and your first day of work. Use that motivation and positive energy to fuel your job hunt and don’t stop looking until you’ve signed a contract.
Job hunting can be intimidating, but just remember that a job doesn’t define who you are.
If you’ve just left school and can’t seem to find a job, don’t get caught up in feeling sorry for yourself. Get out there and use these tips to refine your job search, making sure to focus your energy on building a killer resume and thoughtful, targeted cover letters before you start the application process.
While you’re on the hunt, make sure to build in time for self-care. Applying for jobs can be tiring and you won’t succeed if you’re burned out and exhausted. With these helpful tips, you’ll have a great job in no time!