What I wish I had known about getting a job

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Outside the door of the Office of Personal Career Development. Photo by Emily Ashman

After meeting graduates of a wide range of schools, I can say that UD succeeds in educating her graduates to a very high standard. You are participating in an education equal to or better than students from the biggest name universities upon leaving UD. Unfortunately, an area where we noticeably fall short is teaching students how to showcase their knowledge and abilities to potential employers to land the best jobs. 

The first step in showcasing yourself is to avoid mistakes. One of the fundamental mistakes that can torpedo a job hunt before it has started is not knowing when companies are interested in hiring. 

The big hiring cycle begins in the fall. Many companies begin soliciting applications in September or October to hire new graduates in May. If you don’t apply for these postings, you will have missed opportunities and will have to compete with more people for the opportunities that are still available later in the year.

Freshmen, sophomores and juniors may be thinking at this point, “I have until senior year to find a job in my field.” This is also a mistake. Many of the best entry-level jobs are actually filled by students who have had previous internships at the company. These positions are snatched up long before the position is formally posted. 

Internships are filled in the fall. You will benefit if you get an internship before your senior year, as your applications for internships will help you in your first round of postcollegiate applications. Failing to try for internships sets you on a harder path to a good job after graduation.

A fundamental part of showcasing your abilities is your resume. However, hiring managers are not interested in teasing out information from a resume as they may have to go through several hundred resumes for a single posting. 

Funny format? Misspelling anywhere? Unclear relationship between applicant and job description?  The hiring manager may discard your resume on any of these grounds. Your resume should quickly and clearly communicate your qualifications for the position to the hiring manager.  

If you are a student who has not applied for internships, and you have a resume that was last updated in high school, what do you do? Start! Look at model resumes for your field and have your friends, the career center or (best of all) a contact who already works in the field revise it. 

Think broadly here, contact family friends, parents of classmates, alumni you may have met at Groundhog— anyone! If you have such a contact, they may also be able to get your resume in front of the right person to get you favorable consideration.

When you have a solid resume, just start applying. Apply to anything that vaguely looks like it matches your experience and career interests. Include a cover letter, even if the application doesn’t specify one is needed. Many managers want one. After that, just keep at it. 

I submitted over fifty applications before a company responded, so do not let yourself be discouraged. Just keep trying. Eventually you will get an interview, and then you will be on your way to a great job!

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