It is crazy to think that exactly one year ago, we were probably rolling out of bed 10 minutes late, grabbing a granola bar and a cup of coffee, and running off to class. Not much has changed since, except now it's risking our lives jaywalking across busy NYC streets and actually showing up to work polished and not out of breath! (Hey, it's the little things in life that make life worth living right?) Now that we have officially completed 4 years of college, 2-3 summer internships, and probably about a hundred job applications combined; we figured it would be valuable to give our two cents on what to do and what it takes to receive a job offer before you graduate. As part of Corporate Classics, here's our first post of our Land it and Love it series.
Our background: We both graduated from our respective business schools with Bachelor of Science degrees in Accounting (Jess has an additional B.S. in Supply Chain Management) Currently, Mel works in the internal audit department in the financial services industry and Jess combined her love for traveling and networking by going into strategic consulting with a Big 4 firm.
Over the past couple of years, we have gained a lot of insight into the world of recruitment and interviewing at the college level, and have given advice to our peers in terms of professional development. We realize that everyone's path is unique and there are hundreds of ways to go about ending up in your dream career, or to be more realistic, in a stable first job that you are excited about. For this reason, we will keep these tips broad, though they are extremely important to keep in mind if you want to come out of college slaying.
Here are a few tips, tricks, and FYI's that we hope will help you LAND IT AND LOVE IT!!
1. START RECRUITMENT EARLY - For those unfamiliar with the recruiting timeline, there are 2 seasons where companies mainly recruit during. The first is during fall from September to late November/early December and the second is during the winter season from January - late March/early April. We believe it is best to start as early as possible, since it takes a little pressure off you of knowing that there is another opportunity to recruit if you do not get a job in the Fall semester. If you do get an offer, then Spring semester will be a breeze! After all, we doubt that anyone wants to spend their last few months of college stressing about jobs instead of enjoying and embracing the limited time left with your closest friends.
2. THE NUMBERS GAME - [Mel] In the Fall semester of my senior year, I submitted almost 50 job applications, and probably received 15 - 20 first round interviews. Even though I was hoping to work for banks in general, I still applied to every application that was relevant to finance or accounting from the food, consumer, and even the pharmaceutical industry. Although they may not have been my top choices, I went ahead and dropped my resume since I knew it is always better to have too many interviews rather than falling short.
It is important to cast a wide net because at the age of 21 - 22, you have all the time in the world to eventually end up in where you want to be. Of course it is best to start off at a job that you love, but everyone has to start somewhere right? The more positions you apply to, the higher your chances are in getting that first round interview, and even if the job may not be what you were initially hoping for, it may surprise you. Or at the very least, can be a valuable opportunity for you to practice your interviewing skills!
3. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR CAREER SERVICES - We know what you're all thinking. You know that they exist, but you really don't think they're useful at all and you would probably end up in the same place whether you used them or not.
[Jess] I worked at my school's career services center for 3 years, and can definitely say that students who land their dream jobs out of college are the ones who are prepared, confident, and well-rounded. Your school's resources are exactly the tools that contribute to these important qualities that employers look for in a prospective candidate. I've had the opportunity to conduct many interviews over the past few years from my job and my involvement in my business fraternity, and it's actually very easy to tell if someone has used certain resources to better sell themselves.
- Resume Reviews: Employers take only a few seconds per resume when scanning through a large pile of candidate portfolios, so you need to make sure that you can strongly convince them to put you through to the next round. Seek professional help in this area, because your resume will be one of the most important paper snapshots of your career. Make an appointment at your school's career center, ask questions, and go back for follow-up visits. Also, make sure to continually update your resume with new positions as necessary, and to keep final resume copies backed up on your computer.
- Career Coaches: No one knows you better than yourself, but sometimes it's really great to talk to somebody who can be more objective and less biased than family members and friends. Seek professional help at your school's career center or external job centers since they have experience working with many students in different industries. They also will have vast knowledge in the recruiting system, and you can make a genuine connection with someone who is invested in your career.
4. GO TO THOSE NETWORKING EVENTS AND PRESENTATIONS - Let's be honest. The last thing we all want to do is get dressed up in business casual hours after class ends to sit through presentations and wait in line with other students to network with professionals or the recruiters of a firm. However, this is probably one of the best ways to land yourself an interview for a job that you actually want, and repetition is the key here. When recruiters see your face time and time again throughout the season at various career fairs, information sessions, and networking events, they will take notice. The same goes for employees and staff working at a firm who come to speak or meet new students. Ask thoughtful questions when the time is appropriate, but also know when to have a quick chat and do some small talk. At the end of the day, everyone talks, and if you leave a good impression, you can be rewarded greatly.
- Start with your friends : For those who are quite shy or those who may feel uncomfortable reaching out to an employee immediately, start networking within your own friend group. Most likely, you will know someone directly, or a friend can introduce you to someone who is able to help pass your resume along or at least give you further insight into some of your questions.
- Get on Linkedin. Even if social media is not your jam, you best believe that a well written Linkedin profile will increase your chances of getting your foot in the door. Recruiters, headhunters, employees are constantly looking at profiles to see if there are potential matches to open positions in their company.
[Mel] In my last semester of college, I received a number of Linkedin messages from recruiters asking me if I was interested in applying and interviewing for a full time position at their company. I never submitted my resume on their job search site myself, but by simply having a descriptive LinkedIn profile, recruiters were able to see prior work experience and thought I would be a potential good fit for the role.
5. WEAR IT PROUD - Penny & Dash is a fashion blog after all, and Corporate Classics began as a way to inspire working women to dress for success. Dress codes and office norms are very different across industries, but what we can say is that what you wear does matter. Recruiters will make a firm impression of you whether you notice or not, and how you portray yourself before you even speak already paints a profile. Depending on the type of event you attend in order to land that first interview, make sure you dress appropriately for the occasion or ask/email someone to find out what the dress code is before you show up. Our motto is that if you have to question the outfit, choose something else. Don't afraid to wear pieces that show off your personality and unique style! It's all about having fun, while keeping it professional.
That wraps up our top TIPS for one of the first steps toward securing that dream job! We continue our Land It and Love it segment next week with our best interviewing tips. Until then, we wish you all the best and good luck with the recruitment process! :)
Land it and Love it will be an ongoing series here on our blog, and we would love to hear what topics you are interested in and would like to read about in future blog posts!
Jess: Dress Shirt - JCrew (similar -Ralph Lauren), Skirt - Ann Taylor (similar), Loft, Heels - DSW
Mel: Dress - J-Crew, Bag - Coach, Flats - Tory Burch