There is no standard application process that all employers follow. Most industries do not have a specific time of the year when they post available positions. You will come to realize that employers post new positions continuously. Don't miss out on an opportunity to apply for a job because you weren't ready. We recommend that you begin your dedicated search process 3-4 months in advance of when you hope to start your new job. However, this number of recommended months is also dependent on the economy, your expenses and budget, if you need to relocate, whether your skill-set is in demand, etc. Schedule time each week for job search activities. Make a commitment to yourself to use the time you set aside for job search activities. Create your job search plan.
Identify what skills and abilities you can offer a prospective employer and how you acquired those skills. Did you acquire those skills through your education, internship, volunteer opportunity, and/or a job. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Identify what things interests you and what things don't. Do you want to work part-time or full-time? Maybe you like the idea of contract or freelance work. What type of work schedule do you want to work? How far are you willing to commute to work and what type of work environment and salary do you prefer? These are questions you want to know before you actually begin searching for any open positions.
Write out a list of what you want from your future career. Research jobs in different career fields. Write down a few jobs, companies or careers you would enjoy. Knowing this criteria ahead of time can impact the direction of your search, by helping you to identify potential careers and jobs more clearly. You will also have a general understanding of what you might experience and what people with your skill set and your desired job title make. This research can also help you market yourself more strategically, therefore making you a more competitive applicant. If you are not sure how to narrow down your career goals or feel overwhelmed, don't worry, many students have been in your shoes. You can always reach out to the Career Services Center for help with this process.
You've narrow down your career goals. You've done your research. If you start to see a number of gaps between what employers are looking for on job descriptions and your resume, you may not be ready for that particular role, at this point in time. Reach out to the Career Services Center for help in filling those voids. Sometimes you might need to seek out additional training and/or education to add value to your resume. While other times, you might need to gain the requisite skills at your current place of employment, internship or volunteer opportunity.
The job search process can wear you out. Therefore, it is important to maintain a positive mind-set.
Job applications require a resume/CV, cover letter, and depending on the industry, a portfolio. This can take a lot of time to develop. Make sure these documents are up to date. You will need a separate cover letter and resume for each application, as what you list on these documents must be relevant to each job opening. Don't forget to also contact and identify 3 to 5 people who will agree to serve as your professional reference. It is also helpful to make sure you have at least one professional-looking interview outfit ready to go, practiced your short elevator speech designed to introduce and sell yourself, set up a professional voicemail message, email address and email signature, and determined when you want to notify your current employer.
What you don't realize is that most companies utilize an applicant tracking system (ATS) software. Job applications are now being rejected before even being seen by human eyes. Employers use an ATS to collect, sort, scan and rank applicants they receive for their open positions. The systems scans for specific keywords to determine if the applicant should be pass along to the employer. Therefore, it is important to read the job posting and use keywords in your resume. If the job description states you need experience with x, y, and z, then make sure you list x, y, and z experiences. Make good use of your time and avoid being rejected by an ATS.
Take some time to make sure your online presence (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, etc.) is professional and can help you with your job search search. Your online presence is essentially what someone sees when they look you up online. The internet is forever, so be aware that what you do and say in the cyberspace can follow you throughout your career. There are many people who have lost their jobs because of what they have posted or what others have posted about them. Just note that employers typically conduct a social media search while they are vetting an candidate for a position. Posting content might help you develop rapport with like-minded folks, but it can also as easily close door with others.
Job searches have a lot of contacts, follow-ups and actions you have to complete. We recommend that you create one centralized document which you can use to keep track of what jobs you are interested in applying to, what jobs you have submitted application to, which applications are still pending, any anticipated deadlines, who you have reached out to for informational interviews, referrals, etc. Some people create spreadsheets while others use software applications. Use what works for you.
Contact the Career Services Center and we can provide you with online resources you might need in order to find an job. We can also help you update your resume and cover letter as well as prepare you for any interviews you may be offered. You can also visit HireSMC, the online employer portal for the SMC community and find open job opportunities.
In addition to reaching to the Career Services Center, you might also want to connect with your your family, friends, professors, mentors, former employers, academic counselors, places you have volunteered at, SMC alums, etc. Networking is an often overlooked strategy, but may be one of your best resources for information. By networking, you might be able to connect you with people willing to conduct informational interviews with you or have valuable information on career and job opportunities. More and more jobs are being filled without being advertised and a referral can go a long way. Be sure to also thank these individuals for their time and knowledge.
Attend a Career Fair or event sponsored by the Career Services Center. This is a great way to meet and network with professionals in your potential career fields. However, before you attend a fair and/or event, make sure to take a look at who will be present and be ready to quickly introduce yourself/give them your elevator pitch. This is roughly 30 to 60 seconds, where you introduce yourself, your interest in the organization and what they do, and what you want. Depending on the type of event, you may also want to provide them with your resume. Always, politely ask for their business card/contact information, and follow up with them right after the event. These are great opportunities for you to find an job or ask for an informational interview. Make sure to dress professionally.
After you have utilized the Career Services Center and your personal network, search online every day for new job opportunities. Competition can be fierce. Search HireSMC, professional organizations, major job boards like Indeed and Linkedin, local career fairs and networking events, etc. Visit company websites who you think may be a good fit and see if they have listed any job openings. However, understand that not all job postings are good postings. If you find a job posting and you want to make sure it isn't fraudulent/scam, check with the Career Services Center before submitting an application or contacting the employer.
Don't be surprised if an employer decides to test you on your skills (writing, presentation or technical skills) when you go for an interview. Be prepared and practice.
Your application caught the attention of an employer. Now you need to shine during your interview. Make sure to prepare for the interview process. We have suggestions of what you should do before, during, and after your interview.