Anyone who’s ever done it will tell you, searching for a job is a pain. Nowadays, with a global pandemic and an economic recession, it’s even harder to find a place in the workforce—especially for college students that need to gain work experience before entering the world after four short college years.
To help combat the odds, here’s a list of 6 tips to find a job in college and help set yourself up for after graduation.
1. Use Career Services
This really cannot be overstated enough, but just in case here it is again: use Career Services. In most colleges, Career Services is a place designed exclusively to help you find a job. They offer important services like:
- Helping you draft documents like resumes, cover letters, and writing samples
- Advise you on what career path you might find rewarding if you’re unsure
- Help you network with potential employers using college resources and alumni contacts
Career Services is really your best friend in the whole job-hunting process, so seriously, pay them a visit!
2. Utilize Your College Experience
College isn’t all just parties and exams (especially not now). A lot of your life on campus can be put to good use helping you get a job, as long as you go about it the right way. Add any activities you’ve done which you think reflect on you positively to your resume, which is pretty much all of them. A lot of it depends on phrasing. Did you “go to a club you liked”, or did you “practice interpersonal relationships in an engaging, collaboratively minded space”.
This kind of spin is an essential skill to learn when building your resume, and fleshing it out with your college experiences can really make you stand out from the crowd.
3. Use “Building Blocks” For Your Resume
One thing you’ll find out pretty quickly if you apply to a lot of different jobs, not all of them are looking for the same thing. As such, sending out the exact same resume isn’t the best idea. However, writing up a new one for every job you want to apply to is just a waste of time. The best method I’ve found is what I call ‘The Building Block Method’. First, create bite-sized chunks for your resume made out of your work experience, skills, education, and other relevant info, then swap them in and out depending on the job you’re applying to. Sending in an application for work on an ER floor? Highlight your medical training and stressful work experience that lets you deal with pressure. Applying to a library? Focus on your collected, thoughtful nature and work in administration and organization.
Having these “building blocks” you can swap in and out can make building the right resume a much easier process.
4. Network with Professors
This may be more useful depending on what field you’re looking into joining, but a lot of the time your professors can be a huge ‘in’ to the working world. If you want job experience as a lab tech, your professor might be able to help you find an experienced researcher to work with, or personally hire you! Professors might also still be in contact with alumni who’ll be very willing to take on a new employee who got the seal of approval from one of their old professors. Plus, professors can be great references and can even be persuaded to write letters of recommendation if you catch them in the right mood.
Professors are there to help you, so ask them for a hand!
5. Build a “Skill List”
This piece of advice comes from a prior employer. A skill list is a list of every job and experience you’ve ever worked, with a list of bullet points on all the marketable skills you gained from it. Maybe you were a counselor at a summer camp for three years; that gives you skills with kids, managing groups, collaborative problem solving, etc. A skill list can be really helpful in building a resume and writing cover letters. They’re also great for interviews. You don’t have to sit and think when someone asks you what your skills are—you’ve got a cheat sheet ready to go. Plus, skill lists can be a great way to reaffirm your self-esteem.
Just looking at all you can do can really help when the job search gets discouraging.
6. Go to College Run Events
A lot of schools hold job fairs, interview fairs, and networking functions to help you get out there and have your name known in the working world. The real question is why wouldn’t you go to these? College-sponsored events are a fantastic resource you have access to for a limited time, and shouldn’t let slip through your fingers.
Getting your name out there can be a huge help in finding a job, and going to events like these showcases initiative on your part; something employers love to see.
Job hunting isn’t easy at any time, especially for college students. But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we can give up! Hopefully, these tips will help you keep looking if the going gets rough, and eventually land you a position you can be happy with as we move further into the 2020s.