As a senior in college, job searches have been on my mind almost daily. I’m focusing on my studies, enjoying every moment as it comes to me, and spending time doing the college activities I love the most, but there is also that overarching sense of “What next?”
Perhaps you are in the same boat. Even if you aren’t ready to embrace a full-time career, you might be ready for a seasonal job or are going to want your first part-time job soon. Either way, I think we can all do with a short refresher on the steps to finding that perfect job or career.
Incidentally, all the papers I’ve been writing and the late nights studying have had me thinking about food, so here is a list of the steps to getting a job…in the form of a cake recipe.
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1. Preheat the oven: Brainstorm potential companies or jobs.
I’m currently in this stage in my career search. Over the past three and a half years I’ve put a lot of effort into developing skills in a variety of marketable areas. Now I have to start narrowing down where I want to work. This means finding locations, companies, and job descriptions I could potentially like. Do some web searches to get yourself started and save websites to a special bookmark folder. Talk to your professors, coaches, and other adults for suggestions. Remember, you don’t have to decide everything right now – you just want to get an idea of what’s out there.
2. Gather your cooking utensils: Research potential employers.
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When I applied for my first summer job, I didn’t research the company before I went in for an interview. The HR director asked me point-blank what I knew about the company…which was very little. Even a simple internet search would have educated me on the basics of the company, which would have made me a more desirable candidate. I got the job, but I still wish I could have demonstrated to the company that I cared enough about the job to investigate them. Plus, you don’t want to put in the effort of applying to a company only to find later that you don’t agree with the company’s business strategy. Putting in some research now could save you unnecessary stress later.
3. Measure out your ingredients: Put together a superb resume.
If you are a current college student, check to see if your university has an office that provides resources on creating resumes. My university has an office dedicated to helping students prepare for jobs and internships, and they have instructions and sample resumes online for students to use. High school students might also have such resources available. It doesn’t hurt to check!
4. Mix and combine: Write a job-tailored cover letter.
Again, ask for assistance from an office on campus or a trusted adult who knows what employers generally expect. Your cover letter is going to be the first thing employers see when they consider you, and you want to make a phenomenal first impression! Break out your best writing skills and knock their socks off.
5. Put the cake in the oven: Send in those applications.
You’ve put a lot of work into the process at this point, but it won’t get you anywhere until you take the plunge and send in that resume and cover letter! Apply to multiple places and see what happens. Get your name out there.
6. Clean up your work surface: Wait productively.
This is the hardest step because you might feel like there is not much you can do at this point. Follow up with companies a few days after you send in your application if you don’t hear back from them. You could even tweak your resume a bit, but no matter what you do, don’t freak out – you’ve worked hard, and now is the time to let employers read the materials you sent them.
7. Mix the icing: Prepare for the interview(s).
When the call comes, it’s go time. Pick out an outfit that accurately reflects the businesslike image you want to convey to your potential employer. Practice your firm handshake and award-winning smile. Show up a few minutes early to your scheduled interview time, and bring all that knowledge of the company you researched back at the second step.
8. Remove from oven and let cool: Wait again!
Sometimes you have to interview more than once for a job or wait a few days to hear back from a potential employer after the last interview. Use this time to write a thank-you note to your interviewers, then sit back and take a deep breath. All your waiting is almost over.
9. Admire the finished product: Accept your new position or start over again.
If you get that long-expected call and are offered a job, congratulations! Even if you don’t get the job, congratulate yourself on already making it this far. You will be ready to apply to more job openings with all the experience of your previous applications behind you. You already have a good resume and cover letter, so all you have to do is update it a bit and send if off again. Keep trying, and eventually you’ll end up with the cake (er…job) of your dreams!