Graduating college without a plan feels a lot like the old cliché of jumping out of an aeroplane without a parachute.
That’s why getting recruited to a job straight from senior year can sound like an appealing option to a lot of college students.
But that’s easier said than done.
Here’s how to position yourself to get a gig right out of school, according to Susan Vitale, CMO of talent recruitment software provider iCIMS.
1. Have reasonable expectations
According to an iCIMS survey on the class of 2016, college students anticipate applying to around 10 jobs before receiving an offer. At the same time, recruiters are flooded with 133 applications per entry-level position and typically conduct 35 interviews to fill each role.
“That’s a lot of applications for recruiters to comb through and a lot of interviews to hold,” Vitale says.
So don’t consider yourself a failure if you need to go on more than 10 interviews. It’s not you, it’s the nature of the game.
2. Hone your interview skills
“Research the company to show that you have a genuine interest in what they do and are knowledgeable about the industry,” Vitale says.
She recommends coming prepared with questions that show the hiring manager you’re actively interested in the organisation, like “What are the daily responsibilities?” and “What will be expected of me in the first 90 days?”
If you need to practice, check if your campus career center hosts mock interviews or get a friend to practice with.
3. Communicate effectively
Vitale notes that, according to the survey, 74% of recruiters who participated in the survey say that communication skills are quite important.
“Job seekers can stand out in this aspect by speaking clearly about their relevant work experience, extracurricular activities, and why they think they would be a good fit for the position,” Vitale says.
4. Start early
“It’s never too early to start the job search process,” Vitale says. “While the average freshman may still be figuring out how to do their own laundry, those students who spend time researching career options will be ahead of their peers in the long run.”
5. Don’t rely on your degree
When it comes to the importance of your degree, recruiters and students aren’t on the same page. Vitale notes that 86% of college senior respondents believe that their degree gives them an edge. However, 36% of recruiting professionals said that half of the job applications they received came from unqualified candidates.
So don’t rely too much on your studies. In many industries, experience is far more important than the subject listed on your diploma.
6. Make the most of senior year
Make sure to attend career fairs and proactively investigate career opportunities senior year.
However, if you’ve slacked off, don’t despair.
“Don’t worry — if you’re approaching graduation and have yet to start looking for jobs, it’s never too late,” Vitale says. “Companies often find they need to back-fill entry-level positions or that they have miscalculated how many hires they need.”
7. Don’t forget your manners
Never underestimate the power of being polite. Vitale points out that only 24% of entry-level applicants who participated in the survey even mailed or emailed a thank you note after a job interview. Simple courtesy will put you above the vast majority of applicants.
“This is an easy way to stand out amongst your peers,” Vitale says.
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