Establish realistic expectations, an appropriate timeline, and a way to keep organized
It can take several months to find an internship, and six months or more to find a full-time position in your field, which means a lot of work and a lot of materials to keep organized. It can also mean having to deal with feelings of frustration and discouragement. Find ways to take care of yourself and stay optimistic – you will be successful!
Continue to assess yourself: What makes you tick? What can you offer employers?
What are you good at? What are you interested in? What’s important to you? What is your work style? These questions about your skills, interests, values and personality are important to spend time reflecting upon. What can you offer to potential employers? How are you different from others who might be applying?
Identify employers and positions that are a good fit for you
Use library databases, search engines, LinkedIn and networking to identify organizations to research. Speak to your professors and other trusted advisors. Talk to people in fields that interest you (informational interviewing) to find out more. Read job descriptions on Indeed.com or other sites. Can you see yourself in that role?
Fine-tune your resume
Update your current resume with all your related experiences, most importantly PROJECTS. You’ve benefited from a rigorous applied education, and employers want to know about it. Projects can be in a separate section after your Education. A one-page resume is great, but if you have lots of experience two pages may work better.
Go to Indeed.com and search “(your target field) + (your target location)”. Add “entry level” to narrow the choices. Read the job descriptions carefully for skills these employers seek. Note the exact language they use to describe skills and requirements so that you can use the same in your application materials.
Ensure it is optimized for Applicant Tracking Systems, which most firms use to screen candidates: no templates; plain Word doc; no symbols, graphics, headers or tables; related keywords incorporated into bullet points.
Make an appointment with Career Services to have your resume reviewed.
Learn how to write cover letters
You must write a unique cover letter for each position you apply for, one page or less. It should be all about the employer’s needs and how you can contribute to their mission. Express your enthusiasm about joining their team! Employers want to hire those who really want to work there.
Update or create your account on Handshake
If you haven’t yet, create an account on Handshake to access a vast array of internships and jobs. Upload your resume and Handshake will help you to quickly create your profile: oit.joinhandshake.com
Create a LinkedIn profile, or optimize the one you have
LinkedIn is your online resume, and it must reflect your best professional self. Include a picture (headshot). Review others’ profiles to see how they represent themselves. Join many groups, and add lots of skills. Again, review others’ profiles for ideas.
Use all the sections available to you, such as Education, Course Projects, and Certifications; whatever applies to you.
For great tutorials see https://students.linkedin.com/
Focus your search efforts on networking and approaching companies directly
Identifying employers through contacts greatly increases your chances of getting an interview. Acquaint yourself with professionals in your field or target organizations. Make a list of family members, friends, classmates, professors, and connect with them on LinkedIn. See who they know.
Use the strong Oregon Tech alumni network. There are currently over 8,400 students and alumni on LinkedIn, and many alumni are very happy to help recent grads with information and leads.
Employers spend a lot of time on the Careers or Work for Us section of their websites (link is sometimes hidden at the bottom of the page), and want to hire employees who are enthusiastic about working for them. See what they have to say about working there, review posted openings, and when applying tell them you saw it on their website.
Understand Informational Interviews
Are any of your LinkedIn or other contacts connected to your target firms? If so, request a referral from your contact so that you can set up an informational interview to find out more about the firm. Under no circumstances ask for a job during these brief chats, you are just there for information.
You may also wish to speak with Oregon Tech alumni, even if they are not connected to a firm you’ve targeted.
Be professional, courteous, and concise. Arrive with prepared questions about the individual, the firm, career pathways, and other career questions you want to explore, but anticipate a more open conversation as well.
Always follow up with a thank you note/e-mail. If you have not yet done so, ask them to connect on LinkedIn.
Follow application instructions carefully
Read the position description, and follow directions exactly. However, you may also send a paper copy of your resume and cover letter to the hiring manager, which can show a strong level of interest.
Do not follow up to see if your application has been received if you apply online – it has.
Remember that it can be a very slow process for companies to evaluate and hire applicants. Be patient.
Be prepared for your interviews
Interviews come in many flavors these days: online or telephone screening followed by one or more technical, one-on-one, group, or panel interviews – there are usually multiple hoops to jump through.
Be prepared for any interview by knowing yourself, knowing your target industry, knowing the organization, and being able to talk about the value you bring. Be able to answer: “Tell me about yourself” (which means tell me about your professional self), and “Why should I hire you?”
Have several questions prepared to ask them, but not about salary or benefits. You want to know what they want you to accomplish during your first 30 days, what the interviewer likes about the organization, etc.
Don’t forget to be prepared on the logistics side too: where are you going, how are you getting there, and how long will it take (allow lots of extra time), what are you wearing?
Follow up all interviews with thank-you notes. E-mails are fine; use them to expand on your interview answers if you didn’t answer a question completely.
Congratulations! Negotiating a Job Offer
Entry level positions are rarely negotiable unless you are in a high-demand field.
Although not common, some employers might discuss salary and benefits in an initial interview. Be prepared by doing research ahead of time and having a range that you are comfortable with.
Once an offer is extended, you should have a fairly clear idea about what you want, again making sure it is reasonable by doing your research.
Do not negotiate for the sake of negotiating. If what they are offering is what you want, take it.