‘Tis the season for job hunting. Whether you are seeking on-campus employment, an internship or co-op, or full-time big kid jobs, fall is the prime season for recruitment. The past three years, I have been used to the process. It starts with applying online, attending job fairs and waiting on the selection process to be complete so I knew what I would be doing next spring or summer. This time around, it is a little different.
I am now on the hunt for that “big girl job”. But, I have come to find out the process is not quite as simple as looking for internships. There are many more factors, numbers and details that make the selection more competitive, more vigorous and more exhausting. However, as I have detailed in previous posts, there are some things I have come to look for in potential full-time employers. Knowing those details makes it much easier!
Just as I look for ways to stand out to a company and help them see my greatest assets, you must do that too. Here are some tips I have about the application and interview process after wondering yesterday’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Career Fair and talking with other students doing the same thing.
- Compile your materials. You need to bring different supporting documents depending on the situation. For applying online via email, I always attach a personalized cover letter and resume. At a job fair, always bring copies of your resume to give to recruiters. Even if you have already applied online, they take notes on the hard copy you provide. Business cards are a plus as well, especially when more than one representative is working the booth. Once you reach the interview stage, it might be handy to have a portfolio of your work samples and other materials that can visually support your claims you made at the career fair or phone interview.
- Research what YOU want in a company. Self reflection is important to weigh your talents, skills, goals and requirements of an employer. Make a list of the qualities you are looking for, from location, salary and culture to sector of the industry, benefits and growth potential.
- Find matching companies. After you have compiled research of what you want and need, start searching. If you know you would be more happy working for a nonprofit organization, why is a private company in your saved jobs?
- Make personal connections in these organizations. I always hear, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” and I couldn’t agree more. Today’s workforce is built through relationships, especially in the agriculture industry. If one of your friends has a parent working in the company you show interest in, reach out to them. Set up an exploratory interview/meeting just to learn more. Once you start sharing your interests and skills with him or her, they could help you land the job you bookmarked. It is much easier to make your way into an organization with a helping hand.
Image from CFAES Facebook page
- Prepare your questions. After your research, you should have some questions you would like answered by your companies. Here are a few I have learned to ask: What has kept you at the company? What growth do you see the organization having in 5 or 10 years? What is the potential for international experiences as an employee?
- Picture yourself in that organization. The biggest difficulty I am facing is the idea that this is a long-term decision. It isn’t just an internship for three months in the summer. It is a minimum of two years dedicated to an organization I want to put my heart and soul into. This is why research, self analysis and questions are important. They help you determine if Company ABC would be the best option for you, after comparing all the characteristics.