Tip No. 1: Network, network, network
“There’s a big misconception in young people about networking,” Young said. “They think it is just about using people. But it is really the best way to get a job.”
Michael Powell, director of the Engineering Career Assistance Center at The University of Texas at Austin, said students should be proactive and seek out contacts and professionals with whom to develop bonds that could be beneficial in a job search.
“It is the idea of establishing more of a lifeline, or ‘adoption,’ as I call it,” Powell said. “It’s more of honing in on the people that can be helpful to you, whether it’s friends in the industry, faculty members or staff at career services.”
Students should visit with these contacts often, keep them informed of their situation and always check in to let them know if they are still job searching, Powell said.
“They adopt you in a way, and they become much more invested in your own success,” he said. “Instead of just being a casual contact and keeping their eyes open, they become someone who is actively searching on your behalf because they want you to succeed.”
Social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn provide additional avenues for students to connect with others and tap into the hidden job market, Young said.
Tip No. 2: Research before you apply
Terry Jones, assistant professor at the UT School of Nursing, said she assigns an investigation project to her students to help prepare them for applying to highly competitive nursing jobs.
“They have to select a couple of jobs to investigate,” Jones said, “then do research. What are the key things they want to know about a hospital? Then they choose one of those jobs and develop a résumé, cover letter and follow-up letter.”
This project is important, Jones said, because students need to do their homework as a part of their job search. Nursing students, for example, are watching their field become more competitive as nurses with seniority return to the field to generate additional income for their families. When it is hard to get a job, students should make sure their applications are going to positions they believe are a good fit; otherwise, they may find themselves job searching again quickly.
“What I hear from hospitals is that they’re interviewing a couple hundred people for a dozen jobs,” Jones said. “The competition is very tight.”
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