By Jordan Lewis
Two to five years of experience, three to six years of experience, or my personal favorite: five to seven years of experience.
While each phrase says it a little differently, they all mean the same thing: you’re not getting your dream job straight out of college.
I’ve seen these phrases upwards of a hundred times as I began my job search only a few months ago. If you, like me, are getting ready to turn that tassel, you’ve probably met the same types of rejections I have.
But why does it have to be like this? Why is job searching such a daunting task? With graduation right around the corner for many seniors, I’ve come up with some tips to help along the way, tips that hopefully will land you that dream job.
There are a few things that I would recommend doing prior to ever actually stepping foot (or pointy-toed heel) inside an interview.
First, make sure you have a professional voicemail message and e-mail address.
No future employer wants to leave a voicemail for someone whose answering machine sounds like a scene from an independent film, with lots of breathing and talking in the background, said Richard Bolles, author of a practical manual for job hunting.
The same goes for e-mail. A variation of your first and last name is far more impressive than some lame joke.
Second, make sure you have a resume and cover letter. Each time you apply for a job, customize them for the job for which you are applying. This may mean emphasizing certain talents or jobs you’ve previously held, Bolles said.
Spell check, twice or three times if you spell like I do. Print your resume on paper that is nicer than plain white Benner Library paper. It will show your future employer that you care.
Resumes are fairly easy to make, but it takes some time to make sure yours is professional and informative, according to Alexandra Levit, author of the book “New Job, New You.” If you’re having trouble creating your resume, ask someone for help or visit Career Services. There are lots of templates online too, but be careful, because a lot of them are outdated and bland, Levit said.
Third, utilize online technology. You can search and apply for jobs on sites such as Monster.com or CareerBuilder.com. These can be very helpful, and a great way to get a feel for what type of jobs is available, according to Levit.
Fourth, you can increase your chances of landing a job by forming personal connections. Don’t be afraid to talk to people you know to see if their company is hiring. You can also talk to someone in your field. Getting to know people in your line of work through internships or other experiences is a great way to get into the business, Bolles said.
Fifth, when you finally do get that interview, show up early, but not too early. I recommend being in the parking lot 15 minutes before your interview, but walking in only five minutes early. If you show up too soon it might seem like you got the time wrong, and you’ll just end up standing awkwardly by the water cooler wishing you’d polished your shoes (don’t forget that).
Also, I like to use the time in the car to go over some of the questions the interviewer might ask and what answers I would give. These questions may include: “Why do you think you’d be a good fit for this job?” or
“What qualities do you have that would benefit this establishment?”
Sixth, dress professionally, but not like you’re trying too hard. Black is seen as a power color, according to Bolles. If you show up in an all-black suit and the person interviewing you is in khakis, he or she might feel threatened or may think you are overqualified for the job.
Instead, guys should wear black pants, a simple colored shirt and tie. Blue is usually seen as a good color, and it looks good on almost everyone.
For girls, wearing charcoal, black or gray pants and a button-up shirt is very appropriate, with moderate heels. Remember Murphy’s Law – “If anything can go wrong, it will” – and don’t pick heels that are too high.
Murphy’s Law also applies for cell phones. Just leave it in the car. If you bring it inside, undoubtedly your roommate will call you to ask a very unimportant question, which you don’t need while trying to answer a far more important question for the interviewer.
Finally, remember you probably will not land your dream job the second you drive away from Olivet, and that’s OK. Your dream job probably requires five to seven years of experience at the very least.
Instead, the way to get there is to take an entry-level job or internship at a company that is in the field of your dream job. Before long you’ll have that five to seven years of experience that everyone seems to want.
Now go out, hit the pavement and start searching.