By Jesse Collier. Updated August 2017.
Applying for jobs takes too long. You put time, energy, and money into each application in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, you get an interview. And usually, after all that effort, it doesn’t turn into a job offer.
So you stop searching.
It’s the perfect example of a “discouraged worker”. After so much time looking for jobs, you simply quit.
Fortunately, getting a job while still in school is a huge resume and experience builder. It helps build time management skills and responsibility while also instilling a sense of character. Unfortunately, it’s largely resource intensive, and very defeating when nothing comes out of it.
What you need to do is take a step back and look at the big picture. In this article, we’re going to show you how to do just that and ace your next job interview with these top tips.
What’s on this page?
Settle For Less
It can be tough to get your dream job as a student. The closest thing you might get to it is an internship with a company in your field. What’s good about internships is that most of the time, the companies ask students to stay on full-time.
What’s bad about internships is that sometimes you get a position as a professional coffee maker and you gain no experience in your field.
The conundrum with students getting jobs is that many companies don’t want them because they’re not qualified for most positions. The flip side of the coin is that students can’t gain experience without being in a good job with helpful mentors.
The solution? Settle for less.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t keep trying to learn new skills and get a job you’ve always wanted.
But it IS to say that being a pro in your field takes time and dedication, and to get there you need practice.
Do Your Research To Get A Job
One of the number one rules to land a job interview is to do your research. In almost every interview, the employer will ask “what do you know about Company X?”. This is your cue to say a random fact about the company. They’re not asking for a detailed history, but just to see if you took the time to look into the company’s ethics and policies.
Showing to your potential employers that you don’t want to just get paid, but to better their company, will pay off big time in the long run (let’s be real though, it IS mostly about the dough).
Try to also do your research on the people that will have a part in your hiring in order to get a job.
After you submit a resume, wait 1-2 weeks and contact someone in the HR department if they haven’t already gotten in touch with you. Ask if they have a minute to talk in person about your application, or even invite them to a coffee near the workplace. You want to respect their time and not inconvenience them.
Meeting with someone from your prospective company will make them all the more likely to remember you, and will increase your chances of getting a job. Just remember that you want to bring your A-game and make a lasting impression on them.
Refine Your Skills
Sometimes you do all you can, but you just don’t have the right set of skills for the job you want. It can be frustrating, but there’s plenty of ways to get those skills.
One is through your studies, of course. However if you’re thirsty for more knowledge, try sites like Udemy, where professionals make courses for people who want to learn various skills. These include programming, study techniques, using Photoshop, and more.
As a student, you’ll usually have more free time in school, so take the time to plunge headfirst into activities related to your major. You’ll come out with the skills you want, and land a top job to boot.
Use Available Resources
At this point you should have been pestered by friends and family to go through job boards, career sites, and connections; anything to make money and not be a “lazy student”.
But have you actually exhausted those resources?
A recent survey by LinkedIn found that, out of 3,000 people, 85% of jobs were filled via networking, or having connections. A simple survey on your end will tell you the truth: go and ask 10 friends (who hold jobs) where they got those jobs from. Most of them will say (wait for it!) that they got a job from someone they knew.
This doesn’t mean that you need to run to everyone you know and beg for a job. What you need is a plan.
The Grand Plan
Some of the people you know will be working in the regular student jobs. They’re cashiers, salespeople, or store clerks. You have higher ambitions though. You want to get a job where you can attain essential skills with people who really know their stuff.
But how do you get those elusive jobs? And is it more work than it’s worth?
The answer? Knowing people in high places and working at it can make your dream job a reality.
Now you may be saying, “that’s easier said than done!”.
And you would be correct. It’s definitely not going to be easy, but as a student, there’s so many opportunities you can take advantage of to get a job. That’s why the first step of your plan is to truly connect with the people close to you.
Make strong connections
Being in school gives you enormous power to make as many connections as you can before you graduate. It’s up to you to use this power to better yourself (not to sound like a Marvel movie).
Students have different vantage points they use to make connections, and all of them have been proven to work. Joining clubs, participating in faculty-related activities, or finding positions in student government all work beautifully.
Perhaps the best way to make connections though is to be good friends with your profs. They’re already in a good place in your faculty, and some are highly regarded in your area of study through their research.
No matter which way you choose to network, make sure you talk to as many people as possible, and strengthen the bonds you deem most important, as they will be useful later on.
Chisel your prospects
Once you’ve paved your way to becoming friends and gotten to know them well, it’s time to ask if they know of any job opportunities.
With some people (such as your profs), they’ll offer you jobs or opportunities as they see them. Yet they’ll only vouch for you if you’re a hard worker and are dedicated. This is their reputation on the line as well.
With other people, you’ll have to go through the same tedious processes of interviewing and submitting resumes to get a job.
Yet you’ll have a much higher chance of landing a job if you know someone within the company, especially if they have a good reputation as well. When companies are hiring new people, the employer would much rather hire someone if a top employee can vouch for their skills and hard work.
Even if the person you know is an assistant or secretary (these are actually the best people to know as they have close connections with the head honcho), they can still be your key to a job.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor
I said it would take some time and dedication. Hopefully you ended up getting a job from your networking though. Great job! The only way to go now is up!
Don’t forget that if the job isn’t what you thought it would be, you can switch out and find a better job at any time using these steps!
Just make sure you have a backup job first, as expenses will bite you if you don’t have a backup income.
Looking At The Big Picture
By now you should have pinpointed exactly where you’re lacking in the job department.
You should have determined your weaknesses, done your research, and gotten some of the skills you need to prepare yourself for better jobs.
Now you should have the big picture: it takes time, dedication, hard work, and perseverance, but if you never give up, you will get your dream job.
If you’ve noticed, the steps outlined in this article can be rinsed and repeated for any situation where you’re in dire need of a job.
They can also be used out of order, so you need to adapt them to your situation. However you work them, we hope this article helped you along the way to getting your dream job!
Do you have other ideas we forgot to mention in this article? Put them in the comments below!