Entering the workforce out of college can be an overwhelming yet exciting experience. You’re ready to tackle the world and show everyone what you’re capable of—as soon as you find the perfect job. However, once you find that job you can’t hit apply right away. There are certain things you should do before applying for your dream job, or any job for that matter.
Check Your Internet Presence
The Internet is a beautiful thing, but it’s also quite fickle during the application-to-interview process. When you send your resume and application off, one of the first things to happen is the person screening the applications separates the candidates into two categories: one for possible hires and another for instant denials. Next, that person will look up the remaining candidates on Google. What they find when they look you up can be the difference between you making it to the next round of the hiring process and getting moved to the “no” pile. Luckily, there are things you can do before applying to a job that can help you improve your chances of making it past this round.
Managing your presence on the Internet is fairly easy to do. Start by looking yourself up on Google and look at the first few result pages. This will allow you to see what a hiring manager would see if they were to look you up at that moment. Unless you are completely out of touch or have been deliberately hiding, you should have some kind of Internet presence. This can include:
- Social media pages including LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
- Links to work you’ve done (college newspaper articles, etc.)
- Accolades (Who’s Who page, award announcements, etc.)
- Your virtual CV, if you have one
They will most likely visit those links to find out more about you. Even with privacy settings, it’s possible that a potential employer will still be able to see pictures and posts related to you. This is where it can get interesting for recent college grads. While you were in college and taking all those fun photos with your friends you were most likely not thinking about your next boss seeing them and making a snap judgment about you. To keep this issue in check, go through your social media pages and make sure that there are no embarrassing photos or posts that might make an employer think twice about you. You should also double check your privacy settings to make sure that nothing is public that shouldn’t be.
You have to actively manage your public image when applying for jobs. You are your own brand and you have to “sell” your brand to employers so they see you in a positive light. If you see that your image isn’t as good as you’d like it to be, consider altering some of your social media pages. Start by beefing up your LinkedIn page so that it stands out. This is one of the pages that your potential employer is guaranteed to click on so making sure it is complete and highlights all of your positive attributes is important.
Research the Company and Job Position
Before you apply for a job you should also research the company and the job position to make sure that it’s really a job you want. Read through the company’s website, look up recent news about them, and check out their social media pages to see what they’ve been discussing with their followers. This will help you get a good idea of what they’re about in terms of their values and their vision. It can also help you figure out different ways to better market yourself to them to improve your chances of being interviewed and hopefully hired.
If you’re a recent college grad and new to the job market, you might not be familiar with all of the different job titles that companies use. If this is the case, do some research on the job position and see what the standard requirements are for that role and what is expected of you. This will help you better understand the position and will also help you get a good idea of what a day in that position might look like.
Look Up the Hiring Manager if Possible
While you’re doing research, find out who the company’s hiring manager is. If you are able to locate their name and contact information you can customize your cover letter and speak directly to them. You can also send your application right to them instead of through the job posting. This is a great trick that can help you make sure your application is seen instead of just landing in a pile with a pool of other applicants.
Reach Out to Current Employees
Talking to current employees of a company is a great way to network yourself and to get an insider’s view of the business in question. You can ask them what it’s like working there, what they look for in their employees, and how the hiring process went for them. You can also ask them about the position you applied for to find out more about it.
You can find current employees through LinkedIn or other professional social pages. You can also choose to reach out to them via email if you can locate company email addresses. Be sure to introduce yourself and explain why you’re contacting them. They can offer you a lot if they’re willing to talk to you.
If you can’t find anyone to reach out to personally or if you’re not comfortable being so forward, you can find employee reviews of companies on job sites like Glassdoor. While these won’t be as in-depth as talking directly to an employee, it can give you some idea about the company.
Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter to the Position
Having a generic resume and cover letter might work some of the time, but you really should tweak both so that it is tailored to the specific position you’re applying for. At this point, you’ve done a lot of research on the position and the company and should be able to make your resume and cover letter stand out among the other cookie cutter applications. You can choose to remove irrelevant information or rewrite your cover letter to highlight your attributes or experiences that fall in line with the job position. This might take a little more time than simply attaching your current files but it can separate you from the pack and get you your dream job.
Be sure to follow all of these steps before you apply for your next job. While it might take a little more effort and time, if you land that position it’ll be more than worth it.
About the Author:
Jordan Perez is a human resource expert with over 10 years’ experience helping HR managers and employees create better work relations. She’s also an avid freelance writer who has been published in online magazines and cooperate websites. When she is not engaged in HR developments, she loves hitting the road to see new places. She regularly posts at Resume Pundits.
For more great topics on College Life, take a look at the other blogs on College Basics.