A College Senior’s Job Search Advice: A Timeline

The post-grad job search can be a little daunting at first. I’ve compiled some of the best advice that I’ve received and some of my own personal experiences to hopefully help you find your land your dream job.

Summer-Fall Term

Continue to Build Your Resume: The summer before your senior year of college is a great time to continue building your resume and developing professional skills that will make you a strong candidate for a post-grad career. Coming into my senior year, I was fairly confident in my resume but I was still looking for opportunities to hone my communications skills. In December I began a position as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Eugene Marathon. My primary responsibility in this role is to oversee communication between the marathon and over 800 volunteers. I also co-manage the event planning of three separate races with more than 7,000 participants. Holding this position has given me the opportunity to further develop my communication and event planning skills, which will make me a more competitive candidate for future jobs I apply to.

Get an Idea of Where You Would Like To Apply: You probably don’t know what exactly you want to do, and that’s ok! Start a list of companies that you think are interesting and would like to learn more about. Every time I hear of a company that I might like to work for, I add it’s name to a note on my phone. When I have more time I do research into the organization and I will prioritize it on my list or remove it if I don’t feel like it would be a good fit for me. I started with hundreds of company names on my list but as I’ve focused in more on what I would like to do, I have narrowed down the list to a few dozen favorites.


Winter Term

Perfect Your Resume and Cover Letter: My biggest piece of advice is to create a general resume and cover letter that you are proud of, and start early! Senior year fly’s by, so keep track of time and don’t let yourself get behind.

One piece of advice that I have gotten from a few PR professionals is to have a visually appealing resume and cover letter. An Edelman recruiter even went as far as to tell me that he won’t consider an applicant if their resume is visually unappealing.

Knowing that my expertise is in words and not design, I purchased a resume template from Creative Market. For $6 I was able to purchase a resume, cover letter and references template that looks much nicer than anything I could have designed. There are also several websites that offer free templates but I would be hesitant to choose anything too generic. It may reflect poorly on you if your resume is the same design that ten other applicants are using. One last piece of advice: don’t get too fancy with your layout; keep it simple. Pick a template that best uses the space you have and makes it easy for someone to read at a glance.

When it comes to resume and cover letter content, you can never have too many sets of eyes. Once I had created something that I felt properly showcased my professional abilities, I took it to the SOJC Writing Central to have my peers review and offer edits. I made those changes and then ran it by a few trusted professors. Keep in mind that every person you talk to will have different preferences and feedback. In the end, the decision is up to you how you will best present your abilities.

Having a nearly perfected resume and cover letter by December has saved me so much stress moving forward in the job search process. If my dream job is posted tomorrow, I’ll be relieved to know I can make a few small edits to my resume and cover letter and still be one of the first applicants.

Conduct Informational Interviews: When I first started thinking about informational interviews I thought the process would be incredibly painful and awkward. Now, having done a few dozen, I feel like a pro.

The informational interview process begins with research. I always look at a company I am interested in applying for on LinkedIn and look at the employees who work there to see if I have anything in common with them. The University of Oregon alumni network is strong and there is almost always at least one fellow duck who works at the company. Next, I’ll request to connect with that person on LinkedIn and I always add a note. An example I have sent would be, “Hi Jane, I came across your profile during my research into Apple and I noticed you were also involved in Allen Hall Public Relations at the University of Oregon. If you have any availability in the next week I would love to talk to you about your work experiences. Thanks, Aly Brandt.” LinkedIn only gives you 140 characters so get to the point and keep it short. I have had a lot of success with this method and almost everyone I have reached out to was willing to give me 20 minutes of their time to talk on the phone about how they got to where they are today.

Once you’ve made a connection with someone and have an informational interview scheduled, do more research! Study the person’s LinkedIn page, twitter and website to learn more about their work experiences and interests. Unlike a regular job interview, informationals are usually pretty casual and you will be the one leading the conversation. Develop a list of questions you have about the persons job and see what kind of skills are needed to fill the position. This is not the time to ask for a job! You simply want to learn more about the person’s job and the company they work for to see if you would be a good fit in the organization.

Be mindful of the persons time and be sure to thank them for their help! Thank them again the next day and also send a handwritten letter in the mail. Buy a fun set of cards and envelopes to have on hand so you don’t have to run to the store after each interview. Snail mail takes a few days to get to the recipient so try to send your thank you that day or the next morning. To find the person’s mailing address look up the location of the company they work for and address an envelope like normal but include “Attn:” and their name at the top.

This advice has been so valuable to me in my job search process so far and I hope it will help other college students land their dream job as well. As I continue to apply for post-grad jobs I will make sure to include any other advice that I find helpful. Happy hunting!

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