Being active is great! You need to stay active to be successful during a lengthy job or internship search. Getting out of the house for some exercise will keep your body healthy; reading and solving crosswords or Sudoku will keep your mind engaged; and social networking will keep you in touch with friends.
Sometimes however, although one is active they are really not accomplishing anything. Here are several common ways people confuse activity with genuine achievement in their job or internship search. If they sound familiar to you, make some small changes that make a big difference!
The Resume “Spray and Pray”
It’s been a long, but very productive week. You’re proud of yourself for having sent resumes to a few dozen job or internship postings you found online. Now, just sit back and relax. But keep your phone on – those employers will be calling you soon. Right?
No. You’ve been really busy, but you really haven’t achieved anything yet.
The amazing truth is that most candidates just send their resume and wait… and hope. (Spray resumes to every posting they find, and pray they get an interview). Sure, you sent your resume. But now it’s but one of the sometimes hundreds of resumes those employers received for every position they posted online. You need to stand out from the pile of resumes on that recruiter’s desk. How? It’s amazing how few people put in a little extra effort.
When you do, you’ll stand out:
- Follow up – If the posting doesn’t specifically say “no calls”, wait 48 hours after you apply and call. Ask specifically to speak with the hiring manager who posted the internship.
- When you speak with the hiring manager (or to their voicemail), mention the position for which you applied, confidently state your “elevator pitch”, and ask for an interview.
- Set yourself a schedule for future follow-ups – what are the next steps?
Your Social Network
You’ve read a lot of blogs and articles that said social networking is a powerful tool for finding an internship. So, you spend hours each day on Twitter and updating your Facebook status.
But who are you tweeting to? (Your friends). And what are you talking about? (“OMG – the line at Starbucks is SO long, but I love this caramel machiatto! lol”). Sure, you’re being social. But that’s not the type of networking those blogs you read were talking about. And is it contributing anything to your job or internship search?
Social networking has become a viable resource for making professional connections. For example, on Twitter there are easy-to-find weekly chat groups that discuss career-related topics. Like Twitter, LinkedIn offers hundreds of industry and professional subject-related groups – and the opportunity to present yourself in a professional light. And you’ve posted your job search goals on Facebook, yes?
The Interview Hamster Wheel
You’ve seen pet mice or hamsters with an exercise wheel in their cage. They hop into the contraption and run as fast as they can but never get anywhere.
A similar phenomenon occurs with many job seekers. They put in the effort, participating in dozens of interviews, thinking after each interview that they “nailed this one!” – only to repeatedly bemoan never being hired. A sure sign of persistence, many keep hopping back on that wheel. But maybe a change is in order. Time to get off the wheel? It’s possible that you’re not presenting yourself in the interview as well as you think. There are some very simple steps you can take to improve your interview results.
- Immediately after each internship interview, take several minutes to honestly and critically evaluate your performance. Write notes on some of the questions you were asked that you felt less prepared to answer. Write down some of your answers you felt were received especially well by the recruiter.
- If you’re still in school, your Career Service Center likely offers interviewing workshops. For graduates, most Alumni Associations can direct you to useful resources.
- “Mock interviews” – Practice interviewing with a close friend, relative or ideally, with a mentor. Make the interview realistic – dress in professional attire and even conduct the interview in an office, if possible. Have the “recruiter” evaluate you critically – the more flaws they find for you to correct, the fewer the real recruiter will see.
- Follow up! You followed up on your resume after you sent it. Now, follow up on the interview. After you’ve thoroughly reviewed the interview in your mind, send a “thank you” note to the interviewer. Even better, send a professional-looking thank you card via snail mail. Yes, snail mail. The idea here is to stand out, remember?
Finding the right internship or job is sometimes a long process. But remember that just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you’ve reached the necessary level of achievement. All your career-related efforts should be undertaken with these ideas in mind:
- How does the activity I’m doing right now help achieve my goals?
- What could I improve or do differently that might elicit a better outcome?
With these questions in mind, you may find that you’ll achieve considerably more!
Gradberry thanks our partners at Youtern for this awesome post!
The author, Dave Ellis, is an original member of the YouTern team and instrumental to its success… in fact, he’s so awesome there wouldn’t be a YouTern without him (and he might have written this bio himself). In his spare time, Dave volunteers, rescuing and rehabilitating sea lions and baby elephant seals.