What are the five steps you need to follow if you want to land a job after you graduate?
In a one-hour seminar on Thursday afternoon, Algonquin College’s Lindsay Bortort, an employment officer, and Tetyana Semenovych, a co-op student advisor, gave students the full run down of everything they need to know.
Here are the top five tips they advise Ottawa students to keep in mind for successful employment.
Step 1: Set a realistic goal
This first step is really important because it starts with our own process of self-discovery. We want to know exactly who we are as professionals and what skills we have that we feel we can offer.
You should start setting realistic goals by asking yourself a few key questions, advises Bortot. For instance, what do you really enjoy doing or what skills have you learned in college that you want to continue using in the working world.
Then you need to research the labour market: is your job goal is realistic in the current market? For example, if there are no jobs in high demand for where you live, that may mean having to move to a different city.
Once your goals are set, you need to be realistic about creating a plan moving forward. “We’ve all heard that when we are more concrete and specific and measurable about our goals we are more likely to attain them,” says Bortot.
Step 2: Research potential employers
You need to be familiar with who is going to be hiring you with your qualifications. It also helps to focus your job search. Instead of applying for everything you see, research a few employers. Go to their websites directly and target your documents and your job search to them.
Regardless of where you are in your post-secondary education, says Semenovych, it’s never too early or too late to start working on a list 10 employers where you would really like to work. Then you can attend networking events related to the company and ask questions.
“Sometimes if it’s a small company or mid-sized company it’s not very clear as to how to apply to them,” says Semenovych. “If it’s a small company maybe you can give them a call, if it’s a large company it’s more appropriate to apply online or through LinkedIn.”
Step 3: Tailor your resume and cover letter
“You need to understand that you are trying to market yourself through a piece of paper before somebody even has a chance to meet you,” says Bortot.
Some strategies around convincing employers that you’re the best candidate for the job include using key words and language that the employer might be looking for.
Therefore the best thing you can do for yourself when applying to different jobs is making sure that you are constantly changing your cover letter and resume to match what employers are looking for. This increases the odds that you’ll make it through the screening process.
If you’re starting your resume and cover letter from scratch and are lost, go to your course or your program’s “learning outcomes section.” Here you’ll find strong keywords that can show would-be employers what you’ve learned.
Also make sure that your resume and cover letter are spelling and grammar error free.
Step 4: Diversify your job methods
According to a survey by the Business Council of Canada, 87 per cent of employers are relying on referrals to hire people. Many jobs are no longer being advertised publically due to advertising costs.
You can do more deep searching for jobs using platforms like Hire AC, or whatever similar resources are available at your university. You can use these services after you graduate too. You can also diversify your job-hunt methods by visiting company and professional association websites.
“Once you have your target list and you’ve identified their websites and their contact information you can then go back through that list and directly contact them,” says Bortot.
You should also visit their career pages frequently. Sometimes employers only post their jobs on in-house career pages and not on wider job boards. This allows them to avoid receiving too many applicants and having to screen through them all.
Step 5: Master your interview skills
The most important thing you can do to seal the employment deal is to thoroughly practice and prepare for your interviews.
Another thing you can do is treat the interview like a conversation, which is much easier to do if you have taken the time to fully prepare and practice what you’re going to say out loud.
Of course also dress appropriately and be on time for all interviews. Your personal appearance is equally important.