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By Heidi Halseth

@heidihalseth

In the past two weeks, I have met with two of my supervisors from past internships. If you are a soon-to-be graduate I suggest you do the same. I’ve spent the past three months worrying about finding my first dream job, and of course, struggling with critiquing my resume and cover letter. Lucky for me, I set up coffee and lunch dates with two women who have helped me gain experience that will help me land my first post grad job. Thanks to these ladies, I was able to relax and focus on the important steps I need to take to be prepared for the job hunt. Below, I’ve listed the some of best advice I received and one tip from my experience.
Advice:
  1. If you can’t find your dream job before you graduate, make sure you have something lined up. A professional’s opinion “If you have a large gap between graduating and your interview, employees may wonder why you aren’t getting hired.” Thanks to this piece, I’ll be widening my search, just in case.
  2. Wherever you want to end up, make sure you’re creating a network. You may not stay in your first job forever and by being a part of industry organizations like PRSA and AMA or even the local rotary club, you give yourself a chance to make a contact that could help you find the career you do want down the road.
  3. It is always easy to get a job after you move. This may be tailored to me, since I want to get to Chicago as fast as I can.
  4. If you’re interested in working for a small company, be a jack-of-all-trades. More specifically, I need to learn InDesign. At small companies, there is a good chance that the Advertising, Public Relations, Marketing departments are actually just a single department with one or two people. By missing key skills like creative design and web development you may lack important experience that a company requires.
  5. Know that you are marketable. You’ve done the coursework and the free internships. You have the experience required to help companies reach their goals and you should be paid for it. One of my hesitations about the job search is when the time comes, asking for salary. I got approximate salary ranges and compared them to a spreadsheet I created that spells out every expense I’ll have the first year out of school. This helped me understand the type of positions I can apply for and the salary I require to live outside of my room at my parents’ house.
  6. Know the culture of the company you are applying to and make sure it is a good fit for you. You won’t last at a company that you don’t feel comfortable working for. I’m also a big advocate of working at a company whose causes you support.
  7. Always, always, always, address your cover letter to a specific contact at the company before sending it. Skipping the HR screening process and finding the hiring person directly allows for a quicker response and shows the company that you did your research.
  8. Go out of your way to familiarize yourself with skills that your dream job may want you to have experience with. For example, I just bought three books about SEO because many social media and PR positions want it and if companies want it, so do I.
  9. Don’t complain about not finding a job or not getting an interview, unless you’ve exhausted all your options. Looking for a job is a full time job. It takes a significant amount of time researching companies, finding contacts, and updating your resume & cover letter to fit companies’ needs. If you didn’t take the time to do these things then you didn’t put the time in to get anything out of your job search.
  10. Meet with previous mentors, especially professionals you’ve worked for. In meeting with mentors, I was able to get better descriptions of the responsibilities I performed in my internships. I got tips on what the job experience I should gain before I graduate. This gives me about a month to make myself more marketable. Lastly, this allowed two opportunities to have my resume critiqued by professionals, which might be the most constructive tool I’ve utilized so far.
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