If you’re anything like me, you always have the best intentions and plan to have all work completed in advance, but before you know it the deadline is creeping up on you and you find yourself scrambling. Although, this approach may not be the most efficient if you’re hoping to find a job related to your field of study. In this post I’m going to provide some tips and tricks for preparing to apply for entry-level professional positions 🙂
It may seem early to start your search 6 months in advance, but if you were looking for an internship or co-op I would recommend getting an early start. It’s important to understand the market and to have a good idea of where you would and would not like to work. It can be helpful to identify a few organizations that you would love to work for and regularly check the job postings on their website in order to stay up to date.
Employers begin posting these positions up to four months in advance, so it is important to have an updated resume and cover letter template ready well in advance. This way when you come across a position you can easily alter your documents for that specific position. This is extremely important. Employers can spot a generic resume from miles away; so do not submit the same resume for multiple positions. Read the job description and tailor your experience specifically for their requirements.
Not all fields are looking for the same documents when selecting a candidate, so keep in mind that these documents are typically used in the field of Communications. Potential employers generally like to see a portfolio of each candidate to review sample writing pieces, past accomplishments, reference letters, etc. This will be something you leave behind with the interviewer, so make sure everything included is only a copy! Do not leave behind your actual university degree!!! The documents you choose to include in your portfolio are up to you, but it is recommended to have your resume, cover letter, reference list and letters, education, and approximately five writing pieces. It might be helpful to try and include writing pieces that showcase the tasks of the position. For example, while applying to a public relations internship I might want to include a press release (media relations), speech (advanced writing), event summary and photos (event planning), etc.
Not to go into too much detail about interviewing because I’m in the midst of creating a whole post just on that topic, but the last pointer I want to give is to remember to thank the employer! Such a simple gesture can leave a lasting impression and may even be the deciding factor to hire you. I recommend sending an email shortly after your interview; do not wait a few days before reaching out! But, you also want to give a little bit of time between the interview and the thank you email. Do not email them while you are still on the premises, as this can be confusing for the employer and possibly lead to an awkward situation. A good time frame would be waiting until you got home from your interview before sending them an appreciative message.