The end of the semester is quickly approaching, meaning the pressure is building for those who are looking to find jobs after graduation. The process can be difficult but there are several ways that you can improve your chances at securing the perfect job. Through consultation with the Missouri State University Career Center and other employment experts, we have compiled a guide to help you succeed in your applications and interviews.
Get to know the company.
Before you even apply for a position, it is important to step back and do some intensive research to learn more about who the company is. Researching not only helps you find what specific things the hiring manager wants in an employee, but also gives insight into their culture, work environment and management setup. Having a deep understanding about the company gives you the opportunity to ask better questions, give more involved answers to the interviewer and present how your background fits the job and company in question.
Define your relationship with the company.
You can learn a bit about a company through the research process, but it is important to make connections between yourself and the company. Todd Euglow, Career Resources Specialist at the Missouri State University Career Center, says that this is one of the biggest hurdles for job seekers. “If you don’t have a strong understanding of how you relate to a position or company, it’s much more difficult to convey that in a cover letter, resume or interview,” says Euglow. Taking time to self-analyze will help you understand how your background and skills can apply to a specific position or company.
Make your resume yours.
A good resume is the first step towards securing an interview, so it is extremely important to make sure it best represents who you are. There are several templates available online that can help you stand out from the crowd but be wary of designs that are too complex or unprofessional. An increasing number of businesses, particularly those who have substantial number of applicants, use application tracking systems that automatically review resumes before they are reviewed by hiring managers. Complicated resume formats can be rejected by these platforms, so be careful to not go too far outside the box. Focus instead on perfecting your wording and communicating who you are.
There are several ways to boost your status on your resume. Professional websites are an emerging trend that allows applicants to show off their skills with digital media and make it easier than ever to share information with peers, hiring managers and other professionals. These websites are also useful for people who want to include a portfolio of their work. Digital portfolios keep image quality high, are easier to share and can easily be updated to reflect recently completed work.
Practice, practice, practice.
While it is not groundbreaking, practice is still one of the best ways you can prep for an interview. From practicing with example questions to analyzing your delivery, there is a lot to be gained from taking time to understand how the interview might go. You can predict what questions may be asked from your own research about the company and other resources that give examples of common interview prompts.
The Career Center at Missouri State University offers several different options to help those who want to hone their interviewing skills. Students and alumni can take advantage of an unlimited number of mock interviews with Career Center staff members. Each mock interview is tailored to a specific career area or situation, so there is something for everyone, regardless of their educational background or career goals. Afterwards, the staff member walks through what you did well, where you could improve and provides a recording of the interview for self-assessment.
Students and alumni can also use a program called Interview Stream that lets users create their own practice interview from a database of premade questions. The platform allows students to record and share their interview with others to gather feedback for those who have busy schedules and cannot meet with a staff member.
The Career Center also offers more general services that allow students to receive one-on-one consultation about their resumes, cover letters, career goals, job searches, graduate school advisement and more. As mentioned previously, these services are available to both current students and alumni. For more information about what services the Career Center offers, visit their website.
While it is important to practice, it is also important to not practice too much. Committing too much time to practicing can result in sounding over rehearsed. An interview is a time to show who you are and what you offer, so going off a script can act against you. Be prepared, but do not overdo it. Interviewers want to learn who you are beyond what answers you give to their questions.
What to do after the interview.
After you’ve interviewed with the hiring manager, it may be a bit before you hear back about whether you got the job. In the meantime, it might be worth your time to send a follow-up message. As outlined by Art Markman for Harvard Business Review, there are several circumstances in which it is appropriate to reach out. A good rule of thumb is to send a brief e-mail thanking the hiring manager the day after your interview. This message should express your excitement and appreciation for the interview without adding unnecessary information. Include a highlight of the interview or something that you learned and avoid adding details that you hoped you conveyed during the interview. A follow-up message can help set you apart from other candidates and demonstrate that you are interested in the opportunity that has been presented.
Be warned, though, because too much contact after an interview can convey that you are pushy or annoying which could ultimately ruin your chances of getting the job. Step back, analyze the situation, and then decide how much contact is appropriate given the role.
The MSU Career Center, as mentioned above, has several resources on offer. They can be contacted via phone at 417-836-5636, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at one of their locations on campus in Carrington Hall 309 or Glass Hall 276. Appointments can be scheduled on Handshake as well. Visit the Career Center website for a guide to scheduling an appointment.