Job hunting is a time-consuming and pretty hard task for recent graduates — especially for those graduating during a pandemic. There is no one proven formula to land a job — and with so many resources out there, how can there be? As an international student, there are many more added layers to landing a position. In the end, sometimes it just comes down to a combination of luck and effort. Here is what I learned during my process.
The quickest way to get where you want to be is to network. Making a memorable impression and connecting with people in your degree programs and potential work environments can help act like a catalyst in finding the right position for you. Networking isn’t easy — if it was everyone would do it. The time and effort needed to plan which events you are going to attend, which people you must speak with, and the act of speaking with people can be energy consuming, especially for introverts. But I assure you, the effort you are putting in now will pay you back in dividends once it’s time to go job hunting. When that time comes, you will have a strong network that will do the advocating for you. It’s very important that people know what your name is, and when you are ready to start working. Here are some ways you can find positions and tell the world you are educated, qualified, and ready to enter the job force (even if you are still a student).
Tell your immediate friend group and family to keep an eye out for positions that may fit what you’re looking for. Most times, friends and family in positions in your location or industry get emails and communications regarding open positions – they can pass that onto you, and most likely they can even serve as a reference. **Internally referring people to a position also has added monetized incentives so they will be motivated to recommend you!**
Utilize on-campus resources by attending events
Even if the event is not totally relevant to you or your interests, begin to see it as an opportunity to grow your network. You can connect with the hosts and lecturers/speakers, add them on LinkedIn, and evaluate who these people are connected within their networks. This process will ultimately expand your network in numbers, but also help you get closer to your target companies and roles.
Put in a word with all your trusted professors and faculty/staff
Most professors have very strong academic and industry circles based on their backgrounds and teaching styles. For example, I have a professor, who taught a seminar-style class by inviting established industry professionals to come to talk to us. I added most of them on LinkedIn, interacted, and had gotten to know some people they are connected to as well, to help shape my professional path. PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS WILLING TO HELP STUDENTS. The worst thing someone could say is…. NO. Smile, thank them for their time, and MOVE ON! Some bridges are harder to build — over time it will work out. You will never be devalued for asking for help and advice. Remember to be kind, patient, and respectful of their time!
Meetup events, Conferences and Alumni chapters
Use Meetup, conferences and alumni chapters to attend events in your community and expand outside of your usual circles and within your industry interests. While campus and work events can be a great starting point, they are usually only geared towards a very specific demographic and usually only people in the same professional stage. Using Meetup, you can join groups that help you expand outside this bubble. For example, I was looking for social connections to do weekly happy hour events and take advantage of California’s natural wines and I used Meetup to find a group. It is surprising how even social connections can go a long way (sometimes even longer) when it comes to job hunting. Alumni chapters for your current location will connect you with seasoned professionals who are usually looking for a way to give back to their Alma mater and mentoring and advising you can be one of those ways.
Beginning to job hunt is a very overwhelming process because of all the hoops you need to jump through just to land one job offer. Most positions these days require “experience” but how is a recent graduate to get experience when even the entry-level jobs require it? The way the current world is set up is that job hunting is inefficient and yields low results. Me ranting about job hunting can be an article on its own.
Setting achievable goals and making a plan for your comfort will help. Maybe start with one event a week. Add two new LinkedIn contacts a week. Send two emails regarding jobs to recruiters a week. LinkedIn is far more powerful than we think (or at least I thought it was). Recruiters are almost always going to do a background check on you or in the least will Google search your name. Your LinkedIn is usually checked and having a strong online presence and profile will help make a difference. Recruiters are constantly checking the headline or even the about me section to understand how you think you can bring value to their company. Being able to articulate that on paper (and in an interview) is challenging, but very powerful.
Last — but not least, it’s important to create a tracking document. Spreadsheets are magic when it comes to remembering large amounts of small pieces of information. Creating columns that can help you keep track of all communications — more specifically the stages of communications. This can be valuable when you are trying to juggle job hunting with other aspects of life such as full-time school or work. You probably already have an idea of the different columns you might need, but here are a few examples to get you started: employer, job position, link to the description, website, contact (if any), contact information, reached out?, etc. Sometimes we tailor conversations based on what people want to hear and adapt to those situations in order to show them how we can be of value. Keeping track of this information can also help in following up and continuing the conversations. Good luck and may the (hiring) force be with you.