I remember the first time that I got ghosted. I went through the grieving process almost immediately; I called my best friend and I freaked out. But this wasn’t your ordinary college romance drama and I wasn’t getting ghosted by some frat boy — I was getting ghosted by jobs.
It was the fall semester, shortly after my university’s big career fair. I had met with a bunch of awesome companies that day, presented my beautiful resume, received plenty of business cards, and left with the biggest grin on my face. I was going to get a job, I knew I would. And then a few days later, I started following up. *crickets*
I looked online for proper follow-up etiquette — because I wasn’t trying to be known as “that girl” who obsessively stalks corporate recruiters — and did exactly what renowned career experts told me I should; and yet, nothing. Now, I’m definitely not trying to diss recruiters — they seriously have such a difficult job and I respect how well they all do it — but the worst feeling ever is not knowing what you did wrong or why you didn’t get the job.
And while there are questions out there that may never be answered, I have done a serious amount of research trying to figure out how to make the job application process better for myself and every senior out there. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
You Need to Calm Down
Trust me: I know how easy it is to start downward spiraling into the “I will never succeed” breakdown but you can’t let rejection scare you away from trying. As cheesy as it is, I always think of the A Cinderella Story quote from the diner wall: “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” While this process is nothing if not stressful, it’s important to always put your best foot forward.
If you’re feeling extra unmotivated, I highly recommend watching a Ted Talk or two because nothing pushes you to succeed like listening to successful people. This one by Jason Shen about job searching inspired me to finally turn off Make It Or Break It (it’s a classic!) and get to work.
Make It a Group Effort
If you have no idea where to start or just need some moral support, make it a date. Grab all of your friends that need to apply for jobs and internships and take over a local coffee place. Not only will getting out of your apartment help clear your head but working in a group setting can motivate you to get more done. Plus, it’s always nice to get some feedback on those applications with the dreaded “why do you want this job?” engrained on the last page.
Use Your Network
Use what you already have: your network. Yes, you have a network or at least a network-adjacent — and by this, I mean your university. Everyone that graduated from your school is part of your network and most alumni really do want to help other alumni and even current students succeed.
If you don’t know where to start, meeting with your campus career center is a great first step. In addition to having possible contacts, most career centers normally have interview and resume preparation which will come in handy when you score your next gig.
Stand Out (For The Right Reasons)
It seems like every other day there’s a news story about someone who scored her dream job off Twitter or Instagram by sliding into someone’s DMs and blowing them away with their company knowledge. While this may seem overwhelming, if you know what your dream job is, you have to go for it and stand out in a good way. Design a marketing case study, create a sales portfolio, write a corporate blog — do what you can to showcase your skillset. As a marketing student, I created a portfolio website (10/10 recommend Wix!) with all of my articles and then linked it to both my resume and my cover letter. Arianna Goldstein, a meteorology student at Florida State University, has a reel of all of her clips hosting her university’s weather channel and writes coordinating weather updates on her LinkedIn. No matter what your major is, it’s always good to be able to show your personality in a professional way.
Now if you create a killer presentation, submit your application, and receive no response, follow up with a member of the HR team or the university recruiter. LinkedIn is awesome for this! But avoid harassing recruiters- one email and one follow-up is enough. If someone doesn’t reply after that, it’s time to let it go. There’s a big difference between being passionate and being problematic.
Be a Sous Chef
Sous chefs run the kitchen prep work and it’s time for you to do the same, prep work that is. Prepare your resume and cover letter in advance so you can customize them a little for each job description instead of making new ones for each company.
Tip: if you have your resume in Word, you can save it as a template and make it even easier to personalize it to each company.
While these tips won’t make your job search painless, hopefully they make it a little better. Beyond that, just remember to listen to your mom because I’m sure she’s already told you a hundred times that it’s all going to be okay. Even though it may not seem like it right now, it is going to be okay.