Interwoven with my job (the job that I have written on paper in the form of a job description) is the opportunity to talk to students looking for a job. It's really tough to do. I have years worth of material - practical experience, resources, and advice to share. All in less than 50 minutes.
I never get to it all. In fact, I barely skim the surface.
I have culled advice down to the bare minimum. This info isn't revolutionary; I have been saying it, writing it, and presenting it for years. I see it written by other HR bloggers. But I promised to write it out on a post, for posterity and reference, so here it is.
1. Regardless of what you hear, for many of us, cover letters are important. Well written, customized, personalized, job-specific cover letters.
2. It's the little things. A good resume can be decimated by a poorly written cover letter in a completely different font with a number of typos. Or the email to which you attach your documents is written poorly and reads like a text message. Fix these things.
3. Be open to location. It might be nice to stay "local" but consider all possibilities. Try not to limit yourself.
4. Watch what you write, post, tag, say, comment, and do. Don't think that protecting your tweets will prevent others (including employers) from seeing it. Run alerts on your name so you know where it shows up. Don't let others tag you in pictures.
5. Practice interviewing. I say this every single time I talk to a group and sometimes, I see eyes glaze over. The very worst interviews that I have are with candidates who don't practice or come in "just being themselves." Don't do that. PRACTICE.
6. Don't turn down a chance to interview. You may not want the job, like the company, or have interest in the location. You never know who you are going to meet or what connections you will make. I can't even tell you the number of people I have hired over the years - colleagues who interviewed for different positions and while not hired, I got to know them. And when a different job came open, I had great candidates.
7. Read Ask A Manager. My very favorite blog with outstanding advice from the author and really thoughtful comments. You will quickly get a sense of what happens in the real world, the one after college. Great job hunting, interviewing, and career advice too.
8. If you have time, in between classes, homework, jobs, and holidays, read Shake the World. It contains wonderful stories of how people - famous and not so - ended up in jobs of their dreams.
It will take time to find a job. If you are graduating in May, start now getting everything together - resumes, cover letter drafts, LinkedIn profile, references, connections, etc. And don't be afraid to ask for help.
I wish you much success.