How to cut through the noise with potential employers.
As the associate director of industry relations at Jefferson’s East Falls Campus, I spend countless hours talking to employers who want to hire students for internships or full-time positions. While most job search tips stay the same year to year, a few trends have emerged.
They all boil down to a single issue: Employers are bombarded online with resumes. As a result, they’re creating new ways to find talent and are laser-focused on the job they need to fill. To help you cut through the noise, here are seven tips for landing a job in 2020.
1. Learn to Think Like the Employer
Everything we scan—from news feeds to Amazon ads—is personalized to our preferences. Employers are no different, and your resume has just 7 seconds to capture their attention. Writing a “generic” resume with only yourself in mind will miss the mark every time.
To attract the person hiring, you need to get inside their head. The best way to do that? Study the job description for keywords or phrases. Ask yourself: What three things does this employer seem to care about? Based on that, what three things should they know about me? Now, move those items to the top half of your resume. Apply this advice to everything, from your cover letter to portfolio.
For instance, you’re applying to a medical device firm, but your online portfolio leads with your shoe design project. Don’t expect the employer to dig for something they don’t know exists. Do the work for them. Include a “mini portfolio” PDF featuring only your medical device projects. The more clearly your resume matches the person the employer is looking to hire, the better your shot at landing the interview.
Writing a “generic” resume with only yourself in mind will miss the mark every time.
2. Be Discoverable
Imagine securing your dream internship without even applying. Recruiters don’t sit around waiting for applicants; they tap their way through social media searching for talent. We’ve heard stories of Jefferson students who posted their designs on Instagram and got DMs from recruiters with internship offers. Not interviews—offers.
Recruiters plug keywords into LinkedIn daily to see who pops up. If an employer tried to find you, could they? Add to your profile keywords and skills relevant to your industry so your name rises to the top of a search and toggle the LinkedIn “open to opportunities” feature on.
Also, keep in mind employers search for local talent, and Jefferson’s programs have a strong reputation. With that said, geotag your Instagram posts, add location stickers to stories and use hashtags that make it clear you’re a #jefferson[major] student.
3. Passionate About a Company? Don’t Hide It
To gain a competitive advantage with a company, show a mild obsession with their brand. I’m exaggerating only slightly. A popular hiring trend among companies is to create “challenges” to see which students keep engaging with their firms.
Employers host interactive boot camps and assign company-specific projects to narrow down their search. Our most sought-after companies visit campus three times to track which familiar faces keep coming back. Recruiters also notice when students follow them on social media and “like” their posts.
Pro Tip: Hiring teams may run their own Instagram handle, such as @company[interns] or @company[hires]. Engaging with the recruiting handle will put you in direct contact with the people who have the power to hire you.
Recruiters notice when students follow them on social media and “like” their posts.
4. You Have Increased Chances With On-Campus Events
Companies that take the time to come to campus have one goal in mind: to hire Jefferson students. That fact alone increases your chances significantly more than applying to random jobs online. Whenever you see an event on campus, go!
Consider at the 2019 Design Expo, 88% of the companies attending had hired a Jefferson student in the past three years for a job or internship. Out of all the representatives in attendance, more than half were alumni. When else in the real world will you find an entire room of 100 employers excited to hire from your university? It doesn’t happen. Take advantage of these events while you’re a student.
5. Network Like a Human (Plus One Trick to Stand Out)
Jefferson students have so many opportunities to meet employers in person—New York Immersion, industry-sponsored projects, company tours and career fairs, to name a few. These connections can instantly grow your network if you take a moment to do the one thing most students don’t: Say thank you (and mean it).
Here’s how to do it naturally. After meeting an employer, request to “connect” on LinkedIn and “add a note.” Type a genuine message to thank them for their time. Unfortunately, most students wait until they’re job searching to connect with contacts on LinkedIn. By that point, the power dynamic is off, since the student needs something (a job).
The best time to connect is when you can offer genuine appreciation. Plus, LinkedIn connections last forever. Even if that person changes jobs, you won’t need their new email address. And when, a few years later, you reach back out to apply to a job at their company, your original “thank you” message still will be there as a nice reminder.
The best time to connect is when you can offer genuine appreciation.
6. Master the Video Interview
A popular pre-screen hiring tool is to use video interviews, which can be even more awkward than Skype because there’s no human being on the other end of the screen. Instead, you will be asked to record yourself, using your webcam, while a screen prompts you with interview questions. These rely heavily on behavioral questions that require good storytelling, such as, “Tell me about a time when…”
We coach students on how to use the STAR method: Explain the Situation you were in (or Task you had to solve), Action you took and Result you achieved. The key is to practice. We offer mock interviews in person with our staff, which you can schedule on Handshake. To prepare on your own, we also offer an online training tool, Big Interview, which is free for students and alumni. That way, you can practice your video in the comfort of your own home and play it back to see how you did.
When job searching, you have to—gasp!—answer the phone.
7. Rethink “Robocalls”
One last word of advice: When job searching, you have to—gasp!—answer the phone. Our habit of ignoring robocalls leads to countless opportunities being lost when recruiters call and candidates simply don’t pick up the phone. This happens more than you’d think.
Also, record a simple voicemail that says, “You’ve reached [first name]” and make sure your mailbox isn’t full. If it is, the recruiter will hang up and move on to the next candidate. Don’t go through all the trouble of targeting your materials and then miss out because you silenced your phone.
Ainsley Maloney is the associate director of industry relations at Jefferson’s East Falls Campus.