Start Prepping for the Fall Job Search Season

The fall is traditionally the busiest hiring period of the year for many companies. So whether you’re a new graduate or just ready for a change, now is the best time to get hired.

You could equate finding a job to preparing for a big test. Whether you pass or not depends a lot on how prepared you are.

Here are some tips on how to take advantage of the fall job search season and stand out from the crowd.

Be Proactive
Before you start mass mailing your resume and applying to companies willy-nilly, take a moment to ask yourself what you want. What are you trying to achieve? Do you have what it takes to achieve it? Are you approaching it the right way? Once you’ve figured these things out, you’ll be in a much better position to find a job that suits you.

Don’t wait for job opportunities to come to you. Be proactive in finding out what’s out there. Do some research to discover companies where you’d like to work and find out if they’re hiring.

Even if they aren’t, see if you have a connection at the company or know somebody who can serve as your introduction. You could also try to learn the names of hiring managers and reach out to them, either through LinkedIn or email.

Think about the types of skills and qualities that each company is looking for and assess whether or not you have those skills or if you need to take steps to acquire them through professional development or additional classes. Or maybe they’re skills you can teach yourself at home.

Have clear goals and a plan to achieve them. It’s much better to create your own opportunities rather than hope they’ll fall in your lap.

Do Your Homework
It doesn’t matter how many interviews you get, if you’re not saying what they need to hear, you’re not getting the job. Remember that although lots of companies are hiring in the fall, lots of people are applying as well.

You’d be surprised at how many people don’t bother to do their homework before applying for a job. Your knowledge of the company and the industry shows your commitment and intelligence.

Before you go into an interview or job fair, you should learn about the industry’s key players, important trends, its history and future. You should also be able to demonstrate how your particular skills are suited for that industry.

After you’ve figured out the broader picture, narrow your focus to identify the specifics of the company. For instance, what role does it play in its industry? What are its key products and sources of revenue? What types of jobs are available? Finally, find out what makes the company different from others in the same industry. Does it have to do with its customers, products or culture?

A good place to start is on the company’s website. In addition to general information, you can often find links to articles written about the company as well as upcoming recruiting and presentation schedules. Your college career center is also a great resource for information about companies.

Plan Your Personal Marketing Campaign
Now that you have an idea of your target audience (i.e. desirable employers), you’re ready to prepare your marketing materials. Sometimes it helps to think of yourself as a one-person brand when preparing for a job hunt. Your resume, cover letter, portfolio and personal websites (including social media pages) are your marketing materials. Make sure they’re communicating the right messages.

Prepare your resume and cover letter as if you were addressing the needs of each company individually. Try to keep them short and relevant. Consult your college career center for advice on how to write the perfect resume, or go online for advice.

Your college career center can also help you prepare your elevator pitch (a short summary of who you are and why you’d be the perfect candidate), practice your interviewing skills and get your references in order.

Last but not least, make sure your personal appearance is communicating what you need it to say. Put together an interview wardrobe that’s both polished and comfortable. A suit is always a good investment, but make sure it fits. If you aren’t sure about the company’s dress code, it’s always better to err on the side of more formal business attire. It shows that you are serious about the job and ready to get to work.

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Nicole Cavazos writes about the job market for ZipRecruiter.

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