Monday, 25 January 2016

From One Student to Another: Tips and Tricks for Job Hunting

I need a job
Bills are due, you owe your parents money, you need to buy textbooks, and you desperately want a new phone since your iPhone 5 has started shutting down randomly. There’s only one problem: you don’t have a job.

There’s a constant nagging voice at the back of your mind that gets vocalized by only those closest to you who are brave enough to say it, even if it means tough love. They’re saying “get a job!” and you’re nervous because, guess what? It’s not that easy.

While I’m not expert at job hunting (like the University’s Career Centre), but I have been in the above situation more than once, and can now say that I currently have an iPhone 6 that, fortunately, stays on when I need it to.

Throughout each of my long summer and part-time job searches (which always feel like they’ll take longer than my degree,) I spoke to a few career counsellors and did a little bit of research that might help others who are in a similar situation. And while sharing that Facebook post of “The Lucky Dog Who Will Get You A Job If You Share” probably won’t hurt, it’s a safer bet to get out into the world and try your very best.

I’ve used the University’s Career Centre website (formerly known as CAPS) to help create this list:

1. Know what you’re after and have an open mind

Have an open mind
Image courtesy of

Life doesn’t always turn out exactly as you plan, but that’s part of the charm! Be aware of opportunities and engage in different activities outside of academia that follow your interests.

If you have a specific career or job that you’re absolutely set on, then try volunteering or applying to different jobs that still sound interesting to you (even if they aren’t your ultimate dream job). It definitely won’t hurt, and you might actually find a position better suited to your talents and interests.

And if you still don’t really know what kind of career you’d like, don’t worry. Take an inventory of your interests, skills, values, and personality and see what kinds of job descriptions are looking for those same skills, values, etc. You might also want to consider setting up an appointment with a Career Advisor who can help get you on the right track.

2.  Keep practicality and feasibility in mind

Travel far?
Image courtesy of tumbr

If a job needs you to move across country and you a) are still working on your degree (and therefore need to be here) b) don’t already have money to help support the living costs needed for a different city (especially if you’re looking for your next summer job) or c) both of the above, then it’s probably not practical or feasible for you to accept it (or to apply in the first place). Google Maps is one tool that can help you figure out if a job is accessible to you and your transport methods. Take into account how much time you can commit to the job too, and if there are any costs associated with it, see if you can find funding opportunities. (i.e. if you want to spend your summer working abroad, are there ways to get some funding to do so.)

3. Get some experience

Get Experience - Volunteer!
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Avoid the awful catch-22 of “I need experience to get a job, but I need a job to get experience”. Experience comes in all shapes and size (so to speak), including volunteering, internships, working abroad, finding jobs on and off campus, or participating in undergraduate research. These experiences can teach you a lot about yourself while also giving you transferable skills, like working effectively in a team, communicating efficiently, and building a strong work ethic. So even if you don’t have traditional work experience, there are many other ways in which you demonstrate related experience on your resume.

4. Dedicate time to the cause

Look into things first
Image courtesy of Pintrest

Getting a job takes time, so allot some time for it. Whether you do it in between classes or while waiting for your laundry, the more time you give to your job search the more effective it will be. Researching, tailoring your essay, finding references, creating a cover letter, applying and doing interviews doesn’t come overnight, so plan and ask for help. Even close friends and family can help give you advice from their own experiences and, of course, there are always career advisors who you can reach out to.

If you’re interested in a specific type of career or job (again, either for the summer, part-time, or for your post-graduation days) then don’t be afraid to ask the professionals who already do those jobs. Let them share their experience and wisdom with you through job shadowing or career information interviews.

The Career Centre has some pretty amazing programs to aid in this step: Rapid Reviews (of your resume, LinkedIn profile, CV, or portfolio), numerous presentations, workshops, and seminars, job shadow week, and the summer job fair.

5. Be positive and confident

Just be you
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You have talent, skills, and interests that define you as an individual and as a worker. You are valuable. You have agency. You will make it.

Remaining positive and confident during this whole process is a crucial aspect. You might apply to fifteen different positions and not get one call back — but nothing is hopeless with the right attitude. Keep a support system of family, friends, and peers around you, to help you through the application and interview experience. Also, if and when you do speak with potential employers, remember that it’s not about just making the “right” impression – it’s about making your impression. Be content with yourself and let them get to know you.

Before an interview, I usually listen to some pump-up music that puts me in a good mood and gives me a little confidence boost. I avoid finding out who else has applied for the same jobs I have, and make sure that I remind myself that I will be okay if I don’t end up getting a job I really wanted. Remembering that you are still you regardless of what job you may or may not get can keep you from feeling disappointed and burned out, so be sure to make time check-in and appreciate yourself.

Although these steps can’t guarantee you a job or career, hopefully they will make it easier for you. As always, if you need any help whatsoever don’t hesitate to contact the Career Centre.

Now, go get yourself a job!
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Rachel - YouAlberta Contributor

Rachel never leaves her house without a pair of good headphones, her current favourite read, and a cup of tea. She’s a third-year English Major and Linguistics Minor who mainly enjoys hanging out with cats, but will leave their side for the promise of some live music and the company of friends. Some of her dreams include sleeping in and never running into a scary insect ever again.


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