It’s officially spring in Texas. With warmer weather and seasonal allergies comes the rude awakening into adulthood for graduating seniors: getting a job. Our final days on campus are consumed with tweaking resumes, re-writing cover letters, preparing for interviews and constantly monitoring our peer’s updated job statuses on Linkedin. It’s no secret that the job search is not an easy process. Especially now in the wake of COVID-19, which has left a historic dent in the US job market and ushered in a far from ideal 6.0% unemployment rate.
While maintaining a positive outlook during a time of virtual meetings and social distancing can be challenging, there is still hope for us aspiring professionals. What matters most during this time is standing out. Now more than ever, it is crucial for students to build their personal brands in order to truly make an impact in the candidate pool. The lists below share tips on the best ways to navigate interviews, how to improve your resume, and tricks to help avoid the LinkedIn blues. With these tips, you’ll be a shining candidate in the job hunt in no time!
5 Tips to Shine in Interviews
Do your homework: While this may seem like a no brainer, researching the company prior to the interview is key. This not only portrays your interest but it also allows for you to bring up talking points throughout the interview. For example, explore some of the company’s client work or campaigns they’ve done in the past. Mentioning a previous campaign or project will show the employer that you’ve done your homework.
Arrive early: Whether your interview is in person or via Zoom, you always want to make sure you arrive a few minutes early. This can help you get into the professional zone while also ensuring that you are timely.
Jot down some strengths and weaknesses: Prior to the interview, you want to come prepared with a short list of your strengths as well as some areas of personal improvement. You want to be prepared to discuss what strengths you can bring to the company, but also how you can learn and grow in the position you are seeking. Under this section, you can also share how your personal strengths have carried over into your accomplishments and problem-solving techniques. This is helpful as it shows the interviewer that you are always striving to produce the best quality work possible.
Ask questions: Ending an interview without asking the interviewer a question is a big blunder. Like the tip above, come prepared with several questions that you can ask either during or at the end of the interview. You should prepare at least five to seven questions, but keep in mind that you might not be able to ask all of them. Some sample questions you might want to consider asking may include:
What’s the day to day life for this position look like?
What goals do you have in mind for this position for the future?
What sets apart your agency from others in the area?
What are a few challenges that a candidate may face in this position?
What can you tell me about the company culture? Are there any initiatives or members of the company that are involved in?
Restate your interest: This is important to do, especially at the end of your interview. You want to reiterate your interest in the position while also thanking the interviewer for their time. It is also a good idea to send a follow up email after your interview emphasizing the insights you obtained from the discussion.
3 Hacks for Crafting a Great Resume
Position the most important information first: First and foremost, you want to tailor your resume with relevant information for the position you are applying for (i.e. skills you will bring to the table, relevant work experience etc.). You want to ensure that you are presenting the most pertinent information first. This will benefit not only you but also the recruiting manager, who will most likely review your resume very quickly. Positioning the most applicable material first will help them recognize your skill sets and values at a glance.
Include keywords from the job posting: What are some of the soft and hard skills mentioned in the job listing? You should find these keywords from the company’s job posting and include them in your resume. This is a useful tactic as employers are purposefully mentioning these keywords to describe their ideal candidate. You should strive to incorporate these buzzwords in your resume and your cover letter wherever they may apply.
Keep it professional, personal and memorable: You want to ensure that your resume is professionally worded. You should ALWAYS double and then triple check your spelling and grammar prior to hitting the submit button. Additionally, it would be beneficial for you to mention something unique and notable about yourself that the company can remember you by. Former Horned Frog Selena Connell, who now works as a Brand Media Coordinator at PMG Digital Media, shared with me how she included both her Myers Briggs and Enneagram personality type on her resume. This simple yet personal touch offered the interviewer a peek into how she works and who she is. She also mentioned how this technique prompted further discussions in her interview. You can still maintain a professional resume while also incorporating some personal touches. Reminder: your resume is a reflection of who you are. Provide future employers a look at what makes you the incredible human you are.
LinkedIn, LinkedIn, LinkedIn!
I have to admit, I was a bit late to the LinkedIn party. I created my profile at the beginning of my senior year of college. At first I felt intimidated and a little confused on how to properly navigate it. And honestly, I’m still learning LinkedIn best practices. So, if you are in the same boat, have no fear!
Here are a few LinkedIn best practice pointers that Roxo’s Project Manager, Morgan Jeansonne, has put together for the Roxo staff. Below I’ve shared some of the pointers from her list that have significantly improved my presence and credibility on LinkedIn.
Link feature work: A tip for improving your LinkedIn presence is to upload your resume, previous work, and projects. To do this, click on the tab titled ‘add profile section’ and then hit the arrow under ‘featured’. This is where you can add posts, links, media and articles. Adding featured work is a great way for employers and recruiters to see examples of your excellent work while also making it easier for viewers to navigate your page.
Add “About” section: Like the previous tip, this section can be found under the ‘add profile section’ tab on your profile. This section is perfect for a little summary about who you are. You should include your major, minor, graduation year, career goals etc. Don’t be afraid to share a story about yourself—the best way to stand out is to be unique!
Update your work experience: Be sure to add past internships and job experiences with companies. Remember to include the job title, a description, and what you accomplished during this experience.
Add skills, relevant coursework & accomplishments: These three additions can be found under the ‘add profile section’. The ‘skills’ tab is listed after “background” and before “accomplishments”. Here, you should list off some of your noteworthy skills and strengths. Your teammates, co-workers and even past employers can endorse these skills on your profile, so you certainly want to make sure you have an updated list of your skills. Finally, you should add your relevant coursework, awards and honors you’ve received under the “accomplishments” tab. Adding all the above topics will allow your profile to be more complete and credible.
Commit to spending time on LinkedIn: This last pointer is one the most important recommendations I have for graduating seniors. You want to ensure that you are dedicating quite a bit of time on LinkedIn everyday. Think of LinkedIn as your professional Instagram. You should aim to be on LinkedIn at least once a day. This doesn’t mean that you need to post everyday, however, you should be interacting, liking, sharing, and commenting on others' posts as much as you can. Spending some serious time on LinkedIn helps boost the activity on your page. The more active you are, the more likely you are to be noticed by future employers!
Why Should You Care?
So why should you care? I too am a graduating senior. Come May, I will graduate with a degree in Strategic Communication and a minor in Film, Television and Digital Media. Throughout this semester, I’ve been overwhelmed by the level of competitiveness in our current job market. After some reflection, I realized that I had to dedicate some serious time to build my personal brand in order to position myself as a shining candidate.
My intentions behind this article are to offer guidance to graduating seniors who have felt just as intimidated by this whole process as I have. I have implemented the insights listed above and believe that these little changes have allowed me to better position myself as a young professional. I hope that graduating seniors can read this article and find my suggestions useful in their own endeavors navigating the job market.
Annin Decker is senior Strategic Communication major with a minor in Film, Television & Digital Media. Annin has been a member of Roxo for two semesters. Currently, she serves as a Creative Director where she is responsible for co-managing her team as well as tasked with handling all creative deliverables. Annin enjoys being a part of the TCU Yearbook, watching sports, photography, and spending time with her friends.