Landing your dream job, let alone any job out of college, is challenging. There are so many factors that go into deciding what you want to do. No one is immune from job search difficulties, neither experienced employees nor entry-level job seekers. During your four years of college, you’re going to get advice and hear suggestions from hundreds of different people, all of who have ideas of what you should do in order to land a job. And remember, just because you’re starting from an entry-level position doesn’t mean that it won’t turn into your dream job.
As employers who empower people to find purpose, here’s what we think important steps to take you want to your dream job right out of college:
Be proactive—about everything. No one is more ambitious, purpose-driven “go-getters” than Generation Zers. If you fall under that category, you need to channel your inner fire and figure out what you want to do – then go get it. Of course, you don’t want to be a nuisance, but follow up with the hiring managers (or if you’re bold enough, the executives you can find) and let them know why you’re the right person for that job. What is your superpower and how can they use it? Follow up from a professional email and ensure you proofread everything.
Make good first impressions. In every scenario in which you’re meeting another professional, you need to be your best. If you’re meeting hiring managers or recruiters in person at a career fair or interviewing with a company, remember to dress to impress. Don’t forget to shake hands (or fist bump nowadays), have engaging and enthusiastic body language and have a good attitude. Always come prepared with intelligent questions that help you understand what the role will be to make informed decisions about your future. In addition, as you’ve probably heard a million times, have a good resume. Often, you won’t get to meet someone before they see your resume. Have a guidance counselor or professor proofread it. Work hard on this list of accomplishments, be simple and concise and be sure to include your contact information, education, prior work experiences and interests.
Get internships. Whether you’ve just started college or you’re in your last semester, consider how beneficial internships can be in your search for your dream job. Maybe you’ve had internships with the same company a few summers in a row and you’ve figured out exactly what you want to do or don’t want to do. Either way, internships are great opportunities to get in front of employers, learn new transferrable skills that can be used in future jobs and get to know yourself as a professional in a work environment. If you can land internships throughout your college experience, either in the summer or to supplement your class schedule, you’ll elevate your resume and skillset tenfold. When you go to interview for that dream job, you’ll have experiences to talk about, lessons learned, and you’ll understand your strengths and weaknesses so you can advocate for yourself.
Try new things to make yourself stand out. Have you ever wanted to try something but didn’t have a reason to or felt fear going into it? If you do anything in college, you should try new things. Are there any exciting clubs or organizations at your school that would teach you something new, even if not work-related? Employers look for things that make you stand out, whether that’s on your resume, in your cover letter or an interview. When hiring managers are receiving thousands of resumes per open position per week, they’re not going to have time to read through every detail you’ve included. You could have worked at the most prestigious company, but if someone else had experience traveling the world to learn new languages, that might be the differentiator of who they call for an interview. Now, you don’t have to do anything that crazy, and not everyone has the opportunity. Still, if you can throw yourself into an environment that challenges you or shows that you want to learn something new, it’s bound to stand out and speak to your character, which is becoming increasingly important to employers.
Focus on what’s important. If you’re not sure what your dream job may be, that’s okay. It may not be as evident to you as it is to some people, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have a dream job. Maybe the best job scenario for you is that you’re happy in your environment, if the work isn’t your passion. Or, maybe it’s the opposite, and you dream about being a financial analyst because you enjoy the challenge and pressure to succeed. Whatever it is, think long and hard about what’s important to you, what you’re willing to sacrifice and what you’re not. You can find something that makes you happy day in and day out, even if every day isn’t perfect. If you care about company culture above anything but feel the peer pressure to work somewhere more “prestigious,” the best thing you can do is be honest with yourself because it’s about you, not anyone else.
Your dream job is whatever will make you happy and serves as an opportunity to grow and succeed. Figuring out your definition of success depends on how much you’ve allowed your experiences to teach you, even if they only teach you what you don’t want to do. Have fun trying new things and getting to know yourself as a professional. Your dream job is out there waiting!