May is here and for college students across the country, the end of the school year is in sight. Many of your friends and classmates may be preparing to head home or temporarily relocate for a summer job or internship, leaving you lonely or left out if you’re still in the process of job hunting. Don’t get discouraged, though — it’s not too late to secure a full or part-time position. Use this checklist from Career Coach Kim Nylander Herrera to help you achieve success with your summer job search.
Summer job search to dos:
- Review and update your resume. By this time, you most likely have a resume on hand. If you’re an upperclassman or graduating senior, you have invested a great deal of time and effort into getting your resume in top shape. However, it can be amazing how many things can change in a few months: the work study program you completed last quarter, the extracurricular group you joined, the cross-functional project you participated in. Take the time to ensure that your resume is up to date and includes your most recent activities as employers value the leadership skills that these accomplishments demonstrate. At the same time, keep it tight and to the point. The article, “Writing Effective Resumes and Cover Letters” suggests treating your resume as a sales tool: everything on your resume should support your objective. If it doesn’t, leave it off.
- Create a structured job search plan. The end of the school year is an exciting and busy time when finals and year-end activities can bog you down with competing priorities. Therefore, create a schedule of certain days and times dedicated to the job search and stick to it as much as possible. In addition, set up a method for tracking jobs you’ve applied to and actions you have taken, such as an Excel spreadsheet that details the date you applied for various jobs and the method you used for each application (online, via mail or in-person). This information will prove invaluable when you need to follow up with employers regarding your application. Margaret Krantz of Hanover College’s career center offers some quick tips for students on how to connect with employers regarding submitted job applications in her article “How to Follow Up Without Being a Pest.”
- Develop a multi-prong approach to locate job openings. When searching for a summer job, the best strategy is to utilize as many resources as possible to diversify your search: leverage your school’s career services office, register with temporary agencies, talk to friends and family members and set up job alerts with job boards that specialize in posting positions for college students such as Monster.com’s niche site for college students — college.moster.com.
- Make networking a priority. The end of the school year is an ideal time for get-togethers — BBQs, beach outings, graduation parties, weddings, etc. Use these opportunities to renew old contacts and develop new ones. However, remember whenever possible to take advantage of the networking opportunities and contacts you have before school ends. It is easier to connect with people when they are just down the hall or sitting across a lecture hall than when they’re suddenly 200 or 2,000 miles away. Not sure where to start when it comes to networking? Alexis Grant offers students six techniques in her September 2011 usnews.com article “6 Ways to Network While You’re in College.”
- Check the availability of your references. For many professionals, summer is the time to schedule family vacations and time away from the office. For professors, it may also be a time to travel to international conferences and other off-campus events. For this reason, be sure to follow-up with your references to determine their availability to talk to potential employers on your behalf. Ask for and make a note of what each person’s best method of contact is for the summer months — email, cell phone or an office line.
- Brush up on your interview skills. Now is also the time to practice tough interview questions. In Chapter 4 of How to Interview like a Top MBA: Job-Winning Strategies from Headhunters, Fortune 100 Recruiters, and Career Counselors, Dr. Shel Leanne offers tips on how to answer the toughest interview questions by helping you identify your top personal attributes as they apply to specific jobs.
- Volunteer. If the job search is taking longer than anticipated, sign up to be a volunteer for a cause you care about and, if possible, one that is related to your long-term professional goals. Linda Whitney’s article “How Volunteering Can Give You that Vital Edge” explains that volunteering is a way to demonstrate to employers that you are a dedicated, emerging professional, and it will help you develop a broader network of contacts, while developing industry-related skills — all while giving back.
- Take care of yourself. Finally, bear in mind that the job search can often be a hectic and stressful process. Eating right, exercising regularly and getting together with friends and family members are important factors in helping to keep you relaxed and motivated while you work toward reaching your summer employment goal. Experience.com’s jobs and career blog offers some low cost, quick stress management tips to help you during your search. WebMD also offers a robust list of stress management techniques you can start implementing today.
Kim Nylander Herrera is the owner and founder of Navitas Human Capital Consulting. She has a background in designing and leading human resource programs and initiatives for Fortune 500, nonprofit and emerging business. Ms. Herrera is also Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC) who utilizes her in-depth knowledge of the human resource function to assist individuals in accelerating their career growth.