The Hard Way to Get Your First Interview
Updated: Nov 5, 2019
Congratulations! You’re about to graduate in a couple of weeks. After the endless partying you realize that you’re about to enter the real world like the rest of us. And that you need to start job hunting.
And if you’re like me, the word “job hunting” is enough to make you panic. I get it. But there is no need to panic.
Your first job search can be daunting. You have never done it before and you don’t even know where to begin.
You search the internet for the “easiest” or “simplest” or the “fastest” way to land a job. You get a list of hacks, some also tell you about new psychology tricks.
At the end of the day, you’ve gone through dozens of expert blogs and you’re ready to nail that interview. Alas, you don’t have an interview lined up.
It is only after a month has gone by that you realize that instead of focusing on the easy or the fastest way, you should’ve focused on the hard way.
The hard way to land an interview.
So I’ve created this guide for you. You can refer to it anytime and use it as a checklist of the things that you need to do to get that job.
Where to start?
Before you start to write your resume and upload it to job search apps, you have to do a lot of work. First of all, you need to pause and figure out what you want to do.
Figuring out what you want to do is the first step. And often the most difficult.
Step 1: What do you want to do?
This is the big question nobody has the answer to. And only you can speak for yourself. And before you again start to panic, let me assure you that it is perfectly correctly to not be sure of what you want to do with your life. I’ve been there too.
Nobody expects you to have figured out your life. Just your first job. And if you haven’t decided about that, just consider what you like. Your favorite class or major in college, any activity or club that you were fond of and have actively participated in.
Your answer to these questions will help you in zeroing in on an industry. Might not be able to figure out the job title but definitely an industry. And that is a good start.
Now refine it further by thinking what an ideal day for you would be like? What would be the responsibility that you would love to have? Take these observations and keep repeating it further and further again. You’ll end up with a job description that can be satisfied with a job title.
I know that you don’t want to be unemployed but that does not mean that you pounce on the first job that you get. You might be pressurized by friends and family but stay firm and be the only one who gets to decide your career. You’ll thank me later.
Once you have a job title, you also need to consider the job location, whether you’re comfortable with travelling or not, startup or a well established firm and what is the minimum salary that you’d be comfortable with.
You might get tempted by the job that pays the highest, but at this point in your career, you need a job which teaches you the most. The job with loads of learning and non-transferable skills. These jobs might be difficult during the initial days but will be highly rewarding after a couple of years. Your growth trajectory will resemble something that you could've never imagined.
Once you have decided on what career path you want to take, it is time to write your resume.
Step 2: Write a resume for fresh graduates
If you’ve just completed your college, chances are high that you will not have a lot of content for your resume. You need to devote some serious time and effort into writing your first resume.
It is the only document that the hiring manager will look at.
Read more on How to write a resume.
Begin with collecting all the information that you’ll need to include in your resume. Your academic record, extra-curricular activities, any achievements and your internship experience if you have any.
Then you need to organize this information to craft a professional resume. An important point that you need to remember is that your resume needs to be written keeping in mind the job that you’re applying for.
A standard format is experience followed by qualifications and then skills. Try to avoid objective statements.
You can also resume builders if you’re still not sure and want some professional help with the editing and format. These professional resume builders can help you get started in no time.
Cut the fluff from your resume
Before saving and submitting your resume, you need to edit and make a few changes.
Reduce the resume to one page. This is non negotiable and unless you have tons of extra-curricular and internship experience, keep it to one page only.
Make sure that your resume is ATS friendly. Most companies employ an ATS to track job applications. And if you want you resume to be read by an actual human, you might want to make a few small changes.
Check for grammar and spelling mistakes.
Have a friend/relative take a look at your resume.
Step 3: Write a cover letter
The cover is an easily overlooked opportunity. It is a chance for you to elaborate your experiences and for fresh graduates, you can use it to talk about the different things you did in your college and how they all connect with each other.
Use the description mentioned in the online job application to write a cover letter tailored for every job.
Your cover letter should have enough information and will tend to fit in one page. The biggest mistake that you can make is stuffing too much information in your cover letter that it resembles your resume.
Make sure that you read the job description accurately. Often the recruiters want certain information to be mentioned in the cover letter.
If you want to make your life easier, you can invest in a career coach who can help you with the resume and your cover letter.
Step 4: Create your online brand
Now that you’ve created your resume and cover letter, it is time to create your online presence. Because for nearly every job, you’ll be Googled by a recruiter.
For starters, get your LinkedIn account ready. Create an awesome summary highlighting your skills and achievements. It does not stop here.
You need to be active and engaged here. This means keeping your profile updated, sharing posts and engaging with other people you feel comfortable with it. You can contribute to groups, comment on articles and record your professional achievements.
Most of us overlook LinkedIn but it can cost you a job. Recruiters often use LinkedIn to source and filter candidates. The better your LinkedIn profile, the better are your chances of making a good impression.
Step 5: Find job vacancies
Now you need to scour the job search apps for job vacancies. This is the most time consuming and hectic step. You can use LinkedIn, Muse, Glassdoor, Indeed and many other job search apps available online.
While most career websites are over flowing with job posts, not all of them are suitable for you. Stick to one or two job portals but use them daily. Keep your job criteria in mind. Keep your profile updated on these portals and try to follow some recruiters who post regularly.
When you find a job application that you want to apply, save that job application in an application tracker like Jobtrackable. Jobtrackable is a job application organizer and will help you store, manage and track all your job applications.
Mindlessly applying at every vacancy isn’t going to help you. You need to be focused and disciplined in your approach. Nevertheless, you are going to apply to hundreds of jobs and a job application organizer will prove useful.
Read the job description carefully and make changes if necessary to your cover letter. Remember, this might seem difficult, but the effort is worth it.
A large number of job vacancies are not advertised. You’ll have to find a way to get your foot in the door. Networking with the right set of people can be helpful. And in this age, there is no better tool for professional networking than LinkedIn.
Read more Why you should not overlook LinkedIn
When you can’t find a vacancy on any job portal or the company’s website, make use of LinkedIn.
Search the HR team of that company. Reach out to them with a polite and crisp message highlighting why you want to join and why your skills are useful for them. Remember, keep it professional. It’s not Facebook.
Additionally, you can also connect with your college alumni and seek their support.
Step 6: Follow up on job applications
Your work is not done after applying to the jobs. Most job seekers spend over 11 hours looking for a job. And the single best thing you can do to increase your chances of landing that interview is to follow up on your job application.
Recruiters are busy. They have tons of job applications to review. And it is not uncommon for your job application to get overlooked. You need to get their attention. And no better way to remind them that you are persistent and serious about the job than by following up.
The first step to following up on your application is to organize your job search. And you organize your job search by using a job application tracker.
You store all the jobs that you have applied or want to apply with tool and set reminders. Jobtrackable will automatically remind you when you need to follow up and you can then send a follow up email.
Step 7: Eat. Sleep. Repeat
Job search isn’t easy. It takes a lot of work. Most of which is mundane. But the worst thing that you can do is quit. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get a response in the first week. A lot of the recruiters are overloaded with tons of job applications.
Have faith and keep applying. You’ll soon land your first interview.