Let’s face it, the summer job search is really not fun for anyone. But I love the thought of finding a brand new summer opportunity, because it’s the perfect time to learn outside of the classroom while gaining new contacts and new resume material. Last year I was lucky enough to have a fairly successful job search, so I’ve raised the bar for myself this year – and you should too! Here are a few of my secrets for nailing the summer job search:
1. Start Early: Because a successful businesswomen does not disclose all of her secrets, I didn’t tell you earlier that your job hunt should begin as early as November. Believe it or not, a lot of larger companies post their positions this early, probably because of the overwhelming amount of applications they have to go through. But worry not my friends, you can still start now and find some good opportunities. In my experience, most of the jobs are posted between now and mid to late March, but I’ve seen decent jobs posted up until mid-April.
2. Exhaust Your Resources: If you’re using that same job search site every day, you’re going to miss out on a lot of amazing postings elsewhere. Some postings will only be posted on company websites, while others will only be posted on particular job search aggregators. So if you want to make the most out of your search, utilize a few different websites to access the widest variety. What websites do I like to use? That’s one secret I’ll never tell. (Can you tell I’ve been binge-Netflixing Gossip Girl this week?)
3. Put in Work: I may be preaching to the choir with this tip, but you really should be using your summers to gain practical skills in your field. So you have to work long hours and weekends (and sometimes even statutory holidays)? Welcome to the real world! If you want to be 30 years old with your own cottage on the lake and 4 weeks of paid vacation, then you better pay your dues now. Your early 20’s are absolutely crucial in building the skills, knowledge, experience, and contacts required to be uber successful in your later years – don’t waste them. Turning down an entry level position in your field (or not applying altogether) because it prevents you from sitting by the pool as much as you’d like, is a clear indicator that you don’t want your dream job as badly as you may think.
4. When in Doubt: Apply!: So you find a cool internship, but you feel like you don’t possess all of the skills or qualifications the job is asking for. Don’t let this keep you from applying, but put a little more thought into your cover letter to ensure you at least land an interview. Try to connect as many of your experiences as possible to the required qualifications – even if you don’t have the exact skills the posting is asking for, many recruiters can see passion in an effort to demonstrate what you would bring to the table. Additionally, sometimes there’s more value in your past experience working at McDonald’s than you may think.
5. Keep Your Options Open: So you land a job, that’s awesome! Feel free to accept it, but as long as you don’t sign anything, I strongly encourage you to keep applying to other positions in the meantime. You never know what else is out there, and personally, I’d rather have a couple options to choose from. But apart from that, keeping your options open also means keeping an open mind. Realistically, it’s a competitive world out there, and you should be jumping at every opportunity that comes your way. It’s hard not to have a strong focus on money, work/life balance, and other factors – but at 21 years old, you should not consider yourself ‘above’ starting from the bottom.