Summer has already started for most college-aged kids, but that doesn't mean they've started working. If you have a son or daughter who is home from college and struggling to land a job, I feel your pain. My two college-aged kids didn't quite land their full-time jobs right away in the spring, and they had to scramble a bit once they got home.
I ended up helping them by doing a lot of job searches online, helping them fill out applications, and even drove them to the interviews. What can I say? I'm just trying to help. During our frequent conversations, I mentioned a few important tips that helped them find jobs that will keep them busy this summer.
1. Leverage every opportunity
One of the mistakes I'm seeing with college applicants is that they tend to pick the job they really want and only pursue that one. They might half-heartedly apply to a few other summer jobs, but during the interview, the hiring manager sees right through the mirage. A better approach? You really have to leverage your job search. Apple to 20 jobs, knowing that only five will call you back. Interview for all five, knowing only one or two will make an offer. This is a good lesson about how to apply for a job after graduation...and how to do business in general. Leveraging is always smart strategy.
2. Accept any job, then keep looking
It sounds a bit ruthless, but we're talking about summer employment here. Everyone knows this is a temporary role before college starts again in the fall. It's not a long-term commitment, is likely not going to be a dream job, and you're not planning on letting the work interfere with college. So...get tough. You can accept a position and then keep right on applying and interviewing. Keep applying until you land the best job.
3. Align the job with your career goals
Now, once you've leveraged the search and become a bit ruthless about accepting jobs but continuing to look for a better position, stay focused on a role that aligns with your career choice. My son wants to work with kids eventually, so he took a job at the Boys & Girls Clubs where he won't make as much money but will earn a ton of experience. The "best" job might not be the one that pays the most but helps boost your resume.
4. Practice for the interview
I told my college-aged kids to practice for the interview. They looked at me with a blank stare. Why bother? Well, because that's what you will do when you apply for a job after college graduation, and it's a smart way to approach a job search. My daughter applied to a summer program working with kids, and I knew the boss was going to ask why she wanted the job, how she dealt with a difficult situation in previous jobs, and what her career goals are after she graduates. We didn't actually do a mock interview, but she did have a good grasp of what to say--and, it worked. She got the best job.
5. Show your confidence
Confidence is something you have to own. You demonstrate it, and you have to make it obvious. In interviews, I told my kids to avoid saying "um" or pausing too long before answering. I mentioned how you need to look at the hiring manager right in the eye. I talked about not slouching in a chair. This was all a refresher for them--they've read my articles. Yet, they knew they had to be mindful of how they portrayed themselves during the interview. A new boss will look for confidence cues. Show them in spades.