Leah Otner worked as a college intern for NGS during 2020. She assisted with social media, marketing materials and shared insights as a college student trying to navigate the search process. We asked her to document and share her experience and lessons learned as she graduates and takes that Next Great Step towards her first job.

How to Survive the Job Search—From Someone Who’s Currently Going Through It

Leah Otner- Northeastern University ‘21

So you’ve finally made it—the summer after graduation! Although it’s easy to get caught up in the excess free time and beautiful weather, for many post-grads, summer also indicates that it’s time to ramp up the job search. As somebody who is currently going through the process after just graduating Northeastern University in May, here are five things that I’ve learned so far.

Don’t compare yourself

In a world dominated by social media, sometimes it can feel like everyone you know is finding work. LinkedIn for instance is a super helpful tool, but as a recent grad, sometimes seeing my peer’s job postings made me feel alone or discouraged. However, over the past few months I’ve learned that sometimes, people’s experiences aren’t always the way they make them out to be online. It’s important to remember that everyone’s path is different and you never know the full story. Try to take all the energy you would use to compare yourself and put it towards furthering your own job search efforts. And remember, even if you feel like others may judge you or your decisions in the process, most people think in terms of themselves and what affects them and their lives. You will always be your own worst critic.

Follow Your Gut

We have gut instincts for a reason. If something about a recruiter, job position or work environment doesn’t sit right with you, follow that feeling. Do your own research, ask questions, have conversations with people that you trust. Hiring managers should welcome your curiosity and answer your questions without judgment. You should never have to pay to be considered for a job or feel rushed or forced to take a position that doesn’t feel right. I’ve learned that although my first job will most likely not be the job of my dreams, it is still an important life stage that we ALL deserve to be excited about.

Patience is a Virtue

Although to you, landing a job might feel like the most important thing, remember that most companies have a lot more going on in their day-to-day. For some companies, their hiring process takes a few days. For others, it can take a few weeks. Trust me, I know how frustrating the waiting in between interview rounds can be. In fact, I had to alter my entire mindset. At first, I expected to hear back from a company in a few days, which made waiting three weeks seem like an eternity. But when I altered my expectations, hearing back after a few days was a pleasant surprise! In the meantime, don’t stop applying and keep your opportunities open. Be patient with the process…good things come to those who wait.

Network, Network, Network

After a solid month of blindly submitting applications, I realized that I could apply to 100 jobs, but if I didn’t have a connection with someone on the inside, 9 times out of 10, my resume would get brushed over. I’ve learned that in addition to sending out applications, it’s just as important to create informational interviews with people in my network. I used LinkedIn to reach out to alumni at companies that interested me and I talked to everyone from marketing associates to CMOs. It was SHOCKING how helpful some of them were. Not only did I receive interview tips and general career advice, but some people even offered to write me a letter of recommendation!

Give Every Opportunity Your All

You never know what a company is looking for. So even if a job opportunity seems like it may require more experience or doesn’t align perfectly with your major, see it through. You may be exactly what a recruiter is looking for! And even if you aren’t a perfect fit for that particular position, if you wow the hiring manager, they may have another role for you that aligns more with your skills. The same goes for informational interviews: treat them like they are the real deal because chances are, the person you are speaking with can recommend you for a position you’d be great for. So bottom line: make the most of every opportunity you’re given. I realized that at the very least, giving every interview my all secured me a new and valuable connection.

The hiring landscape and the ways to get hired keep changing…but there are jobs out there and companies are hiring. If you know a grad that needs help with the one-way interview or landing the job, we can help at www.nextgreatstep.com. Set up a free discovery call HERE.