Before it’s out of everyone’s minds, I think it’s important to look back on the events of November 6, 2012. Let’s try to learn something other than economist Nate Silver is a witch, and the Pentagon no longer provides funding for horses and bayonets.
In simple terms, the United States Presidential Election consists of a national public job interview with the most complicated selection process that could be conceived. And the position isn’t even that great. Sure the pay and benefit package is nice, but the bedroom and office are in the same building. Talk about lack of work/life balance.
If you think hearing anything else about Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney will bring you to tears, I ask that you bear with me and apply these 5 points to your own job search.
1. You can be extremely qualified and not get the job. Political opinion aside, Mitt Romney has a very impressive resume. A graduate of both Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School, he founded his own company, and served as Governor of Massachusetts. In the words of Montgomery Gentry, “that’s a life you can hang your hat on.” Yet, he still didn’t get the job.
And that’s okay.
Honors Finance student Zac Carson explains, “You have to realize that you won’t get every interview or every offer you go for, no matter your credentials. Keep your head up and keep pushing for jobs you want.” This is excellent advice, and was applied by Romney when he lost the 1994 Senate race to Ted Kennedy. Less than 10 years later, he was elected Governor.
2. It’s all about numbers. Obama and Romney knew they weren’t going to get electoral votes from every state, just as the job seeker knows they aren’t going to get every position applied for. Trying to get your first job from 50 different employers sounds ridiculous. But honestly, it’s not. In my 4 years of internships, and now full-time job-hunting, I’ve made every mistake in the book and learned a lot on the way.
One of the most important lessons is to cut each step’s number in half. For instance If you apply to 20 companies, you should hear back from maybe 10 for a phone interview or an on-campus interview. Of those 10, you may get an office interview with 5, and of those 5, a job offer from 2.
This is more of an average and based only on my experience. However, it’s a great rule of thumb and my go-to answer when students ask: “How many jobs should I apply to?” Basically, don’t be the kid I was freshman year, and apply to 3 internships, interview with 1, and walk away without any offers.
3. Some opinions carry more weight than others. As much as I love my home state of Georgia, I’m well aware that 16 electoral votes don’t have the effect of Florida’s 29. This is equally true with employees and the recruiting process. At career fairs, information sessions and pre-interview socials, it is better to talk to one or two people for an extended period of time than to jump from person to person with conversations of less than 5 minutes.
Even better, is to spend some time speaking with the recruiter. Depending on their workload, some employees will be able to make certain events but not others. It is almost guaranteed the head recruiter will be at every company event and most likely organizing interviews.
There’s a reason Obama and Romney spent so much time in certain states. If you can find the equivalence of Florida and Ohio in a firm’s employees, your chances of landing a job will greatly increase.
4. The less prestigious positions are still competitive and can be a great fit. For my Political Science readers, use “progressive ambition” to your advantage. Obama did a great job of using this to his advantage by building a base in the Chicago community, carrying that into the Illinois State Senate, then the US Senate, and finally to the White House.
There are many high-profile employers who visit Clark Howell Hall every year, and a lot of competitive students interview with them for just a few openings. While it’s natural to have that dream job or industry, maintaining an open mind will create opportunities left and right.
To apply this, instead of narrowing your Dawglink search results based strictly on your major, try to filter by “Internship” or “Full-Time.” While your results will go up and you’ll need to do a little more scrolling, being able to browse all the positions will allow you to apply where a similar major is listed, but not your exact degree. An internship in a new area can be the perfect way to gain experience for your dream job.
5. A few blemishes on your resume won’t kill you. Throughout the election and primaries, every mistake and perceived mistake, legitimate or rumor, is brought into the spotlight. As students, we have the advantage in that thousands of journalists and bloggers aren’t rifling through our life history.
Basically, don’t disqualify yourself! Too often students create an excuse to not apply for a position. I’ve been guilty of this myself.
“1-3 years of experience? I only have a summer internship.”
“Proficiency in Excel? I haven’t touched Excel in a year.”
Stop. Take 10-15 minutes to tweak your resume or even a half hour to change your cover letter. Focus on your strengths that are applicable to that position. More often than not, the positions I’m able to move forward in are the ones I thought I was unqualified for. On the other hand, the ones I don’t get invited to I usually saw myself as a shoe-in.
Let employers decided whether they’d like to hire you, don’t do it for them.
I hope these 5 points will help out when the going gets tough. Please leave any Presidential suggestions in the comments or tweet them to @CarcenUGA on Twitter!