I've learned a lot about what it takes to get a job in the last four years. From being a grunt landscaper or bike salesman to interning at an awesome software company and now moving into a senior level position in a startup, I'm confident in my ability to get the jobs that I scope out. College has proven to be a grade A foot-in-the-door, but not the end all be all of landing your dream job. Now that I've accepted a full time position, I feel like I'm a little bit more qualified to give a few tips on how to get the job you're trying to land.
1) Be Proactive
It's never too early to get out and start looking for a job. If you know a company hires intern in the summer and it’s September, shoot out a feeler email to someone — anyone — in the company. You must make the connections. It starts as soon as you get the confidence to throw your name in the hat. Throw out any voices about not being good enough, not having enough experience, or being too young. The worst thing that can happen is you get turned down.
2) Be Prepared
Nothing says “I want this job” quite like being over-prepared. If you’re going through a phone interview, have your resume and cover letter out and pull up the company’s website at the very least. In a phone interview, it is really important to take notes of the conversations so you can refer back to the things you talked about in the first few minutes, later in the interview. Bring up aspects and talking points from your first conversation when you see them again for the in-person interview (because I promise you will get it if you want it).
3) Be Persistent
Applying for a job isn’t the same as scoring a number for formal. It’s business. Young people get too wrapped up into social norms for interpersonal connection, but they forget that talking to a future employer is different than talking to Suzie from chemistry. Send a few emails, make a few phone calls each month, be a stage five clinger for what it's worth. Remind them to think of you and that you want to work with them. They’re not going to call you annoying. It’s ok to be a 'pest.' If your efforts don't match their culture, you shouldn't work there anyway.
Once I wanted to send a dumb card that I designed about grabbing a piece of pie together. I had a clever note written on the inside that made me smile while I wrote it and even placed my business card folded into the note. I never sent it. Why? Because I thought they would see it and laugh. To this day I regret not sending it. That note was me. From the thought of sending the card to the card itself and what I wrote in the card. If they appreciated it, it would have been a good fit. Otherwise, it would have been a bad match anyway.
4) Be Personable
In this day in age, business is going digital more and more. Even McDonald’s does their application process over the internet or in-store on a desktop computer from 1998. For this reason, it is immensely important to get as much interpersonal contact as possible from before applying, until your last interview. Get your foot in the door where you want the job. Meet people and be personal to get your name and face stuck in their head so when your application rolls around, they say “Oh! That’s Jake from State Farm!” Keep a connection with someone in the company by email, phone call, and handwritten thank-you letters. These things will also help to prevent interview jitters.
5) Be Professional, but don’t forget how to party
Obviously, as with any job interview, you have to be professional. This means you show up early, shave your face, and put yourself together in a clean fashion. Maybe even wear your fancy pants and nice undies. Talk like you know what you’re talking about even if you don’t, but don’t bullshit. Be transparent, but classy. Be humble yet confident. (Confidumble? Humfident?) While it is important to be professional, it is also important to show your potential employer what you are like as a real life person. It’s okay to crack a joke, talk about what you’re excited about, get an idea of what makes your employer tick. They want to know that you’ll get the job done, but they want to know that you’ll fit in. The recent trend in hiring — especially for entry-level positions — is to hire for attitude and train the skill.