Tips for Applying for a Grown-Up Job | Advice for Seniors and Recent Graduates
Whether you're a high school student or a recent graduate (and whether you like it or not), applying for your first job or internship is likely on the not-so-distant horizon. I was there too a few years ago. I remember putting together a resumé and searching online listings for promising opportunities. My efforts paid off. In addition to photography, I also work part-time managing product data for a marketing department.
A few years ago I got to see some of the "other side" of the hiring process when our department brought interns and a new employee on board. I saw a bit of what was appreciated by those in charge of hiring, and I have a few practical tips for those of you who may be sending out applications soon.
Super obvious, I know. Job posts will usually conclude with instructions for how and where to apply. Make sure you apply using the requested method. Don't send an email if the post directs you to apply online. Don't use social media to apply unless the post asks you to. Include any requested special items (like a resumé or work samples.) Following instructions is an easy way to make a good first impression. It also makes sure your application doesn't get lost by going to the wrong place or getting separated from the others.
Write a cover letter. It doesn't have to be as scary as it sounds.
Just introduce yourself! That's the easiest way to think about it. A cover letter really doesn't need to be more than a few paragraphs about you and why you would be a good fit for the job. Include some examples of skills or experience you have and how you could use them to fulfill the job description. If you have the option to include a cover letter with your application or resumé, do it! A few short paragraphs can make a personal connection that will make you more memorable than applicants who don't include a letter.
Make a well-organized and informative resumé.
There's nothing wrong with an eye-catching design or layout, but the information in your resumé is way more important than the font style (and Times New Roman never hurt anyone.) Include relevant work history, volunteer experience, personal enrichment projects, and classes you've taken with specific examples of how those experiences relate to the job you're applying for. Don't stress about fitting everything on one page. It's okay if you have to move onto a second page as long as everything is relevant and related to the job.
Be aware of your social media presence.
It's 2021, and it's good to be aware there's a chance your employer will Facebook stalk you. This is really nothing to worry about, unless, of course, your Facebook photo is a picture of you burning down a gas station or something crazy like that. In that case you'll want to rethink what you post online (and what you do with your free time.) LinkedIn is another place your employer may look for you. If you have a LinkedIn profile, make sure it's complete and up-to-date, and include it on your resumé with your contact info. A good headshot is a nice touch. That way your potential employer can put a face with a name, which makes them more likely to remember you.
Those are my tips! Applying to your first "real" job or internship is a big deal and hopefully these tips are helpful to you (or at least reinforce the advice you've heard from your parents or academic advisor.) Best of luck in your job search!