Job Hunting 101 for Students

Yes, I am still continuing with my posts on Grad School, research and all-of-that. The big question for most of us towards the end of school is ‘Whats next?’, a lot of us want to get jobs immediately afterwards but realize too late that it’s much more difficult than we thought. Here are a couple of tips.

1. Get the skills you need while you’re still in school

Learn as much as possible: leadership, teamwork, computer literacy, and relevant industry skills. Once you acquire these skills, relentlessly hone them till you stand out. There are always ways to excel: software packages to learn, online courses to take and certifications to earn.

Ideally the learning process should start years before you graduate. However, if no one ever told you this before, then start now! No, graduation is not so far away; it’s much closer than you think.

2. Network, Seek mentors

The easiest way to get a job (in my opinion) is through referrals – Mr. A knows Mr. B and refers him. Be bold and confident, create a really polite email asking to be a protegé and tell your potential mentors about your aspirations and career goals. You’ll be surprised by the amount of help mentors can offer through their network, experience and wisdom.

I have gotten referrals through my friends and mentors, so I know it works, try it out too.

3. Prepare a strong CV and cover letter

Your CV is probably the first measure of your skills that your potential employer will see, so make sure you dedicate lots of time to it. Sanitize your online profiles, review your LinkedIn profile (create one if you don’t have any) and create accounts on job portals.

Ideally your CV should be one page long; if you have more pages you probably should cut some insignificant detail. Jump start your rewrite with these templates here. Create a cover letter too, this might make the difference.

4. Apply to Jobs, internships, everything

Apply for every promising opportunity: the more applications you send out the higher your chances of success. I am not advocating applying to jobs requiring 90 years of experience in alien technology for Saturn – you’ll end up wasting your time and that of the recruiters.

You should have an application strategy, create a list of organizations you like and apply to them. If you don’t meet their requirements, go to step 1 above. Since you have nothing to lose (and a lot to gain), you should apply to other firms too; if you don’t get an offer, at least you’ll have learnt more about the application process.

Important! It’s always better to reach out to the recruiters and/or people in charge of recruiting directly. I’ll give you two stories; someone I know applied for a job and he noticed that the HR manager at that firm looked up his LinkedIn profile. However, when he got no response, he found the email of the HR manager through Google, forwarded a strong cover letter + CV and got an interview request in about 48 hours! Amazing, huh?

I have also met a recruiter who told me they sometimes have to go through 1000 CVs/week, eek! What are your chances out of 1000?

5. Go to as many interviews as possible

You’ll become more confident and better at ‘selling’ yourself and your skills. Another added benefit of this is that you’ll learn how to answer non-technical questions (questions like ‘how much do you want?’, ‘why do you want to work with us’).

It also gives you an external perspective of your skill level and allows you to find the gaps in your knowledge (this might be a humbling experience if you’ve overestimated your skills). If you get the offer and decide to turn it down; do it nicely and make sure you keep in touch. You can always reach out to them or refer people to them – it’s always good to network.

6. Improve, improve, improve

After each interview, schedule some time to review your performance and take note of your weaknesses. Make sure you never make the same mistake twice if you can help it.

Also review the questions, did you answer the tricky questions right? Did you impress the interviewers? Go through the experience again and make notes of what not to do at your next interview.

7. Never Give up

If you don’t get the job, send them a nice email thanking them for their time. Politely ask about why you weren’t chosen and use this information to grow.

Never give up! Also remember to pray to Allaah for help as this is very essential.

3 thoughts on “Job Hunting 101 for Students

  1. BaarakAllaahu feek yaa akhee! Some very useful point mentioned there. JazaakAllaahu khayraa.

    Obviously, the most important is praying to Allaah and trusting in Him alone that He’ll provide for you what’s best.

    After that, I think the next most important is #1: building yourself while you’re in school! I’ve come to realize (a little too late) that nothing beats true KNOWLEDGE and what better chance to get this than in school?! Unfortunately, so many of us are either concentrating on attaining high grades or getting high in other ways (!) and too few of us focus on actually attaining knowledge and skills. Besides that being a foot in the employment door, it also increases the chances of one having his own small start-up company that may turn into one of the million-dollar (or rather, million-dinar/riyal/naira) companies that were also at one time “small start-ups.”

    One thing about the one-page CV though: personally, I’ve used a 2-page CV for a while now; just that I print the pages back to back when I give out hard copies. I believe a spacious CV that’s easier on the eyes (like your own blog) is better than one that’s cramped up with small font and little white-space.

    By the way, I see you’ve updated the link for Islamic info! BaarakAllaahu feek! Maa shaa’Allaah, the brother’s blog is inshaa’Allaah, a good choice. May Allah bless and reward you and him.


    1. Ameen wa jazaakumullaahu khayran too! :)

      Definitely duaa is the most important part of everything.

      Well, you suggested that blog to me last year, remember? May Allaah increase us all in good.


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