Fall marks the start of a new school year, which means that it’s time to head back to campus, attend as many welcome back parties as possible and even squeeze in some time for your classes.
On top of all these priorities, you also need to be thinking about your job hunt.
This is the season when 70% of employers do the majority of their student and new grad hiring. Since you’re already busy studying, attending classes, writing assignments and managing your social life, adding one more thing to do could be overwhelming – unless you’re equipped with the right tactics.
Figure out your path
There’s a lot of competition in campus recruitment season, and the first step to success is deciding where your priorities lie.
To direct your energy in a productive fashion, you need to have an idea of the specific role (or roles) you’d like to explore in the future, as well as a set of employers you’d like to work for.
The goal isn’t to figure out exactly what you want to do, but rather to help yourself tune out the opportunities you aren’t interested in to help you focus on finding a path to the ones you are.
This isn’t just an abstract thought exercise. You’ll need to do some role- and company-specific research. Also consider touching base with friends or contacts who are currently employed in your industry and chatting with them about the work they do to get a sense of the hands-on experience of a role.
Recruitment Tip: Don’t be too specific or too general. Start by making a list of roles in your field that you know you don’t want to explore and a separate list of roles you’re interested in. Use this as a map.
Set time aside
The work doesn’t end once you know where you want to go. In order to excel in networking and recruitment sessions and prepare applications that get you in front of the crowd, you’re going to need to log some prep time.
While you might be lucky enough to have success early in the season, you should also remember that the application process can be lengthy. Even if you make a promising connection, you’ll have to keep exploring new opportunities while you’re waiting to hear back about ongoing efforts.
You don’t want a busy recruitment session to overwhelm your studies, so it’s important that you plan your time well in advance. You’ll find things much more manageable if you put in a few hours at a time rather than cramming everything in at the last minute.
Recruitment Tip: Start a recruitment season calendar. Include networking and recruitment events along with deadlines for drafts of applications and their final due dates. Compare this calendar with your academic and personal schedules and start figuring out where you’ll need to set aside more time or reschedule.
Manage and adapt
Even once you’ve figured out which career paths you want to explore and which events you want to attend, you’ll still need to be ready to adjust to challenges on the fly.
Your academic, personal and recruiting schedules are going to be in constant competition as you explore your future opportunities and it will often be tempting to throw all of your energy in one direction at a time — or to let everything defer to the fun and social side of life.
In order to temper this tendency while still putting your best foot forward, you’ll need to start being more rigorous with yourself in planning and execution. If you’re someone who fine-tunes every last detail of an assignment or burns the midnight oil all weekend, you’re going to have to cut back on that behaviour.
At the same time, don’t let your investment in recruiting season become your sole focus. Academic success is a key part of skill-building, and letting your academic record languish while you try and start your career may leave you feeling guilty later.
Recruitment Tip: Work as a team with a friend or friends in your program to hold each other accountable. Try estimating time frames for completing tasks. Even if your estimates aren’t accurate, keep logging them. You’ll soon start to see where most of your time is going and where you can reorganize your schedule.
Use your resources
Have you ever sat and looked at a blank page for a significant amount of time, waiting for a brilliant idea to come? Or done the same thing multiple times, hoping for something new and exciting to happen?
If you’ve had success in recruiting season in the past, you may think you’ve got nothing to learn about job applications, networking or recruiting.
That’s just not true. Like most things in life, excelling in campus recruitment season means making a commitment to hard work and continual development.
As a student, you have a ton of great resources right at your fingertips. Employer info sessions, your campus career centre, recruitment events, professional websites, professors and personal mentors all have advice and skill-building insights to help you reach your goals in campus recruitment season.
Investing time in ongoing development and learning will save you time in the long run and it might make all the difference in launching your career.
Investing some time and energy into preparing for recruitment season now will actually help you save more time in the long run.
Recruitment Tip: If you can’t get to one of the above resources right away, try searching for application tips on the TalentEgg Career Incubator to get started.