The days are getting longer, and recruitment for summer jobs are in full swing.
A lucky few have a summer job offer in hand, but if you haven’t, don’t worry. There’s still time to land that seasonal gig – here’s how!
1. Update your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile
It’s time to dust off the most recent version of your resume, and make sure it’s fully up to date. If you are adding quite a bit of new information, you may need to remove some older experience off your resume. Be sure to pay special attention to formatting – since recruiters scan through these documents quickly, it should be optimized for readability.
While your cover letter should, of course, be customized for each position, it’s a good idea to have a generic template prepared with your best stories and experiences. It will provide a good jumping off point for job-specific cover letters later on.
Resumes no longer just live on paper. Don’t forget to update various digital versions of your resume, whether it be your LinkedIn profile, other professional profiles, or a personal website. Anywhere online where you may have a resume uploaded, make sure you replace it with your updated one.
2. Apply to postings – but not every posting
Many people believe that the more jobs you apply to, the better chance you have of getting a call back. This is true to some extent, but when you start firing off resumes and generic cover letters to postings that don’t fit with your profile or career goals at all just for the sake of applying, hiring managers can tell.
It’s often better to do a few things well than do many things poorly, and this definitely holds true for job applications. Be at least somewhat selective in applying to job postings. Only apply to companies and roles you’ve really researched, and can prepare a stellar and customized application for. You need to be able to tie all your past experience, your skills, and your interests into a compelling story for why you should have a job. If you find you are really stretching to make that connection, it’s probably not the right job for you.
3. Leverage your network
LinkedIn is a great way to leverage your personal network to find a summer job. Search companies you are interested in on LinkedIn, and see who in your network works there. If it’s someone you have a second or third degree connection with, try to get someone to introduce you. If you can’t get a formal introduction, send a short message and bio, and ask if you can speak with them further by email or phone.
You can also filter search results by what school people attended, which is a great way to find alumni from your school who are currently working at companies you are interested in. Reaching out to alumni is a great networking strategy, since you already have something in common.
For contacts that you have a more personal relationship with (like friends and family), make sure to let them know that you are hunting for a summer job, and give them an updated copy of your resume. If possible, ask them to refer you to a hiring manager. Going through a real person is the best way to make sure your application gets in the right hands and not lost in cyber space.
4. Send cold emails
Applying to live postings is only half the battle. Research other companies you are interested in that might not have summer job postings. Check company websites for contact information and see if there is someone you can reach out to with a cold email. The response rate on cold emails is higher than you might think. Even if you can’t get directly in touch with a decision-maker, many people are happy to answer questions and connect you with the right person.
5. Attend events
Industry events, conferences, and workshops are a great way to learn about the latest events in your field of interest, build up your personal network, and put yourself on the radar for summer job opportunities. Look for on-campus events or events in your city to attend in the coming weeks.
To get the most out of networking events, set a goal for yourself about what you intend to get out of the event (for example, aiming to speak with a certain number of people). Prepare your 30-second introduction in advance and make sure you have your business cards and a pen with you at all times.
Send follow up correspondence (either email or LinkedIn message) within 24-hours. If you are really clicking with someone and having good, meaningful discussion, it’s perfectly acceptable let them know that you are currently looking for a summer job and would be interested in opportunities with their company.
6. Clean up your online presence
Google yourself. Are you fine with potential employers seeing everything that comes up when you search your name? If not, it’s time to get cleaning.
Revisit the privacy settings on all your accounts, and make sure inappropriate pictures or posts are deleted. A quick solution is to change your username so that it doesn’t include your full name or a variation thereof. You’ll want to do this well in advance, as it can take some time for Google to re-index and reflect the changes.
If social media is relevant to your industry or the roles you are applying to, make sure that only your best work and professional profiles are ranking in Google.
7. Update your portfolio
Summer job-hunting is the perfect reason to make sure your portfolio is fully up to date. Take this time to refresh your portfolio with your latest and greatest accomplishments. Reviewing your portfolio periodically is a good exercise to provide you with inspiration for your cover letters and interviews. Sometimes it’s easy to forget your own accomplishments, and this process will keep everything top of mind as you go through the summer recruitment season.
8. Prepare your references
Blindsiding your references is a sure fire way to get a less-than-stellar reference and can even hurt your relationship with them. Always ask before listing someone as a reference and provide them with the details of the job you are applying for. If you speak with your references in advance, you can let them know what experiences and skills are most relevant to the role you’re recruiting for. As soon as you submit a reference letter or the name of a reference to a hiring manager, follow up with the individual and let them know to expect a call.
9. Have a backup plan
Though it may feel like the end of the world if you don’t end up with a summer gig, if you have a solid backup plan in place, you can still make the most of your summer. The worst thing you can do is nothing.
Summer courses are another productive way to get ahead of your workload for next year. If you have entrepreneurial aspirations, consider starting your own business for the summer. Programs like Summer Company offer grants to students who start their own business.