The feeling you get when preparing to graduate from college is an unusual one. On one hand, you’re excited – you just put in four years (at least) of hard work and late nights and you’re about to move into a new phase in life. On the other hand, you’re feeling anxious because you don’t know what this phase has in store and you’ve got student loans to pay back.
If you’re looking for your first job out of college, you’ve come to the right place.
Quicken Loans is number one on Computerworld’s Best Places to Work in IT list, number five Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list, and the number four highest rated place to intern on Glassdoor. I sat down with Andrea Bajaj, intern program architect at Quicken Loans, to get a few tips and tricks that will make your application stand out from the crowd and help get you one step closer to that dream job.
Use Your School’s Resources
Finding job listings is the first step in the job-hunting process.
Bajaj suggests using the connections you have in place through your college or university, like their internal career link or your school’s career services department. Most campuses host career fairs as well, which are a great way to get out there and network.
“Almost every school should have a internal career link that employers who recruit on campus have accounts on and can post multiple job openings. Our college recruiting team works so closely with career services, they basically know all of our openings as well,” says Bajaj.
If you’re in a specialized area of study, check with your professors about any available positions they know of.
“If I have a niche opportunity, I’m more likely to reach out to a professor who teaches a related class for any referrals,” added Bajaj.
Build a Strong Resume
One question many graduates have is what to put on a resume.
Is your high school GPA or the part-time summer job still relevant? Should you include any extracurricular activities or volunteering? Do you even need a cover letter anymore?
Bajaja says there are four main areas you should include in your resume: education, relevant work experience, skills/abilities and extracurricular activities.
When laying out your resume, keep the information relevant.
“The bullet points that correspond to your work experience should matter. It’s best to stay away from showcasing miniscule tasks that were given to you such as answering phone calls or filing paperwork – instead talk about a project you worked on,” advices Bajaj.
Be sure to quantify the information where appropriate. Specify if you did something on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Bajaj says cover letters are preferred, “It shows you actually did your due diligence and researched the company.”
Pay Attention to Your Social Media Profiles
Social media has changed the way we live our lives and share information. For all its advantages, there are some drawbacks. Everything you post is visible to the world (unless all of your profiles are private).
“There’s a saying – if you wouldn’t post it on a billboard with your name attached to it, think twice about posting it on social media,” says Bajaj.
If you don’t already have a LinkedIn, consider getting one and keep it professional.
If you’re looking for a job in a creative field, include video reels, published writing, photography or other relevant work in your LinkedIn summary. This will give recruiters a good sense of what your skills are before you even come in for an interview.
One last LinkedIn tip: Use a professional-looking photo of yourself. One of Bajaj’s biggest pet peeves is going to a LinkedIn profile and seeing an unprofessional photo with your friends or background cropped out.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take an Internship
Internship is not a four-letter word, especially in today’s workforce. Many college students think they need to get a full-time position right out of school, but internships can be very beneficial.
You have the opportunity to be trained by the company, to prove yourself and learn if that roll or team is right for you. Plus you get to network and work with more people, when a full-time opportunity opens up, they’ll be more apt to hire you than look outside of the company.
Bajaj says, “If I have a full-time opening on my team, along with an intern who has already been trained by me and who I’ve gotten to know, I’m more likely to convert that intern to a permanent hire, than post the full-time opportunity online.”
Start Applying Earlier
Don’t wait until the last minute to apply for jobs or internships.
“For full-time, entry-level positions, I would have the candidate apply two months out from the time they are ready to take on the commitment,
“For internships, the 2015 recruiting trends showed that other companies are starting their hiring season for summer internships in the August/September months prior. For Quicken Loans internships, it’s great to apply in that fall timeframe prior to the summer internship. Regarding fall/winter internships, the candidate should apply in June and October, respectively,
“Overall, keep in mind the recruiting process, from application date to background check, takes about a full month to month and a half,” says Bajaj.
Don’t Show Up Too Early for Your Interview
Once you land an interview, be careful not to show up too early. A few minutes is good, but any more than that could leave you with a long wait.
Bajaj says, “One time I had a candidate show up at 8 a.m. for a 9 a.m. interview. I hadn’t even left the house yet. For situations like that, it’s best to play it cool and hang out in your car.”
Aim to leave 15 minutes early for your interview. This will give you a few extra minutes if you get lost or have to deal with traffic.
Remember to Smile
Whether you have a phone interview or are heading to the office for an in-person interview it’s important to be yourself and smile.
“For a phone interview, smile. We literally hear it on the other side of the phone,” says Bajaj.
If you’re going to an in-person interview, put your game face on before you even get to the office. Bajaj advices applicants to be mindful of their surroundings when walking to the destination, “…the interview starts when you leave your car.” You never know who you could meet, your potential new co-workers could be the people walking next to you.
If you want to be a part of the team at one of the best companies to work for, take a look at the Quicken Loans Careers website for any openings that pique your interest.
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