When you are applying for internships and jobs, it’s easy to simply submit your generic resume and cover letter and then just sit back and wait. This is what I like to call opportunity search purgatory because after submitting you can’t help but wonder:
“Did they actually receive my application?”
“When are they going to contact me about interviews?”
“Will they even tell me if they’re not going to consider me as a candidate?”
It’s crucial to be proactive throughout the search and application process and if you make the effort to go above and beyond the generic you’ll be more likely to be noticed and considered as candidate (considering you’re appropriately qualified for the opportunity). Go the extra mile!
Being proactive starts in the beginning of the application process. For each position you want to apply for, give a critical eye to the position description and make sure that your most relevant skills and experiences are being highlighted on your resume and cover letter. It’s easy to read a description and think “I’m definitely qualified!” but you have to make sure that your application will be able to speak for you. You may not like this last piece, but it’s essential: every resume and cover letter should be specifically targeted to the position you’re applying for.
Do Your Research
Don’t reserve doing research on the organization and industry for the interview. As soon as you start looking into the position look into as much information as you can to gain a better understanding of role that this position plays in the organization, and understanding the purpose of the organization itself. Having this information will help you with writing your application materials all the way through interviewing.
Find a Connection
After finding a position you’re interested in, find a connection that works at that organization. Use your network of family, friends, classmates, etc. to see if you can connect with someone who works there so that you learn more about the organization and the specific position. You can also look up the organization’s company page on LinkedIn and see if you have any direct or second connections through that platform. Look into the UR Career Connections LinkedIn group to see if any UR alumni work there and connect with them for the purpose of learning more about the position. Do NOT ask for a job!
Internship and job searching has absolutely nothing in common with a slow cooker meal. You cannot just submit your application and walk away! If there’s a contact person listed follow up with them to re-state your interest, inquire if your application was received and ask any basic questions you may have about the position or process. This is also a great opportunity to gather information on their process timeline, when do they anticipate contacting candidates for interviews and is there a potential start date for the position? Please be cognizant of some postings that state “please do not call”.
Ask Quality Questions
Hopefully you’ve followed all of this great advice and been invited to interview, score! You’re not off the hook yet, this does not mean that you have the position. At the end of the interview when your interviewer leaves you with “So what questions do you have for us?” do not be caught empty handed. Asking intentional and thoughtful questions will show the interviewer that you’ve done your research and are truly interested in the position. Check out some of these sample questions to have on hand for an interview.