I know, I know… you’re so amazing that one of your top two companies is surely going to hire you. Mmhmm – keep dreaming. You might be one of the lucky ones who does end up with an offer (or two!) from your top employers of choice. But, especially when your top employer is a Fortune 500 company, that goal might be best looked at like exactly what it is: a goal.
You still need a Plan B. And a Plan C. And probably a D, E, F, G. Do I hear an X, Y, Z?
Okay, but seriously, you have got to cast a wide net when job hunting. Pigeon-holing yourself to a particular job title or city can be the kiss of death. You are the only person who can stop yourself from applying to any given job title… and if you are geographically bound by family, a significant other, or perhaps just personal preference, it is even more important to be flexible in the positions you are considering.
Search, search, search. If you are using any type of search engine when job hunting (think BuckyNet or one of the giant beasts like Monster or CareerBuilder) keep your filters as general as possible. Limit your checkboxes only to those things that are dealbreakers. Yes that means that you will be weeding through a lot more postings, but that is time well-spent if you discover a job that has a name you never considered before.
Don’t take yourself out of the running. Prematurely, that is. If you have even the slightest interest in a position – apply. If your job search is anything like mine was, you’ll never have to turn down the interview because, statistically speaking, you’re not all that likely to make it through any given application process. But if you do get invited, at least complete a first-round interview with the company. It’s (a) great interview practice and (b) you might learn something that piques your interest. If it’s still not a fit, turn them down at the second-round stage… after all, it’s not right to string an employer along if you’re really not interested.
Keep an open mind. You never know where your career will take you. Don’t presuppose yourself to be one thing and one thing only. People in our generation tend not to stick with one job (or one career path, for that matter) – so don’t feel like you’re stepping into a 40-year commitment. If companies approach you, listen to them and really hear what they have to say. Small companies have just as much to offer as large ones. Companies in Itty-Bitty, Mississippi offer as much responsibility and promise as those in New York or Chicago.
Goals are great to have – and if they work out for you, kudos! But some companies are only hiring at certain times of the year so you don’t want to wait to start in on Plans B, C, & Z only after you get rejected from Plan A. Be proactive in your job search planning – you’ll have the best chance at being in control as your approach the finish line.
Michelle is an experienced human resources professional and a UW-Madison alum. In her “Ask an Expert” articles she tackles students’ toughest career and recruiting questions, providing an employer’s perspective so students can learn what campus recruiters REALLY think. To learn more about Michelle, view her intro post.