Editorial: Your guide to searching for jobs—and how to not get stressed out

Editorial: Your guide to searching for jobs—and how to not get stressed out

As we move closer to the middle of the semester, many students are beginning to search for job opportunities, whether an internship, co-op or a full-time career. Though February is almost past us, March is still a good time to send out applications and work on networking, that highly sought after skill that can help you land your foot in the door of many companies.

To help you along, Case Western Reserve University will be hosting the Career, Education and Inspiration Expo, which will allow students to meet with recruiters from a variety of companies and fields. The expo will take place on Friday, March 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Veale Convocation, Recreation and Athletic Center. You can sign up for the in-person event on Handshake.

Searching for jobs can be a stressful process, and sometimes it can feel frustrating, especially if you’ve sent out dozens of applications and haven’t received a response. But don’t worry: With a few simple strategies and sage words of advice, finding the right internship or career opportunity can be much easier.

First, let’s discuss the obvious: resumes. These are what recruiters and hiring managers will see whenever you apply for a job. Though there are basic formatting rules you should follow, no two resumes will necessarily look the same. Crafting the “perfect” resume can be highly individualized, even down to the particular job for which you are applying.

The most important points to keep in mind are what kind of information you want to put on your resume and how you want to design it. Think of a resume as a miniature story or painting of your life: What do you want to tell a potential hiring manager about yourself? In order to write this story, you need to break it up into chapters—your education, skills, work experience and any student club involvement.

There are two general formats for how to write this story: chronologically or functionally. Chronological resumes place job history at the top of the resume, with the most recent jobs placed first. These resumes are easy to read and best for those with a clear internship or career goal in mind. On the other hand, functional resumes highlight skills and accomplishments and are useful for those with fewer relevant job experiences or who are looking to apply outside of their main field. And if you don’t have as much work experience through internships as your classmates—or any at all—don’t worry; you can always add relevant class or personal projects or play up your interpersonal skills. Part of getting a job involves being able to communicate and work well with others. That is just as valuable as technical knowledge.

Moreover, we can’t ignore the elephant in the room. If you’ve applied to an internship or job recently, chances are you might have seen an option to opt out of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in candidate selection. The truth is, AI is becoming more practical—and lucrative—for companies looking to streamline their candidate selection processes. According to the 2023 Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Usage Report, over 97% of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS, which is an automated recruitment tool such as Workday or Greenhouse. We can’t get around these systems, so we need to learn how to work with them. A good way to make sure you don’t get automatically rejected is to personalize your resume to each job posting; look at the keywords, such as the skills the company emphasizes, and add them to your resume. The more keywords, the better.

Let’s also talk about networking. This is a skill that everyone will have to learn at some point in their lives. In essence, networking is about talking to people in the field or industry you’re interested in. Maybe you got the name of an expert in your field of study from a friend or a family member. Utilize that connection. They are vital.

If you don’t have any contacts at the moment, don’t worry. You can always ask around. Consider talking to a professor that you know; they’ve been through the exact scenario that you’re going through right now. They probably know at least one person—if not many—whom you could contact for job opportunities. Maybe a family member or a family friend knows someone. The world is so vast and interconnected that there will almost always be someone you can talk to who can set you up with a job opportunity, so don’t be afraid to reach out.

While looking for and applying to jobs is important, you also need to learn how to pace yourself.

The job search process can be long and exhausting. You don’t have to apply to everything all at once. Try to get at least a few applications in each week or reach out to a few contacts. Don’t overwhelm yourself. And as always, CWRU has an abundance of resources to learn from. The Career Center is especially helpful: You can have your resume reviewed or set up an appointment with faculty trained to help students look for professional opportunities.

Lastly, if you’re feeling discouraged, be sure to give yourself some grace. Finding jobs isn’t easy. You have to learn a plethora of skills, some of which you’ve never had to utilize before. But no matter what kind of internship or job you’re looking for, with time and patience, you’ll eventually get to where you want to be.

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