With millions of graduates entering the workforce this year, the job search can be competitive and relentless. Once you’ve secured an interview, it’s critical to play your cards right and be ready to jump on a good opportunity, says Jill Tipograph, co-founder of Early Stage Careers.
“Getting the right job the first time will have a prolonged effect on your entire career, so you have to be in the market at all times and be ready at all times to seize the opportunity when the timing is right,” she says.
To set yourself apart, Tipograph recommends finding an advocate at the company you’d like to work at.
“If internally someone can advocate for you, everyone prefers to work with people that someone else knows,” she says.
When preparing for your interview, research the person you’ll be interviewing with. Look for common interests or professional connections.
But be careful with how much you divulge during the interview and keep it professional, Tipograph says. “You don't want to appear as if you know things about them that aren’t public,” she warns. “Start with something that's on their LinkedIn profile, or mentioned in articles that they've linked to or talked about to find a common interest.”
After the interview, it’s standard to send a thank you note within 24 hours. After that, be selective with how persistent you want to be.
“It's important to be persistent in your follow-up but not to be annoying,” Tipograph says. “Follow up within a week afterwards if you haven't heard from them, but at that point you may want to start thinking about an alternate strategy to figure out the next step.”
Look for someone in the industry or within the company who can put in a good word for you or find out information as to why you haven’t progressed.
If you’re reaching a dead end, it’s possible your interviewer will give you feedback on what went wrong.
“Employers have no obligation to actually tell you why you didn't get a job or why you didn't move on, but it can't hurt to ask for any type of constructive feedback that you could learn from in the future,” she says.
If you don’t get the feedback you want, consider meeting with a career counselor or practicing your interview skills with a friend. Being prepared and confident will help you succeed and stay focused on your search.