Tips to Boost Students’ Job Search Success When Short on Time

Photo by Malvestida Magazine on Unsplash

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Photo by Malvestida Magazine on Unsplash

Working in career services, it’s easy to feel stretched thin. Your schedule fills up fast helping students and young job seekers prepare to land their dream jobs. And more often than not, you’re left with a calendar that’s either booked solid or as holey as Swiss cheese.

Between calling to get updates from students, providing references, staging mock interviews, and collecting/creating new resources, it may feel like there’s little you can do to squeeze another student in. But in reality, there is a lot you can accomplish in just a few minutes that can boost the odds of your job seekers’ success.

Here are some quick but valuable tasks you can easily work into your schedule to ensure students are getting the most from career services:

Do a quick resume review before a career fair/meeting/appointment

It’s admirable to spend large chunks of time perfecting every nook and cranny of a student’s resume. But consider this: on average, recruiters only look at a candidate’s resume for seven seconds. While that may seem like an alarmingly brief amount of time, it’s enough for them to know whether to toss it in the “yes” or “no” pile. 

Similarly, you shouldn’t need to commit a lot of time to find red flags. Instead of blocking out time (that you’ll never get) to focus on batches of resumes, select a couple to review each day. Then, when you have 10 to 15 minutes before an appointment or other scheduled event, read through one of them.

Time-saving tip: Create a checklist to help you quickly scan for important details and an evaluation sheet to provide feedback.

Proofread a cover letter or thank you note

Let’s face it: Proofreading can be overwhelming if you attempt to muscle through cover letter after cover letter. And spending hours reading thank you notes isn’t much better.

Just like with resumes, try to tackle proofreading in small doses. Start each morning by pulling one off your to-do pile and pouring fresh energy into it. Then, find pockets of time throughout your day to squeeze in another cover letter or thank you note. Your to-do pile will quickly turn into your done pile!

Time-saving tip: Trust your proofreading instincts. Don’t hem and haw over an edit if you know it will help improve the message.

Run through a mock interview introduction

How do you teach students to master interview introductions? Practice brief interactions. First impressions happen in a matter of seconds, so there’s no need to block out a 30-minute session to sharpen this skill.

Instead, invite students into the career services office for a short role-play to help them shake interview anxiety. Work on skills like introducing themselves confidently in an interview or at a job fair. To keep sessions brief, only ask students to deliver their opening lines once or twice. After all, you don’t want them to sound too rehearsed.

Time-saving tip: When providing feedback, make sure your advice is succinct and to the point. 

Help students create a practice video interview

Video interviews are convenient, efficient, and … stressful? It may sound strange, but it’s true. Nearly 80% of job seekers say that video interviews are as stressful or more stressful than in-person interviews.

Here’s the good news: video interviews last as little as 15 minutes. That means you can easily (and quickly) create practice scenarios for students and give them pointers to apply when they record later. This is a great opportunity to remind them to stay aware of their posture and body language, just as though the interviewer was in the room.

Time-saving tip: Instead of having students come to your office, schedule this practice session as an actual video meeting.

Write a reference on LinkedIn

LinkedIn references are like gold in the working world. And better yet, they only take a few minutes to type up and send off for students. 

To avoid becoming inundated with requests for LinkedIn recommendations, set aside 15 minutes before lunch or at the end of the day to respond to one or two students. Or, whenever you’re stuck on a project, hop on LinkedIn as a productive distraction. It’ll help boost your mood and give your brain a break!

Time-saving tip: Don’t feel like you have to write paragraphs for each person. Remember, recruiters are quickly skimming profiles and may overlook anything that appears too fluffed up.

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the co-owner and leader of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, LinkedIn.