Searching for a job or internship can suck. A lot. This time of year my inbox starts to implode with internship requests, resumes to pass along, and “I need your advice…” pleas of help.
Luckily, there’s nothing I love more than helping our Trendsetters land their dream job or internship. After reviewing legit hundreds of applications and conducting wayyy too many phone interviews, I’ve noticed there are a handful of unconventional ways to stand out from the competition.
Warning: These tips are not your usual pieces of advice. There’s enough articles and blog posts about all of that. So, if you need help with the basics, don’t start here; but, if you’re ready to take it to the next level, this is perfect for you.
Tip #1: Figure out what the company needs help with and explain how you can solve that problem for them.
I’m starting with this tip because it’s by far the most important thing you can do to get your foot in the door, especially at start ups and other small businesses. Check out the company’s website and social media pages. Get a sense of the challenges you think that company is facing (trust me, every company is facing some sort of challenge), and then reach out to the company and explain how you can help them overcome this challenge.
Why this works: Employers are busy. The last thing they have time to do is think about all of the projects you should work on, how they’re going to manage you, and how they’re going to train you. Believe it or not, having an intern or entry-level employee is a lot of work for your potential boss! Make it easy for them by explaining exactly what you’re going to help them with, how you’re going to do it, and why you’re qualified to do it.
Boom. Done. You’ve got yourself a job.
Tip #2: Don’t say, “Introduce me to anyone you know in marketing, PR, or communications!”
You can insert any field or industry into the quote above.
Why this doesn’t work: People don’t like to think too hard (sad, but true). You know how many people I know who work in marketing, PR, or communications? A lot. You know whose name comes to mind? No ones. It’s easy for the mind to go blank when given such a broad category, but if you’re specific and say, “Can you introduce me to someone who works in fashion PR?” I can immediately think of at least 1 specific person I’m connected to.
Side note: When you’re specific, it shows you know what you want. People like that. Take a stance for what you’re passionate about.
Tip #3: Look through your mentor’s LinkedIn connections and ask for intro’s to specific people.
This is to help you with Tip #2. I always tell our Trendsetters to scroll through my LinkedIn connections and if there’s someone they want an intro to, I’m happy to do that for them. This makes it easy for me to be a helpful resource.
Not only does it save me time (I don’t have to spend too much energy trying to think of who to introduce you to), but it ensures that you’re being introduced to someone you want to talk to.
Added bonus: If you’re not sure what type of position you’re looking for, this exercise will help you get clear on the different roles in your industry and helps you pinpoint your interests.
Tip #4: Check out Etsy for incredible resume templates.
Is it just me or does it feel like everyone and their mom is way better at graphic design than I am? If you’re going into a creative field, it’s so important that your resume visually stands out from the crowd. Girl, I hear you though – ain’t nobody got time for that!
Etsy has gorgeous layouts that you can buy for a minimal price or at the very least, they’ll provide some inspiration so you’re not starting from scratch. Canva.com is also a free website that has incredible graphic design capabilities for those of you who prefer to simply drag + drop 😉
Tip #5: Send a thank you letter. PLEASE.
Ok, typically this tip would be in the beginners guide to applying to jobs and internships, but I can’t tell you how many people I’ve interviewed who have not sent you thank you notes. It amazes me!
By the way, a thank you note only counts if you send it within 24 hours.
A few months ago I interviewed a student who was super qualified for the summer internship at TT HQ, but she didn’t send a thank you note until over a week later. She was immediately eliminated from our list of candidates simply because she didn’t write a timely thank you note.
Maybe that sounds aggressive, but if you want this internship as badly as you say you do, you should be so excited to follow up and say thank you right away. We look for passion and a thank you note symbolizes that passion.
So please, please, please write a thank you note within 24 hours. Please!
Tip #6: Do something that proves your passion for the field.
This is where you’re all probably going to roll your eyes, but hang with me here! The internship and job market is more competitive than ever. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of girls with resumes just. like. yours.
The good news is that technology has made it soooo easy to stand out from the crowd. It sounds like a huge time commitment, but at the very least you should be blogging about whatever industry you’re interested in and include the link to your blog on your resume and LinkedIn profile. It’s a surefire way to gain a competitive edge.
Time-saving hack: Lock yourself away for 1 weekend and write 10-15 blog posts. Share them on your blog without dating them. Without the dates, no one knows if you haven’t posted on your blog for 3 months 😉 This saves you a lot of time and eliminates the stress that comes with maintaining a blog. Of course, the more timely and relevant your posts are the better, but I know the struggle can be so real sometimes.
What questions or challenges do you face when searching for a job or internship? Are there any other tips that have helped you on your career journey? Leave a comment below!