The Ultimate Guide of Do’s & Don’t for Applying to Jobs

All semester long my phone has been blowing up with ‘quick questions’ and concerns over the stressful and truthfully unfair job application process from my close senior friends that are still going through it. I absolutely love helping them – especially because it is so much easier to see and understand from the other side.

I started to realize that so many of them had the exact same worries and concerns, and it inspired me to share my “wisdom” with all of my fabulous readers as well, in case any of you are struggling through the process as well! I’ve compiled a list of the questions I’m always getting, the overanalyzing texts I receive at 2am when friends are looking back on every single subtle detail of their interview from the day before, and what to do if you get stuck in an ‘application black hole’.

By no means is this an all-encompassing list, however, and I would absolutely love to answer any more questions any of you might have! I can’t guarantee that I’m an expert, but I have had a lot of very different internships and jobs, along with friends and family members that work in recruiting and HR who have given me a lot of inside scoop and insight into the whole thing.

1. When is it okay to call/email my recruiter after my interview? And what on earth am I supposed to say?!
First of all, the cardinal rule that you should live by is to always write a thank you note to anyone who has taken part in your recruiting process, including your recruiter and your interviewer. I fully stand by the idea that handwritten notes are ideal, but I ask firmly believe that speed matters. I suggest writing a personal but efficient email no later than 24 hours after your interview. Follow up with a personal handwritten card that will allow time for a couple of days in snail mail. 
As for what to say in the email, look out for my post on Wednesday for advice on post-internship and post-interview thank you notes detailing exactly what to say and how to say it!
2. I haven’t heard from my contact after my interview, and it has been longer than they told me it would be. Is it okay to reach out?
Absolutely! Sometimes emails and to-do list items fall through the cracks. Recruiters would love to be able to stick to deadlines, but there are a million things that can delay offer decisions, from simply forgetting to needing more time to deliberate, or simply interviewing more candidates. None of these are bad signs, or a reflection on you personally (so stop taking it personally, because I know you are!) Things come up. If they give you a time frame to expect a decision, they fully intend to stick to it, but if the time has come and passed, it is fully acceptable to send a little “reminder” that you’re eager, interested, and still waiting! It is all about how you deliver your message. My advice is to wait 5-7 business days past the deadline you were told. If you are still receiving radio silence, send a quick note. Again, check out my post this Wednesday for exactly how to give a friendly reminder that they should be getting in touch with you! Trust me – this will not hurt your decision, and if anything it shows that you take initiative and value the opportunity.
3. I keep getting rejected and I don’t understand what I am doing wrong. Help!
Everyone gets rejected. Literally all of the time. I was rejected by probably 8-9 companies before I even got a second round interview – but the only reason I even had that opportunity was because I kept applying. Like most things, applying for jobs is a numbers game. Hopefully, your school has a career website with links to a ton of jobs. It is great to have goals and specific ‘dream’ companies in mind, of course! But at the end of the day, what could possibly hurt about applying to as many as possible? More interviews is more practice. No one says you have to accept a job you don’t want, but the worst case scenario is you get more practice, more opportunities for offers, and a better chance of finding something unexpected. I had never even heard of my company when I applied! I got on my school career website, filtered for sales/marketing/public relations and Chicago, and applied to every single one I qualified for. (No seriously…I think I applied to over 40 companies in one day). I probably heard back from half, got interviews from half of those, and genuinely pursued half of those. Numbers game! It was brutal and a little time-consuming, but it clearly paid off. Trust me – when it comes to applying for jobs, more is better!
4. I got an offer, but they need an answer soon and I’m still waiting to hear back from one or two other companies! What do I say?
First of all, congrats! The hard part is over. Now you at least know that no matter what, you will not be jobless (and no, you shouldn’t be worrying about that anyway!) Sometimes companies put strict deadlines because they need to inform other applicants if you decline. It fully depends on the company, the deadline, and how flexible they can be, but you will never be punished for asking, I promise! They understand that you’re valuable, and that you’re applying other places. Part of their job is to sell you on their company so you want them the most! I absolutely promise that you will never be punished for requesting more time – the worst that can happen is that they will say no, the deadline is definite, and then you may just have to make the decision with what you have. Do not hesitate to say that you are considering other offers, and you can give any excuse you like! Say that you need time to discuss and consider it with your family, say that you need to weigh the decision against factors such as geographic location, or that you need to evaluate it further against other offers you have received, and request a small extension. The most important part of this is to know that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask, they aren’t going to take away your offer! The hard part is over – they want you!
5. I can’t decide between two (or three, or four…) companies that I have offers from. What factors should I consider?
This is a more personal question, but based on my experience and things I have learned from friends who have decided for the wrong reason, I do have some small advice. Pay is (obviously) important. But it isn’t everything. My advice? Never prioritize the superficial things over things that affect your happiness. Choosing the wrong city for a more ‘prestigious’ job, or taking a job you aren’t excited about just because it pays more are truly the wrong ideas. You can always get promoted, change companies, or even move cities, but your personal happiness can be absolutely detrimental if you don’t truly enjoy the company culture and the people you are spending 80-85% of your life with now. Do not underestimate company culture or a location where you have familiar friends and family – the superficial things are great, but they can’t stack up against enjoying your life, and that is something that should never take a backseat to a thicker paycheck.
Like I said, I know there are a million and one questions about this process, and this list by no means addresses them all, but I hope it helps and if anyone has any other questions I would absolutely love to hear from you! Comment or email me about them, and good luck!

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