You’ve done it - you’ve come to the end of your schooling and now you’re ready to enter the job market.
But before you even send that first email or CV, take a moment to truly understand how the hiring process works for employers and what a realistic job search timeline looks like.
“Everyone has a story of a friend who got the six figure job in a week or gets an offer after just one interview” says Daniela Pelton, a career coach at Lambda School, “And sure, that could happen, but to actually set themselves up for success, students need to have a realistic and educated perspective on what the process and timeline looks like.”
Statistically speaking, most job hunters strike out on their first try. For Lambda grads, it can take up to 3 months to land that offer letter.
“My key message for students is that don’t take these natural time delays personally. It’s hard because this is your focus, but business cycles take more time than most students appreciate,” she adds.
Recruiters may need to fill positions quickly, but the paperwork, vetting, and interviewing process can drag things out for months.
This pace can feel discouraging for a hungry applicant, especially one used to the fast-paced learning environment.
Here are three things new graduates should keep in mind to best prepare for today’s job market.
Big companies move slowly, but today’s hiring managers expect to understand you and evaluate your skills quickly. This means you should have your resume, work samples, personal pitch, and references at the ready. Networking and reaching out for informational interviews is highly encouraged as well, since forming relationships with companies early can make you more memorable and highlight your growth. When you are ready to apply, know that each stage in the process will take more than a week due to the heavy workload each recruiter has - filling multiple positions at once.
The application process may look something like this:
· Week 1: Fill out an application
· Week 2: Hear back to confirm they have received your application and may be calling soon to schedule a phone interview
· Week 3: Schedule your phone interview
· Week 4: Ace your phone interview. Begin salary discussions.
· Week 5: Hear back and schedule your first in-person interview
· Week 6: Ace your first in-person interview
· Week 7: Wait while other candidates are interviewed
· Week 8: Hear back to schedule your second in-person interview (likely with the whole team or more senior managers)
· Week 9: Ace your second in-person interview
· Week 10: Wait while other candidates are interviewed
· Week 11: Receive a verbal offer!
· Week 12: Negotiate the offer and agree to contract
· Week 13: Begin background check, give notice at other job if applicable
· Week 14: Paperwork is wrapping up, previous job is wrapping up
· Week 15: First day on the job!
Each stage takes time not only to vet you, but also to vet your competition. Your best move? Stay focused and use the extra time to prepare for each step in the process.
Think creatively about where your skills might be best suited, and apply to a wide range of companies while you play the waiting game. Even if you don’t interview for your dream job right away, other options may surprise you or give you interviewing and negotiating practice.
Have you always identified as a leader? An underdog? An overachiever? Understand that hiring managers who are just meeting you need to know how and why you shine in order to present the best offer. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses and giving thoughtful examples in your interview can help recruiters see the value of investing in you rather than the other way around.
Research comparable salaries in your specific field and maintain realistic expectations. And when you finally get your offer, always negotiate. After all, you’re worth every penny.