Attention Student Job Seekers: 5 Steps to Target Companies That Don’t Recruit at Your School

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Are you an undergraduate or MBA student looking for a full-time job or a summer internship?  You may need to launch a job search directed at two types of companies: those that recruit on campus and those you find on your own.  Both paths can lead to exciting opportunities, but knowing how to navigate the process for each is the key to success.

Companies that recruit through campus career centers tend to be in specific industries, such as banking, consulting, consumer products, large tech, and  general leadership. They often hire for formal programs and on established recruiting schedules, usually earlier in the academic year.  Some conduct their interviews on campus, while others post job openings through the school’s career site and interview at their offices. Check out your school’s career office to find these companies.

For many other industries and types of companies, you need to be proactive and seek out opportunities on your own. The list here is long and includes a wide range of industries, such as media, real estate, education, investment management, non-profit, venture capital, and startups.  Although it may feel daunting because you have to do more legwork, these job opportunities can be well worth the effort.

Here are five steps to conduct a job search with companies outside of campus recruiting:

1. Start by Making a List of Target Companies

Think outside of the box. This list can include “wish list” companies, firms suggested by your friends or professional network, and lists created by a Google search. The first step is to make a target list of companies and not focus on job postings.

2. Look for Job Openings at Target Companies

Go on the target company’s website and look for job postings under Careers or Jobs. Put the target company’s name in the search box of a job board, such as LinkedIn. If you find a posting, before applying, proceed to Step 3.  If you don’t see a posting, don’t give up on that company – proceed to Step 3 as well!

3. Network Into Your Target List

For each company that interests you, try to find a contact who can provide an introduction.  Use LinkedIn, your school’s alumni directory, and ask your career office if there are current students at your school who worked or interned at that company. Don’t overlook personal friends and family members — you never know who they know!. For LinkedIn, 1st connections are best, but it is also helpful to identify 2nd degree connections. Reach out to the connection you have in common and ask for an introduction to the person at your target company.

4. Plan Your “Ask” When Networking

Once you identify contacts who can help you at a target company, be strategic in what you are asking for. In general, people are usually willing to help others —even strangers. However, the big limitation is people don’t have a lot of time to help.  Do the heavy lifting before you reach out and have a specific ask.

Instead of:

“Can we set up a call so I can hear your insight on ABC Company”, try

“I am in the process of applying to the following position at ABC Company (include a link to the job posting). Are you available for a quick call so I can hear your insight at ABC Company?  Or can you introduce me to the person who is in a hiring capacity for this role?”

Most busy people are happy to introduce you to HR, which often results in an interview .

5. Set up a System to Stay Organized and Keep Track of Your Search

We created Jobtreks for this purpose – because job seekers asked us for a platform to streamline their job search (shameless advertising!)  Check it out!

You can also find us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.