Tips and Tricks to Land a Part-Time Job this Fall

As the fall semester grows nearer, it’s time to start thinking about employment. Whether you’re looking for an industry-specific position or an entry-level job that pays the bills, here are the Career Scoop’s top tips for job seeking and making your application stand out.

First, start by developing an organizational system that works for you. Job searching can be messy, especially when you’re submitting applications through various platforms and company websites. If you’re not on top of everything, you’ll miss deadlines and important opportunities will slip through the cracks.

One method of organization is to make an excel spreadsheet with every job you’re considering, including its job description, wage, qualifications and application deadline. Then, organize by the latter and build time into your schedule, with the intention of submitting an application at least two weeks before each deadline. A word document, paper planner or Asana checklist are other useful options for organization.

Next, update your application materials. Make sure your resume is up-to-date with your most recent experiences, and that it follows an easy-to-read format with the most recent experiences on top. Check out the Career Center’s resume resources for more assistance with creating your resume.

If you’re using job posting sites, such as Handshake or LinkedIn, make sure you keep your profile up to date. Unlike a resume, these platforms have unlimited space to showcase the full extent of your work, so upload as much experience as you’re able to share. Include work experience, extracurriculars, volunteer activities, organizations, coursework and more. You can also generally follow companies or groups that interest you.

A cover letter will need to be tailored to each employer, but you can start to develop that now too. Make a list of each of the jobs you’ve had, and the transferable skills you’ve gained from them (such as communication, leadership or research). Start to develop a brief blurb about your skills and what you bring to the table. You can draw from this reflection as you start to create individual cover letters later on in your application process.

When that’s done, it’s time to start actually job searching. Start by narrowing down your priorities – location, hours, wage, industry, etc. Use these search parameters to identify good opportunities using job posting sites. LinkedIn and Handshake both allow you to save searches and set up job alerts, and they’ll send automated emails when new jobs are posted that meet parameters you set.

Additionally, start researching specific companies in the area that you want to work for. See if they have job opportunities listed on their website, and if not, call or visit to ask if anything is available.

Another critical part of the job searching process is networking. If you’re hoping to get involved in an industry specific to your major, talking to professors can be a good start. They may be aware of opportunities and industry trends, and be able to hook you up to possibilities you wouldn’t otherwise know existed.

Career Fairs and events can be good opportunities for networking and job searching as well. Even if you aren’t on campus for the summer, many employers have virtual events which are hosted through MU and discoverable through the ‘events’ tab on Handshake.

Finally, job posting sites usually have options for networking. LinkedIn, for example, has a feature to search for alumni in your area by industry and company. If you find someone at a company you want to work for, one option is to reach out and set up an informational interview. It’s a great way to get to know more about a potential job and find connections with people who already are where you want to be.

Now, it’s time to start applying. Most applications will include a resume, cover letter, references and sometimes work samples and additional questions. Make sure you give yourself enough time to reach out to references before submitting an application, and be aware that it can sometimes take several hours to tailor your cover letter to the specific job and answer all the necessary questions. Don’t rush the process, and make sure you double check the spelling of the company, names of individuals and any references to specific programs or departments.

Once the applications are submitted, you enter the tedious waiting game. It’s usually acceptable to follow-up after two weeks via phone or email, but make sure you check the job listing first. Some employers will request that candidates not follow-up, and in these cases doing so can hurt your chances.

If you get called in for an interview, be sure to check out resources like Big Interview to access preparation resources and practice answering questions. Research common interview questions, both in general and industry-specific, and record yourself answering them to pracitce. Be professional, friendly and straightforward.

For more tips on job searching, networking and interviews, drop into the MU Career Center from 9-5 on weekdays to talk to a trained Career Specialist about your questions or concerns.

Now get out there and rock that job search!