two women interviewing

So, you want to get a job?

I was lucky enough to be a speaker at this year’s AAF Omaha Meet the Pros event. I had a blast opening the two-day event on March 1, and if you want to tune into my talk, you can watch it on YouTube.

The topic of discussion? Jobs and how to get them. I’ve managed dozens of interns and direct reports over my career, and I’m constantly wading through seas of resumes and job applications – including for our current open positions for Account Coordinator and Account Manager. The tips I shared apply especially to entry-level positions and job seekers graduating college, but are applicable to people of all ages and stages of their careers.

So, you want to get a job? Read on.

Part 1: The Resume

The classic Catch-22: “You need experience to get experience.”

I hear this complaint a lot – and it’s a valid one. People can tell you to volunteer, take on unpaid internships or join various clubs all they want. The fact is, not everyone has the luxury of this option.

Instead, try elevating your skills section on your resume. I’m not talking about your proficiency in Microsoft. Focus on things within your classes that apply to the industry. Those things will give your hiring manager a sign that you know what you need to know about where you’re aiming to work – even if you don’t know everything yet.

Highlight relevant coursework or projects.

While I don’t advise making your entire resume about your coursework, it’s a good idea to highlight and elevate what you’ve done in classes. Course leadership positions? Projects you’re proud of? Include those examples. This lets me know you’ve thought about these things and have worked through some of these industry-specific challenges and assignments. It offers me a window into what you’re capable of.

Take advantage of the experience you do have.

If you were a sales associate in retail, how did you problem-solve? What was your customer service like? In account service especially, part of the job is customer service. You’re talking to your clients all day. You’re also talking to your internal teams, so communication skills are key. 

Experience problem-solving? Managing money? It’s all relevant. Think about what experience you do have and how it could be helpful and applied to something completely different within this industry.

Each bullet describing your responsibilities should help the hiring manager understand what you could do for the company.

Leverage your references.

Take it from me – this is valuable. Reach out to people you have worked with or been a student of and see if they’d be willing to act as a job reference for you. Often, references aren’t common nor required on a resume, so when I do see them, it’s impressive.

Keep your eyes peeled for Part 2 in this blog post series, which will be about cover letters and ways to make them work for you.