Here are my 8 essential steps to finding your dream internship or job in an English-speaking job market like the United States, Australia, Canada or U.K.
(So many students don't know about step #6, and it's so important!)
The Bare Minimum
1. Get your face on LinkedIn
Recruiters will look you up on LinkedIn. It's a basic expectation to have a profile there these days in the job market.
Notice I said get your face on LinkedIn. You should upload a professional-looking photo for your profile picture. It doesn't have to be taken by a professional, but you must look like a professional in it. (No swimsuit or party photos please!)
2. Tailor your CV/resume to each job
Ready to submit your CV/resume and apply to a job?
Not so fast.
Make sure to customize it to match the qualifications of the job. This does NOT mean copy and pasting the job description bullets into your CV. It DOES mean taking a look at the job description and qualifications and making sure that any experience you have in those areas are highlighted in your CV or resume. I used to have at least 3-5 versions of CVs depending on the industry or role (or even company).
The goal is to have the recruiter or hiring manager who is quickly scanning your CV mentally check off key words or phrases they are looking for.
3. Book informational interviews
Most candidates do not do this. Those who do gain an automatic advantage.
Informational interviews are quick meetings where you learn more about a person's role/industry or to get some personal career advice.
You're not there to get a job, and they're not there to interview you for one.
People don't like to feel used, but they do like feeling like someone admires them and values their advice. People (yes, even strangers) often welcome the opportunity to give advice to a local student who does not have an "agenda".
You also get to "practice" interviewing skills at informational interviews.
And, it's great for relationship-building. They may remember you fondly when a job does come up. (I've even had a couple of informational interviews that ended up with an invitation to apply to a role. They would have ignored me if I was just one out of many in a big stack of resumes.)
Do the work to find people you actually admire who could give you advice, and book 2-3 informational interviews with them.
Make sure you have filled in everything correctly on application forms.
Don't forget to check for grammar/spelling mistakes on your CV or cover letter. Have a native English-speaker read through all your documents.
5. Prep for interview: Q&A
Prepare your answers to the top a) general and b) industry-specific questions you might get asked. For example: a top general question is "why do you want to work in this role", and something common in accounting-industry interviews might be "how familiar are you with the local tax laws here?"
Above all, make sure to prepare real stories to tell, but don't memorize anything word for word. It won't sound natural.
6. Prep for interview: non-verbal communication
This is where the emotional intelligence comes in. Now that you've prepared what you will say, you need to learn how to say it. The best way is to a) learn the key tricks and b) practice. My top piece of advice is to practice with a real expert, one-on-one. Second to that, practice by recording yourself on video (just use your camera on our computer or phone) and play it back.
Do you communicate in a culturally-appropriate way? Are you nervous? Do you seem enthusiastic? Do you make proper eye contact? Does your tone of voice sound professional yet natural? What is your body language saying? You may never notice these things without seeing it on video or someone else pointing it out.
7. Send thank-you note
After each interview, it is expected to send a short thank-you email these days. Keep it short, and use it to address any post-interview concerns that you think the interviewer may have.
8. Negotiate / ask for feedback
If you did got an offer, CONGRATULATIONS! That's good news, but the process is not over yet. Make sure you negotiate your package where possible. Even new graduates or interns have certain things that they can ask for, even if it's not a higher salary.
If you didn't get an offer -- don't worry! The biggest mistake is to get upset and then simply "move on". There is another step: get feedback! Recruiters say it's OK to send a very short email or give a quick call to find out if there was any reason or feedback about why you did not get the job. Many students skip this step, so they are left guessing why they didn't make it. You've got nothing to lose.
*BONUS step* 9. Clean up your social media
Check how your public profile looks on WeChat, Facebook, Line, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram etc. So many students don't realize that social media platforms often show posts that they never thought were public.
I've had real employers tell me how turned off they were by a candidate's beach or party photos. (And yes, I know for a fact that employers and recruiters do check your social media profiles.) Make sure your private life stays private. #ReduceRisk