“Right now is the perfect time”: navigating the job search

Looking to start job hunting? Chimes spoke with Courtney Banks-Tatum, director of the Career Center, for advice on navigating the job search process. 

According to Banks-Tatum, graduating seniors should plan to start applying for jobs in the next couple of weeks, if they have not already started to do so. 

“It usually takes between three to six months to land an opportunity,” she said. 

For students looking ahead to their senior year, Banks-Tatum said, “It’s never too early to start looking.” 

Planning to apply

While applying for jobs may seem intimidating, there are steps seniors can take to make it easier. 

“Start to come up with a list of five to 10 employers that you are really, really interested in working for, and identify why,” said Banks-Tatum. 

Seniors should try to get in touch with contacts at those companies such as recruiters or Calvin alumni. They also should make sure they have a “top-notch resume,” according to Banks-Tatum. 

The Career Center, which hosts a variety of opportunities for students to connect with employers, can help with both. 

Job postings often feature long lists of “requirements” for potential candidates. However, it is not necessary to meet all these criteria. 

“If you meet the basic requirements, in terms of degree and experience … you should still apply,” said Banks-Tatum. 

Before senior year

Even before senior year, there are steps students can take to prepare for their career. 

“As soon as you set foot on campus, that is your time to start building your social network and start thinking about the job search process,” said Banks-Tatum. 

This is especially true for students going into fields which rely heavily on connections. Sean Salamun, a senior studying political science, plans to work with political campaigns and advocacy groups. Since high school, he has been involved with political campaigns, and he hopes to use these connections as he begins the job search process. 

 “Sometimes, you just reach out to someone who’s already on a campaign and see if there’s any positions you can interview for,” said Salamun. 

For students going into other fields, making contact with a recruiter can play a similar role. Prior to their senior year, students should attend events where they can meet recruiters, according to Banks-Tatum.

“Usually, you want to follow up by adding them on LinkedIn or getting their contact information,” said Banks-Tatum. 

Recruiters, who are often young professionals themselves, are not people to be scared of, according to Banks-Tatum. 

“They’re very close to the students that they’re serving, because they’ve graduated in the last three to five or seven years. They know the struggle,” said Banks-Tatum. 

Students at any academic level can go to the Career Center for help with building a resume and connecting with employers. 

“You don’t have to do it all alone,” said Banks-Tatum.