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The Advice You Don’t Get Applying for Jobs

RWC tutor Hannah Grace Leece gives helpful tips on applying for jobs.

Trying to find a job is probably one of the least favorable parts about graduating. From going to countless interviews, writing a million and one cover letters, adjusting your resume approximately ten thousand times according to the job you’re applying for, and all the other stuff you have to get done, it’s exhausting, to say the least.

While going through this process myself, I’ve learned a few tips to help you navigate this tricky process. These are the tips that I wish I’d known when I started the process, but they just weren’t found on any of the articles or sites I looked at. So read away and find peace within the chaos of your post-graduate life!

  1. Get SO MUCH help from your career center.

I know this is kind of an obvious one, but it’s so underused. Use the career center at your college so much! They are paid using your tuition, so you’re basically already paying for them to help you, and that’s exactly what they are there for. Book an appointment with them the semester you want to start applying for jobs (ideally the very start of the semester before you graduate) and let them help you build your resume, what sites to look at the apply for jobs, that sort of thing. I’ve done this personally, and my counselors have been so valuable.

2. If you think it can go on a resume, it probably can

Since beginning the process of applying for jobs, there are so many things I didn’t realize could go on a resume for a job. That project you completed for a class that you put together the day before? Yep, put it on there. That training you were required to do for your job a year ago? That too. That conference at your school that was mandatory for one of your classes – go right ahead. With this in mind, not everything will be relevant to a position you’re applying for, and if you’ve done too many things, you don’t want to go beyond a page for your resume unless it makes you EXTREMELY qualified (like, you’ve been working in the field for 10+ years). So use discretion when putting some things on there unless you feel like they’re definitely relevant to the position. That being said, there’s probably a lot of things you’ve done as a student that can be put on a resume, so go ahead and ask your job counselor about using it!

3. Yes, you need to have a different resume for every position you apply for.

I know it’s tedious. I know it’s frustrating. But trust me, it’s so worth it. Even if they are in the same field, even if they’re for the same kind of position, you really ought to adjust your resume according to the job description for each individual position.

Even in the same role, two companies will have vastly different atmospheres and therefore different requests and preferences for who they’re looking for in a candidate, and your resume will (hopefully) tell them that you fit those preferences. Tailoring your resume towards the specific job you’re applying for is much more likely to get you considered for a position – this means looking at the job description and adjusting your skills and what you have listed for your previous jobs to show them you have experience in the line of work you’re looking into, and that you fit what they’re looking for in terms of work ethic, approach to getting things done in that workplace, and their company’s atmosphere and culture.

4. You don’t actually need to meet all the minimum qualifications.

This was a serious game-changer for me in the world of applying for jobs – no, you do not have to meet all the qualifications for the position listed on the job description, and employers do not often expect you to meet all of them. This is especially good advice for women and people of color, who are statistically less likely to apply for jobs they would get hired for than white men are based on not meeting the qualifications for the position. As a woman myself, I’ve experienced this quite a bit, choosing not to apply for certain jobs that I later realized I was qualified for, just because the list of qualifications made me think I wasn’t good enough. Apply for it anyway.

Here's a little insight I got from one of my job counselors after lots of discussion about which jobs I should and shouldn’t apply for: the list of qualifications for the position is, to employers, a list of qualifications the absolutely perfect candidate would have. So if someone had met all the qualifications listed on the description, the employer would see them as the perfect candidate. And, honestly, that perfect candidate tends to not exist or apply for the job in the first place. Additionally, the employer is probably required by their HR department to have that list of qualifications so that they have a reasonable explanation for why they might not have hired a specific person for a position. So honestly, that list of qualifications is there not to deter you from applying, but more because of red-tape rules because there’s a lot of rules with a company’s HR department that employers have to follow during the hiring process.

So apply for the job anyway! You would be surprised how qualified you actually are in the job world even if you feel like you aren’t. The worst thing that can happen is they say no, and even then, you have some insight about the application process and getting employed somewhere that will help you in the long run.


The process of applying for jobs upon getting ready for graduation can be tough. But hopefully, through reading these tips and talking about them with people you know (which is another really good thing to do – talk to other people in your life about the process and get advice from them), you’ll see it as a little less intimidating. So go forth, and happy applying!

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