Job Hunting 101: A step-by-step guide to thrive during recruitment

by Sonali Loomba '2022

It’s recruiting season! Whether you are looking for an internship, a research position, or a full time role, recruiting can be a stressful and intimidating process. It is totally okay to feel overwhelmed and I hope the resources in this post help you refine your approach to recruitment! Key takeaways are to get started as soon as you can, stay organized, be efficient, and don’t be discouraged by failure.

Before Applying

Before or during your job search, set up a system for keeping track of open positions, roles you have applied for, and contacts at these companies. A color-coded Google Sheet is extremely helpful and makes the whole process seem less overwhelming because you are storing information in one place– not just in your head or in your inbox. The configuration I have found most useful is to list out companies in the left-most column, list out the role(s) at each company you are interested in, hyperlink the job posting for easy access later on, and note the date that you applied to that role.

As you gather more information about each company you can add columns like referrals, recruiter contact information, action items, follow-up dates, etc. The document does not have to be clean or perfect, but simply writing everything down will make the recruitment process way easier and allows you to see the progress you are making.

Finding Time

Balancing school, clubs, and recruiting can be difficult, and carving out time to fulfill all of these responsibilities can be stressful. If recruiting is a priority for you, set aside small chunks of time throughout the week solely dedicated to applying or interview prepping. Adding this to your calendar or even adding a section in your recruitment spreadsheet delineating specific days, times, and goals of these sessions can be extremely helpful. Being purposeful with your time is important when juggling recruitment with classes, so aim to target specific companies, career paths, or particular aspects of the application process.  

Looking for Roles

I personally use LinkedIn for a cursory search to get a list of companies that have positions open for the particular role I am looking for. You can apply through LinkedIn and this can be really efficient if you are looking to apply to a large number of roles in one sitting. Otherwise, add these companies and roles to your Google Sheets list. Then go through each company in your document and navigate to their careers page. Sometimes larger companies have separate university recruiting/student portals so be on the lookout for those because they will filter and display intern/new grad positions specifically.

There are a lot of public recruiting resources like lists for companies with open positions. If you are short on time, these often have direct links to the application site so it saves time! Other helpful resources include the AWEpportunity Portal, AWE #recruiting channel, AWE Industry Relations Events (Teatimes), Handshake, Jumpstart, Glassdoor, and Berkeley campus resources.

To expand your search, be on the lookout for services and companies you engage in. These can range from applications on your phone to banks, communication companies, and retail stores. Working towards a role in a company that builds products you care about will help you stay motivated in the recruitment process and find a company that fits your values.

Building or Editing Your Resume

Some helpful software tools for building your resume include Canva, Microsoft Word, Google Documents, and My Perfect Resume. If you are looking for more customizable, aesthetic templates, Canva can really help your resume standout. For a more straightforward resume approach, Microsoft Word has resume templates that are easy to use.

If you’re applying to internships or new grad positions related to software engineering, data science, design, business operations etc., many companies are looking for the same skill set, which is reflected across their respective job posting descriptions. Look through a variety of postings and pinpoint recurring themes or qualifications and include those in your resume so you won’t have to change your resume each time you apply to a different company. While tailoring your resume can be effective, it is also time consuming so if you feel that your resume is already a strength of yours, it is alright to pinpoint your efforts elsewhere!

Many companies use ATS parsing to read resumes because of the influx of applications they receive throughout the year. This resource is helpful to better understand how your resume may be parsed and how you can tailor your resume format to ensure it is being read in the most efficient manner. Some applications require you to fill out further information after uploading your resume, and the content is most commonly already on your resume. If your resume format makes it difficult to copy and paste the contents into job applications directly, it is helpful to have a plaintext version on Google Docs or Word for easy access.

Editing your resume can be daunting, but in order to put your best foot forward, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for feedback on how to improve your resume. Some great places to start include the AWE #recruiting channel, friends or family, Cal alumni, and mentors from previous clubs or internships. Many of the suggestions people receive on their first or second draft resume include: use action-oriented language, be clear and concise in your bullet points or summaries under your internships or projects, and use quantifiable results to showcase your accomplishments.

Some final reminders to keep in mind when creating or refining your resume: keep it to less than 1 page and put the most important sections like experience, education, and skills towards the top because recruiters glance at it for less than 30 seconds.

Networking Before and During the Recruitment Process

How important is it to network and build relationships? Honestly, it depends on the company or your field, but if you have the time, networking can open quite a few doors and help you build written and verbal communication skills. The more info sessions you go to, or LinkedIn connections you send out– the easier it gets. Networking used to be my least favorite part of recruiting (next to coding interviews of course), but now it is actually one of my favorite aspects because I get to talk to some really cool people!

Here are some events that can help you build relationships at companies, help you land a first round interview, and expose yourself to a new career path:

  • AWE Teatimes 
  • Berkeley Info sessions 
  • Career Fairs
  • Coffee Chats
  • Referrals through peers or club members

The key part about building relationships with companies and finding an “in” to get a first round interview is following up after these info sessions or coffee chats. Send a connection on LinkedIn and reference the event you met them at, that you are interested in/have already applied to the relevant roles, are excited about the opportunities at the company, and would like to connect.

“Cold-Connecting” on LinkedIn can also be a helpful tool. Looking up “university recruiter at company X” or “talent acquisition at company Y” can almost always yield fruitful results. This may feel a little awkward, but it is more definitely how I got a first round interview at a well known social media company! I applied to a SWE intern position at Snap and messaged a university recruiter I found on LinkedIn right after. Within two days the recruiter accepted my request and I got an email about a first round interview later that day. It does take a little bit of time to reach out, but the time can pay off.

Lastly, connect with Berkeley alumni on LinkedIn who work at the company you are applying for/interviewing at– bears help bears <3 

Before Your Technical Interview

Interviews can be the most daunting process about the recruitment process. If you are short on time, these are some steps that can help you succeed and be efficient with your preparation. Practice talking out loud while you code– this will help you not get stuck when you aren’t sure how to solve a problem. Talking out loud and outlining your initial approach (even if it’s not correct) will help set a good tone early on in the interview. Remember, it is okay to backtrack on your approach! Talking through your thought process can be unrefined but keep in mind that the interviewer does not know what you are thinking unless you communicate it. Review your basic data structures and algorithms. GeekForGeeks and the CS61B textbook, are great resources to learn these topics or review them. Just browsing a list of data structures and time/space complexities before your interview will help keep these on the forefront of your mind going into your interview. LeetCode and GeekForGeeks are also really helpful for example coding problems. Actually doing these problems can be nerve wracking and time consuming, but will give you an immeasurable advantage during your interview. If you are short on time, target common coding questions that may come up and try to do at least two before your interview!

Here are some helpful resources for technical interview preparation:

  • GeekForGeeks
  • LeetCode
  • Cracking the Coding Interview/Cracking the PM Interview
  • AWE #recruiting channel
  • Glassdoor
  • Reddit threads
  • Git Tech Interview Handbook

Before Your Behavioral Interview

Brainstorm or research some common interview questions like “tell me about yourself” and “why company X?” and then write out your answers and use them like a study guide. Recite your answers over and over again in front of a mirror, before you sleep, or while you’re in the shower, until you are confident and comfortable. You can treat these common questions almost like a presentation, but it’s important to not be robotic once you get to your interview. For questions that might be more difficult to prepare for, have a list of stories or experiences that you can tailor depending on what question you get asked. Next, prepare a list of questions you can ask your interviewer at the end. These can be recyclable or more tailored to the company/interviewer. Remember, interviews are a two-way street so asking questions that address personal career expectations and hesitations can greatly benefit you. It is helpful to look your interviewer up on LinkedIn if you have their name beforehand to get a better idea of what questions you can ask. Asking thoughtful questions or having a stimulating conversation at the end of your interview can make a lasting impression!

Here are some helpful resources for behavioral interview preparation:

  • GlassDoor
  • Reddit Threads
  • Company’s university recruiting page or blog

After Your Interview

Send a thank you note to your interviewer. It is ideal to get your interviewer’s email, but just adding a note to a linkedin request is good enough!

If you do not hear back within two weeks of your interview, don’t hesitate to reach out to your recruiter and politely ask for an update. A useful way to keep track of emails you have sent, emails you need to send, or emails you need to reply to, is through Google Tasks. In Gmail, you can directly add an email to your task list, set reminders, and add notes that link to that email thread.

If you received an offer, congratulations! Berkeley’s Career Center has great resources on accepting in a timely manner, negotiating, or anything else you may be looking for. If the company moved forward with other candidates, don’t give up! Send a follow up email and thank the recruiter for their time. It can be disappointing to not see results after working so hard, but remember, there are so many companies out there and you are going to find the right fit! 

You Got This!

Whether you need to hear this today or a week from now– everything is going to work out! The recruitment process can be stressful and tough, but try to let your true self shine and enjoy yourself. Companies value the experience and skills you gain as a Berkeley student, which gives you the opportunity to be more mindful when recruiting. For example, examine a company’s recruiting process and evaluate your experience because it can reflect the company’s culture. AWE has so many great resources and its members are always willing to share their experiences or lend a helping hand in any capacity. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you are struggling, looking for advice, or just want to rant! Remember, you want to land a role at a company that wants you just as much as you want them. You got this! 

About the Author

Sonali is currently a junior studying EECS and is passionate about intersecting technology and communication to design products that impact people. She most recently interned with the Department of Defense and enjoys dancing, drinking iced lattes, and browsing Buzzfeed.

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/sonaliloomba
Portfolio: sonaliloomba.me
Instagram: @ohsonali

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