Where To Apply

So you’ve graduated (or almost), and it’s time to start looking for jobs. Now that’s like watching a 3D horror film alone in a theater, with robotic mannequins for company.

On a more serious note, there is no denying that looking for jobs is a daunting prospect. However, approaching the process of applying to companies methodically can help solve a majority of your problems, if not all.

First of all, out of the zillions of companies in the market, you will need to shortlist a select few that you’re going to be applying to.

Which companies should I apply to?

Choosing which companies you should apply to is not an easy task. But neither was passing out of school, getting into a college or graduating. But you managed, right!

Imagining your Future

No, we’re not asking you to become an astrologer. All we’re saying is that, before you shortlist companies to apply to, do a little bit of thinking. Imagine how you see yourself five years down the line.

Maybe, you want to have a big car parked in the basement of a huge glass office with a special cubicle for yourself that overlooks the sea. Or maybe you imagine yourself to be travelling the world, staying in big, lavish hotels and attending seminars. You might even see yourself as a leader of a close – knit team, brainstorming and creating creative masterpieces sitting inside an office with bean bags for furniture and pizzas for lunch.

Obviously this doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be applying to a company until they serve pizzas for lunch. But thinking about the kind of professional life you wish to lead in the future will help you understand more about what you want from a company and from your job.

Imagine yourself as a working professional and try and answer the following questions:

- What kind of job do you see yourself doing? Think about the role you want to be working in. What kind of responsibilities and activities do you wish to be performing on a daily basis?
- Would you prefer working in a big, reputed company which allows you to network with people or in a small, close – knit company that will allow you to grow as a professional?
- How do you imagine the work atmosphere and culture of the workplace to be? Formal and organized or informal and friendly? Which set up suits you more?
- Would the best part of the job be the money or other factors like travel, quality of work and job satisfaction etc. matter to you as much?

Deciding your Industry

Once you’re done with the day – dreaming, it is time to decide the industry you wish to be a part of. Everything about your job, from the salary to the work culture to the responsibilities will depend on the industry you wish to join. And obviously, you can’t decide the companies you’re going to apply to before you decide the industry you’ll be joining.

You might be wondering, “Won’t my industry depend on my degree? What’s there to choose after your graduate?” Well, it might come as surprise to you, but a lot of students choose to deviate from the fields they graduate in and join other related or unrelated industries.

Think of it this way. Let’s assume that you’ve just completed a B.Tech in Electrical Engineering. However, during or after you graduate, you realize that the kind of jobs you will get in the field of Electrical Engineering are not good enough. It is possible that they don’t offer the kind of money you want, or the kind of job responsibilities you wish to perform or the kind of growth opportunities you would need to progress.

 In such a situation, what do you do? It is very possible that you decide to join the IT industry which is growing at a fast rate, hence provides a lot of jobs to engineering graduates from all fields. You might be attracted to the pay packages, the growth possibilities or the job responsibilities.

So even as an Electrical Engineer, rather than applying to power companies, you would be spending your time applying to IT companies that require engineers.

Additionally, there are some general/broad degrees that require you to make an industry choice after you graduate. For example, suppose you’re a graduate who has completed his/her B.B.A in Sales and Marketing. Now, before you start applying to companies, you will need to decide the industry you wish to join as a Sales and Marketing job is applicable across all industries and companies.

You might decide that you wish to join an Electronics company like Samsung or you might even join a Food Manufacturing company like Nestle. Your degree will be applicable to both these jobs but the salaries, growth and job responsibilities would differ from one industry to the other.

Keep in mind that there are some degrees and fields in which you don’t have much of a choice to make after your graduation. For example, after completing a Pilot’s course, there are only a limited number of companies you can apply to. You will not have the luxury of choosing an alternative industry as the course is very specifically applicable to the aviation industry. However, for most courses, you will have to make a choice of some form after you graduate.

Deciding a Role

An electronics engineer can work in a research role, a design role, an operations role, or a sales role among others. Same is the case with a science graduate or a commerce graduate or an arts graduate. Speak to seniors or family or people in the industry to find out what each role entails. Each role is unique. Some will employ your knowledge, some your creativity, some other your organizational ability, and some your communication and interpersonal abilities. After you become aware of the requirements of different roles, think about your strengths and choose a role that will employ them best. Not only is it important to choose the right role because a role that aligns with your strengths will help you progress better in your career but also because a role that doesn’t employ your main strengths can be frustrating as it is important that we are able to express ourselves completely through our work.   

Deciding the Companies

After you’ve chosen your industry, the task of deciding the companies you wish to apply to becomes much simpler.

Ideally, you should first try and find out about the top companies in your industry. So in case you plan to join the IT industry, you should first consider applying to companies like Infosys, Wipro, Microsoft, Google etc. Or if you plan to join the banking industry, you should consider applying to banks like HDFC, Standard Chartered etc.

But before you apply to the top companies, make sure you have a genuine chance of getting an interview. Consider the following situation, there’s a company which only hires IIT graduates, and you’ve barely managed to pass your engineering from a relatively unknown private college.

In such a situation, it makes no sense to apply to this company as it will end up wasting their and much more importantly, your time. You might as well use those all important tick ticks of the watch applying to company that’s going to consider offering you a job.

So before you apply, take a good look at your Resume first. Do you think you stand a genuine chance of getting in these top companies?

In case you do not have an answer to the above question, look at the company’s website, go through its job descriptions, speak to any present or past employees you know and try to find out as much as you can about the kind of graduates they hire.

After all your research, if you feel that your Resume’s good enough to be considered by the HR team of that company, APPLY! And do so with the best cover letter you can write and the strongest Resume you can send!

In case you feel that you might end up wasting your time by applying to the top companies, try and apply to companies that are comparatively less popular and more likely to consider you for a job. You might want to apply to companies that are relatively new and growing fast. Or you might choose to apply to companies which are established but work on a smaller scale.

Regardless of whether you’re applying to the top companies, the medium scaled companies or to the small and upcoming companies, the main goal is to make sure that your Resume fits the bill and is ideal for the company and vice–versa.

How many companies do I apply to?

You might be wondering, there are 100 companies that your Resume is ideal for. How many companies should you apply to? All, of course!

The only purpose of short listing companies is to help you save time by not applying to companies that do not suit your future goals and current qualifications. Rather, you should use that time in applying to companies that are likely to provide you with a job!

Out of the companies that do suit your goals and qualifications, why would you omit a certain few and deny them the opportunity of offering you an interview or possible a job? That wouldn’t be too smart.

In this day and age when applying to companies is a click away, it makes no sense to not apply to certain companies even though they can provide you with a job that would suit your career goals.

So apply to as many companies as possible, but make sure that the companies you’re applying to are a part of the industry you wish to join, and are likely to provide you with an opportunity to appear for an interview and eventually work with them.

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Steve Jobs, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, urged graduates to pursue their dreams, follow their interests & curiosities and see the opportunities in life's setbacks-- including death itself.