Cue Pomp and Circumstance! It’s graduation!
It’s a time for celebration. The new chapter is here! But for many, it’s a sharp realization that the new chapter has yet to be written.
Now cue the job search. If you don’t know what’s next for you, don’t panic. Your opportunity is out there; you just need to find it. No, it’s not easy, but it’s certainly not impossible. Here are eight tips to get you started:
Work with the Experience You Have
Internships, part-time jobs, campus involvement – you DO have work experience for your resume and cover letters! All of it may not be directly relevant to your dream job, but you can focus on the specific responsibilities that are, as well as highlight soft skills that may be enticing to companies.
For example, let’s say you’re looking for a marketing job, but the only experience you have is a marketing internship, retail job and involvement with your sorority. You don’t have to delete the retail and sorority experience! Instead, shift the spotlight onto functions of that experience that have made you an overall better professional. You could highlight the successful fundraiser you led your junior year with your sorority with the leadership lessons you learned while accomplishing your goal. You could also highlight the employee of the month award you earned at your retail job for your great customer service and teamwork. You don’t need “marketing” in every job title to be qualified for those entry-level positions.
Remember Your Resources
We have all heard about how important networking is while job hunting and that those who just rely on the job boards are doing themselves a disservice. As a new grad, you may be thinking, ‘But I don’t know any professionals!’ That might be true, but you do know people who are well connected with professionals. Your professors, classmates, career services department and even family all have connections that may lead you to the perfect opportunity. You just need to be brave enough to ask!
This tip is three-pronged: your appearance, online presence and job search materials. First, your appearance. You want companies to take you seriously as a professional, so you need to look the part! Invest in nice clothes (like a suit!), buy a lint roller, get a hair trim and polish up your shoes.
Next is your online presence. Delete that firstname.lastname@example.org email address and create the tried and true first initial, last name address. Then you need to go through social media to make sure material that’s public is clean and material that’s unclean is private. Employers will look at your profiles if they can!
Last, but definitely not least, is your job search material. Go through your resume with a fine-toothed comb for errors, and ask a mentor or trusted friend to do be a second set of eyes. Then do the same with your cover letter and portfolio (if you have one). A misspelling would be a silly reason to not be considered for a job!
You’re done with classes, so why not use that time you spent in lecture halls and studying to do good for others and even yourself? Volunteering is the perfect way to feel accomplished, give back and meet new people in your community! Volunteering doesn’t need to just be canned food drives; you can use the fresh skills you gained in college, too. For instance, you could “donate” your business intelligence knowledge to that local food depository to help them figure out when is the best time to run fundraisers and drives to correspond with trends in demand. You’ll be sharpening those skills while having a positive impact on the community, and even impressing others along the way! Win, win, win!
Proactively Practice Interviewing
Nobody is born with job interviewing skills; it takes practice. You might have interviewed for previous part-time jobs, and that is a good start! To supplement your interviewing skills, research common interview questions, talk to mentors within your industry about what to expect, practice your responses to standard questions with a trusted friend and try to schedule informational interviews with organizations you’d like to work for. You don’t want your very first “real world” interview to be for your dream job! Practice and become an interviewing pro before that interview gets scheduled.
Don’t Be Afraid of Follow Up
One of the most awkward parts of the job search that freaks out many a new grad is follow up. But yes, it is important and can be a game-changer. Follow up conveys your genuine interest in the position, and this is a huge plus in hiring managers’ eyes. A well-written email is typically the best route to go a week after submitting your application, and depending on your level of comfort with the hiring manager, a phone call can even be appropriate a week after a job interview if you haven’t heard anything. Have confidence and a little common sense, and your follow up can be a game-changer in your job search.
Mind Your Manners
Among all these important things you need to remember during the job search, you need to be mindful of the basics – manners. Good manners go far in the professional world! You would be amazed at how many job seekers forget the little things, like “please” and “thank you.” Throughout your job search, always be gracious when you receive help. A little gratitude goes a long way with those who are making connections for you, reviewing your material or simply encouraging you to keep going. Then when you’re interviewing, your manners can’t take a backseat to your excitement and anxiety! Yes, you’re eager, but you can’t be over eager and become pushy. And always, always remember to send a thank you email or note after a job interview.
Stay Realistic, Yet Positive
Finding your first job after college does not happen overnight. Sometimes it takes a few months and even an additional internship to get your foot in the door somewhere. But you cannot give up! Set realistic goals, and keep your chin up. Yes, I’ll be honest; the job search can be grueling. For many, it’s the first wakeup call of adulthood. However, I can promise you that staying realistic and holding on to positive attitude makes this trial exponentially easier.
The job market for new grads has definitely gotten better since the Great Recession, but it’s still far from a cake walk. If you stay persistent, remember this advice and learn more from those around you, success will come.
Have a question or additional job search advice to share? Leave a comment below!