This past weekend was summer graduation at our local colleges. It is a time of excitement for these grads but it is also a time of nervousness at what their job future holds. Several grads were interviewed on our local news; all of them expressed optimism that “something” would come up for them but they also recognized that it would take work for them to secure a job in today’s economy. Depending on which storyline you read, the prospects of those under age 24 is less than those older, and those with a bachelor’s level is less than those with a master’s degree. A June survey by the National Association of College and Employers found a 10.2 percent increase in hiring among these member, which is good news. Of course, some areas have more jobs than others but, with a good plan, hard work, persistence, and a bit of creativity, new grads can find themselves in the ’employed’ category.
Here are some job search tips that new grads (or any job seeker) can begin to implement today:
1. Know what you want – you have your degree in hand but do you actually know the particular job you want? Knowing this will make your job search easier and more stream-lined; you will focus on looking for organizations and opportunities in that area. If you are not clear, research jobs that interest you to see the exact qualifications needed and compare those with your skills.
2. Develop a Job Search Strategy – now is the time to make your plan for how you will go about looking for a job and for how you will spend your time. There are a host of ways to look for a job, thanks to technology, but you should also include in-person searches, such as job fairs, alumni events, networking meetings, or joining professional associations.
3. Have a great resume – good is not enough so if you are unclear then get some help from a resume writer – the investment would be worth the money. Be sure your formatting is clear and has the tag words that are in the job description. Be sure to add any particular skills or experiences you developed in college, such as any projects you worked on, reports you wrote, volunteering or any leadership positions you’ve held. Have someone review your resume for any typos – you don’t want to get your resume kicked out for a misspelled word.
4. Have good references – having people who can vouch for your skills and your character can make the case to hire you, which is particularly crucial if you don’t have any work experience. Family members are typically not accepted; look at people who have known you and your ethical behavior, such as business friends of your parents or family members, your church, teachers, coaches, and the like. Make sure to get approval from these references so they won’t be surprised.
5. Practice your interviewing skills – getting in the door is only half of the equation; you need to be able to sell yourself and you do this in the interview, either in-person or on the phone. You must be prepared to discuss why you should be hired and are the best candidate; remember, it’s about what you can do for them and not the other way around. Have some examples for how you handled difficult situations or made a big decision, or how you work well as a team member. If you can, have someone practice with you or videotape you to help you feel more polished and confident.
6. Dress professionally – what you wear increases your confidence level and your presentation to a potential employer. If you are applying in person, you may be asked to interview then; you could also be asked to come in immediately when you get a call. Employers judge candidates by their physical appearance as they are assessing their ‘fit’ with the rest of the organization. It would be helpful to dress up while you are looking for a job (which can be a job in itself) as it can ge you in a good mind-frame to keep searching.
7. Use social sites – LinkedIn is the number one place that recruiters look for candidates so having a good profile, and picture, can get you noticed. Make sure your tag line is compelling and get involved in groups and networking with those who can get you hired. Make sure your Facebook page is cleaned up – there are countless stories of job candidates who have been taken out of the pool due to bad language or being tagged in a compromising picture. Look at chat rooms or ways that you can show your expertise; contribute to a professional blog or write an article on your topic area.
These are just a few ways that you can take to jump-start your job search; making the commitment to hone these steps will position you throughout your work life and honor that degree you just earned!