You just graduated from college and are seeking your first “real” job. There is a whole world out there, and you have no idea how to get started and what is appropriate. You’ve heard from others that it is a competitive job market and you are feeling a bit discouraged. Based on my experience with students and job seekers I can assure you there are jobs out there and companies are hiring. That said, the more prepared you are and the more you maximize your job search efforts, the more likely you will be one of the lucky ones who does land a great job.
Here are five tips to help you get started and be successful in your job search:
- Have a basic idea of what you want to do and where you want to do it. (type of company, industry). Inventory your skills, qualifications and experience that make you an appropriate candidate. Develop your resume and other marketing collateral to show case this. An unfocused job search – an I’ll take anything job search - is a tougher job search than a focused one.
- Seek information and advice. Use the research skills you developed in college to identify people who can give you real world advice on careers, companies, and people in the know. Conduct informational interviews, which as it name implies is an interview with someone in a career field that may be of interest to you. Start with family, friends and alumni from your college.
- Develop a strategy for “selling” not buying. It’s easy to approach a job search from a WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) perspective. However, when you are corresponding with an employer, WIIFT (What’s In It For Them) is a more successful approach. Instead of having a Job Objective on a resume that says “looking for a position that offers opportunities for growth and development”, include a Summary that clearly outlines the skills/expertise you have to offer.
- Limit the time you spend online. While Linked In, Twitter and Facebook can be very helpful for job search, the best networking is done face-to-face. Networking can happen anytime when there are at least two people in the same place. Take advantage of increased social events during the summer, barbecues, graduation parties and reconnect with friends and family. These are great opportunities to discuss your transition. Additionally, attend local college alumni events.
- Clean up your online reputation. Employers use search engines for researching job applicants. Make sure you remove those pictures that may not present you in the best light. Also ensure your privacy settings are up to date. Check your online reputation by Googling yourself. Sign up for LinkedIn and develop your profile and start connecting with friends, colleagues, previous bosses and alumni from your college.
These are some great first steps to conducting an effective job search. Stay tuned next week for Part 2 where I talk about the interview, and follow-up strategies.
Cathy Rimsky is a certified career coach and job search strategist.