We go a bit of a different direction today, with job hunting advice for college grads. Both recruiters and hiring managers offer their advice to new college graduates, but most of this is useful advice for anyone, but especially people with less experience.
What advice would you give new college grads looking for work?
First, Some of Our Recruiters Offer Job Hunting Advice.
All of their advice applies to any job seeker, network, have a good resume, and have a professional LinkedIn profile, be prepared and research companies before you apply and interview.
Resume……Most employers take less than 60 seconds to review a resume. Keep in mind you’re not the only one applying for the position and likelihood you get a call back is minimal so try to tailor your resume to the job as much as possible. Hint: use as many keywords as possible in your resume as you see on the job description
Custom cover letters do matter. Generic ones hurt. Employers can easily spot the difference. Take an extra 10 minutes and make it personalized. Cooker cutter will hurt you here.
Do your research! Before sending your application, understand who the company is, what they do, and the role. Write out your answers to the interview questions you know they’ll ask you like “why do you want to work here?” “what are your strengths? weaknesses” Going into an interview blindly can ruin your chances of getting that position.
Practice! Get in front of a mirror, smile at yourself and answer the generic interview questions to find your groove. Ask a friend or family member to interview you and ask for honest feedback. If you have yet to graduate, your school may offer career services. Schedule mock interviews with them – use your resources!
We know it can be hard to find a job through online applications, so if you’re not getting calls its time to start networking.
Take the time to consider what experience you really have and find a way to clearly articulate that. Build a professional resume and LinkedIn profile. What skills did your volunteer work, internships, and project teams/activities/clubs give you? Be realistic when conveying your experience and in selecting opportunities for which to apply. It’s okay to have a stretch goal and maybe not meet every single desired KSA (knowledge, skill, ability), but do not waste your time or anyone else’s applying for unrealistic roles such as SR Manager of Engineering and Development when you should be looking at entry level roles.
Learn how to network and do it. You are far more likely to find an opportunity through someone you know or learn to know, than by sending online applications blindly. Don’t forget to leverage your professors and mentors and their connections when networking. Find people working in the industry or field in which you want to work and attend events, speak with people one on one at and after events, schedule informational interviews.
While you’re undoubtedly proud of graduating from college and just a bit weary and anxious to find your first job, remember that not everyone will see you as a valuable prize. Many people before you have graduated and entered the workforce, and for some industries, a college degreed worker is either extremely common, or not thought of as relevant.
Focus area: Reliability.
At the end of the day, what the decision maker is trying to understand is – are you the right fit? Here’s what they’re thinking:
- Will they show up on time?
- Will they do what they say they’ll do?
- Do they ask questions, act engaged and try to learn?
- Do they solve problems and take responsibility if they messed something up?
- Are they willing to do a job or task – even if it’s not glamorous or fun?
- Do you play well with others and can you work in a team?
General qualifications and direct skills that qualify you for the job are necessary (e.g. no one’s going to hire you as an airline pilot if you’re not qualified) – but the rest…that’s what separates those who make the cut, from those that don’t.
Make sure you have in your pocket examples of work and experiences that highlight answering those questions in a positive light. Oh – and make sure you do your homework on the company, and be able to answer the “why do you want this job and why here?”
Hiring Managers off Job Hunting Advice to New Grads:
Hiring managers offer advice on how to interact with them, how your first job probably isn’t your career, and how hard it is to find a job.
Write a cover letter and always thank an interviewer or someone you network with via email. I interviewed 5 people for an internship and not one sent an email after expressing their interest or thanking us.
Couple of thoughts; they may not find a job in their field immediately following college or university and to not get discouraged. The second comment is that more often than not they will find a job then a career. Finally, the third and most important, law of averages – most people have more then one career in their lifetime and they should embrace every opportunity that comes along.
I would advise new college graduates to stay open, be curious and follow your gut when starting their new job search. Taking advantage of professors and the Student Affairs office at college to provide insight on what level of information will work best for your resume and LinkedIn account; this will give you the most current trends in marketing yourself.
Depending on your degree/program consider digitizing your portfolio of work (academic, internships, projects, etc). Know what you prefer – big company/start up, for profit/non profit, individual contributor/team based role, big city/suburb,etc.
To prepare for phone or in person interviews, complete a ‘prep sheet’ that you can study from: what’s your message/objective, 5 things a prospective employer would want to know about you, what are your strengths, what are your weaknesses, where do you see yourself in 5 years, what are your success stories, one question you’d ask the interviewer.
Looking for that new job can keep you busy networking and meeting a lot of people. Always stay humble. Listen to understand if what you hear is a good fit for you. Provide thank you emails/notes within 24 hours of an interview (even if you don’t see yourself pursuing the opportunity).
Rejection is healthy and provides lessons and sometimes the next step in your search. Try not to take things personally.
Follow your gut and treat the process like finding a new friend….if it’s not easy then it’s not the right job.
When you do get that new job, find a mentor (not your manager) that will continue to help you evolve in your career and when the time is right, pay it forward and invest in a college graduate.
Well, there is a whole website with my advice on job hunting…..but in a more serious answer: Be patient. When I graduated from grad school, it took me months to find a job. As our recruiters point out, I only got it do to connections and networking. Try to relax. Job hunting is hard work, and if all you do is apply for jobs, and don’t take some time to enjoy life, you’ll soon get burned out. This will be reflected in your interviews. So, take some time to enjoy life, but make sure you are mostly looking for work. Lastly, job hunting advice for new college grads is all over the internet. Do some research on how to look for work, it will help. Here is just one example.
In summary, network, be patient, realize that you won’t find your perfect career right away.
Mostly, be prepared. Have a professional resume and LinkedIn profile. Know things about the companies you interview with. Be ready to answer and ask questions.
What advice do you have for college graduates looking for work? Let us know in the comments, or email us.