It’s incredibly challenging to find a job in today’s market. The economy is hurting, so it has become increasingly more difficult for recent college grads (whether at the undergrad or the graduate level) to find jobs, let alone those in their field.
New graduates may be first in their class, but if they don’t have the experience, their resumes nearly always get lost in a black hole. The following suggestions will help dig them out. After all, those student loans aren’t going to pay themselves back.
1. Start Early
Don’t wait until graduation to look for a job. Employers are hit hard with resumes in May from those who haven’t begun their job search. Start your search as early as the summer prior to senior year.
This makes sense, considering fall is when the first recruiting cycle and many job fairs occur. Additionally, companies recruit heavily before the year ends because they still have the budget to do so. Take advantage of this and get a leg up on your classmates.
A significant percentage of the undergraduate college population wants nothing to do with job searching until the last moment. Taking this for granted can cost you a future job too.
2. Bring Experience to the Table
Internships early in your college career (during your second or third year) help get your foot in the door, help you build necessary skills, and meet people in your field you may have otherwise not met.
If all goes well during the internship, it could lead to a job within that company or a job with a firm you met through interning. Employers are looking more for how much real-world experience you have over how well you did in college alone.
Think education + experience, and the money will follow. You do that much better when ranked against others if you have the work experience to add to your resume.
3. Search Outside the Box
Job searching no longer means looking through the newspaper and sending out your resume. Instead, determine which companies are right for you and complete their online application. Better yet, send them a “pain” letter. A pain letter has a simple formula:
a) Start with a hook. Make it known you’re paying attention and know tidbits about the company; get the decision-maker’s attention in some way.
b) State the “Pain” the company is having. Perhaps they’re growing exponentially and their pain is to optimize growth efficiently.
c) How can you help? Mention how you’ve been influential in mitigating this pain for other people or companies in the past. Be specific.
d) Close it up. Mention that you’d like to discuss where you might have an intersection of interests and that you hope to hear from them at their earliest convenience. Don’t forget to thank them for their time.
Send it to the right person, and via snail mail if possible.
Get out there and meet people. Networking is more crucial now than it has ever been. Getting a job is really about how willing you are to step outside your comfort zone, meet the right people, and make the right connections.
You have an internship? Perfect. Ask your supervisor if you can sit in during the next meeting discussing the company’s next step, future goals, etc. Go to work functions with your business card. In fact, never leave the house without your card. That’s your ticket to a potential job offer.
Don’t forget family and friends when networking. Sometimes the best job is right under your nose. Get the word out among your circle as to exactly what you’re looking for and how much you’d appreciate their help.
Try to stay in contact with your friends from school and old professors. Your teachers are usually at least a generation ahead of you so they have a lot of experience that you can benefit from.
They also know a lot of people and can be your gateway into job heaven. This is even more important if you’re a graduate student. Typically grad students have closer relationships with their professors than undergrads do. Perhaps you’d feel comfortable enough asking for a letter of recommendation.
Complete your LinkedIn profile with your latest information and check back frequently. Many employers look for future employees here and vice versa. This will also help you in building your virtual network when it’s not always easy to meet in person.
5. Be Professional
No matter how friendly you may be with your prospective employer (whether you know him or her as family, a friend, or its your internship employer), act as if you’ve never met the person.
Aside from the obvious pleasantries you’d use with anyone you know, don’t be any more informal than that. Dress appropriately, take your resume in a presentable manner, thank him or her for their time, and send a hand-written thank you letter or an emailed thank you, whichever seems more appropriate for the situation.
6. Use Your School
Keep in mind that your school probably has a career center you can take advantage of. They’ll have services such as mock interviews, job search workshops, resume review, among other services. They may also have an internal posting site that’s exclusively for students and alumni.
Got any more tips? Please share them in the comments below!