Job Hunting Tips for the New College Graduate

If you’re a college student preparing to graduate, you may find that some job markets aren’t exactly hot right now. There are plenty of jobs out there, but finding your ideal job will be harder than it has been in the past. While many of these tips are helpful for someone seeking their first job out of college, the tips can be used by anyone that is seeking employment. If you’re not a recent graduate but simply someone looking for work after being laid off, before you continue reading make sure you brush up on your outdated job skills.

Experience Matters

Those with real-world work experience in their field will have a significant edge over those without such experience. If you have done any work in your field while in school, either through an internship, summer job, or work-study program, this will be a great asset. Companies have to make smart decisions when hiring new talent, so coming in with even a little experience will help you edge out other candidates who may not have the experience. When polishing up your resume, you’ll certainly want to highlight any work experience.

But what if you’re graduating this year and you don’t have any experience? You need to sell yourself. This is when it pays to have your interview skills honed in and projecting confidence can help you land that job. For most people, the only way to get really good at interviewing is to practice. Practice with your spouse, friend, or roommate until the process feels natural. Certainly, a real interview for a real job will never quite be the same, but the less you have to think about what you’re saying in the interview will go a long way in calming your nerves.

college graduate

Start Early and Plan Ahead

Even if your friends and classmates haven’t begun searching for jobs yet, don’t delay. You’ll want to begin looking for opportunities as soon as possible. Not only will this give you a head-start, but it may provide flexibility. Getting an early start will put you in the position of being able to turn down jobs without the potential you’re looking for and holding out for a job with more promise.

Look for a company that promotes from within and has the structure to provide opportunities for career advances to talented and hard-working employees. How will you know if a job is right for you? Before you start looking for jobs, think through all the things that are important to you and make a checklist. Some things to consider:

  • What is more important: pay, or a flexible schedule?
  • Are good benefits more important than higher pay?
  • Would you give up some perks in order to work in the city or are the suburbs more appealing even at a lower salary?

To fully compare different job offers, you really have to look at the whole package. If you plan on needing benefits, consider what those benefits actually cost or could save you money on. If you’re looking at two different offers, the base pay is important, but if the lower paying job has a retirement plan match or better health benefits, it could be a case where the lower paying job could actually end up providing the greatest total compensation.

Networking

Networking is one of the most powerful methods of finding a great job. Make a list of your contacts and how they might be able to help you. Talk to people who are working in the field you’re interested in and in the companies you’d like to work for. Don’t limit yourself to newspaper help wanted ads or online job postings. This is where it can be a good idea to begin building a LinkedIn profile so that you can begin to network with others in your field. There are also a lot of recruiters and HR personnel who use the service to find talent.

The best jobs usually go to those who start looking a little earlier, a little longer, and a little harder. Take advantage of any contacts you have in the field you’re hoping to work in, as recommendations are usually going to carry a little more weight than a a blind resume.

Additional tips:

  • Take advantage of your college’s career center.
  • Attend job fairs on campus.
  • Participate in on-campus interviews set up by local companies looking for staff.
  • Before going to an interview, research the company as thoroughly as possible so you can speak intelligently about the company’s business and its goals and how your skills and experience can help advance the company’s agenda.
  • Use all the job-hunting strategies available to you. Don’t limit yourself to one or two methods of job hunting.
  • Remember that your resume is your ambassador. A messy, unprofessional resume, or one with typos in it will give a bad impression to your potential employer. Take the time and effort to prepare a professional-looking resume that succinctly highlights your strengths and experiences and will make a good impression on those who read it.
  • Once you’ve landed the interview, be sure to follow up afterwards with a brief, neatly written note expressing your interest in the job and demonstrating your understanding of what the company is looking for in the ideal candidate.
  • Once you have the job, give it your best efforts, even if it’s not your ideal job. Your work ethic and work habits will follow you around from one job to the next. Make sure the news is all good.

Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle

My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.

5 comments
madonahilton
madonahilton

Getting a job in a reputed organisation is really a great deal for a fresher or experienced job seeker too and all this is happening due to lack of job searching skills but after reading your views i think it will become easy if anyone follow up them so i like it very much and bookmarked it for my further use too and also going to share them with my friends so that they will also take benefit from it.

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JeffreyCrews
JeffreyCrews

Interview skills and experience are definitely big factors. One of the biggest factors for me was who I knew. That landed me my job out of college. I would suggest going to anything and everything to meet people within the career path you are pursuing. All it takes is one person to like you, and BAM.....you are moving up the ladder.

romipe
romipe

Direct answers to an interviewer's questions are not likely to make you stand out in this exceptionally difficult economic. Interviewers, for the most part, are not very good at distinguishing talent or potential. To create a superior impression in an interview, you must unambiguously convey only two things: your initiative and your judgment. Every answer must be framed by a reference to your initiative and judgment. No exceptions or you will not stand out. A book, Beat-the-Odds Interviews, by Melvin Sorcher, PhD shows you how to do it. It is small and inexpensive and it works!

El Cheapo
El Cheapo

1) Job searching is a numbers game, so do NOT limit yourself to the few options offered by your school/university. Send resumes directly to Monster, Dice.com, CareerBuilder, and directly to company websites that are accepting applications. Even Craigslist has solid job opportunities, depending on the city.

2) Drop names in follow-up emails, phone calls, and face to face contact. Saying 'I spoke with so-and-so concerning this opportunity' will score you points in the interviewer's head. Preferably a hiring manager or supervisor within the department you are interviewing for (ie. an HR contact won't get you as far)

3) Its okay to enlist family and friends to help you with the job search. A little old school nepotism won't hurt.. especially when it is so commonplace in today's job market. Plus you may have inroads at companies outside of what is offered at school job fairs or online postings.

Ron@TheWisdomJournal
Ron@TheWisdomJournal

This won't be a popular comment...

Get a job, any job, with a growing company. If you can get a job with a company that's growing in this economy, there is hope. I'm in upper management and I know who's working and who's not. Many times, those in the lower ranks think that their efforts are not noticed but they are!

I'm in the business of promoting people so that my company can continue to thrive and grow. Those people who graduated 3 years ago and took a job they considered "beneath" them, are now making $45,000+ with $75,000 annual bonuses.

You have to "climb" the ladder. You don't get to start on the top rung.

Myfinancebutler
Myfinancebutler

"Even if your friends and classmates haven’t begun searching for jobs yet, don’t delay. You’ll want to begin looking for opportunities as soon as possible."

I think this is huge, especially for a student who doesn't know exactly where to start (and thus doesn't at all). Even if others aren't, you need to get going!