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but simply someone looking for work after being laid off, before you continue reading make sure you brush up on your outdated job skills.
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.
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 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.
- 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.
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About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.