Getting ready to graduate this spring? First off – congratulations! Earning a degree is no small feat and should be celebrated. You’ve invested a lot of time (and let’s be real, a ton of money) in yourself.
Though you’re now armed with an impressive diploma, expecting jobs to land at your feet and employers to clamor for you will result in certain disappointment. Your next course of study? Job Search 101.
Here is must-read career advice for recent college graduates from iHire team members who have been there, done that.
My career advice for college graduates is utilize your contacts. Networking is one of the best ways to find good jobs. If you had internships, check in with your old supervisors. Ask family and friends if they know of anyone hiring. Attend networking events in your area, and develop a solid, 30-second elevator pitch for yourself.
Also, don’t be afraid to start from the ground up. There is a lot of experience to be had by starting at the bottom and working your way up. And once you’re in your new role, always treat everyone – from the custodian to the CEO – with equal respect.
Your job search IS your new job. You’ve graduated, taken a couple of weeks to decompress, and moved to your new digs; now it’s time to get to work because your job search is your new job (for now). Devote a block of time daily to your search and stay disciplined.
Approach your search using multiple strategies: use job boards and career websites, network with people in your community, attend local Chamber of Commerce events, reach out to temp and recruiting services, and even volunteer in your spare time. Stay organized and set goals for the number of jobs you wish to apply to each day. It takes time to build momentum and for the offers to start rolling in, but if you stay dedicated to the process, you will succeed.
As you venture out from the structured college experience and try to find your best fit in this world, it can be intimidating. My advice for graduating college students would be to go after what drives your passion in life and not so much what your salary will be.
I’ve learned over the years in my career that doing what fits my personality – meaning my desire to help others – matters to me more than what I bring in each week. I use that passion in my position now by caring enough about my clients to enjoy every conversation, every story, and every new thing learned when talking with them as well as only signing them up if our service fits their needs. A nice benefit to following this advice is it’ll help you succeed and excel in what you are doing.
Resist the urge to spend all of your summers relaxing, partying, socializing with friends, and/or working dead-end jobs for extra cash. Internships are critical to your future job prospects, and it’s very important that you use your time between semesters gaining real-world experience.
If you impress the right people, you can also parlay your internship into a full-time role. Don’t wait until after you graduate to get hands-on experience!
When you start your first job, make it a priority to get organized – whether that means creating a daily to-do list, documenting weekly goals, color-coding your Outlook calendar, or keeping your workspace in order. You’ll be adjusting to a new schedule, meeting new people, and absorbing a lot of new information at once, so creating some sort of structure will help set you off on the right foot (and also make a great first impression).
But don’t reserve your organization efforts for the workplace – plan your meals, schedule time for daily exercise or meditation, declutter your home, and go to bed at a regular time. The more organized you are in all aspects of your life, the more easily you’ll adjust to the workforce.
My best advice for college graduates looking for a job is to have an open mind and learn from all the experiences and opportunities that present themselves. You never know where they will lead you!
After I graduated from college, I made the mistake of thinking my degree was my golden ticket into the workforce. So, I batch blasted my resume to every employer I could find that was hiring. While this did give me a sense of accomplishment, in the long run it was not a good strategy.
Spend quality time with each resume and cover letter you submit – even if that means only submitting to one job every day or even every other day, your chances of getting an interview are already exponentially higher.
It’s also important to get a feel for what the job market is like in your area. If your friends are finding jobs easier than you, it could simply be because of where they live. If you’re willing to move, go somewhere that has a healthy job market.
Here’s a piece of tactical advice you can try tomorrow: always volunteer to be the notetaker in a meeting. No one likes to be the notetaker, so you’ll immediately show value to your colleagues. More importantly, you’ll be the center of information. This is a great way to show off attributes such as organization, accountability, and attentiveness.
Make sure to keep a log of action items – in other words, a list of work that was agreed to be done and who is accountable for that work. Put this at the top of the notes that you send out after the meeting, and all of a sudden you’re taking a leadership role with task management. Starting off as a great notetaker is a terrific launching pad for advancement.
You must never compare how you’re doing (in any capacity) with your friends, colleagues, or even your parents when they were your age. Doing so reliably leads to needless emotional distress, no matter how well you’re doing. Instead, only compare how you’re doing this week with how you did last week.
The job world owes you nothing. The 89th employer hasn't called you back? Call them. Email them. Stop making excuses. Dig up a phone number and call them if you're still interested in the position. Why should they be interested in you over other applicants if you can't be bothered to follow up?
If you get someone on the phone, set yourself apart from other applicants (there are probably a lot). Do something appropriately spontaneous or try to ask an incisive question about the company that illustrates your interest.