All factors that have left too many 20-somethings struggling to find a job. With employment rates for young adults reaching historic lows, it’s easy for even the most ambitious among us to get discouraged.
But take heart, there are simple, common sense steps you can take to separate yourself from the pack.
You’ve probably heard this advice before. That’s because it works.
Up to 80% of jobs are never advertised, so you definitely don’t want to be spending most of your time responding to jobs you found on Craigslist. If anything, look on LinkedIn for jobs posted by a close connection.
How do you network effectively? First, tell everyone you know that you’re looking. Friends, family, acquaintances, strangers on the street. Shout it from the mountain tops.
Use your alumni network, if you have one. Reach out to people in your industry (hint: ask for career advice, not a job). You want to be a personal referral, not one more faceless resume in a stack of hundreds.
2. Personalize Your Resume
Rewrite your resume for every application.
Your resume should suit the position you’re applying for. Move away from the idea of having one static resume. Instead, you want to fine-tune and rearrange your CV for every application. Emphasize experience that’s relevant to that particular job, and get rid of anything that’s not. Highlight the skills and experience mentioned in the job listing. Yes, it’s hard work, but it pays off (literally).
3. Always Follow Up
After an application, an interview, and even a rejection, be sure to send a polite and professional follow-up.
I got my first job out of college by following up. I went through several interviews, only to be told the company decided to go with someone more experienced. A couple weeks later, almost on a whim, I sent a formal email thanking them for their time and consideration. As it turned out they were unhappy with who they hired. I started the very next day.
4. Track Your Applications
When you’re submitting several applications a week, it’s easy to lose track. This makes following up difficult and hurts your chances of landing a job.
Stay organized by keeping an on-going list of your applications in a Google spreadsheet. Include fields like company name, position, date of application, date of response, etc. Keeping all this info in spot makes follow-ups a breeze, and keeping it on Google means you can access it everywhere.
5. Concise Cover Letters
Don’t discount the cover letter, it’s your chance to make a personal impression. Instead of regurgitating your resume, say something new. Using your own voice, describe what you’ll bring to the company.
Be careful not to prattle on for too long. A cover letter should be short, to the point, and convey a sense of your personality and attitude.
6. Prep for Interviews
Never go into an interview without putting in some serious prep time.
Research the company, find their mission statement, and read everything you can get your hands on. It’s also a good idea to look up common interview questions and rehearse your answers beforehand. No one wants to be left stammering when asked, “So, tell me about yourself.”
7. Ask Questions
At the end of most interviews, you’ll get a chance to turn the tables and ask any questions. Don’t miss this opportunity to impress.
Asking intelligent questions can show how engaged and forward-thinking you are. Consider asking about your first assignment or the inner-workings of the company. You can even ask for a frank assessment of yourself, it’ll give you a chance to clear up any confusion and receive valuable feedback.
8. Clean Up Your Facebook
As a 20-something, you’re a digital native, Facebook and Twitter is how you talk to your friends. Watch out, though. You’re also talking to your potential employers.
Drunk photos, skimpy outfits, excessive profanity, aggressive comments on politics or religion: all things you should lock down while applying to jobs. Check your privacy settings, untag inappropriate pictures, and clean out anything you don’t want an employer to see. You may also want to create a professional account on Facebook or Twitter to keep your personal and professional lives separate.
9. Be Humble, But Hungry
Don’t lie about your qualifications. Be honest and open about your experience; as a 20-something, no one expects you to know it all.
What’s more important is your attitude. Be hungry, ambitious, and determined. Many employers aren’t looking for a seasoned worker who’s set in their ways, they want an eager young mind that they can train to their liking. You don’t have to know it all, but you do have to be ready to learn.
10. Get Serious
Last, but not least, you need to get serious. Too many 20-somethings are ready to blame the economy and give up the job hunt.
If you don’t have a job, treat job-hunting as your job. Put in eight-hour days applying, networking, and researching. Yes, times are tough, but that means you need to be more proactive, not less.
At times, you may feel hopeless. You may want to give up. Just remember the strength, perseverance, and willpower you develop while getting a job will serve you well throughout your career.
Gene Sigalov is a SimpleTexting co-founder and leader in the mobile marketing industry. SimpleTexting.com is an easy-to-use platform that enables businesses to send customized SMS marketing campaigns directly to their customers. Follow SimpleTexting on Twitter at @SimpleTexting, like them on Facebook, and read the latest in mobile marketing news on their blog.
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