Since the start of the Great Recession, it’s been undeniably hard out there for recent college graduates. The job market has been unforgiving and many grads are struggling to find jobs at all, let alone jobs that pay well and help build a career. Although most job-related news tends to ooze gloom and doom, the unemployment rate continues to decline (albeit slowly). However, as Monster’s John Rossheim says, the peak hiring period of the first quarter of 2013 is approaching, which makes the job search process slightly less daunting. Statistics and recruitment cycles aside, if you want to improve the odds of kick-starting your career, here are five tips to help you land that first job:
1. Go on informational interviews.
Informational interviews are exactly what they sound like, interviews for the purpose of obtaining information about a position and industry. This means that you set up the interview and ask the questions. These interviews provide unmatched insight into a job field, so you can better learn what skills are necessary for the position, which is helpful for future applications and interviews. You can also ask how someone with your skill set can best market themselves for that career. Informational interviews are about furthering your understanding of a career and expanding your network of contacts, so be sure to follow up with a thank-you note or email.
2. Tailor your resume and cover letter.
Many companies now use software to scan all applications for keywords relevant to the position and eliminate those lacking such words. By incorporating keywords and phrases that appear in postings into your resume and cover letter, you’ll make it more likely that your application gains the software’s stamp of approval and makes it in front of an actual human. Also, when writing your cover letter, place an emphasis on your professional experience as much as possible rather than using your education as the standard for your qualifications.
3. Spend time building your skills.
While you may not have a job, you can still refine the skills necessary to excel at your dream position by using the Internet to show off your knowledge and aptitude. If you want to work in communications, cultivating an active social media presence as well as contributing to websites and blogs will help you become an even better social media/writing guru. This will help you build a multifaceted portfolio that highlights your writing talents. If you want to be an advertising account manager, start a blog that features and breaks down the latest ad campaigns. No matter the industry, try to think of ways to showcase your skills and interests as related to the field and your desired position.
4. Network with your school’s alumni.
Networking is the best way to land a job, and as a college graduate you have a network of working alumni at your disposal, so use it. Identify which alumni have the job you want, work in your field of interest, or at your dream company. Reach out and ask if they have any advice regarding a career in their field and if they have any time to spare to talk to you. Alumni are often willing to help fellow alums, especially young ones, so go ahead and contact them.
5. Expand your search.
Everyone has their dream job, but in reality, not everyone lands it, especially not as their first job out of college. It’s easy to get fixated on a particular career path and disregard other, seemingly tangential opportunities because they don’t align with your vision. As a recent grad seeking to build experience, you should certainly look for your dream job, but you should also look for jobs that will give you skills and experience that would be of value at your dream job. For example, you may want to work in communications at a television network, but if you look for social media, community management, and blogging jobs, you’ll find other jobs that will help you cultivate your communication skills. By widening your search, you’ll put yourself in consideration for more jobs that will ultimately benefit you immensely.
Mandy Fricke submitted this post. She works in community relations for Earn MBA Degree, which helps you explore MBA degrees. Outside of work Mandy enjoys biking, reading and traveling.
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Category: Personal Branding