12 Essential Job Search Tips For Recent College Graduates
Congratulations! All of your blood, sweat, and tears over the past four years has finally paid off. It's time to get your feet wet and venture into the workforce. But where to start? Job searching can be overwhelming, but it doesn't need to be. Implement these 12 job search tips into your structured career campaign strategy to show recruiters that you're the employable talent they're looking for.
- Make a game plan – Having a strategic career plan in place helps minimize the potential for wasted time, money and effort. This will help ensure you receive optimal return on your effort invested. Before you even start your job search, outline your values and goals. Take the time to map out what is important to you, where you want to be, what type of organizational culture are you looking for, what kind of boss you want to work for, and what are you passionate about? You may even want to consider a SWOT analysis of yourself. Digging deep and answering these questions will help you to establish career goals that are consistent with your needs, wants, and the value you bring to potential employers. Keep in mind that as time passes and action is taken, your goals may need adjustment as some results may occur that you may not have anticipated. But don't be discouraged! You want to have a strategic career plan that encompasses the latest changes in your external environment. Lastly, have an active financial plan! No one lives easily or well if constantly suffering from want and worry. You want to put funds aside for a rainy day, an unforeseen life event, and retirement. Yes, retirement, it'll come before you know it! Life happens, stock markets crash, layoffs occur, and medical issues arise. Make sure your able to not just survive, but thrive in these situations.
- Get a professional e-mail address – It goes without saying that everything about you contributes to the type of first impression you make on a potential employer. Make the switch from the personal to the professional with a new e-mail address, one that ideally that uses your name and is simple, clean, and easy to recognize. Trust me, it will look much better when your resume comes through to HR via JohnSmith@mail.com versus PongChamp@mail.com. While you’re fun loving e-mail address may make them laugh, it doesn’t exactly say “I’m the best candidate for the job”.
- Develop your personal brand – How you brand yourself can go a long way. Companies such as Nike, Apple, and Coke all have an established brand that no matter where or how you see their products, you know what they are and what to expect. Recruiters and potential employers should be able to look at all the components of your career campaign and know who you are and what to expect. Be sure when you are developing your brand you demonstrate what sets you apart from everyone else, what your passions are, how you can add value.
- Always customize your cover letter - Not all companies and job listings are the same - so don't treat them as such. Any trained job recruiter or HR personnel can tell if your cover letter is just a copy and paste from all the other positions you've applied for. Use this opportunity not just to make a good first impression, but to make a real connection and take the first step to establishing a rapport. Be sure to speak to the specifics of the job post and the company culture as to how you will add value.
- Network as often as you can - The more people that know who you are, the better. According to a LinkedIn study done in 2016, 85% of jobs are filled through networking. 85%! To some, networking is intimidating and daunting while to others natural and energizing. It's important to view your job search as a full time job and keep your focus. Map out a schedule on your calendar for various networking tasks so that you can keep yourself on track and stay motivated. When making connections remember not to waste anyone's time and always express your appreciation, you don’t want to burn any bridges.
- Stay active on LinkedIn and other social media accounts - Social media can be used in all facets of the job search, from beginning to end. While social media is a very powerful and important tool to your structured career campaign strategy, remember it is only that – a tool. Social media does not replace the traditional job search methods, it should enhance them. To start, get a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is considered a professional standard, and a key component of your online personal brand. Scrub all of your other social profiles (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.) for inappropriate content or anything that will cast doubt on the type of professional you are. Keep in mind, it’s not all just about hiding the dirt. It’s also about showcasing the positive. Be sure to keep all of your profiles consistent and use the same profile picture across the board. It all circles back to your personal brand and making it easier for people to find you.
- Do your homework - Never go into a networking conversation or interview without knowing who's who and what's what. Do your research and find everything you can about the company history and culture, job position, and interviewer. With the internet and social media at your fingertips there is no excuse to not be prepared.
- Dress to match the company culture - You've landed the interview and done you homework, but what will you wear? The term "dress for success" now means something different for every company. It may not be as easy as putting on your best suit and walking out the door. Review your research, does the company wear a t-shirt and jeans, do they dress business casual, or are they a suit and tie kind of office? The dress code for a bank will certainly be different than that of a lifestyle clothing company.
- Send thank you notes! - Always send a thank you after an interview. Besides the fact that it's just good manners, it also gives you the opportunity to reconnect with the interviewer and tie up any loose ends. A thank you letter can also keep you at the top of mind while giving you one last chance to sell your value and tell them why you're the best fit for the position.
- Build your value - Your first job will most likely not be your dream job, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't give it your best effort. This is a chance for you to gain experience and grow your reputation. Always be a team player. The past four years have been all about you, your career and where you're going in life. Now, you're part of a team that's bigger than just you. Everything you do effects everyone else - especially your attitude. Be grateful and respectful to your co-workers and management, even if you feel they are in the wrong. You'd be surprised how far a smile and good manners can go.
- Be patient - A job search is a very intensive process. You may not get an acceptance letter or interview on the first try. Don't take rejection personally. Stay resilient and embrace these challenges. Use the feedback you receive to better yourself and your structured career campaign strategy. In the grand scheme of things, it’s only one of the many challenges that life will present.
- The days of being a student are never over - Continuous career development is imperative in today's job market. Technology is evolving at such a rapid pace, consistently altering industries and the workforce. Showing that you are up-to-date on certifications and that you actively participate in conferences, webinars, and industry groups keep you ahead of the game and top of mind to potential employers. Stay current in your field and at the top of your game at all times.
You've only just begun this new life journey and while it can be intimidating at times your goals and aspirations are never too far out of reach. Continue the hard work and lay a strong foundation of employable talent and you will go far.