Here are seven tips for graduates who are willing to take that extra step, and land a great job
#1: Gain Valuable Work Experience
Most graduates have a challenging time standing out from the crowd when they’re searching for their first position in their new industry. Many students get student jobs (like customer service) during college, so their work experience is not as relevant.
To stand out, dedicate your senior year to gaining relevant work experience for your desired future career. It could be a job, an internship, a volunteering opportunity or your project – as long as it’s relevant to the kind of career you wish to pursue.
Job Hunting #2: Improve Your Resume
It’s time to improve your resume and adjust it to what’s expected in your industry. Be willing to develop more than one resume if you apply to more than one type of job, but remember to personalize your resume even when you apply to the same type of position in different companies.
Consider enclosing a short cover letter that explains why you’d love to work in a specific company and how you could help them reach their goals.
Job Hunting Tip #3: Use Your University’s Career Office
Many people skip this step, and that’s a big shame. University career offices usually employ people with many skills who have a lot of information to share with you. They often know how to improve your resume, which types of companies and positions you can apply to, and how to increase your chances of landing an interview or the actual job.
#4: Clean Up Your Online Footprints
In today’s world, with information so accessible, hiring managers do some research online before they even consider talking to you about a position. Chances are they’ll Google you and search for your profiles on social media. Google yourself before sending out any resumes. See what other people see when they search for your name to find out if there’s anything you’d like to see removed.
In that case, contact the websites that feature you and ask for the content to be removed. If that’s not possible, you can create alternative content (see our next tip) and hope it shows up higher in search results. Similarly, go through your social media profiles. Erase anything you won’t want a hiring manager to find.
Job Hunting Tip #5: Create a Personal Brand
Creating a personal brand means building a professional identity that positions you as the best person for the type of position you’re looking for. Then, after you’re done cleaning up your online footprints, start creating your new brand. Set up a website that features your resume and how you can help companies. Open a profile on LinkedIn, the #1 social platform for professionals looking to network and develop their careers, and get active there.
Publish articles or videos that could be relevant for your industry. You can do it on your website or your LinkedIn profile, but if you don’t have a lot of followers, consider submitting guest posts to leading industry blogs. These websites have a lot of readers, which means you’ll get a lot of exposure and be able to establish yourself as an industry leader – something that’s bound to impress potential employers.
#6: Build a Professional Network
One of the best ways to learn about the best jobs – sometimes before they’re even advertised – is to build a wide network with other professionals in your industry.
We provided twelve networking tips here (link to article), but the most important thing to remember is that you often can’t just come up to strangers online or at conferences and ask for a job. Build authentic relationships without an agenda first, and they will pay off down the road.
Job Hunting Tip #7: Remember Your College Network
Professionals in your industry aren’t the only gateway to a great job. Make sure to cultivate relationships with professors throughout your degree, so it’ll be easier for you to ask them to keep an eye out on potential jobs when you graduate.
Plus, keep in touch with fellow students, who might find a job before you do, and can recommend you to their boss when another position opens up. Similarly, connect with people who’ve graduated from your university before you did and try to build relationships with them. Chances are, they’re already working in the industry, and they might have a larger professional network than you do.
The Common Ground for All Job Hunting Tips: Be Proactive and Follow Up
The common thread in all these tips is to be proactive and take action toward your goals. You’ve also got to be willing to follow up when you don’t hear back from people. Remember that professionals often have a lot on their plates, and sometimes getting back to college grads about potential positions won’t be their highest priority.
That’s OK. As a student or a recent graduate, you know what it’s like to be busy. Just stay proactive, keep taking steps forward, and you’ll end up landing your first professional job.