Obtaining a degree is an exciting time for college graduates. It’s like a rite of passage to becoming a productive adult in the real world. This new level of hard-core adulting can be nerve-wracking because it can take months before landing your first career job. Maybe you’re not sure what to do with your major or which jobs are a good fit. Perhaps you’re about the competition from other candidates, especially if you have little to no work experience. In any case, taking a step-by-step approach to be well-prepared for the job search will put you ahead of the game and other candidates.
Job Search Advice for Recent College Graduates
Many college graduates don’t realize that it can take months following graduation to find their first job. You may be used to putting in applications for part-time and summer positions and getting bombarded with job offers. Once you start leveling up your career in search of jobs that require more than just a high school diploma, that’s where things get tricky. It takes extra time, energy, and the right approach to find the right job with the right employer. Take the following steps, and you’ll be well on your way to finding the best opportunities.
Step 1: Set Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
Throughout life, no matter what you choose, one of the most important, yet frequently overlooked, things to do is map out goals. As the saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else (unemployed or in a horrible job). So, take some time to write out where you want to be now (short-term goals) and in the future (long-term goals) — use SMART goals. Also, consider what your ideal job looks like, including any preferences you may have, such as opportunities to travel or a good work-life balance.
Step 2: Create a Personal Value Proposition
Most people think of value propositions as something reserved for businesses to create along with their vision and mission statements. For job seekers, a personal value proposition is a brief statement that shows what makes you unique and perfect for the job. In a sentence or two, detail your background, expertise, accomplishments, and other information that’s most relevant to the job. A value statement acts as a compass, giving you a better sense of direction, and helps you stand out when used on your resume or cover letter.
Step 3: Prepare for the Job Search
One of the most important tools in a job search is your resume. It’s what gets you in the door for an interview — or ends up in the trash if not written well enough. Since most job applications are submitted online, make sure your resume includes relevant keywords, so that it shows up if hiring managers and recruiters use automation software. Also, include a well-thought-out cover letter to highlight accomplishments and what you can bring to the job. Have references lined up (get permission first), but wait to provide them when asked.
If you’re a designer, writer, marketer, or another visual-oriented career seeker, then a portfolio is a must. These can be created digitally on your own website or through a portfolio hosting provider. Lastly, it can’t be emphasized enough when it comes to the interview: practice, practice, practice. Make a list of the most common interview questions, and decide how you’ll answer those. This is particularly helpful when asked difficult questions like, “What’s your weakness?” or “Tell me about yourself?” This is also the place to handle questions about any lack of experience.
Step 4: Research Organizations and Job Opportunities
Research should be a large part of the job search as well. Once you know what type of job you want, dig through online job postings on corporate websites and career sites. This is a great way to help you find the right way to showcase your skills and pick out keywords for your resume and cover letter. Go the extra mile and research the companies you want to work for. Use what you find in your cover letter and during the interview. Doing so will catch the attention of hiring managers and recruiters. Another valuable resource is networking. Ask people you know about job opportunities in their companies. This can include friends, family, instructors, advisors, former supervisors, etc.
Step 4: Stay Organized
It’s easy to get lost in the job search when dealing with dozens of applications. Don’t wait until you are called for an interview and can’t remember the job you applied for. Keep track of the jobs you’re interested in, along with all actions you’ve taken to apply and responses from potential employers. Record dates and people you connected with in a notebook, spreadsheets, or other tools. When it comes time for an interview or follow-up, you’ll have everything you need right under your fingertips.
How to Find an Employer That Works for You
There are many employers with job openings looking to fill them with qualified applicants. However, the process goes both ways — you’re also looking for the best employer. You’ll quickly come to find that not every company will be right for you. To avoid wasted time, it pays to take steps that help you find the right match. It all goes back to the value proposition you create.
- Determine what’s most important when it comes to the ideal job — work-life balance, training, values, autonomy, etc.
- Research companies to determine if they’re a good match — employer branding, financial data, salaries, reviews, etc.
- Connect with current employees on social media — LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
- Ask questions during interviews to identify red flags — company culture, how a typical day looks, etc.
Using Social Media to Discover Job Opportunities
The internet adds a level of accessibility and efficiency when it comes to discovering the best job opportunities. In particular, social media can be instrumental in helping you find jobs, develop relationships with recruiters and hiring managers, and make valuable connections with current employees at interesting companies. This can be accomplished on a wide range of social platforms, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Sharing a personal website or blog where you showcase your skills is another way you can use social media to attract the attention of potential employers.
Searching for your first career opportunity is a full-time job itself. That’s not to say it has to be difficult, but preparing well in advance goes a long way to keeping you from being frustrated. Keep in mind that your college degree places you at a higher level, which means it takes much more time to land your dream job. The process of creating and submitting your resume, going through a series of interviews, and negotiating job offers can take months.
How Bayard Can Help
At Bayard, we know how overwhelming it can be for employees to find the right jobs and for employers to find the right candidates. It can be stressful, especially if you’re not using the most effective strategies and technologies to optimize your search. That’s why we focus our services on the entire recruitment process, from attracting talent to hiring and onboarding to retaining. If you’ve been struggling to fill hourly or salaried positions in your organization, work with Bayard to recruit top talent. Simply contact us today and let’s connect.