Finding a job after college can be a daunting task. Ask yourself, what do you actually know about job searching? Follow these 35 tips to get on the right track. Though it's a lot to take in, you'll be on your way to a great job sooner than you think.
Hunting for the right job
- Go into your job search with specific requirements in mind
Before you start your hunt, make a list of your top career considerations — think about salary, commute, work environment, hours, and growth potential to start.
- Research your job market
Do an extensive search of your field and see what qualities and experience the top companies are looking for in their employees.
- Be professional on social media
Approximately 89% of companies consider social media during their hiring process, so make sure you have a compelling profile on Linkedin and a professional presence on other social media sites.
- Go beyond job boards
Monster and Craigslist are great resources, but don't forget to search specific company websites for available positions and directly contact the businesses for opportunities.
Join professional/alumni groups and attend industry networking events where you can connect with other people in your field.
- Spread the word with your friends and family
You never know where a great lead will originate, so let everyone know you're looking for a job.
- Be patient and persistent
Getting a job can take a while, sometimes six months or more, but never stop trying.
- Be selective but not too picky
Stay focused and work on getting a job in your ideal field — even if you don't get your preferred position right away, you'll be gaining the experience you need.
- Follow up
Be sure to touch base with your connections and recruiters on a regular basis to see if leads or positions have opened up, but aim to be persistent instead of pushy (and remember to thank them).
Shining during the application process
- Lead with your education and skills on your resume
You don't have much work experience at this point, so highlight what you do have.
- Tailor your resume for each job
Review the job posting for each position before you apply and adjust your resume to highlight any requirements (or special skills) specifically listed in each post.
- Always use a cover letter
To stand out you'll need a cover letter that grabs attention quickly with a strong opening line.
- Keep your resume and cover letter short and sweet
Job recruiters are busy people, so keep your resume and cover letter at an effective one page each.
- Don't get fancy
Creative fonts, wild colors, and unique formatting are not the way to help your resume and cover letter shine, but standard formatting will be taken seriously.
Your resume and cover letter are often your first impression to a company, so make sure to catch errors before submitting materials.
- Format your resume to get past the resume robots
Many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems to sort through resumes for relevant skills and experience — proper formatting will help the program recognize your qualifications.
- Don't send a laundry list
Your resume is a sales tool, not a Wikipedia entry — stick to what's relevant and helps you shine.
- Don't wait for your dream job
Waiting around to hear back from that one ideal job you applied to can waste a lot of time in your job search process, so keep applying to other open positions.
Acing the Interview
- Before the interview, do your homework
Research the company you're interviewing with — the more you know about its needs and philosophy, the better you'll be able to demonstrate how you'll be an asset to the team.
- Always look your best
Match your outfit to the the high end of how their current employees already dress, so you'll fit in from the start.
Have your friends run mock interviews with you and get used to answering questions clearly and concisely — it's better to say the wrong thing in front of them than a potential employer.
- Be ready for curveballs
It's impossible to prepare for every question they might ask, such as "what kind of tree would you be?" — in these cases, being calm and confident is more important than your answer.
- Ask questions
It's good to have a few insightful questions ready for interviewer because this your chance to get better acquainted with the organization and show your interest.
- Leave your nerves at the door
It's normal to be nervous, but it's important to remember that an interview is just a conversation and an opportunity for someone to get to know you.
- Stay on topic, don't ramble
Keep your responses between 30 seconds and two minutes — going longer may give them the impression that you lack focus and direction.
- Don't ask about money
Negotiate your salary after you get the job offer, and never before.
- Follow up with a professional thank you
After the interview, it's always a good idea to send a note to everyone who interviewed you.
Sealing the Deal and Signing the Contract
- Once you get your offer, don't rush your answer
It's natural that you'll want to sign your contract as soon as possible, but rushing this process may leave you agreeing to less than satisfactory terms.
- Let your potential employer make the first offer on your salary
Allowing them to make the first move around the topic of money is a great way of discovering their salary range and avoiding underbidding yourself in the process.
- Don't be afraid to negotiate the terms of your offer
Less than half of all workers actually negotiate things like their salaries or benefits, but almost all employers are prepared for some sort of negotiation during the signing process.
- Research before you make a counter offer
Be sure that the amount you are countering with is appropriate to the current market, your level of experience and education, and your location — don't price yourself out of a job.
- Negotiate other parts of your compensation package beyond salary
Additional benefits like extra time off, bonuses, or tuition reimbursement can help to balance out your offer and sweeten the pot.
- Consider all aspects of your job offer before making your final decision
Keep profit sharing, work hours, and company culture in mind as part of your overall employment consideration because these aspects will all affect your quality of life.
- Don't sell yourself short!
If a company doesn't agree with you, it may be worth looking for another offer rather than taking an unfair amount because you feel desperate.
- Once your contract is signed, it's time to get to work
You worked hard to get your new position, and now it's important to take all your job search focus and energy and pour it into your career — show them the hired the right person for the job!
It can be a long and winding road from graduating college to officially launching your career. Download MyPerfectResume's graduation eBook for more tips.