Great news, you’re graduating! Bad news, it’s time to put that college education to use and land a job.
When so many employers are looking for people with years of experience, finding a job straight out of college can be tough.
Knowing how to make yourself standout from your fellow grads can mean the difference between getting that job offer or having to spend forever plunking away at application after application. These tips will tell you what you need to know to set yourself apart and set yourself up for success.
Network, Network, Network
There’s some truth to the old adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” when it comes to snagging a job. Although skills and experience are a plus, knowing the right people can help get you an interview or lead you to a job opening you wouldn’t have found otherwise. When building a network, cast your net wide. Reach out to loose acquaintances, friends of your parents, former college professors, anyone that currently works or knows someone who works in the field you are aiming for who might be able to give you an “in.” One easy way to start building your network is to create a LinkedIn account where you can connect to peers, make new connections, and help showcase your strengths for potential employers to see.
Expand Your Network with a Side Job
You never know where you’ll meet someone who has the right connections. Taking on a side job that encourages socializing but also lets you set your own schedule so you still have time for your job hunt is a great way to add to your network, not to mention bring in money while you wait to land that big job. Considering starting your own sales business with a trusted name like Amway or get paid to make deliveries from local stores and restaurants to people in your city by joining Postmates.
Customize Your Resume
Resumes are not “one-size-fits-all” and need to be tailored to the job you’re applying to. When honing a resume to a specific job, try to think how your current skill set and education applies to that job. In other words, what skills do you have that would be desirable to an employer for the position your applying to? Your resume is one of your greatest self-marketing tools and should aim to convince potential employers that you’re the right grad for the job.
ALWAYS Include a Cover Letter
While we’re on the subject of resumes, don’t even think about sending a resume without a cover letter. Cover letters should be concise and give a glimpse into your personality, why you are interested in the position you’re applying to, and why you believe you’re qualified. Many employers use cover letters to weed out candidates, making them a great way to set yourself apart from the competition.
Dress to Impress
Never underestimate the power of a sharp looking outfit, especially during the interview process. Dressing professionally projects a sense of responsibility, confidence, and, well, professionalism. In a sea of applicants, anything you can do to set yourself above the rest and stand out may mean the difference between landing the job and getting passed by. Dress to impress by researching what the typical dress code of the company you’re interviewing for is and consider dressing a step above. Pay attention to details like making sure your outfit isn’t wrinkled, your pant legs aren’t too long, your hair is combed, and your shoes are polished.
Take the Job Search Beyond Your Computer
While there are many online job search sites, like CareerBuilder and Indeed, that can help new grads in their job hunt, taking your job search offline and into the real world can do wonders. Putting yourself out there and contacting people directly can help employers put a face to a name as well as see your drive, ambition, and charisma, which isn’t always made evident through a resume or online application.
Take Advantage of Your School’s Career Services Office
There are many resources on college campuses to help students start their career after graduation. One of the best resources is the career services office. College career service offices, sometimes called career centers, often have internal job boards, alumni contact information, and offer help with resume and cover letter writing.
Think of Your First Job as a Stepping Stone
It may take time to build the experience you need to get your ultimate dream job, and that’s okay. Think of your first job after college as a stepping stone to your career goals. Every job is an opportunity to build your network, gain experience and skills, and learn more about yourself. Expanding your job search to include jobs that will help you reach your career goals can help you find something sooner and make you more marketable down the line.
Don’t Give Up!
Finding a job is a job in and of itself so don’t give up or get discourage if you don’t get hired immediately after graduation. Keep up the search and try these tips to land that job that will put your hard-earned college education to use!