It’s a rough job market out there, and no one is feeling the effects of that more than new grads. When you’re at the bottom of the totem pole it can be hard to get a leg up, and there’s nothing more frustrating than sorting through a hundred applications that all require experience you haven’t had the opportunity to amass.
But if you’re a recent grad, know this: you are not helpless. There are plenty of things you can do to shift the odds and improve your chances. Read on for a few suggestions.
Start a Website
A few months after I graduated from college, I attended an alumni event for the program I’d graduated from. I hoped to meet people whose publications were hiring and who could tell me how to find a job.
One woman said she didn’t know anyone hiring, but she suggested I start a blog about whatever I was interested in. I dismissed her suggestion – how would starting a blog help me find a job? I was trying to be a magazine writer; what kind of person would rather read my blog posts than the clips I had in real publications?
Fast forward two years and I started a blog chronicling my student loan payoff process. My main goal was to keep myself accountable to paying off my debt in three years, but it was also a topic I loved writing about. Eventually, the blog became more well-known and I landed media gigs because of it. Then, people asked if I was interested in contributing to their sites and writing about what I loved.
I spent the next few months writing on the side until I was making more money freelancing than at my day job. Turns out, that woman was right: my blog had gotten me a job.
At the very least, every college graduate should have a website where they list their resume, qualifications, portfolio and anything else prospective employers might find relevant. You can also start blogging about the field you’re trying to find work in – which can also help you land a gig. It will come up when prospective employers search for you on Google and will make you seem more professional.
Ask People to Coffee
If you’re interested in working for a company that isn’t currently hiring, try contacting someone who works there and asking them to coffee. You can ask them questions about working in the industry, what qualities they look for in a new hire and what will make you a better fit for the job.
Establishing a relationship with someone will make you a stronger candidate when they do have an opening – or when they know someone else who is hiring. Having a strong network can be a more valuable asset than your GPA or any awards you won in school.
You can find people in your industry by perusing your school’s alumni magazine, joining your local alumni chapter or attending Chamber of Commerce events. Some conferences and events may even offer discounts for new grads where you can meet people looking for entry-level help or willing to be a mentor.
Send Out Custom Cover Letters
Don’t make the same mistake I did while job hunting. I was so intent on sending out as many job applications as possible that I used the same cover letter with every entry – sometimes even forgetting to change the names.
When I was in a position where I was hiring interns, I quickly learned I could tell the difference between prospects who had done their homework on my company and ones who hadn’t. You can probably guess which ones got the job.
Yes, it will take you longer to make every cover letter different, but it’s worth it. Take a couple sentences to mention your connection to the firm or the person you’re writing to. Did you both attend the same high school? Are you a fan of their company blog? Do you dream of working for one of their clients?
Find what will set your cover letter apart from the countless others they’ll receive, and you’ll be more likely to hear back.
If you've recently landed a job what tips do you have for others?
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