For many college students, this month and the next mark a momentous occasion: Graduation. Congratulations! You’ve studied hard, passed your exams, and have turned in the final papers of your undergraduate career. While you’re reveling in the hard-earned celebration surrounding you, make sure to keep a keen eye on your job search efforts because the competition is fiercer than ever.
Gone are the days of high salaries and fat signing bonuses immediately upon moving that tassel from side to the other. Instead, most college grads are faced with an uphill battle for full-time employment that may mean competing against their own parents and relatives in a lackluster job market. Companies are changing the ways they look at job recruiting, and that is making it harder for college students. But before this post turns into a long, depressing tirade of the challenges college graduates face, have faith. There are ways to ensure you’re putting your best employment foot forward:
Clean Up Your Digital Footprint
Google yourself and see what comes up in the search results. Based on what you see, would you hire yourself? If you’re a fan of Twitter and Facebook, are your profile pictures showing your party side or your professional side? If you search your name and find something unflattering, one way to knock those results down into the abyss of Google is to sign up for more social-networking sites, particularly those geared towards professional networking such as LinkedIn.
You as a Brand
Considering that social media will eventually become as commonplace in the work environment as PCs, it’s vital that you use it to your advantage. One key way to do so is to Tweet industry-relevant news stories to show you’re aware of what’s happening in the professional world which you seek to become part of. Additionally, you should be following the companies you’d like to work for as well as your industry’s accepted experts and leaders.
Expand Your Horizons
Now is not the time to be ultra selective. Throw out your net and cast it far, making sure to capitalize on every available type of job in your preferred industry. Find jobs related to your dream job to help carve a structured path to future employment bliss–use these jobs as stepping stones to get you closer to where you hope to be later down the road. If you can’t find a job on your home turf, consider regional, national and even global positions elsewhere.
Do Your Research
Before you even submit a resume or cover letter, make sure to research the company and position to the fullest extent of your ability. Then make sure to tailor your resume so you’re shining light on your best qualifications as they relate to the job you’re applying for. In your cover letter, make sure to highlight how your skills, education, and experience (volunteer jobs, internships, etc) fit with the desired qualifications.
Don’t Be Too Proud
You may have to accept that you will not find full-time employment in your preferred industry right out of school. But do not let that deter your efforts. Even if it’s an unpaid internship or a volunteer position, find a way to get applicable experience on your resume right out of the gate. Employers want to see someone who is engaged in their industry and job search, and they understand what a tough environment graduates are entering now. Make sure to keep yourself on top by proving how you’re continuously growing and challenging yourself–even if it’s in unconventional ways. If you’re concerned about your bottom line (and who isn’t?!), you can still have a variety of odd jobs to pay the bills. Just make sure those aren’t the ones you’re highlighting in future interviews.
Job searching can be hard work and rejection can feel even worse. You’re best defense is to keep a smile on your face no matter how hard it is to do so. Staying positive, limiting your exposure to negative press and Doom’s Day-esque reports, and keeping your nose to the grindstone will ensure that you’ll land a great job in no time.
Network, Network, Network
Never. ever. stop. networking. (even when you land that job!)
Readers, what job search tips do you have the you mind sharing?
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here and here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.