As college graduates around the country conclude their summer breaks and begin their job hunts, they will be entering the most competitive job market in 70 years. Finding a job in this environment takes ingenuity and perseverance. Here are several effective techniques for securing a job as a recent college graduate.
Coach your references
Do you know what your references will say when they are called upon? Your job prospects may very well depend on the persuasiveness of their recommendations. Take a little time with each of your references to explain the types of jobs you are are trying to acquire, and the types of skills that will be important to highlight. And, make sure you keep your references in the loop as your job search evolves. For instance, if you know you are in the ﬁnal running for a position, send an email to each of your references with a company proﬁle and the job description. Pick up the phone Gen-Y graduates spend so much time texting, skyping, and tweeting, that they often have less experience on the phone than their Gen-X counterparts. As a result, most recent graduates don’t take the crucial step of picking up the phone. With most hiring managers, a phone call will make a much better impression than an email. Call to request an interview, call to conﬁrm an interview, call afterwards to thank your interviewer for the interview, and follow up regularly to ﬁnd out if you got the job. If you didn’t get the job, call to ﬁnd out why. Keep calling until they beg you to stop. Sooner or later, most companies will ﬁnd a place for the person who keeps calling.
Send thank you notes
It’s a basic step that nearly everyone misses; send a handwritten thank you note after each interview. Send it immediately after the interview, so it arrives on their desk before they make their hiring decision. It might be the thing that pushes you over the top.
Clean up your online identity
Before you are hired, your potential employer will conduct a Google search of your name. If they ﬁnd pictures of you shotgunning beers or ﬂashing your breasts, you can kiss that job goodbye. Set your Facebook proﬁle to private and remove any incriminating evidence from the internet before you begin searching for a job.
Talk to your friends’ parents
Networking with your peers is important. Over time, some of them will ascend to positions of inﬂuence and will be able to help you ﬁnd exciting jobs. However, in the short term, you are better off getting to know your peers’ parents. There is a good chance that many of them are already in positions of inﬂuence. Every time you meet one of your friends’ parents, consider the meeting an informal job interview. Ask them about their careers and search for connections to your career objectives.
Stay in touch with your professors
Your professors and department heads often stay in touch with alumni from years past. This means that they are constantly receiving updates on job opportunities from people within your exact ﬁeld of study. Keep your favorite and most connected professors in your orbit. Friend them on Facebook and shoot them an email update a couple times a year.
Build a better resume
Your resume is your ﬁrst impression with most employers. The vast majority of resumes include typos, grammatical mistakes, and unnecessary information, while omitting crucial details. To ﬁnd out what’s wrong with your resume, show it to a handful of respected people within your industry and ask for honest feedback. You can also use the job interview itself to improve your resume. When you meet with an HR rep, ask if they have any recommendations for your resume. Most will be happy to offer some pointers.
Unless you have a top degree from a top university and/or lucrative connections, the chances of you securing a top job fresh out of college are very low. Nowadays, college grads are often competing against candidates with several years of experience even for entry-level jobs. Focus your search on entry-level jobs that afford you the opportunity to move up the ladder quickly.
Make a statement
Gen-Y graduates excel at many interpersonal skills. They tend to work well in groups and are great at avoiding conﬂict. However, this conﬂict aversion also makes them less likely to be bold during the interview process. Boldness is often required to standout in this competitive job market. Look for an opportunity to introduce one well-timed, bold statement into each interview. For instance, “Hire me and I will be a top-10 sales rep by the end of the year.”
Sell your inexperience
Don’t assume that you can’t compete with candidates who have 10+ years experience. Employers value experience, but they also value idealism, persistence, and a clean slate with no bad habits to unlearn. Make sure you remind the interviewer of your eagerness to learn and your professional agility.