Graduation comes with a mixed bag of emotions. On one hand, you're excited to finally finish school and get out into the real world. But on the other, you feel a combination of uncertainty, exhaustion, and anxiety as you face this major change in your life. This is especially true if you're still unemployed and searching for your first real job. If you've just graduated from college and haven't yet landed an entry-level job, don't panic. You can take charge of the process and ensure success by following a few simple steps.
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#1 Come up with a game plan
First things first: You need to decide what you want out of your first job. Start by making a solid plan to keep your job goals on track. Write down the companies you'd like to work for, the skills you'd like to learn, and the tasks you'd like to be responsible for. You don't have to map out your entire career path, but you need to narrow down your search to some degree.
#2 Start networking
If you haven't created a LinkedIn profile yet, do it now. Reach out to professionals for advice and information rather than directly asking them to hire you. Networking can be one of the most effective ways to land a job.
This would also be a good time to clean up your social media habits. According to a recent Jobvite Recruiter Nation study, "social sleuthing" has become a standard recruiting practice. Ask yourself if their findings will help or hurt your chances of landing the job. If the answer is "hurt", consider deleting anything a potential employer would consider "inappropriate" or just change your handle to something that isn't your first and last name.
#3 Have an elevator pitch ready
When you're job searching, you can use your elevator pitch almost anywhere: online in your LinkedIn bio, at job fairs and expos, at networking events, and throughout the interview process. It's essentially a short commercial about yourself, what you do, and how you can help. To write your elevator pitch, start off by introducing yourself, providing a summary of what you do, explain what you want, and finish with a call to action.
For example, you might say, "After graduating from XYZ school with a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, I've dedicated my time to writing on my personal travel blog, XYZ .com, as well as freelancing for several companies. I was an editor for my university's newspaper and through this, I have hands-on experience with research, proofreading, interviewing, and media production. I’m looking for a co-op position where I can put my skills to work for an organization in my city.”
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#4 Target your resume and cover letter
There's nothing a recruiter likes more than seeing a cover letter tailored to their job posting. Take the time to tailor each of your job applications directly to the company you're applying to. Name the company explicitly in your cover letter and state exactly why you want to work with them, along with specific examples of why you'd be a good fit for the position. Recruiters are more likely to contact those who have put time and effort into researching the company they're applying to.
#5 Don't be afraid to intern
If you're having trouble breaking into your ideal field and cash flow isn't an issue, explore the possibility of doing an internship. You'll gain valuable skills, make important connections, and most importantly, get hands-on experience that you can take with you to your next job.