Graduation day conjures many emotions. It’s exciting to reach this big milestone, but it also brings anxiety — what’s next? How will I get my first job?
It’s understandable, given how the job market is changing — one day, it’s a great market for job seekers. The next day, you’re hearing about companies rescinding offers because the economy is shaky. But you can’t always blame not getting a job on the market! Of course, the economy plays a big part. But the biggest factor is how you approach it.
“When the job search doesn’t work out, it’s tempting to think ‘Oh my goodness, I’m just not cut out for it,’” said Gorick Ng, author of “The Unspoken Rules.” “But when we start breaking down the process, we can get more specific about: What are the one or two things I need to change about my job search?”
So where do you start?
Make sure your resume is easy to read. With many companies receiving thousands of applications per position, having a well-organized resume and including key words that address a job’s main interests are needed to get the attention of a hiring manager. Review job listings for several jobs in your field and profiles of people on LinkedIn who have that job, and you will find some common skills, traits and experience — those are your key words.
Set up a LinkedIn profile. In today’s market, having a LinkedIn profile is just as important as a resume. Make sure your profile is updated with all of your work experience and key words. Many employers review applicants’ LinkedIn profiles to see your employment experience and the accomplishments you couldn’t fit on your resume. This is also where you get endorsements for different skills, create posts on news or issues related, participate in discussions related to your industry and find jobs, whether they’re official listings or through your network.
Apply for internships. Doing an internship while you’re in college or even post-graduation is a great way to get experience, beef up your resume and network. Internships can also lead to full-time jobs after graduation! The company already knows you, the quality of your work, what you’ll bring to the table as an employee and that you will fit with the company culture — so, from a hiring manager’s perspective, hiring a star intern is a no-brainer. Even if it doesn’t lead to a job, everyone you meet through that internship is now part of your network, which could lead to a job down the road. So, make sure that you are friending everyone you meet at your internship or in your job search on LinkedIn. You never know when one of those connections will turn into a job!
Do research on the company you are applying to. Not only is this a great way to see if the company would be a good fit for you, but it allows you to be a stronger applicant.
Tailor your application to the job you are applying for. After figuring out the needs of the organization you apply to, it’s best to tailor your resumes and cover letters to each listing and not recycle the same materials.
That’s one of the biggest mistakes that Jesse Downs, the director of Louisiana State University’s Olinde Career Center, sees among college students when applying for jobs.
“When applying for jobs, really analyze the job posting you’re applying to, the company, the mission, the values, vision and then think about how you’re communicating to demonstrate you’re a good fit,” Downs said. “It’s less about what do I think I’m good at, [but] what are the needs of the employer and the organization I’m applying for and how can I show them that I can meet the need?”