Friday, June 13, 2014

Tips for Getting a Job After College

If you have recently graduated and are finally getting over the post-college depression (at least, temporarily), you are probably in the midst of or gearing up for making your job search a full time job. This can be a really stressful time, especially if you're relying on the income to support yourself. If you're not, it's still stressful, but you have a little bit of a cushion and some flexibility to ensure that you take a job that will help you build relevant skills, advance your career goals, and pay you a reasonable salary for someone with your qualifications. In either case, there are a couple tips that can help you propel yourself into a successful entry-level position.

Hopefully, you have worked hard to credential yourself and give yourself marketable skills so that you are well-equipped at this stage of the game. But, the following tips apply to pretty much anyone in any situation after college trying to find a job:

1. Don't limit yourself to just one field based on your academic interests in college or your major - most people literally have no clue what they want to do with their lives, and there isn't anything wrong with that. In fact, there's a certain maturity-level required in admitting that fact to yourself and being open to the world of opportunities out there. While there are certain instances in which you'll want to keep that attitude close to the vest, it's important that you understand that you can't have full control over your career path in almost any circumstance, let alone this early in your life. A lot of opportunities will come and go based on who you know, what you do, and how well you do it. You may certainly be able to put yourself in relatively better or worse positions, but you can't control the future and the happenstance by which certain appealing opportunities arise. The most important thing you can do is make sure you are building some marketable skills that are either directly in a field you're interested in or are easily translatable to other fields that you might want to pursue work in later on in your career. 

2. Be persistent - If you talked to a company a month or two before graduation that told you they wouldn't be hiring until mid-summer, that is not a ticket for you to sit around and wait until then. As soon as you graduate, you should be in contact with people there finding out who you can meet to talk about the industry or that company in particular, and what you can do to make yourself a more attractive candidate for the job when the applications become available and hiring decisions start to be made. There are definitely ways to be persistent without being annoying. One of my good friends got an internship in college by calling the HR woman in charge of the hiring process every week and checking in about possible availabilities in the company; one day, she called him and said that someone had dropped out last minute and that he was the first one she thought of to fill the spot. His persistence paid off, and he ended up at a job he otherwise would never have been able to get at that stage in his career. 

3. Make sure your resume and cover letter is perfect and both are tailored to the job for which you applying - This is especially important if you are applying to jobs in multiple industries. You'll want to make sure that your resume accentuates different parts of your background and experiences in order to maximize your prospects for success both in getting an interview and in succeeding in successive interview rounds beyond that. Resumes are dialogues, not monologues; they should be adapted based on each unique situation. If you can't bother to change it, and can't bother to tailor your cover letters to companies (without any glaring errors or typos), then you don't deserve a job there. That's the easiest way for them to toss out your application. What does it say about your work ethic if you can't manage to make your application materials flawless when you're unemployed and sitting at home?