Searching for a job after college was perhaps one of the most daunting tasks after graduation. I wasn’t exactly sure of what I wanted to do and for the times that I was, I found it difficult to find the right words to pull up accurate listings. Below are tips I wish I’d known at the beginning of my search and not at the end.
- Start Early
If you’re still in college, I would recommend applying to jobs at the beginning of your final semester. I began my search in March, graduated in May, and had a full time job a week later. I utilized our career center relentlessly. The biggest help was in learning to tailor my resume for the position I was applying for. I’d recommend checking in weekly to see what jobs or paid internship opportunities are available. Making nice with the staff of the career center also guaranteed me access to meet and greets and career fairs which are a must! Even if you aren’t employed by the time you receive your degree, do not underestimate the value of interview experience.
2. Research Companies
Time is one thing that we never get back so it is of the upmost importance that you try to avoid wasting yours or the potential companies’ time by digging deeper once a job description catches your eye. Learning things about their community involvement, mission statement, and the leadership are crucial. I’ve become fond of Glassdoor, Google, and Indeed when it comes to reading reviews of current or former employees. Of course, those should be taken with a grain of salt, but occasionally they can provide real insight. Lastly, you should look over any recent news articles involving the company as well as their social media sites. To put it simply, if a company hasn’t put its best foot forward or morally doesn’t align with your values, you’ll know by digging past the job post.
3. Know Your Online Presence
I can’t say that I’ve had any real mishaps in this department personally but every now and then I run across a picture of a friend from college that makes me cringe. In this digital age its impossible to maintain complete privacy but it’s imperative to remain aware about what you are sharing, what others are sharing about you, and generally what image is being made public for potential employers to see. I Google myself about 4-6 times a year and make necessary changes accordingly. While you should err on the side of caution, do not underestimate the value of an online presence. An impeccable LinkedIn profile or a well designed website speaks to your personal brand and is a great way for employers to get to know you.
4. A Cover Letter Is Actually Important
I was under the impression that a cover letter was an antiquated requirement. I believed it so much that I wouldn’t even bother applying to certain jobs because of it. I was lazy. I know this now! After having a few jobs under my belt I realized that I was becoming branded as unstable via my one page resume. It wasn’t clear to an employer how my contract experience was connected or what my reasons were for “job-hopping” so frequently could be. It dawned on me that a cover letter gave me a voice! I certainly didn’t flesh out my life story but was able to put my story into perspective for an employer. This article from Lifehack will give you a detailed account on what to include in your cover letter. If you’re hopelessly uncreative like myself, you may also utilize LiveCareer which is awesome because it has a resume AND cover letter builder with tons of formats to choose from.
5. Enjoy The Moment
It may seem trivial but in reality we will spend the majority of our lifetime working or in school. I took every season of unemployment as an opportunity to focus on things that were critical to my personal growth. I visited family and friends, learned new skills on my guitar, and some days just took time to read and write. I spent time figuring out what made me tick. Working full time again has made me realize how easily lost that essential “me time” can get. Try to look at this season as an opportunity versus a setback.