If you’re like the majority of the graduating population, you weren’t hired for your dream job prior to commencement. Upon exiting the university lifestyle, the joy of graduation and your sense of accomplishment can quickly turn into the stress and frustration of landing your first post-grad job.
Although finding a job in your career field may take some time, two key elements will help you sort through the confusion and land the job you want: staying prepared and developing a job hunting (or marketing) strategy.
Remember, finding your first job might be hard work, but it’s not impossible.
Customization is Key
Throughout your college career, during all of those technical writing classes, and even dating back to high school, you’ve probably read dozens or even hundreds of sample cover letters and resumes. Generic and unimpressive.
You’ve probably got a few samples or rough drafts saved on your computer right now.
Instead of trying to impress the hiring agent with typography and layout design, customize your cover letter and resume for each company that you apply to.
Mention some interesting facts about the company in your cover letter. Go a step further and talk about recent news articles pertaining to the company or its area of expertise. Dig deeper than the few facts on their website; do some research and show the firm that you are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their company.
Whatever you plan, don’t send out your generic one-size-fits-all resume to every potential employer. More often than not, your familiar-sounding information will get lost in the shuffle.
Networking Outside the Box
Most graduates’ idea of networking includes hitting up professors, family, friends, and maybe the university’s career services department.
It’s time to take job networking outside of the box and ratchet up your capabilities.
Reach out to executives and hiring managers of the companies you’ve targeted in your job search. Websites like LinkedIn.com and Ryze.com aren’t just for seasoned professionals.
You can use these tools to network with company employees and other business professionals already in the field that you’re looking into.
Make certain that all of your networking profiles, whether strictly professional or simply social, are all employer-friendly. Recruiters are scouting Facebook and Myspace these days as well.
You can also make connections through business associations or visiting industry seminars and conferences.
Whichever method you choose, remember to show your passion for the profession, show your interest in the person that you’re speaking with, and be clear about your short-term and long-term career goals.
Great Interview, Regardless of a Job Offer
Let’s face it, interviews can be some of the most pressure-packed situations on the planet, especially when there’s no clear job offer.
No matter what occurs during your interview, maintain your professionalism and develop a rapport with the people at your interview meeting. Be clear and straightforward about your desires and expectations.
Even if you don’t get a job offer, a positive impression can go a long way. Your name could be moved to the top of their “potentials” list (great when another job becomes available), or your name might be mentioned when a recruiter from another company makes a friendly call.
Don’t Become Blinded by the Ideal Situation
There’s a fine line between settling for a job and holding out for your ideal career situation.
Although you’ll have to make your own choices when it comes to turning down a job offer or taking whatever you’re given, focusing too much on “ideal” can cost you some great opportunities.
Set reasonable goals when beginning your job search…reasonable, but high enough to satisfy your expectations.
Broaden your job hunting to include lesser known companies or less-glamorous positions. Don’t expect to start at the top, but don’t settle for a go-nowhere paycheck.
Don’t Give Up
It’s easy to get frustrated and exhausted when you’ve been on the job hunt for months with no leads. It’s easy to want to throw in the towel after ten or fifteen interviews without a single offer.
But the worst thing you could do at this point is give up.
Take a look at your resume and tweak it. After so many disappointing interviews, you should at least have some idea of what needs to be reworked in regards to the way you’re presenting your information.
Keep making new contacts through various networking avenues and keep up contact with professionals you’ve already met. You never know when an opening might pop up.
Sometimes the resilience you display during difficult times is exactly what someone needs to see before they hire you.
Also, remember job search expenses may be tax deductible, but not when you are looking for your first job. Don’t worry, when you prepare your taxes for your first job you will still reap the benefits of a standard deduction and when you’re on you’re path to career growth and seeking a job in the same profession as your first, your job search expenses will be eligible for tax deduction.