Congratulations Graduate, you finally got that degree. Great job, you’ve worked really hard! Now you have a lot of time on your hands to look for a job. In my previous article, I talked about the importance of creating a list of all your skills, practicing your elevator speech in response to “tell me about yourself”, and using your skills and information about yourself to customize a resume. Now I’d like to give you a list of job search do’s and don’ts:
• Stay positive. It is easy to start second guessing yourself and believe that you aren’t ever going to get hired. Participate in activities that you enjoy, and take breaks from your job search, but then jump right back into it.
• Figure out who’s in your network and work it. Start with family members, such as your parents, grandparents, and siblings. They can give you the feedback you need and may have the contacts you want. Other people in your network include your college professors, alumni and friends. Don’t forget people you are in contact with on a daily basis, like your doctor, or people at church, at the grocery store, or at your favorite coffee shop. There are also many networking groups in the community, including chambers of commerce, job ministries, or professional organizations affiliated with your field of expertise. It may be helpful to ask your contacts if they know of any.
• Dress the part — during your job search and during interviews. Find out what company dress codes are like, and then put together outfits for networking and interviewing that fit those codes. How you dress will go a long way in showing how qualified, professional, and serious you are about landing the right job.
• Take your job search seriously. You should plan to job search as if it is a full-time job. Be sure to have a plan in place which will help you refine and define your job search. This is your opportunity to set goals for yourself.
• Think outside the box. Most job seekers are applying for jobs in the same way you are, such as filling out an online application and attaching a resume. Think of other ways that you can acquire an interview — talk to the people in your network for ideas, do some research on the company or companies you are trying to target.
• Sit on the computer/internet all day. You do need to apply for jobs and post resumes online, but you need to balance that with networking and meeting people who can help you get an introduction to an employer.
• Be unprofessional. Google yourself and find out if there is anything online that an employer can find that would be negative or unprofessional about you. Also, be sure the e-mail address you use doesn’t indicate anything personal or unprofessional about you. A simple first name_last name@ your favorite free e-mail provider is sufficient. And make sure your cell phone message is just as professional.
• Fail to follow-up. Always send a thank you to anyone you have spoken to during your job search. This includes network contacts that have provided direction or anyone with whom you have interviewed. A thank you can be as simple as sending an e-mail or a personal hand written note that goes snail mail. I promise by doing so, you will stand out among the crowd!
• Send the same resume to every employer. You should be prepared to customize your resume for every position to which you apply. This is also true of the cover letter.
• Set your expectations too high. A college degree can open doors for you that you might not otherwise have without one, but be realistic about the work you may have to do. It might not be what you expect. This also goes for the salary you may have to accept. Remember, this will be your first job, and you probably will have many jobs in your career. Keep in mind that each job you have will be an opportunity to grow and gain experience that will benefit you as you build your career.
I wish all you new college graduates the best of luck as you search for that great first job, as well as a lifetime of wonderful employment experiences!
Velta Worley has over eight years experience in corporate management, five years of that specializing in workforce development as a Technical Assistant and Office Manager for Workforce Solutions.