Graduation…and then what?

I just graduated college, and now I’m thinking about my future career. I know I’m not alone in this, and that most people will experience this weird “now what?” feeling at some point in their lifetime.  An article by Forbes said that 60% of college graduates cannot find work in their field; this statistic certainly does not put one’s mind at ease.

Something that many of us hope to accomplish is not just to find a “job,” but a healthy atmosphere to settle into a career. I was constantly told careers are long-term thinking and jobs are short-term thinking, but I am sure all of us can think of a time when we had a job that felt like a prison sentence of eternity.  So with all of that being said, it’s important to find employment that offers longevity and presents opportunity to grow your skills.

Sounds great, right? But how is this going to happen?  With the economy in its current state, it might feel like nailing that “dream” job is just as likely as winning the lotto. But you can really increase the likelihood of finding a good job by following some basic tips.

Research the Company

It’s not only important to research a company to help prepare you for a possible interview, but it can also help you decide if the position and company as a whole is a good fit for you.

Cover Letters

This is important to help separate you from the other candidates competing for the same position. Tell the employer why you are best for the position. Highlight past experience or projects that make you the most qualified.  DO NOT use a generic cover letter! It’s important to customize this to each position you plan on pursuing.

Follow Up

One rule that I use is to follow up with the interviewer the same day of the interview. It’s important to thank them for their time and to show that you are interested in moving forward. Of course, there is a difference between following up and calling a company every day of the week asking if you got the job. You don’t want to come off as annoying.

Dress to Impress

No shirt, no shoes, no job. A key chunk of the interview process is making sure you are dressed for the occasion.  According to Kim Zoller at Image Dynamics, 55% of a person’s perception of you is based on how you look.  Although this shouldn’t be an alarming fact, it is all too common that I hear from friends that do the hiring at their company who tell me outrageous stories about people who wear sneakers, jeans, or leave nose rings in.  Some companies might not care — but from what I’ve seen, a lot of them do, especially ones you would want to work for.

Use Your Resources

Resources can be contacts or the opportunities to meet new people.  A solid source that has helped me over the years is the career services department of the university I went to.   Another good way to get you out there is to create and use a LinkedIn account. Not only does it basically let you create an online resume, but it also recommends jobs that are directly related to information that is pulled from your industry/experience.

Be Prepared

It was said best by Benjamin Franklin: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  Such a simple concept, but I have seen people overlook this by forgetting to bring extra copies of their resume and references.  Another tip I can give you from past experience is to make a portfolio, although this is not always needed depending on your career field.

I’m not guaranteeing that these tips will get you your “dream job” hands down, but I will say that they will help give you an edge over the competition in this tough job market. Remember: you can’t become the boss overnight, but you can interview like a boss any day of the week.

By Janelle O’Hara

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