Job search tips for college grads
The launch into adulthood is even more difficult for college grads nowadays than it was for their elders, as facing the job market can be scarier than those impending student loan payments.
The national unemployment level was at 7.6% in May, according to the federal Labor Department.
While that is a slight improvement from the year before, it still isn’t good.
There is a large pool of available labor for employers to choose from, making it harder for college graduates with little or no experience to find work.
If you are a recent grad, or know one who is in need of a job, have a look at these tips:
Michael Crom, executive vice president of Dale Carnegie Training, an employment resource center, said the best way to get into a company or industry is through an internship.
Or, “if ... maybe you don’t have enough relative work experience, take a look at your life experience,” he said. For example, on your résumé, list hobbies, completed projects, classes you’ve taken, or anything else that demonstrates your interest in a particular field.
Crom also recommended finding a mentor, and said the alumni group from your major department at college is a good place to look.
“Very often this may be someone who may not just give you advice, but may also give you referrals to job interviews,” he said.
Kathleen Brady, career coach and author of “Get a Job: 10 Steps to Career Success,” recommended spending three to five hours a day looking for opportunities and sending out résumés. “You want to get yourself into a system and a routine,” she said.
She warned about algorithm systems in which employers use programs to look for certain words in résumés and cover letters to screen out candidates.
“You want to make sure that you’re ... using the language and the verbs that these employers are looking for,” Brady advised. “For college graduates, there are jobs to be had out there, but they take a lot of work to find and you’ve got to be willing to do the work.” Our experts also said networking is key, as it helps to know someone who already works at a company you’re interested in.
“Who do you know?” Crom said. “Get involved in social media to see who you can connect with.”
Once you have an interview lined up, get as prepared for it as possible.
Research the interviewer and the company online, see who they follow on Twitter or are connected with on LinkedIn.
Next, be ready to talk about your skills.
“Interviewers today are looking for people who are assertive, who are able to give examples of how they overcame obstacles,” Crom said.
And after the interview, Brady said, follow up.
Send a “thank you” email note or handwritten letter, and keep searching in the meantime.
Q&A with Paul Freiberger
Award-winning writer and consultant Paul Freiberger, author of the recent book “When Can You Start? How to Ace the Interview and Win the Job,” understands the frustrations of grads seeking jobs in an uncertain economy.
amNewYork spoke with Freiberger about how college grads can make themselves appealing to employers.
What should college grads be especially wary of during the job hunt? There is no “open sesame” that opens the same door for everyone. The worlds of work and school are not completely alien to each other, and you’ve made it this far by using many of the same skills that you’ll need at work. Every employer knows the plain truth: We all have to start somewhere.
How should grads begin the job search? It’s a process that you have to take extremely seriously. ... You have to give it your undivided attention and realize there’s going to be setbacks, but you need to stay focused on your goal.
Grads don’t have much job experience. What should they put on their resume? Employers know you need training, but you can display your accomplishments by showing that you’ve worked hard in school. You can talk about how you worked hard in a summer job, show that you have worked on group projects or that you’ve met deadlines.
How does one “ace the interview”? You’ve got to be prepared. You have to make sure you know this may be one of the most important meetings you’re ever going to have. Make sure you’re prepared to talk about your resume and answer those typical questions, like “What are your weaknesses?” But the most important thing is to talk about how you’ve always made a positive impact in previous jobs or internships.