Perhaps you are graduating this year or maybe even next year (and you’re looking to get ahead of the game) or perhaps you are the parent of a graduate or ‘soon to be’ graduate. In my latest blog series over the next couple of weeks, I’m hoping I can provide you with enough useful information that you can feel that much more prepared to execute a highly effective job search within the graduate market.
In an ideal world, the job search process starts way before you’ve even graduated. However, it’s never too late to follow these tips that I’ve put together for new grads if you haven’t yet decided on what you’d like to do or you’re still looking for a job.
And remember, the process of getting paid to do what you love isn’t always straightforward – it may be a longer journey for some to get to their ideal job/lifestyle – but hang in there – everything you do along the way will be part of the learning process, rich in experiences and hopefully fun!
So, let us get started….
- Update your resume and cover letter with your degree if you have already graduated – Congratulations! This is a big reason to celebrate. If you don’t yet have a resume, there are tons of websites out there that provide templates to get started. Just google ‘resume templates’. See my resume checklist to ensure you cover off everything necessary.
- Use your school’s career services – if you haven’t already made use of this, check them out – they will hold databases of graduate jobs, often companies will come to campus to interview students for job positions and they will also help you find internships and cover basic career search skills.
- Ask for References – Every recruiter will want to see these. If you’ve done an internship you can ask to use one of your superiors from that role. Ask for letters of recommendation and include them in your application for any jobs. You can also name professors as your references. If you think you have been shortlisted for a role, it’s just polite to let your references know that they might be contacted.
- Internships – look into doing an internship if you haven’t already done one to build up your experience. When looking for an internship, unlike when looking for permanent jobs, online searches can actually really help you find an internship. Try some of these sites; LinkedIn – go to the jobs tab and search for internships and you’ll be able to see which of your contacts works at one of the companies or know people who work there – so there are real benefits of looking for connections after setting up your profile! Also try google, glassdoor, internmatch.com, Internships.com, Idealist (non-profit sector) and Global Experiences.
- Set up a LinkedIn account and ask for ‘recommendations’ – Building a professional presence on LinkedIn is a must and it needs to be done well to get positive results! Start by writing a headline that attracts attention and include a professional looking photo of yourself – these two things are super important! In the headline (it needs to be short) aim to include what you’re doing now and what you hope to do and if you haven’t yet graduated you can include your Major and your aspirations. In the summary section, find a way to stand out and bring your personality into it so that recruiters are drawn to find out more about you – what makes you tick? What do you do for fun? What is your biggest accomplishment? In the Experience section, include any jobs, internships or voluntary jobs describing what you were doing and how it has helped you develop a whole range of skills. Use the STAR approach to help you include information on (1) the situation you were in, (2) tasks you were required to do, (3) specific actions you took and (4) the results of work you did, ideally in a qualitative format. Its good to include plenty of detail of your work here. Make sure you complete the skills list section too. Fill out the education section and feel free to upload great school work/projects that you are particularly proud of and shout out your successes – the more you can do to differentiate yourself from the competition the better. Connect with professors and any employers from jobs/internships. Ask them for recommendations. Look for groups on LinkedIn that are relevant to your career goals – join them and aim to positively contribute to these groups so that potential employers get to know your name. You will also learn a lot from industry experts in the groups you join. You could also ask your school career’s office for details of alumni in the industries you are interested in so that you can connect with them too. Ask parents if they know anyone you should connect with that might be in the industry you’re interested in. If you want to explore a particular company, you can check if you have any 1st or 2nd connections that are connected to anyone that works for that company and ask them to introduce you on LinkedIn. Don’t immediately ask connections for a job – ask them for advice or ask them questions about what its like working for that company – build up rapport first before asking to be put in touch with someone who might be good contact for your area of work. And remember, not all graduate opportunities and internships will be available earlier in the year – not all companies will be in a position advertise early on, especially if they are going through restructuring during the year, so its always worth asking about possible jobs at any point in the year. When searching for graduate jobs on LinkedIn ask your parents to do a search on their LinkedIn too as they may have more connections.
- Find a mentor – It is a competitive job market, especially for those with little or no experience and mentoring can really help. Try to find someone in the field you’re interested in – LinkedIn is good for this and parents’ contacts of course. Find out about what they do, what they like about their jobs and how their career evolved. You might speak to several people before you find someone you want to ask to be your mentor. You want to find someone who can offer you a supportive environment and encouragement and has good links in the field you’re interested in, perhaps even old alumni from your school.
- Put together a blog on a professional topic you’re interested in – this will highlight your professional knowledge and show your resourcefulness.
- Apply to jobs – ensure you tailor both your resume and your cover letter for each and every job you apply to. This means identifying something about the company and/or the role that you are particularly interested in and stating that in the cover letter. Make sure that your resume highlights any skills/experience that supports the application. And finally, always follow up with emails and/or phone calls after making the application.
- Hire a career/interview coach – coaches can help graduates with a number of areas including writing resumes and cover letters, creating LinkedIn profiles, effective job searches and mock interview practice, putting you in a stronger position than other candidates.
For more information about how I can help you if you’re a graduate looking for work or parent of a graduate, please check out my website ‘thewinninginterview’. I can provide you with the following support:
- Skills and strengths identification if you haven’t yet found your passion and just need a little extra support in working out what kind of jobs or careers you’re interested in.
- Resume and cover letter support, teaching you how to tailor these to each job that you apply to.
- Development of a LinkedIn profile to help you stand out from the competition. This is a must in today’s job market.
- Mock interview practice tailored to the specific jobs/companies you are applying to, specifically aligned with the company’s recruitment approach/values.
In my next post, I’ll be providing you with information about how to prepare for upcoming interviews. For tailored interview coaching, please contact me.
You can see full details of the services I offer here.
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