One of the most intimidating aspects of graduating college is finding your first job. After all, most grads enter the workforce with limited experience under their belts, and when the job market is iffy, beating out more experienced candidates can be a challenge.
The good news, however, is that today’s job market is thriving and healthy. Not only that, but employers plan to hire 10.7% more Class of 2019 graduates than they did from the Class of 2018, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. If you’re eager to capitalize on these favorable circumstances, here are some tips for setting yourself apart from the pack and landing a job.
1. Have a compelling resume
When you’re first graduating college, it’s hard to present the same loaded resume as someone with actual full-time work experience. But that doesn’t mean you can’t look impressive on paper. First, you can emphasize the courses you took (especially those relevant to your field) and the grades you scored in them. You can also list any on-campus jobs you might’ve held down, as well as internship or volunteer experience. Finally, you can talk up your skills. Maybe you’re a spreadsheet wiz, or you have a keen eye for design (and a link to a portfolio that proves it). All of these things will make you a more desirable candidate, so don’t be afraid to include them on your resume.
2. Craft a creative cover letter
Your cover letter is a chance to let your personality shine. It’s also your opportunity to prove to prospective employers that you have valuable skills to bring to the table. Therefore, don’t settle for a run-of-the-mill cover letter loaded with clichés. Instead, invest the time to create a snappy, engaging letter, and then tweak it as different jobs hit your radar.
3. Brush up on your interview skills
If you’re a new graduate, your experience with job interviews is probably limited at best. That’s why you really need to hone your skills before sitting down with potential employers. One of the best ways to be a better interviewee is to know what sort of questions to expect, so look up some of the most common ones and prepare some answers in advance. At the same time, study your resume so you’re prepared to discuss it with ease. Finally, and just as importantly, find a friend or family member who’s willing to run through some mock interviews with you, and actually go through the motions. It might seem silly, but it’s a good way to prepare for what could otherwise be an intimidating prospect.
4. Line up some references
When you don’t have a substantial work history, it can be hard to prove to prospective employers that you’re a reliable, trustworthy person. That’s where professional references come in. Now the challenge, of course, is that if you don’t have much work experience, you may not have many, or any, references. If that’s the case, be sure to line up some references from college, like former professors, teaching assistants, and advisors who can vouch for your capabilities. You can also tap personal resources, like longtime family friends, who can speak to your character.
5. Network like crazy
Although there are clearly going to be plenty of job opportunities out there in the coming months, uncovering the good ones can be challenging. That’s why it’s so important to network. The more people you know, the greater your chances of learning of new openings or finding folks to submit your resume on your behalf. Even if you graduate college knowing no one in the field you’re interested in, you can meet the right people by attending industry events, going to local meetups, and sourcing contacts online through sources like LinkedIn. Will that involve putting yourself out there? Of course. But it’s a worthwhile investment on the road to landing a job.
If you’re hoping to get hired quickly after graduating college, there’s a good chance that’ll happen as a result of today’s job market. But it never hurts to increase your chances of success, and the above moves will help you do just that.
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