Many students are worried about how they will finish college, and some students are even more worried about how they will find a job after college - especially given the current employment situation for recent university graduates. A lot of companies require students to have work experience but how would you gain it if you were studying day and night in order to obtain high grades? Good question. Here are some tips for recent graduates regarding a job search:
1. Be prepared
Different fields have different application requirements, and you need to know what those are for the field you are interested in. Do you need a résumé, a cover letter, a writing sample, a portfolio, etc? You also need to know what these materials look like in your field and which skills and experiences you need to emphasize. A legal résumé is different, both in form and content, from a management résumé, which is different from a marketing résumé. Don't have a clue? Try to arrange an informational interview with a professional in the field to which you aspire, in order to learn what it takes.
2. Activate your network
Tell everyone you know what type of job you are looking for. There is no sin in looking for employment, so you need to get everyone in your network working for you. While your hair stylist is not a lawyer or a management consultant, he or she may know one. Follow up every lead you are given; you never know who knows the person who can get you the job you want.
3. Be patient and persistent
Set aside time every week to check for job postings, to do research on employers in your field, and to send out a manageable number of applications. It is probably not realistic to try to send out 20, letter-perfect, individually tailored applications in a weekend, so pace yourself. It is better to send five high-quality applications than 20 generic ones. Treat the job search as a marathon rather than a sprint. When you work on the job search regularly, rather than in fits and starts, it is easier to stay focused and to control the stress that inevitably accompanies the job search.
4. First impression counts
With everyone you meet at the employer, but especially with the interviewer, you want to make your first impression count. Stand up straight. Look the interviewer in the eye. Smile, and extend your hand for a firm, but not knuckle-crushing, handshake. (Again, these introductory behaviors can be practiced with your friends and family to polish your behavior and enhance your confidence)
5. Be positive!
During the interview do not assume that a particular answer is "wrong" or that you have "blown it." Stay confident and smile. It will increase your chances to get a job. If asked about a perceived negative, do not make excuses or provide elaborate explanations. Give it one sentence, and move on. Remember that there is no "perfect" candidate; just be the best you can be.