11 Job Search Tips for Recent Graduates

If you’re newly graduated and unemployed, it’s time to get serious about your job hunt. The longer you’ve been out of school, the more difficult it can be to get a job.

Job searching isn’t intuitive. It requires you understand some basic rules of engagement. To get you started, here are some best practices you should know about as you enter the job market.

Create a customized resume for each job. It is faster and easier to use the same resume for each job, but, it won’t work. One of the biggest mistakes you are making by using the same resume for every job is that your resume misses the mark. Recruiters use keywords to search the applicant pool and if you haven’t used them, your resume won’t show up in search results.

Specify your internships. It isn’t helpful to use a generic job title “Summer Intern” for that awesome experience you had. It was a valuable job and the job title should partially convey that. Use the department name or type of function such as “Accounting Intern” or “Marketing Intern.” Even if your internship wasn’t glamorous, you still have valuable work experience and you want to convey that to future employers.

It’s who you know, not what you know. You are more likely to land an interview and a job if you are referred. Keep this in mind as you schedule your job search activities. You’ll want to spend more time having conversations with people than sitting behind your computer filling out online applications. One final word: Few people care about your CGPA. It isn’t all that relevant in the real world of work.

Leverage the alumni network. You share a special bond with people who graduated from your school. Leverage your common experience to get questions answered or get referred for jobs at their company. LinkedIn makes it easy to find alumni. Just go to your school’s page and click on the “find alumni” button. You should also check with your school’s alumni office. They may offer an alumni database, meetups or events.

Tap family friends. Your parents, aunts, and uncles all have friends. Notify your entire family that you are looking for a job and mention some of the companies you are interested in. You never know who your family may know. Also, ask your college friends to share your message with their parents and family.

Know why you want the job. Recruiters want to hire someone who really wants to do the job and who wants to work for their company. Be ready to explain why you are interested in all the jobs you apply to. Also be ready to answer why you are choosing the career path you are choosing. The right answer requires you construct a genuine yet informed answer.

Master your pitch. When someone asks you what you do, and they will, you need a 30-second response. A short, easy-to-understand answer helps the person you are talking to understand how they can help when you are networking. Don’t overwhelm them with too much detail. Focus on the one or two most helpful pieces of information you want them to know. You have time later in the conversation to answer any questions or include additional information you want to share.

Set up your voicemail. Even though you may not like voicemail, many recruiters often prefer to call you rather than wait for you to respond via email. Make sure your voicemail includes your name and telephone number so recruiters know who they’ve reached. And don’t let your voicemail box get full. If a recruiter can’t leave you a message, they’re likely to move on to the next candidate.

Audit your social media. If you are using Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook, they are all fair game for recruiters to snoop. Go through your updates and make sure to delete posts mentioning guns, politics or alcohol. Check to make sure you haven’t insulted or bad-mouthed companies or people and watch out for profanity. Your accounts don’t need to be sterile, but they do need to be rated G for general audience. You don’t want to offend or turn off potential employers.

Boost your LinkedIn activity. Having a shell of a profile on LinkedIn is a rookie mistake. Take time to enhance your profile and present yourself as a worthy candidate for the roles you are interested in. If you’re unsure of what those may be, at least highlight your professionalism and potential. You can also stay in front of your LinkedIn network by sharing one relevant news article as a status update every day!

Prepare for interviews NOW. You need to seriously brush up on your interviewing skills! You won’t be able to wing it. Practice answering the tough interview questions out loud, not in your head. Questions like: What do you know about our company? Why should we hire you? Tell me about yourself and the many “Tell me about a time when …” scenarios. You only have one shot at winning over the interview team, so prepare and practice now!

Your first job is only your first step. You will change jobs, careers, and companies many times throughout your career. But the biggest challenge at this point is landing a job without a lot of experience. You need work experience, so any job is better than none. And if you don’t love it, at least you know what you don’t want to do. There’s no such thing as the perfect job; keep an open mind and take note of what you don’t like so you don’t make the same mistake twice.


By Hannah Morgan, Contributor |July 26, 2017, at 11:04 a.m.

Leave a Reply