This post was contributed by New Grad Life, a website dedicated to providing free resources to recent college graduates or soon-to-be grads for job hunting, resume and interview help, networking tips, money management, and more.
So, you’re just a few months from graduating college and you’re looking for your first real entry-level job. How should you go about your job hunt? Don’t just send your resume to every employer you can think of. There are three "golden keys" to job hunting for recent or soon-to-be college graduates: focus, consistency, and change:
What particular job are you looking for? In what industry? For what kind of company? New graduates have a lot of trouble with these questions, partly because many are not even 100% sure what jobs they want.
Since we’re in a recession, you’ll be told to not be picky. But believe it or not, sending 50 resumes every day to random companies in random industries will not yield the best results.
Here’s what you should be doing now:
- Job: Consider your major and interests, and take a look at your resume. What training have you had or duties have you performed that could be applicable to an entry-level job that you like?
- Industry/Company: Get involved in an industry you’re passionate about. Join clubs and organizations and read their blogs, newsletters, magazines, and books. Most importantly, keep up with the trends in the industry. Why? Let’s say you’re networking with a particular person who works in the entertainment industry. You've been doing your homework, so you talk about some trends you’ve noticed or predictions you have. The person may become impressed that you’re so motivated and have a passion for the industry, and keeps your name in mind when there's an entry-level opening.
Ever hear the phrase "looking for a job is a job itself"? That holds true for many people. If you want to be successful in your job search, you must stick to a process every day and carry it out consistently. This shouldn’t be anything new because studying in college proved that consistency brought results. Were you more confident going into a test after studying at the last minute, or reviewing content every week? Here’s a little example of a job-hunt process:
- Wake up and check for jobs posted online (job boards, job aggregators, corporate sites). Tweak your resume and cover letter to specifically target each job you apply for.
- Spend some time reading articles on how to brush up your job interview skills and improve your resume. Maybe even do a mock interview with a relative or friend.
- Later, spend an hour or so trying to think of people you can network with. Ask yourself: Who do my friends know? Who does my family know? What about online networking sites like LinkedIn? Who should I contact locally?
Adopt a strategy that works for you, then be consistent at executing it.
For example, if you start networking on Monday but don’t follow up with those people as planned, they'll think you’re disorganized, and you'll lose any value you might have established. You have to stay consistent with what you do as a job seeker; show people you’re on top of things and eager to find work.
People change, job duties change, the economy changes—so why shouldn’t your job search strategies change? You need to establish a Point of Review, when you'll assess your progress and adjust your tactics, if necessary. This could be every week, two weeks, or every month or two (but don’t wait too long).
During your first Point of Review, ask yourself these three questions:
- What are my results so far? Did I land one interview? Get two leads through networking?
- What approaches did I take that led to those results? Did I talk about industry trends with the person I networked with?
- What am I going to change to yield better results in my next review? Tailor your resume and cover letter to each employer's terminology? Do more research before your interviews?
This is your first real job search, so it may be difficult to understand the cause-and-effect relationship of things you do. But some things will become quite obvious. A small tweak in your resume’s language can make a huge impact, so can a simple change in your body language when you go to networking events. After an interview, take note of how you acted; were you talking too long during the interview? Did you interrupt the interviewer? Fail to ask questions?
These three golden keys are basic principles that bring great results, so use them to your advantage.
Here’s to a successful transition from campus to career!
Why and How to Find a Summer Internship
A January To-Do List for the College Class of 2010
Class of ’08: If We’d Known Then What We Know Now