Graduating from college comes with a whole range of emotions. But let’s be honest, the idea of joining the real world can be downright frightening. After-all, your entire life leads up to the moment when you finally get the opportunity to put on your big boy/girl pants and dive head first into a job where you can officially be referred to as a productive member of society – paycheck and all!
That being said, the entire process of landing your first job post-grad is a daunting process. Just over four years ago when I was preparing for college graduation myself, I was absolutely determined to walk across the stage knowing I had a job waiting for me at the other end. By no means was it a perfect process but after starting my recruiting career just a few weeks after graduation, here are a few tips I have learned along the way:
• Start to perfect your interview elevator pitch. An elevator pitch might sound a bit challenging if you don’t have a ton of work experience to speak of (with the exception of internships and part-time jobs). On top of that, you might not even know what kind of job you are looking for in the first place. No matter, a solid 30-second elevator pitch is so important. Proudly state your alma mater and your college major, share a high-level overview of the transferrable internships or work study experience you gained along the way, and finally what options you are considering for your first post-grad pathway. Starting any phone or in-person interview with a confident and thoughtful pitch is something many seasoned professionals haven’t perfected, so start off strong.
• Network, network, NETWORK. No matter the stage of your career, networking is single-handedly the most powerful job search tool. The statistics speak for themselves – the best sources of talent come from employee referrals. So seek out friends, family friends, professors, your alumni network, current/former internship mentors, and managers. Ask them to meet you for coffee and use that time to learn about their company and their career path. Your proactive step will speak volumes and will make your contacts all the more motivated to support you by pointing you in the right direction, whether that’s through their employer or their already-established network.
• Tone up (or tone down) your LinkedIn and other social media presence. LinkedIn is everything for job search. I repeat – EVERYTHING! Beef up your LinkedIn with the details of your internships, work-studies, part-time jobs (preferably if you have good tenure of one year or more), college (not high school) extracurricular activities, and community service involvement. In the Summary section of your LinkedIn profile, be sure to include a brief 2-3-sentence overview of your background and the type of job that you are specifically looking for. The more keywords the better, making your profile all the more searchable for recruiters like me. Also, check out your Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media accounts and remove those college party pictures – or make your accounts private at the very least. Act as if your next employer is your future mother- or father-in-law. If you even hesitate for a minute to think that it is MIL or FIL appropriate, bag it!
• Take advantage of your university’s FREE career center resources! From resume editing to mock interviewing, your university’s career center is chock full of professionals and tools that you can utilize in preparation for your interviews. The only way you improve your interview skills is, of course, by practicing as much as possible.
• Ditch your phone the second that you walk into the company that you’re interviewing with. This might be self-explanatory to most, but when I greet a candidate for an interview, I certainly don’t want to come in second place to an Instagram scrolling session. Use the time waiting for your interviewer to mentally focus on your interviewer. And this goes without saying, but your phone is 110% non-existent during an interview. End of story.
• Be consistent and thoughtful with your follow-up. If you’re contacted by phone or email by a recruiter or hiring manager, respond that same business day. Your job search is a full-time job, so treat it as such. On top of that, be ultra-professional with any written correspondence. Written communication speaks volumes to a prospective employer, so exclude typos, slang, and any kind of shorthand abbreviations.
• Be flexible with your job search. As a recruiter, I frequently come across recent college graduates with a distinct vision in their mind of their dream job, which is awesome, but that vision might exclude the job you land that sets you on the trajectory towards your dream job. Keep an open mind, and don’t come into an interview with a list of demands. The idea of getting your foot-in-the-door is very much a reality.
At the end of the day, job searching might be overwhelming, but it is super exciting at the same time. You’re planting the seeds for your career, which is AWESOME. So go through this process with your full self, make mistakes, learn from them, and keep of all your experiences in your back pocket as you start the journey to come. And who knows, maybe you’ll land your dream job just a handful of years post-graduation like me.
As a Talent Consultant, Susie Landgren focuses on finding the right candidates to fit our clients’ needs. She works with our clients to understand the exact skills and attributes that would fit with the cultural climate and their environment.