Graduating college? Entering the working world? Below are ten ways to get noticed and land a job after graduation.
I wrote my first book, Getting From College To Career, to answer all the (many!) questions I had when I was graduating from college and starting my career. My goal was to ease the passage, if even just a little bit, for someone else.
My book (and this summary post) doesn’t necessarily contain a step-by-step, all-inclusive guide to getting a job. Rather, it offers the best tips I’ve gathered on a wide variety of topics to help job seekers stand out from the crowd and make a successful transition from college student to career professional.
If you have recently graduated from college or you are transitioning back to the workforce after a break, congratulations! Here are some of my top tips:
- Read The News Every Single Day
Over the years, I have discovered a daily practice that acts like nothing short of a superpower for your career. And it’s quite simple: Get smarter about the news of your industry and the world around you. This one habit will pay astonishing dividends throughout your career. As a job seeker, it builds your awareness of new opportunities, trends, companies and people to talk to about potential job openings. Once you have a job, staying on top of the news contributes to out-of-the box thinking and opportunity-seeking, which is particularly crucial in today’s world full of change and disruption.
- Start a Really Big List
When it comes to targeting jobs and employers to pursue, quantity matters as much as quality. Start an ongoing list in a notebook, or on your computer or phone, of every career possibility that comes to mind as a prospect for you. Try not to censor yourself at all; just write. Your Really Big List will come in handy in a variety of ways during your career planning and job search. For example, you can bring it to meetings with college career services staff (who are available to you even as an alum) or informational interviews to help spark other people’s thinking about prospects for you to pursue or connections they might have to offer.
- Tidy Up Your Web Presence and Shape Your Personal Brand
Make no mistake about it—employers are checking you out online. While sometimes you can’t control what information appears about you on the web, often you can—such as asking a friend to remove an embarrassing photo caption from his blog before you start interviewing for jobs. Having an inappropriate web presence can kill your chances of getting a great job, but having no presence at all can be problematic as well. Depending on what kind of career opportunities you’re pursuing, you can develop an online presence by contributing blog posts to university or industry websites, engaging in professional social media discussions (especially on the professional networking site LinkedIn), and commenting on industry blogs or social media posts. Go here for more information on branding yourself online.
- Define Your “Work Experience” Broadly
We all know that jobs and internships are relevant to include on a resume or LinkedIn profile, but so are volunteer activities, extracurricular roles and even advanced classwork. Whether you’re crafting a cover letter for a new job or negotiating a higher salary at a current one, it’s important to take a full inventory of your professionally-related experiences and abilities. I’ve put together a laundry list of valuable experiences and skills that may not automatically come to mind when conducting your job search in the categories of education, work and extracurricular activities, personal interests and experiences. There’s more there than you might think.
- Give Your Resume The Third Degree
What is impressive on a legal resume is different from what is required on an artist’s resume, which is different from what’s necessary on an engineer’s resume. So, make sure your resume will pass muster in the industry you want to join. If you haven’t already, show your resume to anyone you know in your desired field(s) and get their opinion before you apply for jobs. This post has back-to-basics tips for a better resume all around.
- Tackle LinkedIn Like a Pro
As the largest and most vibrant professional social network in the world (over 500 million members with 40% of them using it daily), LinkedIn provides a wealth of opportunities for personal branding, networking and finding jobs. My biggest piece of advice is this: LinkedIn doesn’t work unless you work it. You must take control of your profile and visit the site frequently to get the most benefit. Here are some tips for getting started with LinkedIn, especially if you’re new to the professional world
- Explore a Passion as a Career Strategy
Pursuing a passion now—before you have dependents, a mortgage and years of experience behind you—should be considered a career strategy. I am very serious about this. I have met with dozens of people at all stages of their careers and eventually everyone comes around to the same conclusion: to be ultimately happy in your career—which is a big chunk of your life—you have to work at something you find fulfilling. If you pursue something you don’t really enjoy, it’s highly likely you’ll eventually try to change careers to something you’re passionate about anyway. Not sure what your passion is yet? Check out this blog post for more advice and strategies for finding your passion.
- Seek a Mentor
Wouldn’t it be great to talk to an older, wiser version of yourself who can look back from the future and guide you in the right direction? That is exactly what a great mentor can do, and finding a strong mentor is a fantastic career and job search booster. In some ways, a mentoring relationship is like a long-term informational interview. It’s also a kind of friendship. This means that you and your mentor have to have a natural affinity for each other and genuinely enjoy talking and watching each other’s success. Check out this post on being a great mentee to ensure that any mentoring relationship runs smoothly.
- Relax—A Job Is Not a Soul Mate
While I’m not entirely sure that there really is only one person on earth for each of us romantically, I can absolutely guarantee that this is not the case when it comes to jobs. I’ve met so many college students and recent grads who are looking for the one “perfect” first job. This is not just false, but a great way to stress yourself out. Cast the widest net possible in your job search and be open to finding a great job in a surprising industry or organization. (And, just in case, this post talks about what to do if you do find a supposed dream job, but it turns out to be a bust.)
- Your First Job Does Not Have to Define You
Career Management Center Director Sharon Belden Castonguay suspects you are getting a lot of bad advice— all based on something that doesn’t really exist anymore: employment stability. Her advice? “Take what you can get for now, but keep seeking advice from people you meet who are doing things you think you might want to do. Pay close attention to how your interests grow and change, and jump on any opportunity that will teach you something you want to learn, broaden your professional network, and that will be looked on favorably by future employers (and, yes, graduate schools).” Read more of her research-backed advice in this guest post.
Ready to get real? Get your copy of Getting from College to Career today and dive deeper into building your strategy for success in the real word. Good luck!