5 Job Search Tips for Prospective Graduates

Graduation girlA man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.” – Theodore Roosevelt

As the job market continues to struggle, the need to remain competitive remains crucial for new and prospective graduates. Not only are you competing with each other, but you are also competing with professionals who may have years of experience and have recently been laid off or are looking for a change in career. Students should develop a proactive strategy for their job search to gain an advantage. Here are a few tips for prospective graduates looking to get the most out of their job search:

1. Start Early

Students expecting to graduate in May should start thinking about their job search and even applying for jobs now. Starting the job search will give students a good indication of what the market is doing and what companies may be hiring. It will also provide some insight into market trends — for instance, a particular area might have a lot of jobs while others don’t, or a big company that just announced a lot of layoffs could lead to a glut in the market. Starting the job search early will also allow students to start making contacts and developing relationships with company leaders.

2. Network

Networking is one of the most valuable tools in the job search, no matter how experienced you are. Many professionals find their next job because of someone they know. Students should start networking by talking with their professors (who can provide recommendations or refer students to professionals in their own networks) and other students (who will become future colleagues). Students should also take advantage of networking opportunities initiated during previous internships or through contacts made at job fairs. Any of these contacts could lead to a referral or job tip.

- more – Building your network

3. Utilize Your College Career Services Office

Almost every college or university has a Career Services Office, which is designed exclusively to help students with their job search. Members of this office can advise students on best interviewing practices and job search tips. They can scrutinize a resume or cover letter and offer suggestions to make it stand out from the rest. They can even provide referrals from their own networks. Career Services professionals offer a valuable resource that students won’t be able to access once they graduate.

4. Cast a Wide Net

When jobs are not as plentiful, every job seeker has to widen the focus to make more opportunities available. Students who are developing a job search strategy should cast a wide net by looking for jobs in different locations, looking for job postings in a variety of places (such as online job boards, forums, company Web sites, job fairs, and more), and looking for jobs in a variety of related fields (for example, jobs in marketing and public relations and advertising). The more options you make available to yourself, the greater your chances of getting that first job and starting to accumulate the experience you need to land the dream job you want.

5. Consider Other Options

Have a back-up plan. If you can’t find employment immediately upon graduation, there are a number of other things you can do to build professional experience to ensure you remain competitive. Some options include working as a temp, taking an unpaid internship, volunteering in a position or with a company related to your interests, and working abroad. Each of these options will provide you relevant experience and expand your networking base. The experiences you have and the people you meet could very well lead you to a full-time position at a company you love.

The key to any successful job search is preparation and perseverance. Prospective graduates can use these tips to get a jump start on their job search now to ensure the best opportunities for success. What other tips might you have for new graduates looking for their first professional job?

Bio:
Leah Landly is the community manager for BluWiki, an informational Wiki service and free web publishing platform. She covers many topics and answers popular topics.

We are always eager to hear from our readers. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions regarding CareerAlley content.

Good luck in your search,
Joey

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Employment Testing and What it Means to You

writingOne topic that is not covered too often has to do with Pre-employment testing. Many employers require some type of pre-employment testing or screening prior to hiring. There is a wide range of testing that may take place. The level and quantity of screening depends partially on State and Country regulations.

There are a few things you can do to make this a more productive process (these are covered in more detail later in the article):

  • Study – There are preparation tests you can take in advance if you would like to “study” and improve your chances of scoring well (these are covered below in “How to Prepare“).
  • Research – For many companies, their tests and methodologies are fairly well known. Do some research to see what you can find out about their testing. Also see if anyone in your network can help.
  • State of Mind – The power of positive thinking. Go in with a good attitude knowing that you will ace the tests.

Typical Pre-Employment Tests:

  • Personality Tests – These are assessment tests and a generally a key part of the employment selection process. These tests are popular in Europe and are becoming increasingly more popular in the US, they are used in many countries. “Passing” these tests are key to getting a job offer and are typically designed to
  • Drug Testing - Most mid to large employers require some type of pre-employment drug and/or alcohol testing.  Again, this is driven by State and government requirements depending on industry and location. Sometimes you are required to give a blood sample and sometimes a urine sample (or both)
  • Job Knowledge or Skills Tests – Employers may require that candidates take one or more skills assessment tests.  These are designed to evaluate your knowledge of the industry or the position. Skills testing is generally used to assess your abilities. There are many types of skills and assessment tests, such as Numerical Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, Financial Reasoning and many more. There are also specific tests for some technical industries such as Engineering and IT.

You will need to score as high as possible in order to move on to the next round in the hiring process. All testing can be tough depending on how well you do on tests and how prepared you are. Understanding the underlying principles and content of pre-employment  boosts the chances that you will score well. Being prepared also has a big positive impact on your outlook and this also increases the likelihood of doing well.

How to Prepare:

  • Research – The Internet is a wonderful thing and if you do some research on the companies you are considering in your job search you are likely to find out information regarding their tests. Additionally, leverage your LinkedIn network to see if anyone you know works at your target companies or knows someone who works there. Insight into the specific tests will help you prepare.

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

Test Preparation – Honest Abe said it best. The more time and effort you can spend preparing for your tests, the better the chance of passing. There are a wide variety of tests out there and it is almost impossible to cover them all. Following are some resources for the most common testing that you can use to help you prepare:

  • Aptitude Testing: An aptitude test is used to determine a person’s ability in a particular skill or field of knowledge.
    • Numerical Reasoning Test Practice – A Numerical Reasoning test is test to determine number-related skills and abilities. Experience Your Test’s Content in Advance
    • Verbal Reasoning Tests – Verbal reasoning tests measure an individual’s verbal reasoning skills and ability. They measure overall cognitive ability.
    • Inductive Reasoning Test – Inductive reasoning tests help to assess your ability in identifying a pattern or consistency among sets of objects or verbal data.
    • Situational Judgement Test Preparation – Situational judgment tests assess individual’s abilities with realistic, hypothetical scenarios and ask the individual to identify the most appropriate response.
  • Personality Testing -A personality test measures individual’s character or psychological makeup. Learn How to Pass a Pre-Employment Personality Test
  • Technical Test Prep:
      • Law Firm Related Testing – Law Firm related testing is used in development and selection for graduates, managers and leaders; and has shown to be highly predictive of future job success.
      • Aptitude Tests for Engineering – Aptitude tests help to access individuals’ work related perceptions, judgement and reasoning.
      • Financial Reasoning Test Practice – Financial Reasoning tests are designed to assess how effectively people analyze, interpret and use numerical information in a financial context.

Knowledge is power and knowing what obstacles you might face is half the battle. Prepare, research and practice.

We are always eager to hear from our readers. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions regarding CareerAlley content.

Good luck in your search,
Joey

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Job Search – Take the Plunge

plungeWhen you’re drowning, you don’t say ‘I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me,’ you just scream.” – John Lennon

When I was growing up I used to go to a pond near my house with my friends to look for tadpoles. It was a small pond with an old car tire in the middle that you could touch if you stretched. One year, all of the tadpoles were in the center of the tire and we just could not reach them. So I decided to step on the tire and then reach for the tadpoles. As soon as I put my foot down I was committed and the tire sank and I fell in. I remember thinking I was going to drown, but the pond only came up to my chest and I was able to climb out (with my tadpoles of course). Job search is much the same, sometimes you just need to commit yourself, kick it up a notch and take the plunge. Today’s post is a collection of recommended job sites from readers.

  • VizualResume.com – Several months ago I did a post on visual resumes (see Visual Resumes – Do You Have Yours?) and I missed out on reviewing VizualResumes which provides examples of visual resumes. The left hand side of the screen has the examples (scroll down to see additional examples). Click Visual Archive to see additional resumes. You can also submit a resume sample.
  • Dice.com – This site provides technical job opportunities. The main page has links at the top for MyDice, Find Jobs, Post Resume and more. Below the search function is a list of featured resources. Center page is the list of current jobs. Once you’ve made your selection for your search, there are plenty of ways to filter your search.
  • HR Job Search Secrets – “Accelerating your job search” is the tag line for this site. There are tabs at the top of the page for resources, services and blog. The left hand side of the page has the “job seekers guide to the hidden job market” followed by some posts. Center page are video blogs. Click on resources to see a number of posts which provide some resources. There are embedded links to additional resources or contact information in many of the articles.
  • RetiredBrains.com – “The Complete resource for retirees and those planning for retirement” is their tag line. There are links at the top for Retirement Jobs, Financial Resources and more. The left hand side of the page has links for “find retirement jobs”, “resume writing services” and lots more. Center page provides a wide range of resources, including Find Jobs, Employment Assistance and lots more. Clicking Find Jobs takes you to the search engine and shows additional links for Resumes/Letters and Job Alerts.

We are always eager to hear from our readers. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions regarding CareerAlley content.

Good luck in your search,
Joey

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10 Topics to Avoid During Job Interviews

Job OfferCongratulations, you got the interview! Now you need to do two things – convince them that you are the best person for the job and don’t say anything stupid. Sounds simple, but it’s not. The old saying “You only get one chance to make a good first impression” sounds like it was written for job interviews. You’ve got to ask good questions and have great answers for the difficult questions asked of you. One real life extreme example is a candidate that I was interviewing for a job at our company. When asked what skills or knowledge they felt they needed to learn more about they said “Nothing. There is no one who knows more than me and there is nothing new I need to learn“. Obviously, they did not get the job.

1. Company Research

So if you’ve done your homework and done research on the company prior to the interview (this is a topic covered in We hope you know this already, but when you’re going to a job interview it’s important to research the company at length before you step foot into the building. This means that you should be armed with all the basic information available on the internet before your interviewer meets you in person–things like the names of upper management members, products or services, basic mission, and so on. If you don’t find out everything that you need to find out, (or you forget to look) do not blurt out anything that will make you look like you didn’t research the company beforehand. Don’t ever ask “What does your company do?”.

2. Work Hours

We all want to have a reasonable work day and no one wants to work a job where they are working 14 hours a day but the interview is not the place to ask this question. You can possibly find someone you know who works at the company or do some research on the Internet to get the answer to this question. Also don’t ask if you can change your work hours.

3. What Are You Going to Give Me?

Vacation, personal days, medical benefits, etc. These are all important pieces of information that you will need before making a decision (assuming you get an offer), but this is not a question that should come up during the interview process. Once you get an offer, ask the questions.

4. Corporate Culture

Definitely ask questions about the corporate culture, but don’t get into things like “can I work from home?” or “Do you sponsor happy hour events?”.

5. Advancement

Most companies want you to be in a position for 2 or more years prior to moving to another position. Don’t ask about mobility within the company or when you can expect to get a promotion.

6. Work /  Life Balance Questions

We all want the flexibility to leave early if there is an event with our kids or possibly leave early to coach your kid’s baseball team but these are not questions you would bring up at the interview.

7. How much will you pay me?

Certainly you will want to know Everyone wants to make a little bit of money doing a dream job. During the job interview, however, the trick is to make it seem like it’s your dream position regardless of the salary. You want to appear passionate, not desperate for just anything that will pay your bills. No employer is going to be naive enough to believe you don’t want to know, but if the interviewer does not prompt you to talk about your salary requirements, keep quiet about the topic until it’s brought up.

8. Did I get the job?

Great question, poor timing. Not a question that any hiring manager wants to answer on the spot. There are many considerations that go into hiring.  You can ask where they are in the interview process and the timing for making their final decision.

9. Do I have to take a drug test?

If you have to ask, well you get the picture.

10. Pay attention

Don’t ask any questions that have already been answered by the interviewer. You have your “list of questions”, make sure you have more than enough in case any are answered before you get to ask the question.

 

We are always eager to hear from our readers. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions regarding CareerAlley content.

Good luck in your search,
Joey

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Reviews – Top 5 Job Search Books

We can all use help looking for a job. Knowing which resume formats to use, how to network, leveraging the Internet, etc. All of that is very helpful and can help us fast track the job search process. There must be hundreds of job search resource books out there, which are the best ones to use? Following are some reviews of the top 5 job search books to help your make your selection.

 

 

 

  • Knock ‘em Dead 2014: The Ultimate Job Search Guide – Another good resource on job search with lots of great tips. There is a step by step guide for writing resumes and additional information on getting interviews. Once you get “the offer”, there is a good section on negotiating the best offer. The book includes strategies that have been proven to work over time.

 

  • The 2-Hour Job Search: Using Technology to Get the Right Job Faster – Who wants to spend a lot of time looking for a job? This book, by Steve Dalton, includes a strategy that will help you minimize the amount of time you spend looking for a job by helping you focus on the resources that will get you the best results (quickest). Leveraging technology is key, and Dalton focuses on this as part of the strategy. Can you find a job in 2 hours?  Not likely, but this book should help make you more efficient in your search.

 

  • How To Find A Job: When There Are No Jobs – This book by Paul Rega not only covers job search in the traditional sense, it also focuses on career management as the driver to bigger and better jobs. Marketing yourself is key and focusing on the right audience for your background is just as important (also see The Four Legs of Job Search). Stories (real experiences) are a key part of this book. The approach is different to what most of us have learned and practiced. Definitely worth a read.

 

  • How To Build the ULTIMATE LinkedIn Profile – LinkedIn is, without a doubt, the largest business network site. It is the number one place to network and find a job. Of course, it will all be a waste if you don’t have a stellar profile on LinkedIn. This book, written by Andrew McCarthy, covers a full range of topics. From adding skills and experience to helping decide which photo to use. There are a ton of really good tips in this book (without which it would take you a really long time to figure out). If you are serious about your LinkedIn profile, this is the book for you.

We are always eager to hear from our readers. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions regarding CareerAlley content.

Good luck in your search,
Joey

Joey@careeralley.com
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