I often get asked by recent college grads what they can do to improve their chances of getting a job once they graduate. They answer, of course, depends on when you start the college grad job search process. Ideally, you would have had several internships during your college years and, while you think it might be too late to do that, think again (more on this later). Of course you might think that the most important tip is make sure you have a great resume. And while you wouldn’t be entirely wrong, you wouldn’t be entirely right either. There’s a long list of things that contribute to your ability to find a job after graduation. My top 5 follow.
Interview Skills – My company was recently going through a hiring process for entry level grads. I interviewed approximately 5 recent grads and was shocked at their interview skills. There was little or no preparation on the candidates part. Interview preparation is the most important part of the job search process. So where should you focus?
Research – Why do you want to work at XYZ company? They are going to ask and the expectation is that you’ve done a bunch of research on the company and know all about it. If you don’t, the interviewer will think you are not serious and this will probably cost you the job. There are so many resources available to job searchers today to help with the company research process.
- Google Search – Yes, very obvious, but have you done it?
- LinkedIn – There is a wealth of information on LinkedIn, you just need to know where to find it. Find the company where you will have your interview and read as much as you can about it. Look to see which of your LinkedIn connections work at the company or are linked to someone who works at the company. Leverage this information – get the inside scoop.
Resume - Yes, your resume is very important, but since you’ve not really had many (or possibly any) meaningful jobs there won’t be much on your resume. So what to do? Take a look at entry level resume samples to get some ideas on format and content. Talk to the adviser at your College Career Center and ask for some help with creating your resume. Talk with family friends and relatives who are working in your industry/career choice.
Internships (it’s never too late) – Never did those internships during college? Or maybe you did do some internships but want more experience. Either way, it is not unusual to do an internship after graduation. If you are having difficulty finding a job in your industry, you should consider an internship as a stepping stone.
Find a Mentor – A mentor can be an enormous help in both, finding a job and helping you advance in your career. While they won’t specifically help you find a job (don’t expect them to track down leads or write your resume), they can give advice on helping edit your resume, picking the right company and keeping your career on track.
Other Resources -
Pursue More Education – Sometimes a Bachelor’s Degree is not enough to impress a potential employer, yet graduate school seems unrealistic to many recent college students. Online degrees, however, offer a solid middle ground for most recent graduates and they allow you to pursue a number of graduate degrees, such as a Masters of Science in Criminal Justice. Even if you already have a Bachelor’s degree in this field, a Master’s will keep your mind fresh with information about recent cases. And in the end, it will only help put your resume and cover letter closer to the top of the pile.