Five Tips for Recent College Grads

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The lights have come up and the credits are rolling on your college career. People are expecting bigger and better things from you and you’re wondering how to go about delivering them. Entering the job market is serious business, but there are ways to prepare yourself and brighten your prospects. Here are five tips that can make the journey toward your first job smoother and hopefully shorter.

Be Specific
Know that you are applying for a specific position and market yourself for that position. Tailor your resume accordingly and customize your cover letter and objective. Study a company of interest’s job titles and descriptions and don’t hesitate to adopt their language.

Educate Yourself
Sure, you just got done with years of schooling, but it pays to know a lot about the organization you are applying for and its business culture. On paper, many candidates appear qualified, but often the overriding factor is whether you are a good culture fit. Educate yourself about the company culture – is it more informal or does it promote a sense of decorum? Do research and try to communicate with people employed there to get an idea of the company’s values and work environment.

Tune in and Network
Talk to people who are currently working in your field and pick their brains. Ask questions about what to expect and what you can do to make yourself attractive to employers. Make a list that includes your classmates, professors, friends of your parents – anyone who can offer a job lead. Networking is an ongoing process that can happen on airplanes, while waiting in line, on blogs and in chat rooms.

Take Advantage of Resources
Many schools offer on-campus interviewing where companies visit to interview students and recent graduates. Your university’s career counselors can steer you toward internship listings and employment programs. They are happy to help you with self-assessments, preparing resumes and cover letters, and marketing yourself for available positions. Don’t forget another great resource for networking and landing a job – alumni. Ask a counselor about putting you in touch with an alumnus in your field.

Revisit an Internship
That internship you had last summer gave you a behind-the-scenes look at a field you thought you were interested in. When you are looking for a full-time job, it’s good to re-examine internships and volunteer opportunities you had in the past. What did you take away from them? Are there contacts you made in the field who may be able to help you now? Stay in contact with these people and recognize that even if an internship did not lead to an offer, it was still valuable and can give you leverage.

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