How to get hired after graduation
So you graduated college without any job offers. Before you paper the Internet with your resume or grovel any employer’s feet, two career coaches for post-graduates recommend five simple steps to help you prioritize your time and land the job of your dreams.
1. Find out you really want.
Career Coach Jody Michael said the biggest mistake most recent graduates make in their job search is not knowing what they want in the first place. The key to a successful job search is a focused approach based on what you do well and what you want.
Michael learned this firsthand when she wandered the professional world for 15 years after college. Even when she found success among the first female traders in the finance industry, she was never satisfied with her work until she became a career counselor because other jobs held no personal value for her.
That’s why she thinks it’s important to learn what you really want and not simply settle for what you can do well.
“You can be very good at what you do, and it can be absolutely not the right career,” Michael said.
Although a bleak economy paired with mounting student debt makes some graduates want to settle for the first job that comes along, Career Coach Hallie Crawford recommends reconsidering questions, such as: Does this job fit what I want my ideal workday to look like? Do I like the structure of a desk job, or do I want the flexibility to set my own hours?
She said it’s important to reflect on your past, present and future goals to determine your values and priorities and to find the job that fits your lifestyle.
2. Maintain your ‘mental game.’
Once you identify your life themes and find what job works for you, Michael says the battle is only half over. Now you have to stay the course.
Some graduates allow rejection to dissuade them from their dream job and broaden the scope of their search in desperation.
“They start to lose that targeted approach of why they’re there, why they want to be in that profession and why that’s where they’re supposed to be,” Michael said.
She calls this “taking yourself out of the mental game,” and it happens when you see other young people getting jobs and start questioning your own competency. But she said these questions are often destructive because they lead you to the false conclusion that every interview and inquiry should result in an offer.
“A successful job search goes: ‘no, no, no, no, no, no, yes,’” Michael said. “You get lots of rejection before you get a ‘yes,’ but you will get a ‘yes’ so stay in that positive state of mind even when you get a ‘no.’”
3. Plan for success.
To maintain strong “mental game,” Crawford recommends planning ahead by setting aside three or four hours each day to search for jobs and setting a deadline to find one.
“Make a plan with a goal,” Crawford said. “It gives you a sense of control.”
She recommends devoting most of your time to networking and limiting your time on online job boards, such as Monster.com or CraigsList.com, to a maximum of one hour each day.
“Job boards give you immediate gratification and that feels good, but they have the lowest rates of return in terms of getting a job,” Crawford said. “Networking is slower, and the dividends pay off over a longer time period, but it’s much more effective in long run, and the payoff is much higher.”
Although networking sounds cliché, a three-year study by the staffing group Right Management named it the best way to get hired when 41 percent of 59,133 clients found a job by networking in 2010. Crawford suggests graduates start networking by contacting professors, alumni and your parent’s friends for advice. Try to schedule meetings with at least two people each week.
Michael also recommends scheduling “informational interviews,” or 15-20 minute conversations with people in your field who can give you advice about their job or industry.
She said these interviews are helpful because they connect you with working professionals who might expand your network by connecting you with others.
She recommends making a game plan each week and revising it at the end of each day with your progress.
4. Let your soft skills shine.
Once you start generating a network, you’ll probably get a few job interviews. To set yourself apart, Crawford suggests emphasizing your soft skills (such as being a good communicator or a team leader) because these skills show employers they can work with you better than other candidates with your same qualifications.
“The soft skills are things an employer can’t teach,” Crawford said.
If you’ve done a few interviews and you still have no offers, Michael recommends scheduling a professional career coaching session. She said even one or two mock interviews could be the difference between landing the job and leaving empty-handed.
“I have yet to meet a recent college graduate who does an interview at an A-grade level,” Michael said.
5. When you’re tired, take a break.
More than anything, Crawford said you have to take care of yourself to maintain your mental, physical and emotional health in the ups and downs of your job search.
Don’t devote all of your time to your search and allow disappointment to discourage you. When you’re feeling frustrated, take a day (or even a week) off and regroup.
“When it’s making you stressed out and you’re becoming negative about your search, that’s when it’s a problem, and you need to take a break,” Crawford said.
She said the break will help you get a fresh start and make more progress in the long run.
“When we do things from being positive and confident, our results will be better,” Crawford said.