Graduation season is here, and thousands of new job seekers are joining millions in the job market. What does the new kid on the block need to do to be successful?
Here are 10 tips for graduates from Janice Bryant Howroyd, an employment expert whose AppleOne staffing company puts thousands of people to work each month:
1. Do Your Homework. You may have graduated with honors, but the real research begins now. Invest your skills and time into studying opportunities in your field of interest and learn what’s going on in that market. Look beyond Monster.com, Hot Jobs and LinkedIn. Search company websites, and set Google alerts to learn what they aren’t saying about themselves. Tailor your resume to each company; it is time consuming but can pay back big!
2. Ask Somebody. Everyone you know knows someone who knows someone who works in a company you want to be employed by. Work every contact you have, whether it’s your parents, an uncle or a family friend, and follow through. Don’t be shy about checking in with contacts you’ve made. Personal referrals remain one of the strongest door openers to a job.
3. Think Small. Many graduates often focus on large companies with strong brand identity. However, small and mid-sized companies are doing the most hiring right now. Target these companies ambitiously; their hiring managers often are more available to see you, make hiring decisions more quickly than larger companies, and offer solid career growth.
4. Follow Every Lead. The time you invest in one interview can, and should, lead to the next one. If you’re conducting your own job search, be bold to ask about other opportunities and for an interview referral to explore them. Make yourself known as a ‘company fit’, not just a ‘department fit.’ In today’s work culture, employees are highly valued when they have mobile skills and attitudes. Fresh out of school, you are expected to bring new, creative thought to your workplace.
5. Work Your Network. Your college alumni organization offers strong referral and reference support. Go to all your school’s alumni mixers and locate all the active alumni in your area. Ask them about job openings in their companies, and for suggestions and advice. Alumni networks also post job chats and hiring information. Don’t think of your alumni organization as a social connection to your past…think of it as a professional connection to your future.
6. Every Career Begins with a Job. This is particularly important for you to consider if you’ve identified a company you really like. Starting lower on the job ladder in a great company often proves more valuable financially in the long term, and career growth wise, than taking a job with more pay at a company that is not your ideal.
7. Job Fairs. Most universities and colleges, as well as industries and companies, host job fairs. These are terrific places to meet many opportunities in one location. Companies make significant investments to participate at job fairs because they are serious about finding talented, passionate people to whom they can make immediate job offers. Job fairs are perfect to bring those personalized resumes to the companies you have already researched and know will be present.
8. Double Dip. Finding work is not 1-2-3. If you are not the successful candidate on a particular hire, be bold about presenting yourself for other opportunities and ask for the chance. Also ask to debrief on what you did, or did not, present that lost you the opportunity. Be open to learn where you need to make corrections, and don’t let pride keep you from asking for a solid evaluation. Showing you are serious about working at a particular company and open to knowing what is important to be successful there will set you apart.
9. Work Part Time. Many job seekers are anxious to get a full time offer; however, part time work in the right environment is often the best way to make your mark at a company. This is particularly true in a small or mid-sized, growing company. Part time work is exciting and pays well. Use it to work in more than one company so you expand your experience and new hire opportunities.
10. Temp to Full Time. Staffing companies have proven, trusted track records with the employers in their markets, and they can get you in front of the opportunities that you want. Many of the companies they work with are now hiring temporary staff as a step to permanent employment. There is a term in the human resources world known as ‘temp to full time’. Ask about this if your goal is set on a particular company, or if you want to ‘learn on the job’. Temporary work is ideal to make connections and gain valuable experience. Signing up with a great temporary staffing company can be the best decision you make toward gaining your permanent career solution.
Finally, if you are truly not finding the positions you are looking for, you may consider obtaining an online MBA degree to expand your horizons.
This is a guest post by Janice Bryant Howroyd, the CEO of international staffing company Apple One and the workforce solutions group, Agile1. She is also the author of “The Art of Work – How to Make Work, Work for You!”