College can be a time where students don’t have to worry about jobs for a few years, but eventually the day will come when they’ll have to hand out resumes like the rest of the world. With a seemingly bleak economic landscape, though, the prospect of landing a job can seem bleak.
1. Build a Network as Soon as Possible
Your network won’t consist of high-level executives in countries around the world, or at least, it won’t right away. Every successful person got to where they are today by starting off small and increasing the power of their network, and then building it until it reached peak efficiency.
Apply the same concept to your own network by reaching out to family members, friends and professors. This means you’ll have to do a bit of legwork, but it’s a necessary and crucial step of the process. Whatever events or conferences that are related to your major, attend them and treat them as informal interviews where you’re constantly trying out for a job.
2. Don’t Give Off a “Hire Me” Vibe
This may seem counter-intuitive to the whole notion of trying to find a job, but the last thing employers want to see is someone desperate for work. Instead, what grabs their attention is a bright young mind eager to make a difference at their company.
Play a little cool and hard to get when talking to prospective employers, but not so much you appear disinterested. The key is to find that middle-ground where your qualities and skills stand out, but not in a way that seems like you’re ready to hand them out to the first paying employer that walks by.
3. Draft a Competitive Resume
All the old rules about resumes, like keeping it to one page, have been refined and redesigned, so it’s time to have your resume reflect that, too. Target your resume as narrowly to your preferred industry as possible, and utilize internet-savvy practices, like well-placed keywords, as many resumes go through a scanner first.
What a competitive resume also means is knowing when to be conservative and when not to be. For example, graphic design grads are much more likely to need a resume whose medium reflects their major, while business grads should stick to white paper, clear font, and evenly-spaced margins.
4. Go Digitally Social
This is a tip that almost goes without saying, especially for graduates in 2014 who have grown up on computers. But because grads have grown up on computers, the line between using social media for fun and using social media for business is more blurred than for older generations.
Sites like LinkedIn have their benefits, but only if used correctly. The absolute wrong way to go about digital exposure is to slap something together, upload it, and expect everyone to immediately start fawning over you. It just doesn’t work like that. You need to make your presence known just as you did in lecture, such as posting comments in threads, having conversations with other users, and linking to relevant articles.
5. Get in the Game
All these tips are for naught if you don’t actually know the faces responsible for hiring you, so take the plunge and meet with people face-to-face. There’s only so much hiding behind a screen you can do before you have to reveal yourself, and it’s key to do it early on in the game.
Plus, as much as the world’s gone digital today, it hasn’t wholly crossed over because human contact is still vital. The “old-fashioned” way of pounding the pavement and actually talking to people hasn’t died out because it just plain works, and you’ll be the one left behind if you don’t use this method.
Being a new grad in the job market can be a little scary, but we’ve all been there before and gotten through alive.