I promised that after I finally got my first post-college job, I’d give tips to anyone out there who has just graduated and may be struggling to find their first “real world” job the way I was last year. Although, really, these tips are just for anyone who’s looking for a job. Regardless, this blog post is long overdue.
Here are some job searching tips based on my personal experiences as well as advice people have given me along the way:
1. Take some time to figure out what your professional strengths and goals are.
First and foremost, you need to know what you’re good at doing and what kind of job it is that you’re seeking. Write a list of all your strong qualities that an employer would find impressive (e.g. organized, self-starter, team player, excellent time manager, etc.) Next, write a list of industries in which you could see yourself working or would like to work (e.g. publishing companies, PR firms, production companies, etc.) and broaden it as much as possible so that you give yourself a lot of options. It helps to think about what kind of experience you’ll need in order to achieve your ultimate career goal.
2. Make sure you’ve got an amazing resume and cover letter.
I recall reading that a job recruiter typically spends just seven seconds reading a person’s resume, which I found astounding. Essentially, what that means is that you’ve got to have something on your resume that catches the employer’s interest and makes you stand out over all the other qualified candidates. To do that, you definitely want to include your job experience and education, as well as other things like activities, honors, skills, coursework, etc. It can also be good to include your objective and state explicitly what kind of job it is you want.
As for your cover letter, it’s important to be as specific as possible, state which position you’re applying for and why, summarize your abilities and why you’d be the best choice for the job, and use language included in the job description. You can search for cover letter and resume templates to get more ideas and help you figure out the correct format. Keep in mind that you’ll have to continuously update your cover letter, and sometimes also your resume, based on the job you’re applying for.
3. Reach out to everyone (friends, family members, professors, career counselors, head hunters, etc.)
You can apply to jobs online, which I did, and in the end, that is actually how I landed my paid internship that turned into a part time job. However, to increase your chances of getting a job in any given industry, it helps to reach out to people directly. Inform them that you’re looking for a job, give them your resume, ask them if they happen to know any leads, whether it’s people you could contact or places you could research. Just keep actively looking and asking around.
This is a big one. It’s something that I’m still learning how to do. With a profession like writing especially, it’s all about about the people you know. In addition to reaching out to former teachers or other professionals for advice, attend job fairs and meet new people. If possible, keep in touch with former co-workers, classmates and especially professors. Ask questions to people in the business, how they got their start and if they have any advice for you. Take a class and get to know other people seeking careers in the same type of industry. Just be open and really listen to people’s advice. It could lead you to some new and exciting opportunities.
5. Be persistent.
Job searching can definitely be discouraging at times. It took me nearly five months to find a job after I graduated college. I had finished my previous internship a week after my graduation, and in the months that followed, all I wanted to to do was find a new job that remotely pertained to my main interest of writing. Although it can be an exhausting and overwhelming process, especially for a recent college graduate, I assure you that if you keep applying to jobs and asking people, it’ll only be a matter of time before you start getting interviews, and eventually, get hired.
At the end of the day, the important thing to remember, plainly and simply, is to keep trying. Remember your vision and stay determined. Your hard work and persistence will pay off. Good luck!