By Robyn Dutton
So … you’ve graduated. You’ve got your shiny, hard-earned degree in one hand and nothing but endless opportunities awaiting you. But how do you apply your skills and experience to land the job of your dreams? Well, let me break it down for you.
First, it’s important to know yourself and what you really want out of your career. Write down what your skills are and what values you appreciate in a future employer and industry. Do you want to work for a small or big company? Some of you may have a very specific set of skills, such as an engineer, however, others may have more general experience, such as those who majored in communication or business. It’s important to nail down what you would enjoy doing, what type of company you would be proud to work for and then take those criteria into your job search.
Second, as you start the application process, make sure your resume is up to snuff. Try to keep it to a page, but add as much detail as possible about your previous job duties or projects in school. If you competed in sports or extra-curricular activities, include those as well, it shows you are well-rounded. Ask your mentors to review your resume and provide any feedback, and after implementing that said feedback, politely ask if they would pass it along to any acquaintances that could be helpful. Generally, people want to help others, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice or a favor. The same goes for your online profile, if you don’t have a LinkedIn account, get one. Ensure your social media accounts are a reflection of your professional presence. Anything that can be found online about you should be positive, as that one photo of you at a frat party from college will be found, and it could very well hold you back.
Third, when you finally hit the job search boards, try a variety of sites to see what works for you. My personal preferences are Monster, Indeed and LinkedIn as they have a broad selection of postings. Check your university job board as well, as alumnus can often gain preference over other candidates. Write a compelling and detailed cover letter customized to each job stating what you can bring to their organization that others can’t. If you are called in for an interview, research the company fiercely and be prepared to answer behavioral questions as well as comment on why you want to work there and why they should hire you. Practice, practice, practice! I cannot stress this enough, it is the difference between coming off calm, cool and collected versus being nervous and spitting out answers on the spot. Dress professionally, business formal or business casual are generally appropriate depending on the company, and be sure to send a thank you email to the hiring manager after the meeting.
Lastly, don’t give up! One door closed means another door will open and you will find the right fit for you. It’s a learning experience and every meeting or opportunity will bring you one step closer to your true path. Good luck!