Posted August 21, 2014 by

5 Ways To Improve Your Post-Grad Job Search

Female university graduate looking back at graduation ceremony

Female university graduate looking back at graduation ceremony. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

The months proceeding graduation are nerve-wracking for any student. How to land that first real job is a feat made ever more imposing by the arrival of student loan bills. Maybe your parents begin reminding you that your education was an investment, and now it’s time that it pays off. So what do you do? Some resort to sending out thousands of resumes, or cold calling businesses for open positions. To avoid moving back in with your parents, or settling into the title of baccalaureate barista, here are some tips to make your post-grad job search a success.

1. Have coffee with every adult you know.

You never know when a conversation with an old friend can lead you to a new opportunity. Networking with other professionals in and out of your field is essential. Try going to an alumni conference. Ask your older friends and family what their first job out of college was like. You’ll make industry contacts, and maybe even hear a good story.

2. Apply to jobs outside your comfort zone.

Sometimes you’re more qualified than you think for that job posting that sounds too good to be true. Even if a position is outside your usual field or level of experience, it never hurts to apply. Consider the position in terms of the skills required. Compare these to your own skill set. Ask yourself, could you do the job? Are you willing to learn new skills? Is this the career path for you? Be confident and broaden your horizons.

3. Create a spreadsheet of your current job applications.

Organization always pays off. It’s sometimes difficult to remember how many resumes you have floating around out there, especially in the post graduate frenzy. Try opening an Excel sheet to keep track of which companies you applied to and when. This way, you don’t risk a repeat application. Keep in mind the deadlines that are specific to positions in your industry. Does the company you want to work for usually hire in the spring? By keeping a spreadsheet, you can compare application deadlines. You can also note the amount of time that has passed since the date of your application, and judge whether it’s appropriate to follow-up. When looking to put your foot in the door, timing can be everything.

4. Follow-up on past applications.

During the job hunt, it’s important to be persistent.  Whether you’ve met an employer at a job fair, networked through a relative, or only spoken over the phone, it’s always appropriate to send a thank you note or email. If a prospective employer has asked you for further information, be sure to supply it. Do so within a business day, or they may move on to consider another candidate. Employers want to see that you are motivated. When you haven’t heard back from a prospective employer, sometimes a quick email makes the difference between your resume collecting dust at the bottom of a stack, and making that lasting impression.

5. Make a new resume, and practice filling out job applications.

Having a rock solid resume is vital to landing interviews. There are so many variations in resume styles, it may be difficult to find the right one. You may be bombarded with friends, family, or previous professors who think their way of formatting a resume is the best. Think about what kind of information you want to showcase. Do you have a lot of qualifications, but not much applicable work experience? Make the skills section the most prominent. How do other professionals in your specific industry tend to format their resumes? A quick Google image search can give you material to emulate. Consider what experiences and skills job applications that you’ve filled out in the past have stressed. Online templates can also help you practice writing good answers to common application questions. Once you have your resume prepared, remember to update it frequently to reflect new experience and achievements, even when you aren’t actively seeking a job.

The most important thing to remember, however, is not to panic. You’ve made it this far. Unemployment is down, especially for college-educated persons. Keep your head up and watch out for opportunities. Landing that first job may take a few months, but stay organized and keep at it. That entry-level position likely won’t be your dream job, but it will set you on the path to reaching your goals. At least, it will keep you from waiting tables at the snack shack, or spending a little too much quality time with the folks.

About the Author: Jamie Smith is an Associate Manager for formswift.com. FormSwift allows users to easily create legal documents online.

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