Hiring managers offer 11 tips for new college grads

Posted January 05, 2016 by

Throughout January 2016, College Recruiter is publishing content designed to help college students seeking entry-level jobs upon graduation or summer internships. Learn more about January’s focus by checking out “Connecting the dots: Creating a 2016 career action plan.

Guest articles published in January cover different topics to help students who are about to graduate and search for their first full-time jobs or who are looking to secure summer internships.

julie ellis

Julie Ellis

This is the big one. As a new or soon-to-be grad, or even someone looking at graduation in a year, you are about to embark upon the real thing – finding a “real” job in a “real” career field. You haven’t done this before, but that should not frighten you. College has been full of new experiences, and you did just fine. Look upon this whole process as an exciting adventure that you will prepare well for. And that’s the key – getting prepared. To do that, you might want to consider what actual hiring managers say you need to do to obtain interviews and ultimately land the job. Here are 11 tips straight from their mouths, so listen up.

Before you send out that first resume – 5 tips

1. Clean up social media accounts

Set privacy settings and take down any compromising photos. Even if others tell you it won’t matter much, it really will. Can you imagine a bank hiring someone with a picture on the beach with a beer in one hand and a joint in the other? Can you imagine an organization employing someone whose language is really foul on his/her posts? Getting social media accounts cleaned up should be job seekers’ first step.

2. Get a LinkedIn profile and start filling it with good stuff

Many students don’t think a LinkedIn profile is necessary until after they have their first positions. This is absolutely false – in fact, LinkedIn has an entire section on its site dedicated to helping college students and new grads develop LinkedIn profiles.

Are you in campus organizations worth mentioning? Have you held any leadership positions? Do you engage in volunteer work? Keep adding to that profile. There are also groups on LinkedIn to join related to your career field. Do this and become an active participant in discussions.

3. Put together a portfolio

This may never be needed, but it just might be the “tipping” point. And if you have it digitized, link to it in your resume. While the portfolio does not substitute for your resume, it highlights accomplishments and achievements in your chosen career field. It organizes your best work and is specific proof of your abilities. An employer interested in you may very well access your portfolio and learn more information than your resume can include. And, as a New York Times article states, potential employers will hunt for you on Google – having an e-portfolio out there is a great thing.

4. Get a decent email username

Set up an email account solely for your job search. That way you don’t have to put “drinkingmanfool@……” on your resume. Get a conservative username which relates to your legal name. Here are some tips for creating a professional email address.

5. Do a SWOT analysis

SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, you have had or currently have for personal or career growth, and threats – anything which could likely stand in the way of getting a job in your career (sometimes it’s just the job market itself). Doing a SWOT analysis allows you to reflect and be better prepared to decide where you are going to send that resume and to answer those interview questions honestly. Chad Brooks, senior writer for Business News Daily had this to say about SWOT analyses, “Whether you are starting your business life or changing careers, making an informed decision about where best to apply your talents is a challenge for even the most self-aware. But a personal SWOT analysis can help you determine where your particular skills are most likely to find success in the professional world.His article includes quotes from other professionals in career planning fields who point to the many benefits of such an analysis.

When the search begins

6. Customize cover letters and resumes

Most first-time job seekers don’t realize the importance of cover letters. Every organization and every job description is different. If you don’t craft a cover letter that speaks to that description and has a style in keeping with the organizational “culture,” you are done with that company. Likewise the resume has to be customized too. It needs to highlight the skills and background that directly relate to the position and move other skills, etc., in the “back seat,” no matter how proud you may be of them. So craft a cover letter that sells you as a good candidate and follow it with a resume that really pops.

7. Handle the issue of no experience

Sometimes a job posting may say entry-level, but then it asks for 1-2 years’ experience. You don’t have it, but you may be able to get around it a bit.

• If you have had other significant non-employment positions or activities in which the skills may relate even indirectly, list it on your resume.
• If you have had an internship or have volunteered for an organization that is even indirectly related to the job description, include it.

LiveCareer.com summarizes advice from professional resume writers regarding how to handle having no experience on a resume.

8. Prepare for every interview

There will be standard questions for all interviews such as, “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” This doesn’t mean that you spend the next 20 minutes from birth to now. It means focusing on highlights of your life, education, and goals. Practice this with someone – a lot. You need to able to “roll” this off really well without it looking rehearsed – channel the actor in you.

There will be skills in the job description that are a perfect fit for you. There may be others that are not. Don’t try to wing it, and don’t try to “bluff” your way through. Be honest, but have a plan to acquire these skills. There are effective ways to handle that honesty in a cover letter as well.

9. Telephone interviews are really important

Don’t blow these off. Conduct research on the company before you write your cover letter and resume. Review that research. Sound enthusiastic and upbeat and think for just a few seconds before you answer. Read these tips from Midland Consultants for handling a phone interview.

10. The interview is a mutual process

Don’t forget the hiring manager is watching you, but you need to watch the company too. If you cannot find something about the position that excites you, if the “culture” is not a fit, or if you feel the position is just too easy (you’ll get bored) or just too beyond your skills right now, then walk away. You’ll be miserable if you take the job.

11. Be patient and ready to compromise

It’s rare that a student obtains his/her dream job right after graduation. Figure out what you will settle for or if you will settle at all. If you’re considering taking a job that is beneath your education and training in an organization that has positions currently filled that better meets your goals, take the job and get yourself in the door by being the best employee you can be.

About the author: Julie Ellis – experienced recruiter, marketer and passionate traveler.

Follow Julie’s Twitter and Google+ to learn more about personal development and the recruiting process.

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