So, you just graduated from college. What are you going to do next?
a. Go to the beach?
b. Sleep for the next month?
c. How about looking for a job?
For thousands of recent college graduates, choice “C” is exactly what they are about to do. The task of finding a job can be a long and frustrating process, so here are some tips graduates can use to make their search a little less painful.
Start Early. “It’s never too early to start looking for a job,” says Laura Yu, a career counselor at Virginia Tech University. “I usually recommend that students start looking the summer before their senior year.”
Decide what you want. Before students start handing out résumés, they first need to figure out what kind of job they want and how much companies offer for those positions. Whether it is location, salary, or a flexible schedule, job searchers need to make a list of what they want and then evaluate jobs according to their list. Once students know what type of job they’re looking for, have researched companies and updated their résumés, they are ready to begin their job hunt.
“The number one best way of finding a job is through networking,” says Yu. “A recent survey conducted at Virginia Tech revealed that 40 percent of recent graduates found their current job through networking. It really does work.”
The best ways to do this are by talking to people who are currently working in the field that students want to enter, and by gaining experience through internships. Students need to make a list of everyone they know who can help them out and put in a good word for them. The list should include parents, friends, previous employers, and professors. Anyone who might have a possible job lead or know someone who can help should be on the list.
Another popular method is looking on-line for jobs. Websites such as Monster.com, HotJobs, and CareerBuilder, are just a few of the online services that post job openings.
“Searching online gives me access to an array of job postings that I would otherwise miss if I were just looking through the newspaper,” says Prianka Nandy, a recent Virginia Tech graduate. “It’s also something I can do anywhere and anytime.”
While online searching is convenient, it isn’t always the best method to use. Virginia Tech’s career survey found that only 9.5 percent of students discovered their jobs through the Internet. However, job search engines are a great way to research companies and learn about the types of positions they typically hire.
Students should take advantage of their school’s career center. “Most colleges offer some kind of program to help students prepare for their job search,” says Yu. “Students really need to educate themselves about what types of resources are available at their school and take advantage of them.”
Many schools also offer on-campus interviewing, where companies come to campuses and interview students for current job openings. Events such as career fairs are also excellent opportunities for students to meet with employers and to hand out résumés.
Be prepared. Job hunters need to be sure to have a neat, typo-free, and updated résumé to handout to employers. Before going to interviews students should research the company and be prepared to ask intelligent and well thought out questions and give well thought out answers. Whenever possible, draw on an experiences you’ve had to answer the question.
“Experience is key when it comes to looking for a job,” says Yu. “Employers want people who have previously worked in a professional setting and who know what they are doing.”
Try everything. Job seekers must not limit themselves to just one search method. Instead, they should use a variety of strategies and be sure to utilize all of the resources available to them.
“Using only one method will limit [students] options and they might miss out on something,” advised Yu.
Don’t wait for jobs to fall in your lap; make the first move. Job candidates should never be afraid to make the initial contact with employers.
Once a student identifies a prospective employer, they should go ahead and send their résumé to the company even if there are no current openings. Just because a company isn’t hiring at that time, doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future.
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