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Janice Bryant Howroyd Headshot

New Graduates: Matching the Reality of Finding a Job to Your Dream of Starting a Career

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Graduation season is here, and many new resumes are being dumped onto job sites and employment offices! Thousands are joining the millions of already existing folks looking for work - jobs and careers. What will make one person's search more successful than the other....What does the new kid on the block need to know?

Here are some of the most effective tips to employ in today's job search:

1. Do Your Homework! You may have graduated with honors, but the real research begins now. Invest everything you have available into studying your opportunities. Search prospective company websites, and do google alerts to learn what they aren't saying about themselves. Even the best companies won't always keep the most current news about them posted. Begin paying attention to early morning business shows that highlight company performance, and read local information to know what's going on in the market you are looking to work in.

Once you know all you can about the company(ies) you're interested in, remember to tailor your resume, truthfully, to each company. It may require a little more effort on your part, but it will really pay off in how you are perceived by the people who read it.

2. Ask Somebody! Everyone you know above the age of 21 knows someone who knows someone who works in a company you want to be employed by. Work EVERY contact you have, and stay constant in your follow through. Don't be shy about checking in every day with contacts you've made!

Throughout life, WHO you know is of value, so ask parent's friends, people you-and/or your family have been loyal customers to, organization members and people at your place of worship. Personal referrals remain one of the strongest door openers to employment opportunities, so Ask Somebody!

3. Think Small! Many graduating students are most often aware only of large company names, as they have strong brand identity. However, it is the small and mid sized companies that are doing the most hiring right now. Target these companies ambitiously; their human resources departments or hiring managers often are more available to see you themselves, if your resume or referral is strong. They make hiring decisions more quickly than larger companies, and offer good career growth opportunities.

Note: If you can afford it, offer to intern in one of these companies once you ascertain that you would like to work there. If you're told no internship program is in place, create one and present yourself as the fit. Over the last month, I have witnessed sixteen people in one community who went on to gain full time employment as a result of offering to intern in environments they really wanted to work in. Imagine what can happen for you in your community, if you do your homework, go in with strong referrals, ask for the opportunity and create your own job. Even if you will need to work temporary assignments to earn money while you learn in a non-paying intern position, you will be gaining great experience as well as windows for full time opportunity.

4. Follow Every Lead! The time you invest in one interview can, and should, lead you to the next one. If you're conducting your own job search, be bold to ask about other opportunities in the company, and for an interview referral to explore it. Make yourself known as a 'company fit', not just a 'department fit'.

In today's work culture, employees are highly valued when they have mobile skills and attitudes. Fresh out of school, you are expected to bring new, creative thought to your hiring company, regardless of where you start out working. Make yourself known right away as someone who has done homework on the company and is passionate about working there, not just getting a job.

5. Work Your Network! If you haven't joined the alumni organization at your school yet...make sure you do right now! Alumni organizations offer strong referral and reference support. Go to all your school's alumni mixers and locate all the active alumni in your area. They well may introduce you to job openings in their companies, and can be a great reference once you get to know them well.

Alumni networks also post job chats and hiring information. Don't think of your alumni organization as a social connection to what is about to become your past...Think of it as a professional connection to your future!

6. Every Career Begins with a Job! Don't rule out any job offering that is legal and meets your basic criteria. Every day I learn of more and more people who have reached the top of their careers by starting at the bottom. And, they often list that as one of the best reasons they grew in a company or industry.

This is particularly important for you to consider if you have identified, or get offered, an opportunity in a company you really like. Starting lower on the job ladder in a great company often proves more valuable financially in the long term, and career growth wise, than taking the extra pay at a company that you don't really like as much. Remember, also, to weigh the cost of an extra starting salary to the cost of showing up...distance/travel costs, etc.

7. Job Fairs! Most universities and colleges host job fairs during these seasons...Remember also that industries and companies host them, too. These are terrific! places to meet new opportunities without the investment of travel necessary to go company to company, location to location.

Companies have made a significant investment once their banners and recruiters show up at job fairs. They are serious about finding talented, passionate people. They can create immediate offers for the right person, so job fairs are the perfect place to make sure you bring those personalized resumes to the companies you have already researched and know will be present. One more thing: Electronic resumes can be a wonderful offer that sets you apart...as recruiters have so much information to handle. A quick email with your name, job fair or meeting info in the subject line, can be a breath of fresh air and opportunity to the heavily burdened recruiter who is already ladened with company literature and other paper resumes.

This is also a good way to make sure your resume is available to the recruiters who return to their companies and later identify opportunities!

8. Double Dip! Finding work is not a piece of cake. If you are not the successful candidate on a particular hire, be bold about presenting yourself forward for other opportunities and ask for the chance. Also ask to debrief on what you did, or did not, present that lost you the opportunity. Be open to learn where you need to make corrections, and don't let pride keep you from asking for a solid evaluation of what the company saw, or did not see, in you.

Showing you are serious about working at a particular company and open to knowing what is important to be successful there is going to set you apart...and will guarantee that you are remembered for the next available opening that matches your skills. Whether you get the job offer, or not, send a thank you note! Someone's time and attention was invested in your search, and the note you send may remind them of what they liked most about you as new opportunities arise.

9. Part Time! Many new job seekers are anxious to get the full time offer; however, part time work in the right environment is often the best opportunity to be seen as a solid value to the company.

This is particularly valuable if you can get a part time work offer in a small or mid sized, growing company. AND, you learn so much that helps you to identify the right opening(s) for yourself, as they occur. Part time work is exciting, too, in that you can work in more than one company and double down on your experience and new hire opportunities.

10. Temp to Full Time! Every community with a decent number of employers has at least one staffing company. This is where I consider you should make your first step on the ladder of your job search. Staffing companies have proven, trusted track records with the employers in their markets, and they can get you in front of the opportunities that you want.

Many of the companies they work with look to hire temporary staff as a permanent part of their workforce, and that temporary staff is where they first look to fill full time positions as they open up. There is even a terminology in the human resources world known as 'temp to full time'. Ask about this as a preferred option for work, if you are ambitious about a particular company, or if you want to 'learn on the job'.

Regardless, temporary work is ideal to meet lots of connections and gain valuable experience. Signing up with a great temporary staffing company can be the best decision you make toward gaining your permanent career solution!