Graduation? Check! Job? Nope! CM’s Master Guide to Getting a Job

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When you’re a senior, the million dollar question everyone asks is “What are you doing after graduation?” Of course, you have no idea. Turns out the sooner you start the dreaded job search the better because the process is long and grueling. Get ready for (even more) strenuous hours staring at your computer screen and banging your head against your keyboard. Landing a job straight out of college requires preparation before you even start sending in applications. So, start six months in advance. Or maybe just start now.

Before You Start…

Get Your Ducks in a Row

Throughout college, you’ve accumulated a lot of ducks. Part-time jobs, extracurricular activities, class projects, internships, leadership opportunities, etc. Before you begin your job hunting spree (no, you won’t be hunting ducks), stick your head into your college’s career center and discuss with an advisor what your next steps should be to find a job. Talk about how you should format your resume and make it spick and span. If applicable, create an online portfolio to demonstrate your best work. The more you prepare for the application process, the better your lake is going to look.

Level Your Expectations With Reality

You just graduated and you feel like a big adult now. Technically, yes, you’re an adult, but most of the world still sees you as a baby who just entered the workforce. Don’t fret; you’ll be at everyone else’s level in no time. To be at any level, be open to start anywhere. If you expect to become a copyeditor (with limited experience) or an assistant principal, when the last time you were in an elementary school was when you still used a cubby, then it’s time to think a little smaller. It’s inevitable that you may not get your dream job right off the bat, but entry-level positions will help you become the principal you’ve always dreamed of being.

Reconnect With Old Flings

No, don’t go back to your ex. Instead, rekindle your friendship with your old high school buddy who just landed a job balancing budgets for a local government. Maybe you can be the Ben Wyatt to his Christ Traeger (one can dream). Even if he doesn’t need an “all work and no play” partner, he will definitely have the inside scoop about any job openings and can put in a good word for you. Your past employers can be your best friend too, but only if they agree to write you a letter of recommendation. Remind them how great you were at stocking shelves or creating spreadsheets—maybe leave out how you took long lunches though.

When Should I Start Job Searching?

As simple as this questions seems (considering you’ve been asking yourself this for months), it’s more complicated than writing a specific start date in your iPhone calendar. Your timeline shouldn’t be what’s convenient for you, but what’s most convenient for your industry. If you love money crunching and creating budgets, then send in your resume ASAP because the finance industry is flooded with early recruiters. They even recruit in the early fall because they have extensive training programs. Yikes! On the other hand, smaller publishing companies, news outlets or advertising agencies tend to recruit in the spring. Don’t hesitate to start everything early, from finding internships to sending out resumes and cover letters. Everything you do in college is preparing you for this job search. Except that keg stand, obviously.

How Do I Network With The Right People?

Making yourself known in your field of expertise is probably the most difficult aspect of finding a job after you toss your grad cap, but you can easily combat anonymity. Every workforce has its niche, so if you’re a writer feel free to browse blogs, connect with bloggers online, attend public poetry or literature readings—ya know, typical hipster stuff. If you search high and low on the Internet to find the “right” (more like “powerful”) people to network with, like individuals who can give you a spot at a law firm, you may be looking for the wrong person. Anyone who recruits receives emails and LinkedIn requests all the time, so their inboxes may be way too flooded to get back to you. Seek out those who know your industry and can give you pointers on who’s hiring and how to increase your visibility. Sometimes the most influential people aren’t the bosses, but the people who actually have a boss.

How Do I Make My Resume Stand Out?

When you print your resume, all you see is an overwhelming clusterf*ck. Chances are you will need to cut a lot of excessive descriptions and outdated information (please don’t include where you attended high school) to catch employers’ eyes. A resume that stands out includes clear and concise bullet points using strong words to briefly explain work experience. Oh, the places you will go if you incorporate words like “led,” “executed” and “streamlined.” Even though content gets you hired, your resume’s design gets you noticed. Most employers are drawn to layouts that have a simple, clean design so they can easily scan it and look for keywords. Forget about what your high school yearbook teacher taught you, white space is your friend.

I Suck at Interviews—How Should I Prepare?

If you’re an interviewee with clammy hands and a shaky voice come interview time, you’re not alone. When the time comes to getting ready for a job interview, there are countless methods to look your best, feel confident and ace first impressions. You want your shiny exterior to reflect your sparkling interior, so run to the dry cleaners (or wherever adults get their nice clothes polished) and get your suit or pencil skirt cleaned, pressed and tailored. While you’re at it, run to a Kinkos and print out multiple copies of your resume; you’ll never know how many people will be putting you in the hot seat. Maybe you’ll run into a powerful exec in the elevator—who knows! A good rule of thumb is to also anticipate possible questions and know how to answer them. Heck, rehearse them like you did for presentations in speech class (you know you learned a lot from them).

What If I Don’t Have Any Experience?

On every job listing, you see the downer of all sentences: “Must have two to three years’ experience.” You’re probably thinking, “I’m fresh out of college, how am I supposed to gain experience if you don’t hire me?” You can find ways to get around this soul-crushing requirement. First, consider finding an internship before a full-salaried position. Focus on getting your foot in the door and climbing the corporate ladder, rather than being discouraged by high-level job postings. Plus, if you kill it at your internship you’ll have a better chance at getting offered a paid entry-level position. Holla! Also, don’t underestimate the power of a good conversation. We all know that networking is key to success in the workforce, but networking is even more essential if you have no work to show for yourself.

Top 3 Job Finder Sites

1. Indeed.com

  • Indeed includes an advanced and specific search engine for job listings
  • Pulls together information from job boards, the news and company listings
  • Advertises that they get 70 million visitors and 1.5 billion job searches a month

2. Monster.com

  • According to Monster, there are 2,800 jobs viewed every minute on the Monster site
  • Monster posts job listings from overseas like in Europe and Asia
  • Job seekers can upload their resume on their profile (what a way to get noticed!)
  • Publishes helpful articles and tips like how to build your resume and how to write a cover letter

3. Glassdoor.com

  • Glass Door provides salary information of companies based on reports by users
  • Includes reviews written by users about what working for certain companies is like and they give you a heads-up on possible interview questions (Score!)
  • Lets users see if they have any connections to employers through Facebook friends

Top Three Twitter Accounts You Should be Following

1. Wix.com — @Wix

I’m looking at you, bloggers and avid online portfolio creators. Not only does Wix offer a fantastic service of building your own website (and online brand), they also tweet like the creative angels they are. Once you land a job after showing yourself off on your online portfolio with tips you got from Wix’s twitter, make sure you tweet a thank you to them.

2. James Franco — @JamesFrancoTV

Only James Franco can be James Franco, but you can still read some of his thoughts or see what he is doing on the set of a movie in L.A. If there’s anything to learn from Franco’s ex Lana Del Rey, it’s to learn how the person’s life you admire achieved his aspirations and then follow suit. Follow someone in your industry whom you aspire to be life. You can follow your career savvy role model for tips, insight and inspiration into their field of work—you never know what a click of a button could do for your future.

3. LinkedIn.com — @LinkedIn

It seems awful meta to follow a Twitter account of a site that specializes in networking on a social networking site, but going down the rabbit hole is so worth it. LinkedIn tweets inspirational graphics and videos, helpful articles and quick tips with experts like Gwen Stefani and Winston Churchill. Thank you, LinkedIn, for never ceasing to connect us.

Get More Job Hunting Tips From Experts and Students

Your First Job Won’t Be Your Dream Job

Top 10 Linked In Mistakes that Won’t Land You a Job

From Loser to Winner: How to Get the Job the Second Time Around

Allison is a future New Yorker who likes coffee, books and records more than she likes people. She is currently studying Editing, Writing, and Media at Florida State.

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