Though you may have been able to follow a clearly defined path towards graduation throughout your college experience, at a certain point, that path ends, and another begins. As you finish your degree, the time comes to embark on the search to find your first job. This can be intimidating, but a basic knowledge of some of the best practices for first-time job seekers can make the initial search much smoother. Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you prepare for finding your first job after college.
Perfect Your Application Tools
It can be helpful to hone a variety of different skills that can make the application process smoother while simultaneously increasing your chances of landing a job.
One critical element of the modern recruiting landscape is a solid, polished online presence. Ideally, this is something you should be working on far in advance of your first application via cultivating a positive, professional manner throughout all of your social media interactions. Past behaviors, comments, and attitudes can all haunt candidates as recruiters scour their online profiles to learn more about them.
Even if you haven’t taken the time to do so yet, it is never too late to start cleaning up one’s online presence. Make sure to clean up your typical social media profiles and take time to create a fully filled-out LinkedIn profile to facilitate your communication with other professionals in your field as well as potential workplace recruiters.
It’s also crucial to prepare your resume ahead of time. While you may not have a plethora of past experiences to populate it with, a well-thought-out resume that properly represents your professional and academic experience and any other relevant skills are important.
When you apply, ensure that every application is uniquely crafted for the position you’re applying for.
Network, Network, Network
Whether you’re an industry leader with a dozen years of experience or a fledgling college graduate, the power of networking cannot be underestimated. While readers of this article will likely still be in the early stages of their careers, it is still absolutely worth the time to invest in networking with professionals within your industry. Great avenues for networking include attending professional organization meetings for those in your field and reaching out to a potential mentor on social media. Whatever avenue you choose, finding ways to network is an excellent way to quickly increase your chances of finding a job.
Use the Resources You Have Available
College graduates typically have various resources available to aid them in their search for employment. If your institution has a good alumni network, it can be beneficial to tap into it. Another option is to take advantage of your school’s career center and meet with a career counselor to discuss ways to go about your job search. This can help refine your search, perfect your resume, and help to work through any other questions you might have.
Making It Through the Interview
There’s nothing more exciting (or nerve-wracking) than getting your first interview. Naturally, you’re going to want to do everything you can to prove you’re the best candidate for the job. Here are a few tips for successful interviews:
First and foremost, you need to dress the part. Even if the job you applied for has a casual dress code (or you’ll be working from home in your pajamas), you must dress professionally for your interview. First impressions are everything!
Second, it’s always good to practice your answers to common interview questions. You don’t want to find yourself tongue-tied or coming up blank when potential employers ask questions you should have expected. It’s practically inevitable that you’ll be asked the old chestnut “Tell me about yourself,” so be ready with a professional, authentic answer.
Finally, whatever you do, don’t speak negatively about your previous employers. Prospective employers will think you aren’t capable of resolving problems with your managers through negotiation and diplomacy. You may be perceived as a gossip, complainer, or simply unprofessional. If you’re asked why you left previous jobs, have constructive answers that don’t put the blame on a specific person (i.e., “there was no room for advancement.”)
Accepting a Job
Once you begin to hear back from recruiters, you’re going to want to prepare for job offers that could follow. If you decide to accept a job, be thoughtful and respectful in your acceptance to maintain a professional demeanor as you prepare to join the ranks of your new employer.
Typically, a job will first be offered over the phone or in person. If you accept, a formal job offer letter will follow. Don’t be afraid to ask if you need time to consider the offer. In fact, rushing to accept a job can often be a mistake. Just make sure your request for time is made respectfully. Once accepted, make sure you understand when you are to begin working. The one thing you should absolutely avoid doing at this point is negotiating over the salary. This should be done earlier in the process and can appear dishonest if done after an offer has been made.
As a final note, once you receive the formal job offer letter itself, make sure to respond appropriately in turn. There is more than one way to accept a job offer, and you’ll likely accept the offer initially over the phone. However, whether you accepted on the phone or asked for additional time to make your choice, once you have reached a conclusion, it is essential to confirm your acceptance of the job offer in writing. An official job offer thank you letter typically reiterates the primary details of the offer, the start date, and a personal acknowledgment of your interest or excitement in starting at the company.
Confidence is Key
If you take the time to prepare for your job search, you are much more likely to find success quickly. Not only that, but a professional approach to your search and a polished, pulled-together demeanor as you go through the hiring process will enable you to start your new job with confidence and likely create an added level of respect from your new employer as well.
BIO: Sam Bowman has a passion for learning. As a seasoned professional writer, he specializes in topics about people, education, tech, and how they merge. He likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore in his spare time.