There are few things that are more exciting than graduating college. Well, except maybe Superbowl Sunday or free chicken mini days at Chick-fil-a.
As exciting as these events can be, true reality will eventually hit you in the face. For me, that happened about 2 months after graduation when I STILL didn’t have a real, full-time job and re-runs of ‘Rob and Big’ just weren’t enough to console me any longer.
Why don’t recruiters call me back? How am I supposed to gain experience if no one will hire me? Well, I’m here to tell you that you’re not the only one with questions like these.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor just released their Jobs numbers for July. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to lighten the load with these stats, so I’m just going to get down to it. US unemployment rate went up to 4.9 percent. The number of unemployed persons increased to 7.8 million total. While these numbers are depressing, it makes sense, as a stream of people entered into the labor force this summer. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) projects that over 1.8 million students will graduate college in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree.
Dry numbers aside, that’s a lot of competition. However, there are 4 things all recent grads and entry level employees can do to get a head start. And I suggest you get started right away.
You may think this is the most smack-me-in-the-forehead-and-say-duh! action point, but you should have a resume by the middle of your senior year, at the latest. Use it to detail your previous work experience, relevant college coursework, internships, and clubs and associations you actively participate in. It should be formatted nicely and written with the appropriate grammar rules in mind.
The job search process goes much smoother if you have a resume already created. Once you are confident in your resume, upload it to job boards like Indeed, Monster, or Freelancer (for all my creatives out there) to help expand your reach in the job market. Have I mentioned that almost every job application now requires uploading a resume for it to be received?
Also, you never know when friends or family members will ask you to send them your resume to “see what they can do.” (Score!)
If you’re not on LinkedIn, your chances of finding a job decrease dramatically. A staggering number of recruiters and HR professionals use LinkedIn as an initial screening tool for their open positions, checking to see if you are, not only qualified professionally, but if you would, personally and emotionally fit, with the job.
The “Volunteer”, “Interests”, and “Groups” sections on your profile are there for your benefit- it allows you rooms to demonstrate that you are more than just work experience and degrees! Try joining groups that are relevant to your career field, as well. For example, I belong to the North Carolina Career Development Association and they often post about trending topics in the industry.
Lastly, adding an engaging summary statement and professional looking picture (no selfies) can go a long way in making a good first impression.
Using and navigating social media effectively can help you connect with companies you want to work for. Make a list of 10 companies that interest you, and follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Twitter is a great place to interact with current employees as many often post about company breakthroughs, success stories, and even open positions. You are able to see how they interact with other people and what missions they value.
Once you’ve accurately pinpointed their culture as a whole, use it to your advantage when it comes time to apply and interview with said company. But first, clean up all of your social media profiles. Those pictures of the homecoming after party are not welcome.
This will take the most effort, but yield the most opportunities for success. If you’re like me, you passed on the internship opportunity Junior year for an unrelated, but paid part-time job on campus. (Big mistake!) Taking an internship, even as an entry level employee, can serve as valuable experience and provide the opportunity to make connections. Shadowing an experienced therapist or financial advisor for a day or two is also extremely relevant, as most professionals are more than willing to help a motivated up-and-comer!
If you can afford to take the time and potential expenses, attend a conference because they look AWESOME on a resume. Her Campus holds multiple conferences a year, all aimed at connecting the next generation of journalists and marketing mavens! Finding similar events in your own field can pay off big time.
If these suggestions seem obvious, they’re not. In fact, I wouldn’t have a job if they were. Invest some time in crafting your professional identity, and it will skyrocket you ahead of the competition.
Does all this career talk make your head spin? Let us help you! LaunchPoint Resume uses a template to create resumes from scratch. Need some advice on establishing your brand on LinkedIn and other social media sites? Check out our strategy services here.
What are you doing to launch your career this year? Let me know in the comments!
Lauren is the brains behind CaPABLE…and Beyond, founder of LaunchPoint Resume, Cerebral Palsy have-er, and constant chaser of the ‘good life’. Money and Career writer at The Cheat Sheet and occasional freelancer for career, money, and organizational development topics.
Interviews can be stressful, even for seasoned career vets. This in-person meeting is…
This article is for anyone looking to crush it, kill it, and straight-up…