It’s that time of year again: graduation. And while many offer advice to recent grads on life, simple steps for attaining a job can sometimes be the most helpful. Here is some advice for college graduates:
1. Inventory the skills you can sell to a potential employer
Evaluate all the work—part-time, full-time, and volunteer—that you have accomplished over the last four years. Volunteering and fundraising for a charity demonstrates that you have business development skills. Paying for college on your own means you have ambition and motivation. Being an RA (Resident Assistant) at college shows that you know how to manage people, are trustworthy, and reliable.
2. Be able to communicate your passion
Know who you are and why you have chosen your path, and craft that into your ‘career story.’ If you have known since you were a child that you had the desire to help others, and can site valid volunteer or employment history, a potential employer in charity or nonprofit will recognize your aspirations and abilities.
3. Itemize your competitive advantages as a recent graduate
Your adeptness with social media.
Your hunger to work hard to make a difference.
Your willingness to be flexible and learn on the job.
4. Network with people you know
In this economy, word of mouth advertising is incredibly helpful. Let your family friends, professors, and relatives know the kind of job you’re looking for, what your contributory skills are, and why you’re excited to do that kind of work. Ask them if they know people you can talk to.
5. Tap into your university alumni base
Alumni enjoy assisting recent grads, especially if you have practical skills and are willing to pay your dues. Gather your list from tips one and two above and email alums to ask for a discussion about their careers. Don’t come out and directly ask for a job at the start, learn about them, talk about your interests, and opportunities may develop.
6. Stay focused and have a thick skin
You may get more no’s, but if you stay true to your goals, keep trying, and get feedback along the way, a job opportunity will likely show up. You can’t wait for a job to land on your lap, you must hit the pavement and persist to win.
7. Be willing to start at a lower level but be clear about skills you’ll gain
Perhaps you’ll need to “settle” for a job that isn’t your ideal. If it can provide skills that you can leverage for future career growth, go for it. After one to two years, with some proven experience, you can transition to a higher level job.
8. Stay positive about yourself and your capabilities
In a rebounding economy, it may be disheartening for new college graduates to apply and interview for many jobs that may never materialize. Remember to look at the big picture. Life is a long journey and you will land a job. At the same time that you plow forward and persistent look for a job, remember your talents (perhaps review a letter of recommendation) and importantly, remember to take care of yourself and focus on moving forward on a positive path.
Judy Shen-Filerman is the principal and founder of Dreambridge Partners with expertise in advising individuals how to navigate American corporate culture. Her firm specializes in communications and leadership development for newcomers to American corporate culture, ranging from women and minorities to non-Americans.