Q: I am a recent college grad. My parents insist that I have a job by July 1. What are your best job hunting suggestions for a recent college grad?
A: Congratulations! How wonderful that you recently graduated from college. First, you should know that not everyone in the workforce holds an undergraduate degree. Just under 40% of workers in the US hold an undergraduate degree. College graduates typically earn more than high school graduates too, according to data compiled by the Economic Policy Institute. How much more do they earn? More than 56% compared to high school grads. There are other differences too: college grads are more commonly 401(k) participants, they’re more likely to own a home and more likely to be employed.
Speaking of employed, let me offer you some suggestions on how to land your first job as a new graduate.
- Start now if you haven’t already. As a graduating senior, hopefully you have begun building your network already. Campus clubs, networking with faculty members, summer jobs and holding leadership roles within campus organizations are all steps to building a vibrant network. Internships and summer jobs are key. These relationships are important. If you have held a few jobs, you likely have had some good interview experience. Your full-time job should be job hunting. Set your alarm. Get dressed and be ready to go by 9:00am.
- Critique your social media presence. Does it reflect positively on you or does it feel like you are still an undergrad who might like to sleep late and wear wrinkled cargo shorts or a favorite pair of gym shorts?
- Get active on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is key to opening doors and building relationships. It doesn’t replace professional face-to-face networking but it will give you some insight as to who is hiring. You can follow companies, people and apply for jobs on LinkedIn. You can also join groups on LinkedIn. My personal goal is to add 3 to 5 new contacts every week. Set a goal for yourself. Now and for the future.
- Thank-you notes. Send them. After every interaction – whether you meet someone for coffee, participate in a phone interview or land a face-to-face interview. An emailed thank-you note is fine. I suggest sending it within 24 hours.
- Research the company before you interview (whether face-to-face) or via phone. Know what they do. Know who their competitors are. Read a bit about their leadership team.
- Ask questions. I am still stunned that many candidates don’t ask questions during the selection process. Ask about the hiring process. Ask about the culture. Ask about the leadership team. Ask about what they make or what they do. Ask almost anything! It shows genuine interest in the company!
- Don’t complain or whine. Negativity is a turn-off. We all have had horrible bosses, co-workers and professors. This is not the time to list them!
- Make sure that your resume is scannable (no fancy fonts or logos). Have someone else proof your resume. Typos are not acceptable.
- Use online resources like Glassdoor. Glassdoor can give you some good info about the interview process, the culture and what employees like and dislike about the company.
- Be gracious. Even when you may be turned down, be gracious.
Good luck. You are entering the professional workforce in a strong economy!
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.