Q: I am a recent college graduate and have been on a contract assignment since April, 2021. My parents are pushing me to “get a real job.” I like my contract work but I am sort of ashamed that I haven’t landed a real full-time job like my peers, other 2021 grads. Can you share recommendations? My confidence is suffering. My parents follow this column and we agreed we would review and consider.
A: First, there is nothing typical, normal or ordinary about 2021. Let’s start with some positives. Congratulations on earning a college degree! And kudos on landing a job that you seem to enjoy. Both are achievements! A contract assignment is often an effective way for both a job seeker and an employer to “test the waters”. By that I mean you are learning about their culture, expectations, work environment all while receiving valuable “on the job” training and experience. This employer is also learning about you — your skill set, work habits and your potential value if you are hired as a full-time employee. Contract assignments can often lead to full-time offers! A contract role is not something to be ashamed of. In fact, you should be explaining to prospective employers that although you are a job seeker, you are actively employed!
- Let me share a list of actionable steps that should be part of your job search. Network, network, network. Maintain a strong and vibrant network of contacts. They may be former classmates, professors, co-workers, neighbors or friends. Networking is simply the most powerful job-hunting tool available and almost completely in your control.
- LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn to help you more effectively network. Develop a robust profile and get active. Join sub-groups related to your career and interests. LinkedIn is not a substitute for networking. Instead, it should complement and target your networking efforts.
- Use job boards but don’t focus 100% of your time on job boards.
- Use your career services office from your college or university. Join an alumni group.
- Develop an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a two-minute summary of who you are, what you want to do and what your next role might look like.
- Never say no to an introduction. You never know where a job lead may come from. It may be from a former college professor, a neighbor or a cousin.
- Be gracious and courteous. Always thank those that have given you their time, feedback or a referral.
- Make sure that your resume is crisp, professional, error-free and in a reader-friendly font.
- Lastly, if you are a top contender for an opportunity, think about submitting a 30-60-90-day plan. This plan should articulate what you hope to accomplish in your first 90 days on the job. This demonstrates a focus, a level of interest and a focus that may differentiate you from your competition. Email me and I can provide a sample. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope these steps are helpful. Good luck with your search.
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.