Job-hunting tips for a recent grad

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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 psinacole@firstbeacongroup.com.

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.

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