Essential tips for finding a new job
If you are fresh out of university as a college graduate, you likely do not have a lot of experience job hunting. As a graduate looking for a new job, this page will equip you with proven techniques and ideas to help you get hired.
First and foremost, there is no single route to securing employment. That is the beauty of recruitment – vacancies can arise from many sources. The tips listed in this article are designed to help you look for work in the right places and secure a job that matches your skillsets.
Decide what you want to do for a job
Before you can begin to apply for jobs, you need to know what you want to do. Take some time to visualize your career. Define the qualities in a job that will enhance your work-life balance, including working hours, salary, location and the potential for remote working. Maybe play around with a few career assessment tests to see what careers are recommended for your personality type.
Are you struggling to pinpoint a career path or industry that you are passionate to work in? Finding the perfect fit in your first job out of university is unlikely. Instead, focus on looking at vacancies that give you opportunities to expand your existing skills, learn new ones and offer the conditions that fit your lifestyle.
Prepare tailored resumes and cover letters
Have you been applying for jobs for some time without success? It is probably because you have not been adjusting your resume for each new application.
We asked Ilil Ginsburg, a Senior Recruiter and Career Expert in Silicon Valley, for her opinion on resume preparation. Ginsburg emphasizes the importance of tailoring your resume to illustrate how your experience relates to each specific role. This does not mean rewriting your entire resume, but rather making strategic refinements. Your cover letter should make clear that you have thought deeply about the job you are applying to, and demonstrate your seriousness.
“This should really be small adjustments – you needn’t change all the content in your resume – but finesse the language to highlight how your experience jives with the requirements of the role. It might sound like a painstaking process, but really it takes very little time once you get used to it.”
Cultivate your professional brand
If you want to look employable in the eyes of recruiters and employers, you should focus on building a strong personal brand. This brand is comprised of your professional image, knowledge and expertise.
According to Ginsburg, LinkedIn is an great tool for personal branding. After creating a profile, she recommends highlighting your qualities, experiences and career successes.
“Create your personal brand and let people know you are a professional in your field. Emphasize your experience, your skills – technical leadership (or) whatever is relevant to your career. Mention a few accomplishments, leadership skills if you want to be a manager or technical skills if you wish to be an engineer.”
Other ways to promote your knowledge and develop your professional brand include:
- writing a blog specializing in your area of expertise
- being active on industry-relevant blogs and LinkedIn profiles
- publishing thought leadership content on other websites
- putting your name down to talk at upcoming industry conferences or seminars
Make a list of businesses you would love to work for
It is a good idea to target companies where you would like to be employed. By building a list of employers that appeal to you, you can respond quickly to vacancies by checking their websites regularly.
Your list should include organizations that are the right fit for your skillset and character. Remember that applying to a job that does not feel right to you probably is not worth the time and effort.
Another considerable benefit of creating a list of companies to target for employment is that you can network with existing or former employees of these brands. Build relationships on LinkedIn and other platforms with these individuals. Fostering these kinds of online connections can lead to referrals at your target companies.
Leverage job sites and boards
Job sites and boards are the easiest way to find local openings and remote roles alike. Think of job sites and job boards as the modern day equivalent of classifieds. They gather and publish all available jobs and provide direct links to apply
Some job sites are more niche than others. If you have the ambition to work in a specific industry, be sure to make a list of the best niche job boards and networks in your target industry. Many of these niche job boards will even allow you to create alerts to inform you when new openings are published.
Industry networking opportunities
Ginsburg emphasizes the importance of networking, particularly for those looking for positions at any level.
“Always be up for chatting with people from different companies. This is great to do in person, but you can also do this online.”
Networking happens in several ways, but the most common platforms are online, at job fairs, conferences and seminars, and via your personal network of previous colleagues.
Ginsburg recommends builtinsf.com for applicants looking to connect with tech hubs like New York, Austin and Denver. She also recommends including start-ups in your job search and suggests looking through Venture Loop and Angel List for start-up opportunities.
When you begin networking within your industry online, it’s best to begin with your peers rather than well known thought leaders. Although it is beneficial to keep up with industry influencers, it is more important to follow and interact with acquaintances that you could be working alongside one day.
At the very least, you can use online networking as a chance to make friends and build a network of industry acquaintances that can give you a sense of belonging in your sector.
Job fairs, conferences and seminars
If you want to work in a particular industry, keep abreast of job fairs in these sectors. Alternatively, you can consider visiting more generalized job fairs if you are still unsure of the right career path for you. Fairs are a chance for businesses and organizations to discuss their industries and provide promotional material.
Similarly, those already working in an industry and seeking a promotion or fresh challenge should head to industry conferences and seminars. These are a chance to interact with like-minded professionals and many walk away from these events with new contacts and opportunities.
Former colleagues and contacts
Some companies offer referral bonuses to current employees who recommend new hires to the business. If you have former colleagues or contacts that can put your name forward for upcoming vacancies, it is a win-win scenario.
Do not be afraid to make cold calls
If there are few vacancies in your line of work, it is not frowned upon to pick up the phone and cold call target employers. If you have already created a list of companies that you would love to work for, start by calling these employers first. Ask them about the likelihood of any vacancies soon. They may invite you to submit your resume for consideration if an opportunity arises.
There is always a risk that a cold call will not be well received by a busy employer. However, often your call will be noted as a genuine interest in their company as opposed to an annoyance, putting you in a strong position for future applications.
Consider a head hunter or recruitment agency
If you have done all you can to find work without success, it might be time to seek professional support. A recruitment agency could be the best place to start. Many time-poor businesses increasingly choose to hire through recruitment agencies instead of their own HR departments. These agencies receive a commission for sourcing successful candidates.
Some recruitment agencies specialize in certain industries and often have extensive contacts and relationships with employers in that sector. If you know the industry you want to work in, consider finding an agency that has great links in this field.
Seek temporary or intern work to get a foot in the door
If you are looking to get valuable work experience for your resume or to build a career from the ground up, you could consider an internship. Recruitment agencies are your best option for temporary jobs. Graduates fresh out of college may also want to look for internships that can turn into full-time positions. At the very least, working as an intern should secure you some positive references and recommendations that will enhance your resume for future applications.
Many universities and colleges also partner with businesses in their surrounding areas. This enables them to provide job placement support and connect graduates with the internships that best suit their skillsets.
How to prepare for an interview
If you have applied for a job that ticks the right boxes for your career, it is important to be ready for the interview. These four simple steps can prevent any last minute panic and leave you feeling confident and focused on the task at hand.
Your interview outfit
If you look good, then you will likely feel good too. Make sure you choose an outfit that fits comfortably and is aligned with the industry and culture of your prospective employer. Sharp suits are not a good fit for relaxed Silicon Valley tech start-ups.
Follow up initial job applications
It is easy to lose track of how many job applications you send. Take note of the date that you first submitted your job applications. If you have not heard anything within a week of submission, feel free to send the employer a follow-up email. It shows the company that you are interested in the vacancy and may just help speed up the time it takes to schedule an interview.
Prepare for the interview
Most job advertisements note whether interviews will be conducted face-to-face, by phone or by video call. It is a good idea to practice your interview with family or friends. Get them to play the role of the hiring manager to help familiarize you with the types of questions you will face and get comfortable answering them.
Research the companies you have applied to
Once you have submitted your resume and cover letter, start researching the company. Learn all you can about its products or services and the wider industry, including its competitors. If you secure an interview, you will be able to demonstrate to hiring managers that you have a distinct interest in working for the company.
Finding your first job after graduation can be intimidating, but with the right planning and expectations, entry-level jobs are within most graduates’ reach. The process of preparing, especially networking, can be rewarding in itself and helps you grow your skills and industry knowledge. Above all, do not be afraid to ask for help whether it be advice, connections or chances to learn new skills as you begin building your career.