A recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the U.S. unemployment rate for 20 to 24 year-olds, the average age of graduates, is nearly twice that of 25 to 34 year olds. This can be an alarming figure for those who are about the graduate.
It’s a statistic, or close to it, that graduates are probably sick of hearing at this stage. When all you hear is how hard it’s going to be to get a job after graduation, it’s easy to feel demoralised. However, if you take the right approach and start early, there’s no reason you won’t be able to find a job.
Taking a proactive approach is usually what sets apart the graduates who do get jobs to the ones that don’t.
Here are 5 steps to give you the best chance of securing a job after graduation.
Get as Much Experience As You Can
Internships, work experience, solo work, building a portfolio, volunteering; all look great on your resume. Because this is your first step on the career path, many graduates are going to be in the same boat and have quite similar looking resumes.
The key is to make yourself standout and if you can show a proactive and hardworking approach in other areas of your life, this demonstrates an attractive soft skill that many employers are looking for.
Find the opportunities that are relevant and offer your skills for free in order to gain experience. It may seem tough at the time but it will come back tenfold later on.
Screen Your Online Presence
Many graduates are forgetting that they can have a huge digital footprint, and it’s not always positive. Take time to google yourself and see what comes up. Change all social networks to private and better yet, go by your nickname on them. This is a handy way to separate business from your personal life.
Most recruiters and hiring managers are searching online to screen candidates as part of the application process. You don’t want something so simple to stop you from landing a job when you could have fixed it easily.
Ideally, when you are searched, you want your academic and professional profiles listed first. Set up profiles on LinkedIn and academic sites such as Academia. You might also consider a blog based on the sector you’d like to work in to. Keep these in the name you’re applying in and keep your personal networks separate.
You can find a wealth of information about the sector and companies you’re applying for online. Take the time to research what they’re looking for in potential new hires. A great way to do this is to look on LinkedIn and at the profiles of people that are already working there.
Are there similarities between them? Are there things you could do to make your resume look a little bit more like theirs?
Also make sure to do a lot of research on the company itself including new sectors they may be moving into, threats from competitors, collaborations etc. This is all useful information for later on in the process.
Personalise Each Application
Many people, not just graduates, make the mistake on sending out the same generic resume to hundreds of companies. No two companies or jobs are the same, so why is your application?
Instead of blasting out the same resume to hundreds of companies, identify your top 10-20. Then look carefully through the job specs for each. Identify their highest priorities and makes sure your resume is worded to show your strength in these areas.
Companies prize certain skills over others and you want to demonstrate this. On top of this, in your cover letter you have a chance to demonstrate the research you’ve done on the company and show your interest. This could be something along the lines of:
“I have seen your company is moving to focus on establishing a foothold in new European Territories. I believe my extensive travel and grasp of languages could be really beneficial to this role. It seems like an exciting growth period for the company and I would love to be involved…”
Show your interest and show you’ve done your research.
Most of all, try to stay positive during your job search. This can be hard in the face of rejection but you still need to make sure you put in the effort of thanking everyone for their time and the opportunity to apply.
You never know if their original hire doesn’t work out and your gracious response might land you the job after all.
Not only this but staying positive and believing you’ll land the job means you’ll find it easier to keep applying. It’s easy to think that it’s hopeless and that you’ll never find a job. However, if you stay at it and follow the steps above, you will find a job and it will come sooner than you think.