The commencement addresses (even the best of them from the likes of Aaron Sorkin and First Lady Michelle Obama) contain mostly moving messages about living life to the fullest rather than practical job-finding advice. But with the US unemployment rate stuck at around 8%, advice for the difficult job hunt ahead is really what today’s new college graduates need. That’s why I’m offering up these six tidbits of wisdom.
Be Mobile: Moving to where you want to live and then trying to find a job there is just backwards. Why? Places to live are plentiful, but jobs are scarce. So don’t limit your job search to one – or even a few – cities. Focus on finding a job first and then go live wherever that job may take you.
Be Bold: Don’t be afraid to apply for jobs that you meet just a few of the qualifications for. As long as you meet the required ones, having all the preferred skills doesn’t always matter that much. Take a chance by putting yourself out there. You never know – you may just get an interview.
Get Involved: Join the professional associations of the industries you want to work in and don’t just be a passive member. Instead, volunteer for the committees and get to know the senior members of the organizations. This strategy can really pay off. In fact, I got one of my first job leads from an association of women accountants I’d been an active member of since my undergraduate days.
Do Your Homework: Learn about where you’re applying before you go to an interview – at least read the company’s website and its annual report. This may seem obvious, but I can’t tell you how many people I’ve interviewed over the years who clearly have not taken the time to do such basic background research.
Present Yourself Well: Always wear a suit when you interview, even if the employer is known for casual dress. You want to show the potential employer that you care about making a good impression.
Send a Thank You: Send a thank you email to your interviewers pretty much immediately after the interview. I once interviewed two candidates for a job who were equally qualified, but one sent a thank you note and one didn’t. Guess who got the job.
To be sure, it’s a lot harder to find a job if you wait until after graduation. In fact, I believe it’s never too early to start the search and college students should be looking for a job by the time they’re sophomores by applying for internships and getting involved in professional associations. However, for those not lucky enough to graduate with a paycheck lined up, hopefully the advice above is helpful. What job-hunting guidance did I miss? Share your advice for new graduates in the comments section below.