Career Advice to the 2011 Graduating Class!
By Dilip Saraf on 15 Mar 2011
With nearly 1.25 million students graduating in 2011 within the next few months, despite a recovering economy—with unemployment still hovering around nine percent nationally—fresh graduates have much to be still worried about in finding their first job. Employer feedback in the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) annual Job Outlook 2011 Fall Preview survey, shows that employers expect to hire 13.5 % more new college graduates from the Class of 2011 than they hired from the Class of 2010, which is good news for the graduating class this year. Yet, competition is fierce for good job for fresh graduates with starting average salaries in the low $40,000s annually.
To increase the odds of landing a job there are a number of things a fresh graduate can do differently and to get noticed in a crowded market. Here are some tips that have worked for my fresh-graduate clients in the past:
1. Find out which companies are hiring and find someone you may know in that company to get some inside track on the hiring process, about the hiring manager, and about the job itself. There are many companies (e.g. Enterprise Rent-a-Car), which hire thousands of fresh graduates every year. Targeting such companies increases your odds of getting hired.
2. Find out more about the companies that interest you by researching them and by talking to those who work there. Glassdoor.com is a good site for digging deeper into a company’s work environment and its reputation that goes beyond its own efforts at building a careful image through the media.
3. Write a résumé that is packaged well and that is clear about what you want to do in your first job. Instead of filling the space with the courses you took or your campus activities, showcase your leadership stories in bulleted form that quickly convey to the hiring manger what kind of leader you are. During your summer internships and other stints convert your accomplishments into a short narrative that speaks to your leadership, your work ethic, and your interest in that task. So, instead of saying, emailed marketing message about a new product to two million customers and prospects, it is much more impactful to say, Using Facebook and social media created a new way to communicate company’s marketing message to over two million customers and prospects, with a 50% increased response rate compared to previous campaigns!
4. Create a strong Profile on Linkedin and post your picture with a great headline about you. So, instead of saying New Graduate Looking for a Job, say a Viral- Marketing Aficionado! Carefully craft your Specialties words at the bottom of your Profile on LinkedIn, which will result in your popping up in searches that recruiters and hiring managers do on LinkedIn. On your Facebook and other fronts manage your message to keep it professional and personal. Also, mind what you Tweet!
5. Get a few meaningful Recommendations on your LinkedIn Profile from
employers, professors, and others in your college (not your friends or relatives).
6. Practice interviewing skills and learn how to present your story in a compelling, intriguing, and concise way. Learn how to engage the interviewer in a dialog.
7. Don’t be too fussy about which first job you want to go after. Go after a job that is relatively easy to get. Your first job is more about how to learn about the corporate and job world than it is about developing specific expertise in the area that may be of interest to you. Many of my clients struggle through their first two or so years in their jobs because of adjustment problems to the new environment. Once you get the sense of the environment then you can also pursue something more meaningful.
Seeing first-hand how different jobs are structured and are done is a much better way to understand them than to go by someone else’s opinion about such jobs.
8. It is easy to change your line of work after you learn about how to navigate through the corporate world and then get into something more meaningful to you.
9. Your first job is going to be a wake-up call and will change your life in many ways. So, stay engaged in your job and build good relationships with your peers, manager, and others around you. It is these relationships that will give you the support you need to do a good job and to make a job change when you are ready for the job you really want.
10. In your new job, keep building your network, keep an open mind for other jobs—even careers, and stay in touch with those who can help you with such jobs. Find a mentor and be a mentor to someone.