I graduated from college in May 2013 and like most other college grads, I embarked on my quest to find a job. I had many of the classic post-grad worries running through my mind, such as “how can I find a job when almost everyone is asking for at least five years of experience?” I’ve heard that finding your first job after college is often the toughest job searching experience you’ll ever have. It can definitely be a stressful time. For me, I graduated from college, moved to Austin, and got married, all within two months. That’s a ton of changes in a short amount of time already, plus add on trying to find a job to that list and you can understand why I felt overwhelmed at times. I spent about two and a half months job hunting and painstakingly editing my cover letters. Thankfully, my efforts paid off because in October 2013, I was offered a paid, full-time internship in the field that I majored in. Since I’ve spent some quality time looking for a job recently, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned along the way. So, here are my tips for making your post-college job hunt as productive as possible!
1. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
During my job hunt, I came across job postings that went something like this: “ENTRY LEVEL MANAGEMENT POSITIONS AVAILABLE!!! NO EXPERIENCE REQUIRED!!!!!!! APPLY TODAY!!!!!!!!” And yes, some of them were written in all-caps. I’m not saying that everything that’s worded like that is not legit, but it’s definitely a red flag. I had several companies contact me first about jobs that promised “leadership and sales training,” which sounded pretty good, until I looked up reviews of those companies online. I quickly discovered that “sales training” was often code for “we want you to go door-to-door selling cable subscriptions.” Always do your research on a company before you apply or agree to go to an interview. There are companies out there that prey on young high school/college graduates and try to suck them in to a less-than-desirable business model, so just be careful. If a company says that they’ll give you an interview without you ever submitting a job application, it’s a red flag. If a company is adamant that you don’t need any experience whatsoever to work there, it’s a red flag. Do your research and make sure that you’re not willingly putting yourself into a situation where you could be taken advantage of.
2. Spruce up your LinkedIn profile
Being active on LinkedIn was one of the things that helped me get an interview for my current internship. Don’t think that simply having a LinkedIn profile is enough to get noticed though. Anyone and their great-aunt-twice-removed can set up a LinkedIn account, but not everyone will take the time to make theirs look sharp. If you haven’t updated your profile since your junior year of college, then it’s time to update it. Write a short “about me” paragraph that describes your background, what you’re passionate about, and the types of opportunities you’re looking for (I’ve noticed that a lot of people leave this section blank for some reason). Make sure there are no grammatical errors anywhere on your page. I’m honestly surprised at all of the intelligent people I’ve seen with major errors on their profiles. Let’s be real, if you can’t represent yourself well online, why should a company want you representing them as an employee?
3. Use Your Degree to Help Others
A rewarding way to gain experience while job hunting is to volunteer your expertise and time to a cause that you are passionate about. Go to http://www.volunteermatch.org/ to find volunteer opportunities in your area that match your skill set. For example, on Volunteer Match, I came across non-profits that were looking for people with marketing backgrounds to help promote their causes. You can use your degree to make a difference in the lives of others and boost your resume at the same time. It’s a win-win!
4. LinkedIn Premium
I highly recommend buying a LinkedIn Premium account. My favorite feature of LinkedIn Premium is InMail. What is InMail? Let me explain. After I would apply for a job, normally I would try to send a message to an HR person from the company I just applied to. This was so I could further express my interest in the position and hopefully get them to notice my LinkedIn profile. I kept running into a roadblock though, because LinkedIn wouldn’t let me send messages to people outside of my network. With a Premium account, you can use InMail, which allows you to send direct messages to people that you’re not connected with. I felt like it was important to be able to contact potential employers using LinkedIn, so I decided to bite the bullet and get a Premium account. I chose the Jobseeker Plan, which is the cheapest one at $24.95 a month. In addition to InMail, the Jobseeker Plan also offers the ability to see the full names of third degree connections, view more profiles when you search, and see the full list of anyone who has viewed your profile. You can cancel your Premium account at any time.
I hope you job hunters out there find these tips useful! If you have any post-college job finding tips, feel free to share them in the comments.
Disclaimer: The first and second photos are from freedigitalphotos.net. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and I did not receive any monetary compensation from LinkedIn, LinkedIn Premium, or Volunteermatch.org for mentioning them in this post.