How to get a job by graduation

How to get a job by graduation

McBride, Pamela M

Almost have your B.A, M.S., or MRA, but still no J.O.B.? Then it’s time to turn up the heat a notch or two on the job search plan you’ve cooked up. It all boils down to using your time efficiently and being proactive in your job search. Here are seven ways to get the right job fast!

Develop a plan and execute it!

Have you spent so much time working on your job search plan that you haven’t even begun to implement it? If so, you are soon going to find yourself behind the curve ball when graduation rolls around. However, if you lay out the whole process on paper, plan each step accordingly, and get working on it, then you’ll experience less stress and more success. “A job search plan can be an excellent tool for understanding where you are in assessing and pursuing your true career interests,” says Anton Malko, director of the Princeton Review’s online career center, “It will not only help you find time in your hectic schedule to devote to your search, but also help you understand on which activities you’ll need to work more diligently, and therefore use your time more efficiently.” Malko adds, “I recommend that each person details his or her `assets and allies,’ so that it becomes obvious on paper where the strengths and weaknesses are. For example, some people have tremendous family contacts but no professional contacts, while others may have superior skill sets and no contacts at all. A list of this kind makes it easy for job seekers to understand why they may not be making inroads in certain areas of their job search.” Malko continues, “But don’t defeat the purpose of devising a plan by getting so bogged down in the details of it that you forget to implement your plan.

It can become a time-waster if you turn the maintenance of your plan into a full-time job in itself.”

State your objective to meet the employer’s need

If your job objective reads something like: `To obtain a challenging position with a great company where I can utilize my excellent skills to make a contribution,’ be forewarned that the `I’ll take whatever you have’ approach won’t get you hired. The fact is, one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to writing an objective, so Herbert Brooks, a 2001 graduate of DeVry Institute of Technology, suggests using a combination of methods to find out what employers really want.

“I started my search very early by reading hiring ads and company profiles,” says the application development specialist for Sears Company. “By constantly reading about computer programming jobs, I gained an understanding of what companies were looking for. I also talked to classmates about their job search experiences and discovered that there is a big difference in what I learned in school and how it is applied in the market place.” Make your resume stand out

Hiring managers receive a huge number of resumes for every job opening they advertise so their first task is usually to screen you out, not screen you in! Making your resume stand out like a shining star (instead of like a sore thumb) requires attention to the details such as content, correctness, and appearance.

First, scour the Internet for similar job announcements and use them as a “cheat sheet” of what content you should cover. Volunteer work, parttime and temporary jobs, relevant school projects and extracurricular activities can all fairly and accurately demonstrate your abilities. Next, taifor each resume to fit the job for which you are applying. This should only require minor tweaking, since all the jobs you will apply for are likely to require the same or similar skills sets.

“To evaluate a resumes effectiveness for a particular job, put yourself in the position of the interviewer,” suggests Malko. “Is it easy to glance at the resume, grab a piece of information and look up to discuss it? Is the information that you grabbed relevant? If not, then that information is doing more harm than good, and it should not be on the resume.”

To ensure correctness, read, reread, and have as many other people as possible read your resume and cover letter for typos, misspelled words and incorrect grammar. As far as employers are concerned, there is no valid excuse for mistakes on your job search documents.

Finally, appearance is important, too. “HR departments sometimes receive hundreds of resumes a day via e-mail. If they’re not expecting your resume by (postal) mail and it arrives in a pristine presentation, they will be impressed,” says Natalie Greaves, manager of Public and International Affairs at Direct Marketing Association. “Of course, I would respond to job postings via e-mail as requested, but I would also research the HR person’s contact information (whenever possible) and mail my resume a few days later. I knew that if I responded by e-mail, the same way that everyone else did, my resume would never stand out.”

Learn from work

If you haven’t had an internship or a part-time or volunteer job that gives you work experience, then get it! “Whether paid or unpaid, internships (and other forms of work) tell prospective employers that you are willing to get involved and learn the ropes from the ground up,” says Greaves. “Through my unpaid summer internship at a local National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate, I got a chance to speak with PR professionals and learned a lot of information from other journalists and marketing professionals. In all honesty, I learned more from their experiences than I could have ever expected to learn in a classroom.”

“Even if the work experience is not in your desired field, there are other benefits to being in a workplace environment,” adds the 1998 graduate of SUNY/Albany. For example, you can establish good work habits, communication skills, and other important “soft” skills and overall, you’ll make a smoother transition from student life into corporate America.

Another lesson that’s worth learning from pre-graduation work experiences is whether or not the career or job choice you made is the right one for you after all. Realizing this before commencement instead of after it leaves you time to re-assess your goals and to make the necessary adjustments in your post-graduation employment plans. Prepare fully for interviewing Whether you realize it or not, if you

have been networking all along, then you have had some practice with interviewing. However, don’t get caught off-guard by getting a call for a job interview and realizing that you are not fully prepared for it. Brooks attributes his interviewing success to thorough research of his intended field, possible industries, and specific companies. “Through my research, I gained a better idea of what industries I might like to be employed in. Company research taught me about each company’s culture so I could predict whether I’d fit in there as an employee,” says Brooks, who began his job two months before commencement.

After preparing for job interviews, be ready to practice, too. “The most frustrating part of my job search was that I didn’t know why I was being turned down after interviewing or in some cases, not even being called. I began speculating as to whether it was my race, speech, dress, age and/or military background,” says Melvin Coates, a computer and technology analyst. After realizing he needed help figuring out what to do, Coates went to the career center at American University to brush up on his interviewing skills. “After a few sessions, I knew what not to say and how I should act; and all the work I put into it proved successful. I was hired by American Enterprise Institute with a salary of $50,000.”

Understand the dynamics of networking

Many people want to believe that the most qualified candidates always get the job, but that’s just not the case. Employers are most likely to choose the best-qualified networkers to fill their vacancies. Why? Because a qualified person who can network his or her way into the decision-maker has the greatest advantage: the recommendation of someone the interviewer knows, respects, and trusts. So, don’t let fear of rejection stop you from benefiting from this proven technique. Just remember: “People love talking about themselves and their experiences. It makes them feel good to know that any information they can share about past experiences will help a young, bright, future professional find ajob,” encourages Greaves.

And, even if you don’t get the job, an interview gained from networking might open other doors; the hiring manager might become a part of your network. Sometimes in an effort to `return the favor,’ (to the colleague who referred you) the interviewer might pass along your credentials to another hiring manager, or keep you in mind for future opportunities at the company. It may take days, weeks, months or years for networking to pay off, so be patient and persistent. Malko insists, “You’ve got to be in it to win it. Neither you nor your network of contacts may know of an opportunity until the moment a new employee is needed. As long as you have maintained your network, you have given yourself the opportunity to be considered for that opening.”

Keep up the momentum

The best thing I could ever have done during my initial job search was to have not given up. After two months of countless interviews and waiting, I still couldn’t find a company that I felt was the right match. I kept telling myself, `You need to keep going.’ And it paid off. I not only got a job with a tech PR firm, but I learned so much while working there that by the time I moved on, I had learned enough to start my own consulting practice. Now, that was a good fit.

Pamela M. McBride is a frequent contributing writer for THE BLACK COLLEGIAN. She has been a career counselor for 12 years and has managed career development programs.

Copyright Black Collegian Feb 2002

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