If you’re a college senior or recent college graduate, searching for your first full-time job can be a daunting task. While there isn’t a formula for getting hired, there are certain things you can do to position yourself for success.
- Research your field of interest. Look at company websites and read articles about current trends in your field. The more informed you are, the more confidence you will have approaching your job applications and interviews.
- Get experience. If you’re still in college, join campus activities related to your field. For example, if you’re interested in going into communications, join a public relations club or write for the student newspaper. Internships during college or immediately after college are a great way to get hands-on professional experience.
- Look for connections and network. Having connections can often help you get your foot in the door with a company. In today’s competitive job market, knowing someone can make a world of difference in your quest to land a job.
- Customize your cover letter and résumé. Many job searchers make the mistake of sending out the same applications to as many companies as possible. While you do want to apply for as many jobs as you can, it’s much more profitable to take the extra time to customize applications—quality is better than quantity. Also, make sure you have someone edit your résumé and cover letter. Spelling and punctuation errors can ruin an otherwise good job application.
- Use social media wisely. Social media provides a great opportunity for you to market yourself and network. Many employers check out your online presence before making a hiring decision, so make sure your online presence is polished and professional. You’ve probably heard it many times, but it’s worth repeating—don’t put anything on social media that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see.
- Prepare for your interviews. Think through how you would answer common questions that come up in interviews, but also realize you may get some unexpected questions. You can also make a list of key things you would want to highlight about yourself. It may even be beneficial to do a mock interview with a career counselor or a friend in order to get practice verbalizing your responses and to get more comfortable thinking on your feet.
- Follow up and show appreciation. Call or email after submitting a job application to further express your interest in the position. After an interview, send a follow-up thank you email or even a handwritten note. Making the extra effort helps set you apart from other applicants.
- Be persistent. Job searching can be a long process, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t find something right away or face rejection. Stay optimistic and keep putting yourself out there. Hopefully your hard work will pay off!
What other tips do you have for landing a first job? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet your responses using the hashtag #mcgblog.