Know what you really want. Where do you picture yourself working? For many graduates, this is the biggest hurdle to overcome when conducting a job search. If you just apply to anything and everything, you are just taking a “shot in the dark” and hoping that you’ll eventually hit something. But this approach leaves everything to chance – and do you really want to end up with “whatever“?
Take into consideration your interests, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses when planning the next step in your career. What are your skills? Just because your previous experience hasn’t been in your chosen career field doesn’t mean that you don’t have relevant skills. Perhaps you’ve also gained transferable skills from part-time or volunteer work. A job search takes time and energy, so it is critically important that you focus your energy on jobs and career fields you would want to do – for now anyway – even if not forever.
If you don’t know why you want the job, you cannot convince an employer to hire you. We see this all the time, a graduate just thinks, “Well, here I am, and I have a college degree, and I have a great personality, so you should hire me.” But, when asked why they want this particular job with this particular company, the answer is a blank stare. This is why research is so important. What does the company or organization do or produce? Why are you interested in them? What would you be doing in the job? Why is this type of work important to you? How does it fit your skills, abilities, and knowledge?
You should not just post your resume to a job listing site (like Monster, CareerBuilder, etc.) and expect to get the perfect job offer (or any job offer for that matter). This approach requires little to no effort, and typically will yield little to no results. First of all, many job openings (particularly those for recent college grads) are not advertised on major job boards. Over 80% of the job openings available are not advertised. They are filled either through word-of-mouth or through direct application (meaning you go directly to the organization, either applying to a job you see on their homepage or by contacting them directly to find out how to apply for jobs). Check out major job listing sites – absolutely! You don’t want to miss out on any possible opportunities. Just do not use them as your only job search tool.
Other people are your best resource in finding a job. Utilize your former professors, your parents’ friends, neighbors, and friends who may already be working. Tell everyone you know, (and everyone you meet) that you are seeking a job, and tell them a little about the type of job or career field you are targeting. Don’t be afraid to ask for to ask for advice or leads. You may be surprised at how many job leads you get from networking.
Be flexible and realistic. Maybe you are finding that you aren’t getting job offers because you don’t have relevant experience. Could you get this experience through a part-time job or though volunteer work with an organization? Maybe you can work two part-time jobs – one for $$ and one for experience. Or maybe you can work a subsistence job (something for now, not related to your career, but will pay the rent), and volunteer with an organization that will help you develop skills and contacts in your chosen field of interest. With the economy right now, you may not find the job you really want right away, but this doesn’t mean you should just give up and not try. There are many ways to get from point “A” to point “B” and it isn’t always a straight line!
Don’t be easily discouraged. You will be turned down for jobs, and you may be turned down for a lot of jobs. The job search is not for the faint of heart. This is where you show what you’re made of. Research-time-energy-practice-patience. Repeat.