Job Hunting Tips for College Grads

By Anh Nguyen |

Summer means different things to different people. For some, summer is the long-awaited break they’ve been waiting for all year while for others, summer is business as usual. But for a large segment of college seniors and recent grads, summer can be a scary season. A 2015 poll conducted by AfterCollege shows that only 14% of college seniors have full-time jobs lined up after graduation. That leaves 86% of college seniors and recent grads scrambling to find work.

So what should you do if you’re a college senior, recent grad, or know of one that doesn’t have a job lined up? We asked Michael Shapiro, one of our Job Experts, to share some tips on how to best prepare and find a job out of college.

What are your top 3 resume tips for those looking for a job out of college?

First, I would sit down and decide on an objective or goal that should start off your resume. HR recruiters want to see what your potential terms of skills and knowledge. Consider writing a short sentence on what you’ve accomplished in college that involves accomplishing something great with a team.

Second, expand on your academic achievements by highlighting what you’ve learned in job-relevant courses and how you can apply the learnings outside of the classroom. If you’ve done internships or volunteer work, make sure to highlight these.

Third, review the job listings you are interested in and look for keywords that will help get your resume noticed. Many companies today use software programs that look for various keywords within a resume so review job listings online to see what words stand out.

What networks do you recommend college grads tap into to find jobs?

LinkedIn is a great place to start as thousands of professionals are on the site daily. Within LinkedIn, I would look for and join your school’s alumni association and any professional associations that belong in the industry you are interested in. These groups often offer meetups with professionals that can offer suggestions and leads to jobs.

Are there myths about finding a job that college grads should watch out for?

There are a number of myths that active job seekers should be aware of.  One is that just looking for jobs online is enough. While looking online is very important, it’s even more important to meet and network with people in fields you’re interested in. By networking in person, you have an opportunity to better connect with influencers.

A second myth is that the first salary offer is the final amount you can get. Companies are often willing to negotiate with you so don’t be afraid to make a counteroffer if you feel that you have the necessary skills to deserve more. When negotiation salary, don’t just focus on the salary but consider other assets and benefits such as stock options, 401K, and time off.

The last myth is that cover letters are not as important as they used to be. That cannot be farther from the truth. Cover letters give you an opportunity to showcase your achievements when you don’t have a lot of industry experience on your resume. Use cover letters to explain why you are the ideal person for the position.  Do not ignore writing a good and clear cover letter.

What are some tips to make a good first impression during interviews?

Most interview process starts with a phone screening with an HR representative. Treat this interview like you would an in-person interview and prepare appropriately. Once you get an opportunity for an in-person interview, make sure that you arrive no later than 15 minutes before.

It can be intimidating for recent college grads to respond to questions about relevant work experience. However, don’t shy away. It is absolutely okay to talk about relevant school projects, internships, volunteering work, or life experiences when you are asked about relevant experience.

The last and most important interview tip is to ask questions. You’re often given an opportunity to ask questions and interviewers use this time to see how much interest you have in working for the company and how well you might fit into the culture. A few good questions to ask are about the company’s growth potential and how your role would contribute to the company’s success.

We want to thank Michael for sharing his job seeking tips for college grads. If you’d like to ask your Job questions to Michael, visit his profile here.

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    Before I retired I ran or owned several companies in the HVAC, or construction business... later I hired out as a consulting engineer to a few dozen engineering and manufacturing firms mostly in the US but one in Japan.

    I know what it takes t get hired. Aside from the basics as recommended in this article, and far more important is ones *persona.

    If you look like a weak kneed simp and wear a cardigan sweater to your interview you will not get hired into a macho, get things done no matter what environment.

    The basket weaving liberal arts majors in the HR dept may be impressed with your paper work, weak compromised behavior, and lack of bearing, but the hiring manager will not. He will hire someone with an actual, confident, earned bearing. Such bearing is obtained through actual accomplishment, or at least the moxie it takes to succeed in the world.
    A person is hired mostly by his or her bearing... a word worth looking up, and a characteristic worth cultivating.

    How does a person cultivate bearing? He does that through lack of compromise anywhere in his life... no compromise. Thats another story.

    Our current culture is one of compromise, weakness, and acceptance of the weak, corrupt or perverted... that ruins a person entirely when it comes to production and work.