The graduation parties are over, you've moved out of your dorm, and reality is beginning to set in. The Real World. Not the MTV reality TV show, but the actual real world. It's natural to feel a little anxiety (or a lot!), but as with anything worth doing, a solid plan is required. Though the high unemployment rate makes headlines, there are jobs to be had. There are opportunities out there and they'll go to those who position themselves properly in this ultra-competitive job market.
Here are some things to consider as you begin your job search:
Take stock of what you have to offer - Employers looking to hire recent grads are not expecting you to have pages of experience. What they want to see is a well-rounded person with a variety of transferable skills they've acquired thus far. What is a transferable skill? A transferable skill is an ability learned through life or work experience. For example - Managing time effectively, motivating others, being proficient in specific software applications. Make a list of everything that you have to offer a perspective employer. You'll use the list when writing your resume.
Manage your expectations - High paying entry-level jobs with great perks and exciting responsibilities are rare. More likely, you'll be joining a company at the bottom, in a service, operations or sales role. These jobs are filled with great learning opportunities and are valuable far beyond your starting salary. Be open to these roles, it's the "foot in the door" that everyone tells you is so valuable.
Write a great resume - I've seen hundreds and hundreds of resumes from recent grads in my career as a hiring manager. It's remarkable how many are poorly conceived and horribly written. This is your first chance to showcase yourself to an employer. Anything less than stellar will likely go unnoticed or be immediately eliminated. Make use of all the great resources online and at your school's career center, to ensure that your resume is well-written, properly formatted and current in terms of style and content. Today's resumes tell employers how you can specifically add value to their team.
Think quality over quantity - Don't send your resume to every company in the world. Your resume and cover letter should be tailored to each job specifically, to show the employer that you're interested in their company. A generic resume and cover letter will rarely if ever be noticed and considered.
Network, network, network - The classic job search cliché, but it works. Everyone you know should know you're looking for a job. Everyone in your network is a potential resource. Don't be shy, but always be professional and respect the time of those from whom you seek assistance.
Clean up your online identity - This is important. Most recruiters and employers will look for you online. Be sure to remove all the party pictures from Facebook, and adjust your privacy setting accordingly to prevent a "friend" from posting something that may not present you in the most positive light. A LinkedIn profile is a must. Google yourself, and see what you find. Ask yourself if you'd be comfortable if an employer found the same thing.
Finding a job is a job, approach it as such. Have a plan for each day. Set goals and exceed them. Be successful!
Jeffrey Metzger is Owner and Chief Resume Architect at Your Resume Consultant. Find out how Jeff can create a resume for you that will attract the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. Visit us at http://www.yourresumeconsultant.com.