College grads: Here's what you need to 'Know' when job hunting
For May's college graduates, June is the time for truth. Right about now, you might be wishing that you had chosen a more marketable major, earned a higher GPA or spent more time at internships than at frat parties. But as they say, it is what it is, and here are some practical tips that will accelerate your job search process, even if you didn't get a 4.0 in Computer Science at CMU.
Know yourself. Figure out what is unique about you — ask others if you're not sure — because those qualities could easily end up being how you distinguish yourself from similar candidates. Are you someone who is able to make decisions when there is ambiguity? Do you have a lot of internal grit that allows you to hunker down and get the job done when a lesser person would have given up? Do you have an insatiable curiosity about a particular topic?
Know your options. If you majored in Drama and now can't seem to get a part in anything but a high school play, that doesn't mean you have to work as a bartender until you are discovered. Instead, consider where your unique personal qualities and that Drama degree could be put to good use. Take a few free online career tests; explore career books at your local library; shadow people who work in jobs that appeal to you.
Know people. That means post a memorable and meaty profile on LinkedIn, then send customized “invitations to connect” to people working in jobs and companies of interest to you. Ask for the specific help and advice you seek.
Know how to write a compelling resume. For starters, that means don't use a template and customize each resume according to what would appeal to the person reading it. If you have a job objective in mind, that should be listed first. However, if your education is your key selling point, that would be your best lead-in. If you don't know what you want to do, but are intrigued by a job you've heard about, craft a summary statement that depicts who you are and the special, relevant qualities you offer. Amplify those qualities throughout the resume.
For example, I was talking with a recent grad who hung his head as he told me he had not had any internships and had “only” worked in Customer Service at a grocery store. Since he was looking for an entry-level job in Human Resources, I explained to him how his customer service background could tie in nicely with that job objective. We added these bullet points under his grocery job:
• Interacted daily with frustrated, irritated, angry and occasionally cheerful customers to swiftly and pleasantly resolve their complaints and answer questions.
• Exercised good judgment in referring to a supervisor any serious situations or issues beyond the scope of standard company policy.
• Answered basic employment-related questions to people dropping off resumes or filling out job applications. Occasionally made interview recommendations to the human resources manager based on observations of the applicants' behavior.
Know how to find unpublished job openings. Rather than relying exclusively on Internet job postings, attend professional association meetings and networking events to connect with people in your field, and attend activities through meetup.com to practice your social and communication skills. Ask people how they got started in their career and for advice on starting yours. They'll take it from there by asking you for your resume or inquiring about your career aspirations.
Know how to behave. People hire people they enjoy being around, so stay positive, enthusiastic and upbeat throughout the process.