Even though most colleges have career centers with a broad array of services, many graduates leave campus without the tools to conduct a successful job search. This can make finding your first post-college job a daunting prospect even in a strong economy. With the pandemic and ensuing economic consequences, many graduates have had job offers revoked, and have encountered hiring freezes and diminished in-person networking opportunities. Navigating a virtual job search in this environment can be overwhelming. However, you can be successful by following these steps:
1) Identify what you want to do. You should have a solid understanding of your core strengths and the industries/functions you want to target. In the absence of this, complete some of the widely available career exploration exercises so you can articulate your skills and interests, set career goals, express your work values and research occupations.
2) Volunteer, intern or take a temporary job. You can demonstrate a strong work ethic, gain valuable experience and entry into an organization.
3) Update your resume. Most companies use online applicant tracking systems to process resumes. Use key words from job descriptions to increase your chances of being selected for an interview. Each bullet point should highlight a different skill-set and use strong action verbs. Remember, your resume is a marketing tool and not a laundry list of everything you have done.
4) Create, update and optimize your LinkedIn profile. Surveys show that 85-95% of recruiters use LinkedIn to source and check candidates. Expand your LinkedIn connections. Include former classmates and faculty.
5) Create an online portfolio or start a blog. Depending on your desired field, you might need to demonstrate your work product to potential employers. Provide an attachment on your LinkedIn profile.
6) Clean up and set to private all of your social media profiles (other than LinkedIn).
7) Build and leverage your network. Having a personal connection greatly enhances your chances of getting your foot in the door.
· Create a spreadsheet listing your contacts, the dates you connected and the action items you need to address.
· Join professional groups. Attend virtual gatherings and reach out to members to arrange informational interviews.
· Contact your college alumni relations department or career center. Reach out to alums in your targeted industry and sign up for mentee opportunities and alumni groups.
· Check online job search boards. For positions of interest, figure out if you have LinkedIn connections or other contacts within the organization.
· Reach out to individuals in your network and set up virtual coffee chats. With each networking call try to obtain two other resources with whom you can follow up.
8) Prepare for interviews. Craft your pitch and learn how to articulate your strengths and accomplishments.
9) Set achievable weekly and daily goals. This will help you maintain accountability, stay focused and enhance motivation.
- Jody Perl, Career Coach, CRC Board Member