New Grads: How to Do a Smart Job Search

An Open Letter to My Stepdaughter

Dear Kate,

You've worked hard the past four years. A lot has changed – around you, for you, and most of all, YOU! Now you're facing one of the biggest changes of your life – landing your first job in your new career. While theCollege student economy has been brutal as you studied and played during your college years, signs are pointing toward an improvement for new graduates. But don't let this influence your need for a smart, focused job search! You still have stiff competition.

Now that we've created your career marketing materials, what are you going to do with them? It would be so easy to sit in front of your computer just scanning job boards, copying and pasting your resume into on-line boxes, or attaching it to emails and sending it to HR professionals. However, a smart job search is doing so much more! You don't want to get lost amid the crowds of recent grads applying in your field. That can easily happen if all you do is use the job boards to seek out job leads.

Instead, build your career network. Who do you know who can put you in touch with someone who can introduce you to a contact wanting to hire a new grad in your field? You see, networking is not easy. In fact, remember your most difficult college course – calculus? The energy and effort you mustered to pass that course you now need again to build your job search network.

You've already made a good start by creating your LinkedIn profile. But LinkedIn isn't a "Field of Dreams;" you must "work" it or "lose" it. Connect to professional groups in your career field, as well as professional local groups that hold "meet-ups." Then spend at least an hour per day answering and asking questions in those groups to put a spotlight on your expertise and how you build relationships.

Let everyone in your life you know what kind of job you're seeking. Job leads come from the least expected sources. Stay social, on-line and in person.

When preparing for job interviews, role play tough interview questions with a friend. Watch your face in a mirror as you speak your answers out loud. What will an interviewer see? Anything you need to correct in your mannerisms? We discussed how to dress, but just remember to dress for the job. A watch and small earring studs are OK, but no other jewelry. Light make-up and lip gloss are OK, but no heavy eyeliner. Thank goodness you have no tattoos to hide!

Since you enjoy using MS Excel, create your job search tracking record with that program. Perfectjob_12You'll want to track job leads, what you do with them, when you need to follow-up, and then repeat this for job interviews. If you submit a resume, it IS all right to call the employer in a couple weeks if you don't hear back right away. During a job search, you must be proactive and keep moving forward! Don't let rejections get you down. A job search is a numbers game of averages – the more "no's" you get, the closer you'll be to your "yes!"

As you work through the job search process, know that I'm hear for you. Email or call with your questions, and I'll guide you down the right path. While you will have to maintain your self-motivation, I won't be shy in giving you a push when you need it.

Most of all, know that you are unique. You have a great education and preparation for the job you want. You deserve it. Go get it! I am confident you will be successful!

Wishing you career success in 2012!

Meg