Finding your first job after college can instill a sense of uncertainty as many recent grads often don’t have the roadmap needed to navigate this process. When it comes to landing your first job out of school, there are several steps you can take to set yourself up for success. From crafting an individualized resume, to networking and building a unique skillset, help yourself stand out from the crowd with these best practices.
Crafting your resume
A strong and personalized resume is a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to applying to a job. Anyone can create a resume, but not everyone’s resume stands out to hiring managers and recruiters. While crafting your resume, remember not to saturate the page with your entire work history, for example: the job you held in high school will likely not apply to the job you are applying for today. As a recent grad, you can highlight the discipline, knowledge, and skillset you’ve perfected during your time in school. In a competitive job market, creating a unique and well-designed resume can often highlight your creative side, but keep in mind that this does not apply for every industry, think Banking vs. Graphic Design. We recommend keeping your resume to one page, using a clear and legible font and saving to a PDF as opposed to a Word doc.
The social network
More often than not, networking is what will help land you your first job. Taking advantage of school-sponsored networking events, joining young professionals groups and building a strong LinkedIn profile are a few steps you can take to put yourself out there. Networking is a great way to build connections and learn more about what different jobs and industries are like. Once you've connected with professionals in your field of interest, set up a quick phone call or virtual coffee so they can talk through with you honesty what their job is like. Networking requires time and effort, and may require reaching out to contacts of contacts, putting yourself ‘out there’ to people you don’t know very well or at all. Always be polite in your communication and follow up without being pushy. Our advice would be to reach out to people at different levels and organizations so you can get a wide array of opinions and advice. A goal of networking at this stage is to get help with getting your foot in the door for an informational interview. If you take the initiative to develop deeper connections within your network, you’ll find that uncovering opportunities will happen organically.
Practice makes perfect. Interviewing is a skill and one that you'll get more comfortable with over time. Taking time to practice for an interview allows you to prepare yourself and in turn will help you feel less nervous. Find a friend or family member to role play with so you can practice your interview answers out loud as opposed to in your head. Come up with a few relevant anecdotes to have on hand so you can reference tangible examples. Websites such as Glassdoor highlight interview questions candidates have been asked previously at a given company, allowing you as the applicant to craft an answer that reflects on your own experience and current skillset. There are a number of resources online that share best practices to nail your next interview. We always recommend looking into the company's background and mission ahead of the interview. This will show you took time to do your research and help you determine if this is an organization where you can see yourself.
After the degree
Learning a new skillset is never a bad idea! There are so many free resources available to learn new skills online. Adding to your skillset will help keep you focused while also adding to your resume and elevating your personal brand. We also recommend signing up for webinars to learn what trends are emerging in your industry and potentially make new connections in your field. If you attend a really interesting webinar, follow up with a thank you message to the host or consider crafting a recap based on what you learned and sharing it in your networking efforts. These extra steps go a long way in setting you apart as a candidate and a professional contact in your field.
Reach out to a recruiter
Recruiters are industry insiders who work diligently to match you with a position that is aligned with your qualifications and career goals and will help you stand out as a candidate. Recruiters are experts in the job market and can help you strategically plan your career path. At your first meeting (or video conference) your freelance recruiter will get to know your background, experience and what you’re looking for. They’ll review your portfolio/resume and get a sense of the kinds of assignments you like. When it comes to knowing what companies are looking for, what skills are in-demand and how to prepare for the interview, you’ll get the inside scoop. Whether you’re looking for digital marketing jobs, creative jobs, copywriting jobs, or any other job, your recruiter will work with you on your resume to make sure it’s tailored for the type of position you’re looking for and coach you through the interview process.