(ARA) - With the national economy still struggling to recover and the employment outlook only inching toward improvement, finding a job continues to be a challenge for many, including recent college graduates.
“Looking for a job can be very daunting, even for college graduates,” says Tara Carter, director of Career Services at Brown Mackie College - Indianapolis. She offers this advice for college graduates and others seeking new job opportunities:
1. Visit your college’s career services department. For college graduates or students nearing graduation, looking for a job is a job in itself. Consider starting with your college or alma mater’s career services department or placement office. Many graduates seldom take advantage of college career services and placement offices; even fewer realize they can tap into those services many years after graduation. Your college offers career services with experts who can help you in your career search.
“Career services departments offer assistance in resume writing, weekly job leads, direct referrals with major companies, mock interviews - anything graduates or those nearing graduation need in order to get returns on the investment in their education and in themselves,” says Carter. Why not take advantage of these career services?
2. Don’t just apply for jobs online. Consider visiting staffing agencies that do direct hires. Use temporary job agencies only when necessary. “Many companies are teaming up with staffing agencies these days because some have downsized their human resources departments,” says Carter. “These agencies can hire and screen potential employees. This allows companies an opportunity to try the employees out before they decide to hire or not to hire. Companies take that route because it is cost-effective.”
3. Attend job fairs with the right expectations. Before heading out to the job fair dressed in your business suit, check online to see if the companies you’re targeting are offering specific jobs that interest you. If so, your resume should address and target specific positions. It also helps to send your resume out in advance. “Attend the job fair, but don’t expect to walk out with a job or a contract,” says Carter.
4. Online networking. Social media sites are great for networking and marketing yourself. For a job search to be successful, it is necessary to use an array of tools. Online job boards and networking are very popular, but social media sites like LinkedIn.com can be valuable tools, as well. Target the human resources departments of the companies that interest you. It’s important to keep sites used for employment opportunities very professional. Be careful of what you put on social media sites. Employers will look at you from all angles. Inappropriate content on these sites can prevent you from getting a job.
5. Offline networking. Online networking is not enough. Communicating and networking in person with professional organizations related to your field of interest can be helpful. “Networking is huge and sometimes it’s who you know that will give you a step up,” says Carter. “You want to have something to offer. Practice your networking skills.” There is a science to it, according to Carter. Don’t forget to network with friends and family, associates at your place of worship along with fraternities or sororities.
“The more people you know - the more opportunities you have,” Carter says. “People who work know other people who work. So, you may go to a job fair and meet someone who says, ‘My sister works at St. Vincent and they need someone in the front office.’ It’s nice to network and practice at selling yourself.”
6. Make your resume stand out. A resume is your initial marketing tool. It will get you in the door or your resume will go in the trash. Companies don’t hold onto resumes forever. According to Carter, you want a resume that shows your personality and skills, immediately. “Most hiring managers are busy. So, if you don’t have anything that sticks out on your resume, it may get tossed,” she adds.
7. Keep your resume to one or two pages. Should your resume be one page or two? “If you have more than 10 years of relevant experience, it might be worth two pages. The bottom line is that if you grab their attention with the first page, they’re not going to toss out your second page,” says Carter. Don’t list experience beyond 10 years in your resume. It can be overwhelming. If you have relevant experience beyond 10 years, just add it to your section that lists your skills and qualifications.
8. Keep your skills updated. Follow the same tips, but make sure your skills are up-to-date and relevant. Just because you have a master’s degree, don’t assume that you don’t need the latest technology. “You may need to take advantage of certifications and even become Microsoft-certified,” Carter says.
Following these suggestions and employing these tools will assist in your getting that job.
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