College Grads: Wake Up and Find a Job

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It’s been a great four or five years, hasn’t it?

You’ve worked pretty hard. You’ve also played hard. Well, the party’s over, graduates. If you’re hoping to land a gig in what is unquestionably one of the worst job markets in decades, there are a few things you can do to give yourself a better chance.

Maybe you’ve heard it before, but it is true: you’ve got to treat your job search like a job. You must be focused and organized. Every day you’ve got to spend hours – many, many hours – working at it. There’s no one secret to landing that first job (except, of course, knowing someone who can hook you up), so you’ll want to make sure you have the following avenues covered:

• Online Search
• Social Media
• Career Services
• Professional Organizations

Let’s take a look at each one.

Online Search
There are plenty of online job boards. You’ve probably heard of Careerbuilder.com and Monster.com (Stock Quote: MWW ). There’s also Indeed.com, which aggregates job postings, and Craigslist.org.

Other specialized sites post jobs within particular industries: Dice.com is for tech jobs while Idealist.org is for anyone looking to work for a non-profit.

(For more, check out this recent MainStreet article on industry-specific job sites.)

It’s important that you’re on these sites and applying for jobs every day. And this goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: make sure your cover letter and resume are simple, clear and free of any typos. But don’t take our word for it.

“Don’t use any funky formatting or graphics,” says Maria Stein, director of career services at Northeastern University. “Know key words in your chosen field. Also, make sure that your skills and strengths are targeting the fields that you want to target.”

Social Media
So you’ve amassed 758 friends on Facebook. Nice job. Now put them to work for you.

Let everyone in your social network know where they can find your resume online, and offer them your undying gratitude (and maybe a night out on the town) if they help you land something. If you’ve found your dream job posted online, tap into the social network to find out if anyone knows someone who works there who would be willing to make an introduction.

Some experts think that developing a personal brand is important to the job search. If you are so inclined, there’s no better tool than social networking, blogging and micro-blogging.

“Get a blog and a Twitter handle and make yourself public,” says Boston-based recruiter Justin Crawford. “Write about your job search and promote your blog on your different social media sources like Linkedin and Facebook.”

College Career Services
Next to you and your parents, your alma mater’s office of career services has the biggest vested interest in you being employed. Why? Easy: 1) colleges' stats keepers like a high percentage of recent graduates to be working; and 2) alum who are making cash money are more likely to donate to the school than the jobless.

Stop by the office and ask what they can do to help you. Find out which alums are working in your field of choice, get their contact information, and work it.

Professional Organizations
Before the Internets, graduates relied on professional organizations for networking. These days, because so much job hunting is done online, these organizations, which provide ample opportunities for real, face-to-face networking, are some of the best places to look for a job.

Want to be a reporter? Join the Society for Professional Journalists. Want to do taxes? Join the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Want to be Indiana Jones? Go to Hollywood. (Or join the Society for American Archaeology.)

Get involved in these groups and show the older members – your potential bosses – that you’ve got a good head on your shoulders and you’re committed to the field.

Finally, get business cards made. You’ll want to have them handy when you’ve met someone that could hire you, and they make a good impression. There’s nothing worse than having a good conversation about work, and when someone hands you their card, you have nothing to hand back. Don’t be that guy or girl. There are plenty of sites that let you design and print cards for a reasonable price. Both Vistaprint.com and Overnightprints.com offer customized business cards for cheap and in some cases, free.


Related Stories:

5 Job Search Essentials

5 Skills To Learn If You Are Looking For A Job

What Recent Grads Should Know About Job Searching

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