Despite this glimmer of good news, the job market remains uneven at best, and still very challenging for the new grad.
We at Trilogy Search certainly remember looking for our first job and we’re sure you do as well. We also remember how encouraging it was to have someone with experience offer advice and feedback. In the spirit of giving back, here are some job hunting tips to share with your favorite college grad.
A purposeful path to employment
• Be mindful of your area of study and chosen career but don’t be absolutely limited by it. One often takes a circuitous route to career success and fulfillment.
• There are a number of online resources available to help with your job search. One of the best is CollegeGrad.com which includes job postings, resume tips, interview advice and, most importantly, a list of the employers that typically hire the largest number of college graduates each year.
• Tap into all of your networks—online and off—and those of your colleagues and relatives. Ask for advice, direction, and referrals. People truly want to help.
• One very important source is your school alumni network—not only for contacts and job listings but potentially for concrete experience as well. Ask if you can assist them in their outreach efforts, providing you with valuable and practical experience in writing, fundraising, project management, and contact development.
Experience, experience, experience
We’re all familiar with conundrum, “You need experience to get a job but you need a job to gain experience.”
• Internships (http://www.internweb.com) are one great way to gain experience. While internships were typically undertaken as part of the college curriculum, today they are being pursued post college as well. Pursuing an internship (typically for a limited period of time or scope of work) rather than a full-time job requires less of a commitment by a potential employer and, therefore, can create many additional opportunities. Some internships do pay, even if it is a fairly small stipend.
• Volunteering (http://www.volunteermatch.org) is another excellent way to gain hands-on experience. Ideally, seek an opportunity that aligns with your chosen field of work.
• Blogging is a relatively new way to establish credibility and expertise in your field. You can easily create your own blogging platform or tap into an established forum that may even pay for your posts (http://www.payperpost.com).
• Freelance online job sites allow individuals to market their services and bid on projects posted by employers. Typically fees are paid on an hourly or project basis, and as a low bid can trump experience, it can be a good way to build a portfolio. These sites are commonly geared to the creative professions;
Think outside the box
• Depending on where you live and financial considerations, think about and be prepared to relocate. Research your field and the geographic “centers of excellence” related to this field. For example, California, particularly the San Francisco Bay Area, is a technology hub and has had a significant increase in tech hiring during the first quarter, outpacing all other industries.
• Gain multi-cultural experience, whether it’s learning a new language, teaching English as a second language, volunteering at a foreign cultural or educational institution, or working for a study abroad organization. Business continues to globalize so international experience/exposure provides a definite leg up.
• If you think job opportunities are going to be limited for some time, consider making a commitment to the Peace Corps or Teach for America, both provide eye opening, life changing experiences that will only increase your value to a potential employer.
Regardless of whether you volunteer, secure an internship or take an interim job like waiting tables, be purposeful. What interests you or relates to your field of choice? What can you learn from those around you? How can you progress in terms of additional responsibilities?
And remember once you have a job, your job is not done. Learning how to spend—and save—your hard-earned salary requires continued commitment and focus. One helpful tool is Mint.com, a financial planning program available online and as a mobile app. Most importantly, it’s easy to use and free!