You can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience without a job. Ever hear that saying? For new graduates looking for that first job, those words strike fear in the hearts of the unemployed.
We’ve received a couple of emails lately from new grads asking for advice to help land that elusive first job.
Below are some of our suggestions for finding employment as a new grad (or for anyone who doesn’t have much professional experience).
- Look for opportunities to volunteer/intern in areas that are similar to your long-term job goal. If volunteer roles are more relevant than your actual work experience (ie part-time retail job), then move it to the beginning of your resume as Relevant Work Experience.
- Add grades, volunteer work and sport accomplishments to your resume. This shows you are motivated to go above and beyond ordinary.
- Tailor your resume specific to the role you are applying for. This does not mean lying on your resume but rather paraphrasing some of the requirements of the job posting. You want to find that hook; something that connects you to the job.
- Use action words on you resume like participated, performed, persuaded, planned or earned, edited, effected, delivered, demonstrated. Coupling these with quantifiable results makes your resume a list of accomplishments and not just duties.
- Craft a well laid out cover letter introducing yourself and highlight the things that set you apart from other job seekers and hook into the job description. This shouldn’t just be a regurgitation of your resume. It’s your opportunity to show your passion for the job/industry/company and why you want THIS job.
- Clean up your social media footprint. Many employers today are cross referencing resumes with social media. The last thing anyone wants to hire is a party animal.
- Network, network, network. Use university associations, alumnae networking events, even the family BBQ to build your network and find people who are in the industry you want to crack into. Set up informational interviews to broaden your understanding of what your ‘ideal job’ is really like. BUT this is not an opportunity to beg everyone for a job. Build relationships, increase your industry knowledge and be openly thankful for their time.
- Follow up! After sending your resume, prepare a 15 second pitch on why you were interested in their role and what sets you apart, then call the hiring manager. Bring it to their attention that you have sent your resume and express interest in the role they are advertising for. Do not monopolize their time but rather show them how eager you are to meet them in person and discuss the role in more detail.
- Employers want to know that you want them! Their company, their job and their culture. So do your homework: look up hiring managers on LinkedIn, read any news articles about the company and industry, as well as follow the corporate social media accounts. Use this insight to make them feel like they are the only company you are courting.
One last point for new grads: Dress the part! When going for interviews, dress professionally and conservatively. Hide tattoos and take out all facial piercings. You want future employers to focus on you, not on your piercings.
Remember, just because you are a new grad with little professional experience, doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot to offer a company. Managers love the enthusiasm and dedication new grads can have and hire them for their ability to be moulded and mentored. Personality and fit are a big part of the hiring decision; so even if you don’t have the most experience, building genuine rapport with a hiring manager will go a long way to landing you the job.