Three Secrets to Landing a Great Job by Graduation

Since the recession of 2008, prospects for landing a job have steadily improved, especially for recent college grads. However, studies by the Department of Labor and the Federal Reserve Bank of NY indicate that all is not rosy in the new college grad job market. About 44% of recent college grads are underemployed, which includes working at jobs that don’t require a college degree. So, simply landing any old job is not the issue.   The key to success is securing a job that uses your college skills and knowledge.

How do you make sure you’re one of the 56% with a good jobs?  

  1. Identify your focus & job plan at least 4-5 months before you want to start. –
  • Part of your focus depends on your major. Due to demographics, technology and the economy, some fields are in greater demand. Currently, health, education, technology, science and engineering majors are more likely to land good jobs than architecture, construction, liberal arts and social science degrees, where grads are more likely to be underemployed. Hospitality majors found jobs but not high compensation.
  • If you’re in one of the vulnerable careers, what do you do? You can identify 2-3 job targets that parlay your major and experience into growing sectors of the economy, like digital marketing, cyber-security, big data and many others. Contact us for a complete list.
  • The timing of the job search often varies by job target. For example, for consulting, law-related, some business and health fields may be looking to make a commitment in early Spring. So, back up from when you want to get a job offer to determine the timing of your job plan. Marketing, sales, some business and IT jobs are filled closer to graduation time.
  • To help you identify the best fit for yourself, use to look up openings, job titles, skills and experience. Are you attracted to the work? Do you have 50-75% of the qualifications?
  • Do a Google search of the field. See if any alumni in your network perform these jobs. Reach out to them to find out more.
  • A good job target consists of a position/job title, industry, type of organization and geography. For example, a financial analyst job in financial services in large companies in the NYC area will yield well over 200 possible positions and constitute a reasonable job search. In contrast, trying to be a program manager in a foundation in the Midwest is likely to be a long search.
  1. Cultivate resources that can help you, at least 3 months in advance            
  • Check out your college’s career center and alumni network.
  • Identify and join professional associations in your fields of interest- student rates are often quite reasonable.
  • See if there are any student organizations, internship/externship opportunities that can help you try on the field.
  • Is there a related course you can take or audit?
  1. Build your brand, enhance your relationships, and start your search 2-3 months ahead of when you want to land.
  • What are the key skills, experiences, competencies and keywords required for your job targets?
  • Lay out your basic resume—include relevant school projects, if relevant
  • Optimize your LinkedIn Profile— headshot, headline, use of keywords
  • Evaluate your online presence and eliminate any inappropriate comments or pictures on all of your platforms.
  • Join LinkedIn groups for these fields
  • Identify people—old friends, colleagues, professors, alumni, etc with whom you can re-connect.

What do you do if you haven’t started and it’s less than three months to graduation?

  • Pick one job target for which you meet the most requirements and you have some interest in.
  • Make an appointment immediately with your college career center to help you draft a resume and start or optimize your LinkedIn profile.
  • If you find that you need additional credentials to qualify for this target, change job targets for now and pursue your first choice later.
  • Research the hiring process and timing of the job target you’ve selected.
  • Identify 10 organizations that you’d like to work for and find some people who can help you find people who work there.
  • Spend most of your time connecting & relating to people— networking—and no more than 25% on answering ads—you will never hear from most of the advertised jobs.

These steps will significantly improve your chances of landing a college-worthy job upon graduation, while eliminating the amount of time you spend on your parents’ couch applying to jobs.

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