Q. I am graduating from college and very nervous about the whole process of finding a job. I am an organized person but I know that there are pitfalls and opportunities out there that I might overlook simply because I am so new at this. Do you have any recommendations?
A. Congratulations on graduating and on reaching out for information and guidance. You will find plenty of advice about resumes, interviews, and job searches on my website at Robin’s Resumes®, but here are my top 10 suggestions for recent graduates:
- Be careful about the resume recommendations of your career services organization. The resumes they promote are excellent for on-campus career fairs but are less suitable for job hunting in the wide world.
- Before you send out your resume, know what type of position you are looking for and research the companies you are applying to. Companies are not in the business of figuring out where you fit into their structure; you have to tell them.
- Think in terms of context-challenge-action-result when writing your resume and preparing for interviews. That framework will help you see your accomplishments and communicate why they are important.
- Keep a detailed record of your search, including the names and addresses of companies you sent resumes to, the job title and position, and when you sent out your resume. That way, when someone calls, you can immediately refresh your memory about the opportunity.
- Consider nonprofit as well as for-profit organizations. Nonprofits also pay salaries.
- Practice interviewing. Everyone gets nervous at interviews and you may never have been in an interview situation before. Your resume’s primary goal is to get you to the interview—so be prepared when your resume works.
- Be hesitant to give away your work. Have a portfolio on line if that is customary in your field (for example, fashion design or writing) but be leery of any company that wants you to work for free for hours before they decide to hire you.
- Ask questions, especially about the job hours and expectations. You do not want to assume you are on the day shift or that the job starts at 9 a.m. or that you will report to the person who is interviewing you.
- If you are having trouble finding a job, get a certification, take an internship, or volunteer at a nonprofit. You should keep your skills sharp and open your network to a wider group of people. Take a position outside your field if necessary. Then continue your job search while you work.
- Never take a rejection personally. Companies may reject candidates because the job parameters have changed, they can no longer afford a new hire, they found someone in house—the reasons are legion.
My final piece of advice is to sign with a professional resume writer and coach if you have the time. You will never regret it!