Somehow it happened too fast and you may not feel prepared to go out and get your first “paying” job. But the reality is here and the more you prepare yourself for the job search process the better the results will be.
Unfortunately, there are some challenges because this is not “normal” right now.
Here are ten tips to guide you through your self-inventory and preparation.
1. Give yourself some credit for completing college and graduating.
Did you know that as many as 43-50% of people who start college never finish? But “you” (the grad) are not one of them – you have a diploma and a degree.
The process of completing college in four years (or how many years it took) is evidence of endurance and tenacity. So give yourself credit for the accomplishment. If you received a good grade point average you may want to include that information on your resume. If you didn’t do as well as you intended – maybe you should wait until asked for the information.
Basic Rule: Believe in yourself – sell yourself first. If you don’t believe in yourself why should anyone else?
2. Take stock – do an inventory of what you have to offer.
It’s difficult to put together a resume if you don’t have any experience. If you’ve had an internship or a part-time job that will make for good content on a resume. Even volunteer work tells the company something about you. If you don’t have any work experience, you will have to rely on the courses you took. You can also list your general traits – good communication skills, problem solving skills, analytical ability, or great time management skills. You should also think about your personal characteristics – the things that make you unique. These are traits that can’t be taught – great attitude, ability to build relationships, detail-oriented, punctual, reliable, or adaptable.
3. Prepare a personal statement – in fact, prepare two personal statements.
The reason for two personal statements is that they will be used in two different situations.
The first one – a 60 second “infomercial” – will be used in quick encounters. When you meet someone and they ask what you what you intend to do now that you’ve graduated, you should be able to tell them what your major was and that you are now seeking a position in the “whatever position/industry” that applies. You can also say something about “why” this type of position/industry interests you or why you think you’re qualified.
The longer personal statement is an answer to one of the first questions often asked in an interview, “Tell me about yourself.” This answer can be up to two-minutes in length – which is a fair amount of time to give the interviewer a clear image of who you are and what you have to offer. This statement should include your major, any experience that you have; your area of expertise – what you think you are most knowledgeable about (your college major or experience you’ve had); at least one of your strengths (e.g., excellent communication skills); something about your work ethic and style; and lastly something about what kind of a person you are – something that makes you unique.
We have an online tool to guide you through creating your personal statement – your job winning brand:
4. It’s never too soon to start to network – that means with everyone you know.
The number one way to find a job is through “networking.”
For every ten people you know they in turn will know ten other people – and so on and so on – the web continues to build. Don’t underestimate the power of networking – it can happen at any place and at any time.
5. Research, research, research – companies, industries, trends.
Your job right now is to find a job. That means you need to do whatever it takes to get information. After all your college work and papers that you had to do research for, you are probably very familiar with online resources. Take those research skills and start to apply them to the job market.
Search industries, companies, look at a myriad of job postings (even in other states that you have no interest in). Find out what going on out there.
What’s in demand – what skills are being sought? Use those wonderful search engines to dig deeper and acquire all the information you can get. At the very minimum check out company websites and read mission statements to find companies who the type of values that you are seeking.
6. Familiarize yourself with the types of questions asked in an interview.
There are many books and websites that offer “sample questions” that will be asked in the interview. You should think about some of the answers you will give to the basic questions. Also be aware of the different types of questions – general questions, behavioral questions, situational/hypothetical questions. – www.interviewcoach.com
Book recommendation: “Boost Your Interview IQ- 2nd Edition – 2012” by Carole Martin
7. Learn to make “small talk.”
Preparation should also include some ideas for making “small talk.” Even online, you should be able to engage in conversation with the interviewer or with any person.
Stay current with news and world happenings so that you can discuss or respond to questions that are asked outside the formal interview questions. Look for commonalities – covid19 stress.
Communication is a learned skill just like any other skill – learn to listen as well as to talk.
Book recommendation: “How To Win Friends And Influence People,” Dale Carnegie
8. Look like a Professional – regardless of the industry – yes, even for a video interview!
First impressions count.
You don’t want to look like your Father or your Mother, but you want to look like someone that a company would want to have represent them.
Invest in a nice interview outfit. It should be the best quality that you can afford. Or, go to a consignment shop and buy a second-hand garment that fits well and is of good quality. Appearance counts.
One thing that image consultants nation-wide agree on is that when you “feel good about the way you look – people react to you in a positive manner.” When you “feel bad about the way you look, people will react in a negative manner.”
9. Accept The Fact That You Will Be Nervous
It’s OK to be nervous. Almost everyone – even experienced, confident, executives get nervous when they interview. It’s OK to be nervous.
This is a new experience and you may have to go to a few interviews to get the hang of the process. Since no two interviews are exactly the same, use each interview as a learning experience.
There is a new layer of challenge to be nervous about – the Online Interview.
Let your nerves work as an energy boost. Say to yourself, “I’m going to do the best job so I can to let them know who I am and what I have to offer.”
Then think to yourself “What’s the worst thing that can happen to me?” Give yourself permission to NOT get the job.
“The biggest thing you taught me, which saved me was being myself. I talked to them like normal people and let my personality come through.”
10. Practice, Practice, Practice.
Preparation will make a big difference to your performance in an interview – just as it would with any presentation you’ve ever made.
Whether you practice with a family member, a friend or a professional, make sure that you are getting honest, straight-forward feedback.
While you want encouragement, you do not want to continue to make the same mistakes and blow the interview.