Congratulations, new graduate! You successfully navigated the hallowed halls of education and are now ready to dive into your first professional job. However, while you may know a lot about your new field, it may still be a struggle to formulate a specific job search plan.
Use this checklist to make sure your job search hits the ground running…
Let everyone know WHAT you are looking for
Yes, all your family and friends sent congratulations cards for your accomplishment. Tons of people hit “like” on your cap and gown picture on Facebook and Twitter. But do they even know what your degree is or what job you want now?
Be forthright and let them in on the specifics for your target job. You would be surprised with how well connected and helpful your relatives, friends, and acquaintances can be when they know what types of job leads you want.
Research relevant key words for your chosen field
Computers and recruiters alike rely on key words to search for candidates as well as cut them in the screening process. In fact, your resume needs to match 60-70% of the key words to get to the point where a human being will actually read it.
To increase your chances of surviving the HR black hole, research the relevant key words for your chosen field. Plus, don’t forget the “stupid” key words, such as “excellent communication skills.” Yes, I know that is a boring cliché. But if HR is using stupid key words in the job description, you must put them on your resume somewhere or be cut for not having enough key words.
BONUS TIP: some computers search for “Bachelors,” while others are programmed to look for “BS.” Using both, such as “Bachelors of Science (BS),” increases your key word count and avoids being screened out because of the degree formatting.
Write your resume
Once you know the key words, write your resume based on what the employers are seeking. Make sure that everything in your resume is relevant for the job you want, not just what you have done in the past.
Fix up your LinkedIn profile
Your LinkedIn profile is NOT the same as your resume because they work in different ways. LinkedIn works more like SEO (Search Engine Optimization), where your high value key words need to be repeated in a natural manner. Plus, every section is searchable, so be sure to load up your transferrable skills relevant to your target job.
Join LinkedIn Groups
The easiest way to build your network and earn a good reputation is by joining large, active Groups on LinkedIn. You can have up to 50, so mix it up to include your alumni group, industry-specific groups, and job seeker groups, just to name a few.
Set up job search alerts on the employment websites
While we know that there is a lot of competition for jobs on sites like Indeed.com and others, you don’t want to ignore these resources for job leads. However, don’t waste all of your time pouring over them for hours on end. Instead, automate the process with key word rich job search alerts, also known as job search agents. This way, the website can send you notifications based on what you really want.
BONUS TIP: only post your resume on these sites as “private” to reduce the amount of spam jobs that get emailed to you, such as 100% commission sales jobs.
Identify target companies
Beyond the job boards, you want to tap the hidden job market by creating a list of target employers that you are interested in. They may not even be hiring right now, but that’s what’s great about the hidden jobs: it is all about anticipating their future needs. Set up Google Alerts to track their activity, and when they announce a major event – gaining a new contract, moving to a new headquarters, etc. – consider these your trigger events and an opportunity to reach out to hiring managers.
Start networking strategically – both in-person and online
Networking is indeed critical to your job search. But this is more than just showing up to a large after-hours business event. Networking means any activity that builds relationships with other people. This definitely includes expanding your LinkedIn network or even exploring some of the more casual get together on Meetup.com
Reach out to hiring managers
Finally, you should always reach out to hiring managers whenever you apply to a job, especially as a new grad. HR may cut you, but the hiring managers can still insist on the interview if he or she was impressed enough.
In fact, this frequently happens for my clients. In one case, I was helping a client who had a successful career in IT but didn’t feel that it was her calling. She went back to school for Marketing. Before graduation, she started to apply to jobs, but wasn’t getting any interviews. We changed the direction of her resume to emphasize her transferrable skills and then got it into the hiring managers’ hands. They were impressed, and the subsequent interviews turned into a job offer. Even better: she was missing one of the critical skills they needed, specifically, experience with InDesign. To prepare her for the job, the company paid for a class in InDesign before she started working with them. Sound impressive? You only know the half of it – this was during the height of the Recession, when jobs were hard to come by in the first place.
Never underestimate the power of reaching the hiring manager!
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