Career advice for recent graduates

GALE  SANDLER BROWN ::: 

 Congratulations recent graduate! You worked hard and got your degree and now you want to relax. That’s OK for a little while, but you need to focus on getting the best job you can while you are fresh out of school. What are some of the things you need to do right now?

First of all make you’ve got a good professional resume that reflects experience that might be relevant to prospective employers. First, look at everything you’ve got in your list of job descriptions and then add any volunteer or college experience that might peak an employer’s interest. Did you manage any campus events that can display your management skills? Did you run any campus organizations that might display your leadership qualities? All of those things are relevant and should be included on your resume.

Think about the job(s) for which you are qualified and make a list of the companies where you’d like to work and what departments would fit you. If there are any professional networks which have meetings you can attend, do so. If you are an engineer, find some local engineering groups; same with sales and marketing, health care or any other areas you fit. A great idea most recent graduates won’t think about is the local Chamber of Commerce. Every significant business in your area usually has a membership and you can network there at a “Business After Hours” meeting where you can find out about companies in the area that might need your skill set.

Create some marketing materials for yourself. Get a set of blank business cards at your local office supply store and make yourself some business cards……or go to VistaPrint online and have them done free or for a nominal fee. There are a variety of styles to choose from and you can pick a professional looking style and include your name, address, phone number, email and, for a title. use something relevant like “Recent graduate from UGA seeking an entry-level marketing position”. Then you will have something to leave after an interview or to give to someone at networking events.

Will you be dressed for success? You never get a second chance to make a first impression. You’ve been living the casual life of jeans and T-shirts for a while now. You need a few professional items ready when you get that call to come in for an interview. Be prepared to look professional and get a few nice pieces to wear. For men that would include nice trousers or dark dress pants and a white button-down shirt. For women, that could be a dark skirt or pants and a plain white blouse you can dress up with a few accessories like the right scarf or simple jewelry. And please be sure to pair these with a nice new pair of conservative and well-polished shoes. Don’t show up in flip-flops or casual sandals!

Last, but not least, be prepared for the elevator speech you will use when you network or attend a job fair. It should be about 30-seconds and encompass a mini-resume. You’re telling the person about yourself and stating something that will make him or her want to get to know you better. Make sure you let your listener know what you’re interested in and what you are looking for. It also makes sense to offer to help your listener as well.

An example could be, “Hi, I’m Jan Jones and I’m a recent graduate from UGA.

I majored in marketing and have had several internships with local companies and really enjoy the field. I’d like to find something full-time in marketing in this area and would appreciate any advice you can give me. I also have a large network of friends who majored in other areas and would be happy to help you if you are looking for someone in a different category.”

Be prepared for follow-up questions and ways you can sell yourself once the conversation goes to the next level. Be ready to tell the person what you did on your internships or summer jobs that prepare you for a position with their company and why your energy, enthusiasm and willingness to learn new things would make you an excellent prospective employee. And rather than say, “Do you have a job at your company that might fit me?” a better questions might be, “Do you know of anyone that could use someone with my background and interests?” That takes the pressure off the person to whom you are speaking and gives them the opportunity to offer to send you to a hiring manager at their company.

Good luck with your job search. Just remember, as a new graduate, the world is full of possibilities. Do your homework and be prepared.

Gale is the founder of Griffin Resume Service and can be reached at galerbrown@gmail.com. 

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