The Employment Clinic
By Lawrence Alter
The job market for new college graduates is still highly competitive. In May of 2004, an article published by the Boston Globe newspaper indicated that fully 35% of the 2003 graduating class was still unemployed. Although the job market for new college graduates has improved for 2005, it is still extremely challenging. The same study also indicated that 52% of employers think relevant work experience is the most valuable asset a new graduate can have. Our experience shows that regardless of where you gained your working experience, it will be attractive to potential employers. Whether you worked in a McDonald’s restaurant, a department store, a construction company, or as an Intern in a fortune 500 company you have developed marketable talents and learned how to make contributions that impact outcomes for a company.
Conducting a job search requires a major commitment especially when you have classes to attend and need sufficient time to study. If you are finished with school, then finding a job is a full time job. It requires self-discipline and a time management/action plan. Although you should avail yourself of the resources of your campus career center, don’t depend upon it. Their assistance is often rudimentary, usually limited to career counseling, resume guidance, coordinating on-campus recruiting efforts of hiring employers, and job postings.
The following suggestions are designed to assist you in achieving your career goal:
- Allow sufficient time to implement a quality search. Launch your job search at least 3 – 6 months before graduation or you may very well be looking for an extended period of time after graduation.
- Utilize every resource available in reaching the published job market. You should scour newspaper advertisements and internet postings, send your resume to all search firms and recruiters within the geographic area you are targeting, and post your resume on the three primary internet job search and employment sites CareerBuilder.com, Monster.com, and HotJobs.com. Don’t neglect the importance of other online sites that may specifically deal with your area of expertise or unique situation including those that offer help to diversity candidates, the technical professional, or any other area of specialty.
- Avoid Human Resource departments and go directly to the department manager in any company you are targeting. The HR professional is not necessarily aware of openings that may occur over the next 3-6 months, and they definitely aren’t aware of the needs that may exist in the mind of a hiring manager.
- Prepare a specific list of companies for whom you would enjoy working. Call the hiring manager rather than sending a resume. Your chances of generating a meeting are far greater when you speak directly with a hiring authority.
- Be proactive when responding to advertisements. If you know the company name, call and ask for the hiring manager. Be prepared with your 60-second presentation and to deal with any objections as to why you called or have not followed protocol by sending your resume.
- Have your resume professionally prepared. It does make a difference.
- If you attend career fairs, find out what companies are in attendance and call the manager of the department you are targeting. If the manager suggests you meet with their representative, then use their name as entrée when you approach the booth.
- Network constantly. Your contacts are probably more extensive then you realize. They include former alumni, college professors and administrators, social acquaintances, fraternity and sorority acquaintances, friends of your parents, attorneys and accountants, your cleric and influential members of the congregation, previous employers, your high school principal, athletic coaches, alumni, committee chairs, etc.
- Your daily newspaper or community business publication will usually publish information on important business events and changes within an organization. These could represent targets of opportunity and a reason to make a personal contact.
- Have a specific area of focus for your career, and reasons to justify why you would be able to make genuine contributions.
- Prepare a short Portfolio – no more than 10 pages – to illustrate academic, employment, athletic, and personal highlights and achievements.
- Get letters of recommendation from previous employers and community or religious leaders. They are testimonials to your talents and character.
- Develop a 60-second memorized presentation to highlight your background, strengths, and achievements, and reasons why someone should see you. Rehearse it until it sounds natural and not memorized.
- Practice your telephone presentation and interviewing skills with a classmate or friend. Take turns asking each other questions and critique the responses to fine tune your technique.
- Suggest working for a month as an “uncompensated” intern. This is an indicator you are willing to risk your time and effort to land a full time job, and that you have confidence in your skills. Life demands that we take risks. If there are no risks – there will be no gains.
Author Lawrence Alter is president of L.D.A. Enterprises, Ltd.; a Minneapolis based outplacement and career management firm. He is a recognized expert in career growth techniques and former columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Send ideas or questions via email to: LDA@EmploymentClinic.com. Website address: www.EmploymentClinic. ©Copyright 2007 Lawrence Alter. All rights reserved.