5 Job Hunting Tips for College Graduates

Job hunting can be challenging for recent college graduates. However, Dr. Mercer offers invaluable job hunting advice and tips that can be immediately implemented to aid job seekers in securing employment.

1. Volunteer Experience:

Problem: Job seekers often face difficulty securing employment due to lack of experience, yet gaining experience without a job can be a daunting challenge.

Solution: If you’re struggling to find a job in your desired field, consider volunteering for similar roles one or two days a week, preferably at organizations aligning with your interests or within non-profit sectors. These entities often welcome unpaid assistance and provide valuable work experience, enhancing your job prospects.

Examples: a) An art major yearned to work in an art gallery but couldn’t secure such a position. Following advice, she volunteered to host art exhibit openings at a museum weekly. Guess who she encountered? Owners of art galleries, one of whom eventually hired her. b) An IT major facing job market difficulties opted to volunteer in computer programming at a non-profit trade association. Why choose a trade association? Their membership comprised executives from numerous companies. His impressive programming skills and dedication caught the attention of the association’s director, who introduced him to executives from member companies, ultimately leading to his dream IT job.

2. Opt for Lower Salary Jobs, but Select Prestigious Organizations:

Job hunters, take note: Accepting a lower salary can pave the way for significantly higher earnings, particularly if you secure a position at a renowned or prestigious organization.

Example: Upon graduating college, I landed a job offering 50% less pay than others in my field with the same major. However, my role was within a world-renowned, prestigious organization. Despite the initial pay gap, I gained invaluable work experience and acquired far more knowledge than my counterparts earning higher salaries in lesser-known companies within the industry. Moreover, my tenure at this prestigious organization played a pivotal role in my admission to graduate school. In contrast, my peers who prioritized higher pay ended up with less enriching work experiences and acquired knowledge. Therefore, consider embracing lower-paying positions, especially if they serve as stepping stones for extensive learning and future success.

3. Reach Out to Your Network of Favors:

    Compile a list of individuals who may be inclined to assist you or your family members willingly. Instead of relying on emails, make direct phone calls to these contacts and request referrals for your job search.

    Firstly, prioritize contacting individuals whose livelihood depends on your family’s patronage, such as physicians, dentists, accountants, clergy, and bankers. Secondly, reach out to individuals whom you’ve previously aided, such as neighbors for whom you’ve provided babysitting or snow shoveling services. Thirdly, consider individuals you’ve supported during your college years, including fellow students, professors you’ve assisted, campus leaders, and administrators you’ve collaborated with. Their concern for maintaining income or gratitude for past kindness will likely motivate them to provide you with valuable contacts within your desired industry.

    Once armed with these referrals, proceed to call the individuals they’ve recommended as part of your job search endeavors. This proactive approach can significantly expand your network and increase your chances of securing employment opportunities.

    4. Rethink Your Reliance on Online Job Sites:

    While it may be tempting to spend hours on end applying for jobs online from the comfort of your apartment or parents’ basement, don’t place all your bets on this method. Limit your time spent on online job hunting sites to just 60 minutes per day or less.

    Why the restriction? Because these platforms typically attract hundreds of applicants for each job posting, significantly diminishing your chances of standing out from the crowd and securing an interview. Instead, consider a more proactive approach: reach out to individuals who can provide you with leads to potential employers and follow up on those referrals with phone calls. This strategy is far more effective in navigating the job market and increasing your chances of success.

    5. Embrace Low-Tech, High-Touch Strategies in Your Job Search:

    In a world inundated with impersonal digital communication, standing out requires a more personal touch. Managers bombarded with over 100 emails and countless phone calls from unfamiliar job seekers often overlook these approaches.

    However, what they receive less frequently, if at all, are (a) phone calls from job seekers referred by someone they know personally and (b) handwritten “Thank You” notes following conversations with job seekers. To distinguish yourself in the sea of applicants, obtain referrals to actual hiring managers, reach out via phone calls, and send handwritten follow-up notes expressing gratitude.

    Your adherence to this low-tech, high-touch approach earns you valuable points in the eyes of hiring managers. They will appreciate and remember your personalized gestures when job opportunities arise, making it more likely for them to reach out to you with relevant job offers.

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