My daughter, Kalli, is graduating from college next month and moving back home until she finds a “real” job. Not a terrible thing, really. I‘m excited to have her back in the same town. But, I know the honeymoon will end after a few weeks when my husband and I start missing the empty nest we have gotten used to.
I’ve been putting my career coach hat on. It’s a legit hat – I was a career counselor for seven years at The Evergreen State College. I’ve been busy giving her and her friends my best “get a job” advice.
Here they are – My Top 12 Tips for Getting a Job:
1. Make a vision board. Visualization is a powerful tool. Make a list of the top 5 jobs you’d like to land – or dream companies you’d like to work for. Use pictures or words to describe what you want to do. Put a picture of the things that signal success to you – a new car, apartment, etc. Put it on your wall or by your computer and look at it daily to keep you focused.
2. Update your resume.
- Use a good template and have someone else review it.
- If you have a very specific area of interest, embrace that but don’t make it so specific that you aren’t considered for other jobs.
- Tailor your resume and cover letter to the job you are applying for. Never send out a generic resume for a specific job.
3. Use your Alumni resources.
Attend as many job fairs, resume writing workshops, and networking events as you can while you are still on campus. Go to ones that aren’t related to your discipline as well. You never know who you might meet or connect with that has a friend who has a friend who you can meet. Say something like, “I’m really interested in a career in teaching, but this sounds really intriguing!”
4. Use the faculty in your discipline.
Tell them how much you admire them, then ask for their help – get letters of references, ask for referrals, ask for advice, ask them to do a mock interview with you.
5. Develop relationships.
People like to help people they like. Check in with your friend’s mother who runs a business and ask if she has friends she can introduce you to. Find and get to know people connected to businesses you are interested in.
Get business cards and information and then keep in touch with everyone you’ve met. Be proactive and make a plan for following up on a regular basis. Make a daily or weekly job search chart that includes follow-up phone calls and emails. If they can’t help, ask for introductions to others. Make finding a job your job. Don’t wait for people to follow up with you, even if they say they will.
7. Network, network, network!
Tell everyone you see that you are looking for a job. Be enthusiastic and passionate about your interests and goals. Have a business card or resume handy.
8. Practice your elevator speech.
Be able to articulate who you are, what your skills are, and what you want to do in 30 seconds or less. Practice with a friend so you sound enthusiastic, smart, and sincere.
9. Be open to a wide range of possibilities.
Don’t rule out applying for a job out of your discipline area or in a different location. I wanted to be in Seattle when I graduated and ended up in a small town 4 hours away making minimum wage. You may have to start at the beginning of the career ladder. Be okay working up to your dream job.
10. Use LinkedIn.
Set up an account, get recommendations, and join LinkedIn groups in your discipline area. Go to the Answer section and join a conversation, or ask a question. It’s a great resource for job networking. You can also find recruiters for your areas of interests. I’m happy to include you in my network!
11. Always be prepared to meet your next boss.
You never know who you will run into while you are running an errand. Take it up a notch and be mindful of generational stereotypes – don’t go out in public wearing something that may turn off a future employer – I’m talking cleavage, skin, and sloppy or dirty looking clothes.
12. Say “thank you” alot.
Be appreciative of every bit of help you get. Be polite, respectful, and thankful. Send handwritten thank you cards for those who get you an introduction or interview. Remember, people want to help people they like!
If you have specific questions about your job search, I’d love to help! Please leave a comment here!
Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home. To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit:
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