You’re a recent college graduate about to make the first steps towards making your dream career come true. If you’re anything like me, that statement can sound like a death sentence as you leave the comfort and familiarity of organized education and enter the seemingly infinite abyss of the working world.
Your palms sweat, your hands shake and your stomach turns at the massively daunting task in front of you. You feel alone, but you’re not. You may be one of the one million 2015 college graduates who are unemployed, but 2016 is a fresh start and a great excuse to buckle down, shake off that last bit of senioritis, and start hustling to make your dreams a reality.
The following information was extremely useful during my post-college, pre-career purgatorial state of stagnation. My goal is to help you get the ball rolling and believe in your ability to succeed. The abyss is not so dark, and the journey not so arduous.
Here are tips for beginning your job search, and why you should start now.
Figure Out What You Want
First things first, you need to know what you want. It’s impossible to achieve a goal that doesn’t exist, but visualization of an end destination can be a powerful tool in manifesting what you desire. You must put in the time and effort to look up the industries, companies and positions that interest you and that you think you would be good at. No one can help you if you cannot articulate which direction you wish to go.
Shaton Winston, Senior Interactive Copywriter at IBM, spoke at the FindSpark event Land the Job: An Interactive Interview Workshop and said that his number one pet peeve was when people asked him what he thinks they should do. No one knows what you want better than you do, so that remains the most important element to figure out before searching for a job becomes a feasible task.
It is important to be flexible, especially at this fetal stage of your career. It’s okay to not know exactly what you want to do with your life at the tender age of 22, but it’s better to jump right in now, develop some marketable skills, and re-evaluate down the line when you may have a better idea of your end goal.
Pick a few jobs that seem relatively interesting and do your research to decide whether they would be a good fit for you based on your interests and experience. Remember, nothing is permanent. Enjoy the ride, but start by getting on board.
Assess Your Skills & Develop Your Personal Brand
Once you figure out what you want to do, you can take the strategic approach of custom tailoring your resume to each position that you apply for with the company and industry in mind. This will provide the foundation upon which you will build your personal pitch, highlighting specific work experiences to craft your story and demonstrate why you are a good candidate.
Start by taking stock of your current situation. What are you good at? What do you dislike? What did that dishwashing job at Davey’s Hot Dog Stand teach you? Are you a team player? Do you have any leadership experience?
These are important questions to ask and answer for yourself. These experiences create your personal story that you use to explain why you are a great fit for the job.
The best way to market yourself and demonstrate your skills and interests is to establish a personal brand. It adds to your story and creates a concrete picture in someone’s head when they think about you. It’s important to stay consistent across multiple online platforms, such as social media or a personal blog. For example, if your passion is music then you’ll want to consistently post links regarding new album releases, new monetization strategies within the music industry, and other relevant information to your image.
The best way to develop your personal brand is through designing a personal website. This involves buying a domain name, creating the website and promoting it online. Luckily, online resources like Wix provide the means to develop a website without skills in coding or design, and offer highly customizable formatting options so that you can adjust your website as much as you please.
For more information on developing your personal brand, check out 3 Ways To Differentiate Yourself As A New Grad.
For a hands-on tutorial of how to create and launch your own personal website, check out this upcoming FindSpark event: Your Name On The Small Screen: Build a Website in Just 2 Hours.
Seize the day! What better way to start off the new year than with a new job? Make your new years resolution to get a job within the first three months of the year. Give yourself a time constraint and develop a job search strategy that will yield results. Beginning the search now will give you a head start and provide access to many positions that may be filled within a few short weeks or months into the year.
You aren’t getting any younger. Remember how fast the past 22 years of your life have whizzed by? Well, the next 22 are going to pass even faster. This is your life and your time to do whatever you want. You deserve to excel at what you love, and there has never been a better time in history where it was this possible to do so.
Take initiative. Develop skills relevant to the industry you want to pursue. For example, if you want to pursue a career in digital marketing, teach yourself a program like Adobe Photoshop. This skill is valuable to your industry of interest, and will demonstrate a self-starter attitude that is always being sought after in the workplace.
Where to Look
FindSpark’s job board is a great resource if you’re looking for roles at amazing companies in the New York City area. By narrowing down your job search resources, you can hone in on the area that is most closely tied to your goals, and take the time to customize your resume to each position that you apply for. It seems scary to feel like you’re putting all of your eggs in just a few different baskets, but the quality over quantity strategy seems to have the support of many recruiters and job search experts, and results in a higher probability of getting callbacks.
Online application is the direction that many companies are going towards in their hiring practices, but networking still remains the most powerful job hunting tool. There is a lot to be said about reaching out into your personal network and connecting the dots between who knows who. Articulate your career goals. You want a job as a Production Assistant? Great, see if Uncle Jimmy can reach out to his college roommate who happens to be a Senior Production Manager at NBC Universal. It sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised to see how often this strategy is overlooked.
It is important to continually expand upon your network by forming authentic, genuine relationships. Career success is a marathon, not a sprint. Build your network by creating lasting impressions on people through connecting to their passions and interests. Even if the payoff isn’t immediate, the mark you leave will often times come back around in your favor. Recruiters are just people, and networking is just a conversation.
There are plenty of opportunities to get out there and start making friends. Your life, your career and your happiness are your responsibility. Take charge, light your fire and start your job search now. You deserve the life you’ve always envisioned, now lets make it happen.
A great upcoming networking opportunity is FindSpark’s very own Hustle Summit on January 29, 2016. There will be representatives from HBO, LiveNation, BuzzFeed and many other awesome companies to connect with!
What’s holding you back from beginning your job search? Share it in the comments section below or tweet me on Twitter (@danny_lammy).