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Tuesday, April 7, 2015 12:05 am

Helpful hints to land your first job

Employers plan to hire more graduates, but the job market remains competitive.


Though the job market for newly minted college graduates has proven less than ideal in recent years, members of the class of 2014 entered a job market that was on the rebound. According to the “Job Outlook 2014” survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers anticipated hiring nearly 8 percent more 2014 graduates for their domestic operations than they hired from the class of 2013.

That’s good news for new grads, but members of the class of 2015 should still expect a competitive job market in which companies can afford to be patient as they attempt to find the best possible candidate for each opening. Often the best candidate, especially for entry-level positions, is the one who combines some experience with a willingness to learn and do whatever it takes to help a company succeed. Many candidates boast such experience and enthusiasm, but there are some additional steps new graduates can take to improve their chances of landing their first jobs out of college.

Gain some relevant experience.
While college is the best time to gain some experience that’s relevant to your field, that does not mean you can’t still earn an internship now that you have donned your cap and gown and received your diploma. Many businesses look to recent graduates to fill their internships, as recent grads have years of study under their belts and, because they are no longer enrolled in classes, have more flexibility than current students. If the job market in your chosen field is tepid, start looking for internships. These can be a great way to start making some professional contacts, and many people find themselves ultimately working full time for the company where they first landed an internship.

Establish an online presence.
Another way for recent graduates to get noticed is to establish a positive online presence. Something as simple as creating a profile on the professional networking site LinkedIn can help recent graduates get noticed by prospective employers. Even if you have little or no relevant professional experience, create a profile that includes your education history, interests, accolades or awards you earned while in school and even a brief summary of your career goals.

Another way to establish an online presence is to begin a blog. The blog should not be used as a tool to discuss your personal life, but rather to express your thoughts on topics relevant to the career you hope to pursue. Demonstrating an understanding or even just a passion for the industry can be a great way to show prospective employers that you are looking for a career and not just a job.

Join a professional organization.
Other options to network and improve your chances of landing your first job can be attained by joining a professional organization. Many such organizations welcome new members, even those with relatively little or even no professional experience. Your university may even sponsor such an organization and host regularly scheduled forums relevant to your industry. Such forums often feature lectures or talk sessions with already established professionals who can provide advice on landing a first job or internship or furnish grads with industry contacts who might offer similar help. Memberships in such organizations is often free or inexpensive, so take advantage of this opportunity if it presents itself.

Use the resources at your disposal.
Many college graduates are unaware that they have valuable resources at their disposal that can greatly increase their chances of securing a job out of college. The career services office at the university or community college is an invaluable resource that is plugged into the business community in its town or city. Such an office can connect you with fellow alumni, many of whom want to help their fellow graduates establish their careers. A career services office also can help new graduates fine-tune their resumes and cover letters so they have a greater chance of landing a job.

Parents also might be a great resource in your job hunt. Your parents may have a career’s worth of professional contacts who might be able to help you land a job. Don’t be hesitant to ask your parents for help.

Getting a first job out of college is rarely easy. But there are some strategies motivated grads can employ to greatly increase their chances of finding a job and starting their careers.


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