I dedicate this piece to the class of 2015. While the job outlook looks bright as hiring is expected to increase by 8.3 percent, it’s still going to be very competitive out there, with a few million graduates competing for jobs. Companies aren’t paying as much as they did before the recession and are taking fewer risks when hiring. Your goal is to stand out among other students competing for the same jobs and here are five tips that will help you do it:
1. Always be employed. There is a bias against job seekers that doesn’t get talked about. If you don’t already have a job or internship, then you’re perceived as less valuable to employers. If you don’t already have an internship your last semester of senior year, then you have three options. First, you can create projects for yourself as a way to gain experience, such as building a blog or selling something online. Second, you can do freelance projects using sites like Freelanship.com, which will help you apply your skills to short term projects and help you build your portfolio of work you can share with employers. Third, you can volunteer at a local non-profit doing work that relates to your major or a specific skill you have.
2. Create a strong marketing package. You should have a standard resume, a LinkedIn profile, a cleaned up Facebook profile, a references document, a cover letter that you can personalize for each position and an online website or portfolio. If you haven’t already, reach out to every professor and employer you’ve worked for and ask for a written recommendation on LinkedIn. From there, take that endorsement and paste it into your website. This way, employers will have more trust in you and perceive you as less risky. Link between all of your online sites so that they appear high for your name in Google. Additionally, have someone else review your materials to check for spelling, grammar and flow.
3. Use your connections. Every year it gets harder to get a job without knowing someone at a company. If all you do is submit your resume to a job board, then you have very little chance at getting your next job. Instead of focusing just on job boards, invest your time in meeting people who can either hire you or refer you to a job. People hire people so if you know the right people you’ll get the right opportunities. People have an incentive to refer you to their employer because they are compensated financially by doing it and it’s a form of goodwill.
4. Leverage your college’s alumni. A college is typically horrible at tapping their alumni base to support their current students. You have to be proactive and meet with your career center so you can tap their alumni connections. Ask for information interviews so that you can meet these alumni in person and showcase how great you are. If they like you, they will ask for you resume and try to help you out. Too many students ask for resume help and not for networking help.
5. Choose the right industries. Not all industries are created equal so if you focus on applying for jobs in the industries that are hiring, you stand a better chance. The hottest industries for 2015 are health care (projected to grow by 19.5%), engineering (projected to grow by 19%), consulting (projected to grow by 18%), accounting (projected to grow by 17%), semiconductors (projected to grow by 16%), and software development (projected to grow by 15.5%). While many of your friends think it’s “cool” to get a job at a media or entertainment company, they will end up struggling for scraps because those industries are highly competitive and don’t pay well at the lower levels. Focus on the high-growth industries if you want a higher chance of employment.
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