There’s no doubt the job market is different from what it was 15, or even 10 years ago. With the rapid adoption of social media for the job search and a recovering economy, college grads are likely wondering what their next move should be in this often daunting process.
So how can this generation of grads navigate these murky waters? Here are five simple, yet effective, tips for those who are about to enter this constantly evolving job market:
The word networking gets thrown around a lot. It might seem cliché, but networking is the most effective job search strategy, especially for recent college grads who still have access to a wide network of contacts from school.
- Reach out to friends and family.
- Keep in contact with your professors or advisors, and inquire about possible referrals or leads.
- Ask a faculty member or internship supervisor for a recommendation, particularly if you worked closely with him or her.
- Attend alumni networking events in your city of residence, as well as the location where you’d like to land your first job.
In today’s competitive market, don't be timid.
Social media isn’t only about posting photos of you and your friends at the beach—it’s become an extension of your job application. We often see partially completed LinkedIn profiles with minimal information, which makes me think: "If this person took the time to create one, why wouldn’t he or she just take the extra step to fill it out?"
Take full advantage of social media:
- Join alumni groups and other organizations in your desired field on LinkedIn, and participate in group discussions to show your skills and expertise.
- Ask previous employers or advisors to write a recommendation for you on your LinkedIn profile.
- Facebook has a Work and Education section, so don’t forget to fill it out with any relevant information.
- For Twitter, include relevant work history in your blurb so employers can easily identify you, your work interests, and past internships.
The beauty of being a recent college graduate is that you may not be bound to a specific city or region yet, so consider looking outside of the usual suspects. If you’re looking for a job as a software developer, then don’t limit your search to high-profile, bicoastal tech companies where competition is fierce. Consider working for a company in a different industry, but still allows you to thrive in your field.
It might not seem obvious, but at Progressive, we have an award-winning IT department that’s developing and implementing cutting-edge technology. We’re always on the lookout for the best and the brightest talent for a variety of roles, including software developers, system test engineers, and architects.
Just because you have minimal work experience doesn’t mean you don’t have experiences that are worthy of sharing. Highlight your academic accomplishments, extracurricular activities, internships, and any past jobs. Employers don’t expect you to have an extensive career history, so make it a point to show them other ways you are a good candidate.
During an interview, be sure to explain how the experience you do have can translate to the job for which you’re applying to. If you need more direct work experience, volunteering with a local group or organization can be a great way to gain valuable experience, while also performing a good deed.
Don’t apply to every open position under the sun, as it could raise a red flag to potential employers. When we see candidates have applied to multiple positions in different departments, it suggests to us they don’t know what career direction they want.
Focus on the job or company best suited for you and your career goals. This will allow you to really sink your teeth into that industry and show employers that it’s what you’re passionate about. It will also make you more knowledgeable in the long run.
—Christy Palfy is a recruiting manager at Cleveland-based Progressive Insurance, which has hired hundreds of recent graduates over the past five years.