20 Job Search Tips for 2012 College Graduates

by Rich DeMatteo on February 22, 2012 · 19 comments

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I want to tell you about a conversation that I once overheard.  The day was March 15, 2005, my college graduation day.  A roommate’s dad was talking to my mother and father when I heard him say…

I wanted to bring a 2X4 (lumber), write “LIFE” on it, and use it to smack Billy right across his forehead the moment he received his diploma

I was certainly too confused and overwhelmed with my current newfound life situation to understand how true that joke actually was.  For many, graduation signals a new life.  For some it’s a tougher life.  For most (if not all) it’s the official birth of a professional — but only after they do land that first job.

When I graduated, the job market was much easier to break into than it is now.  The “life” 2X4 induces much more pain for graduates these days, so here are 25 Job Search Tips for the current or soon to be 2012 Graduates:

1.  Use Linkedin:  Spend serious time on Linkedin.  Build connections, join groups related to your industry, and apply for jobs through Linkedin.  If you spend 10 hours on Facebook per week, try popping onto Linkedin for 5 hours.

2.  Visit Your School Career Center:  Your career center is not only free, but people there are very helpful.  Take advantage of their tips, advice, and employer connections.

3.  Focus Your Job Search:  Don’t apply to everything you see.  Focus your search on one or two specific areas.  Applying to too many jobs is sloppy and employers will take notice.

4.  Practice Interviewing With Friends:  Get a group of 2-3 friends together and meet once a week to practice interview questions.  Critique each other and offer feedback.

5.  Buy Your Interview Clothes Before Graduating:  You might already have nice clothes for an interview, but it’s always a nice feeling to buy a new suit and feel mentally prepared for something great to happen.  Don’t want to get a call on a Tuesday for an interview on Thursday and feel unprepared to look the part.

6.  Have a Plan:  Write out a little job search plan.  List the companies you really want to work for, the geographic locations you like, and pick specific times of the week to designate for the job search.

7.  Don’t Have a Plan:  Hey, some people just can’t plan, and that’s OK.  Just make sure to not lose focus of the one or two areas that you’re SURE you want to work in.

8.  Set a Professional Voicemail on Your Phone:  A standard voicemail will work just fine.

9.  Check Your Facebook Privacy Settings:  Turn your wall comments off, disable photo tagging, and set everything to a minimum of “Friends of Friends”.

10.  Connect With a Mentor:  Mentors come in all stages of life.  Utilize social media to network with someone who is a few years older than you and established in the industry you’re pursuing.  They’ll be impressed and excited you have the courage to ask them to be your mentor.

11.  Don’t Panic:  It’s not the end of the world if you don’t have a job lined up 2,3, or even 6 months after graduating.  Just try to fill the time up with volunteer work or a part-time gig.

12.  Join a Young Professionals Group:  Fine a local networking group for young professionals.  Your local chamber of commerce should be able to provide information for you.

13.  Work With a Career Coach:  It’s never a bad idea to work with a professional.  A career coach will help you focus and refine your skills.  They can also help you with your job search communications.  You can work with me or comment below if you’d like me to refer you to someone.

14.  Connect With Recruiters BEFORE a Career Fair:  Career fairs are a waste of time if you aren’t already connected with the attending employers.  Connect on the phone, email, or social media before attending.

15.  Don’t Get Too High or Too Low:  The hiring process is a roller coaster.  Don’t let your emotions get too high or low.  Just ride it out until you receive an offer.

16.  Seriously, Use Linkedin:  The power of Linkedin is unreal.  Here’s a beginner’s guide I created.

17.  Stay Connected With Teachers:  Check in with your favorite teachers after graduating.  They may know of hiring companies.

18.  Avoid Using an Objective Statement:  Save your objective for the cover letter.  If you’re applying, then it’s clear your objective is working for that company.

19.  Don’t Get Jealous:  Friends who you thought would NEVER get a job will be handed an awesome position at a great company.  Don’t take this to heart, just focus on yourself.

20.  Evolve:  The job search is continuously changing.  What tools and processes work now, might not work in 6 months.  Research continuously, utilize different job search tools, and improve yourself after interviews.

 

Are you feeling ready for the “LIFE” 2X4 to smack you in the head?  Hope the above job search tips help prepare you for your new professional life.

Oh, and congrats to recent graduates and those who will do so in May and June!

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