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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8 comments
seo4
seo4

There's definately a great deal to find out about this topic. I love all of the points you've made.

ambreen11
ambreen11

Great site, where did you come up with the information in this piece of content? I’m pleased I found it though, ill be checking back soon to see what other articles you have.

stanobin
stanobin

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BobProsen
BobProsen

Congratulations on earning your degree! Now it's time to get a job. The traditional way of getting hired doesn't work. So don't send your resume to any and everyone. Everything you do has to be customized to the company and the hiring manager. If not, you won't stand out or get that all-important interview. Companies hire people to solve problems (both positive and negative). Your ability to uncover your target employers problems and position yourself as the solution is what will get you hired. Here are a few potential problem areas. Completing projects on time and on budget, improve product quality, improve service, increase sales, reduce costs, increase customer retention, enhance online marketing, etc. Now here's the good news. There are jobs for grads if you know how to find them! I'm working with three Ohio State University seniors to help them get the job they want upon graduation. On this week's conference call I showed them how to zero in on the job they want and to locate companies with those positions. They were amazed to see all of the opportunities.  Next week we'll complete our analysis of the target companies to learn as much about them as possible. These soon to be grads are making exceptional progress. Bob Prosenwww.mycareeraccelerator.comCEOThe Prosen Center

Peanutlee33
Peanutlee33

I truly agree with the Careers fair thing being a waste of time. In my area, there are relatively 2 locations these are offered, every few months. Always the SAME companies (who've already seen you, know your face, etc.) Job seekers get tired of walking between booths, collecting business cards, exchanging small talk, and walking out with a bag of paper (brochures) Been there, done that. No thanks again. I also agree with the LinkedIn perusal. Thanks to a local job office, we have been educated on how to properly utilize this site for easy networking. Several people I know (including professionals) have already landed good jobs just by LinkedIn :-D

Pray Desai
Pray Desai

thanks..nice post..really helpful

Kirk Baumann
Kirk Baumann

Rich - Great post! Sorry I'm just now reading it. I will definitely share with my network! Love the "seriously, use LinkedIn" comment. Most college students don't and it's a HUGE tool that recruiters are actively using! Fill out the profile, don't copy and paste from your resume, and keep your network updated and engaged. Keep up the great work. Kirk

Steve@QualityResumes
Steve@QualityResumes

Good point on losing the objective- but a better point would be to turn that objective into a branding statement that you can also use as a headline on LinkedIn, twitter, Facebook etc, creating your own personal brand. If nothing else it helps you mentally focus on your most important goal.

Nick@ IT Jobs
Nick@ IT Jobs

How about remember to diversify your search? Some people can get stuck in a habit of searching in the same places and only looking on a few websites/job boards and only looking in the local paper. It is important to look at as many sources as possible to find the jobs you may have missed otherwise and not be disheartened by seeing the same job adverts day in day out. Specialist publications are a great place to find specific jobs that relate to your skills and experience that you might not find so eaisly in the generic platforms.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Kirk! Good to hear from you and thanks for the comment!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Thanks for the comment, Steve! Thanks for your thoughts as well!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Nick - good suggestion! I agree with you... it's good to look in different places, but in my opinion, it's better to be targeted and find a few that are best for your specific industry.