Congratulations to all of the 2015 graduates! You have put in your hard work, had countless sleepless study-filled nights, drank an unhealthy amount of coffee, passed your exams (hopefully) and have a pretty piece of paper to prove that you completed a college education. So now what?

Applying for jobs post-college can be an intimidating and daunting task. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there with thousands of well-educated eager beavers wanting the same exact thing you do.

With competition for jobs being at an all-time high, I would like to give you some free tips (you already spent enough on college to get you hire-ready) on what will make you stand out from the rest of the crowd. My free advice will increase your chances of landing a job and getting you one step closer to being a multi-millionaire with your dream career.

1. The obligatory resume

Everyone hates writing them. Everyone needs one. Your Senior Capstone hopefully taught you how to write a resume so I’m not going to waste your time walking you through resume writing and structuring. If you don’t know how to write one, check out this resume workshop.

What makes resumes stand out from others is, at a first glance, how they look. If you have 10,000 words on a page, fancy or obnoxious design on it, or anything else that is unnecessary and not needed, you can probably kiss your chances of landing an interview goodbye.

Here’s what your resume should look like at a glance:

 

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Here’s what your resume should never look like:

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Your resume is your personal piece of advertising and your goal is to have your future employer buy into it by asking you for an interview. If you take this into account, remember that a successful ad has a clear message, is visually appealing and has minimal text.

Now that you have a well structured, well-written, and visually appealing resume you can start applying for jobs!

But first…

2 – Do your research

If you’re like most college grads, you probably have no idea what kind of career you want to have. It’s important to remember that IT’S OKAY TO NOT KNOW RIGHT NOW. Your career path will eventually make you realize what you like and what you hate about certain jobs, so it’s essential to just start somewhere.

When you are unemployed, your full-time job becomes looking for jobs. It is inevitable that you will look on Monster or Andrew Hudson’s Job List (don’t waste your time with Craigslist!). Take it a step further and find out what companies are located in your city and which is hiring for what. When you know what is out there, you will become one step closer in discovering what type of job you want and should be applying for.

If you discover that there are literally no companies in your area hiring, don’t let that defeat you. The goal, through your research, is to find a company that has similar values as yourself, a personality you fit with, and can facilitate your career path to meet your goals. When you find one, go for it! Find their Human Resources contact, send them a cover letter (we will get to this) and your resume and tell them how your life dream is to work for them. You may have to start as an intern, but at least you are starting somewhere.

3 – Apply

Now that you’ve found some jobs out there or found a desirable company that you would love to work for, you need to apply.

This does not mean you drop in at your convenience and hand them your resume. If you’re searching for a career, it is probable that the company you are applying at is very busy and does not have time to drop what they are doing to talk to you about your resume. Send an email to the appropriate person with a cover letter and resume.

The cover letter should not be long. It should be a brief paragraph outlining the highlights of your skills and most recent experience and why you are an optimal candidate for hire. This is your chance to add some personality to the application process and give yourself individuality that your resume does not allow for.

Take your time crafting your cover letter and proofread, proofread, proofread everything that you send with your application!!!! It is also important to note that when you are sending a resume, make sure it is a PDF! You want to make sure that your resume you send is not editable and the employer knows this is the final version.

While we are at it.. go ahead and proofread everything one more time. 🙂

4 – Crush the interview

Woo hoo!! You’ve created an amazing resume, found the company of your dreams, applied with a perfect cover letter and landed an interview! Now is your time to shine. This is the moment that your college education has been leading up to – so be prepared!

Some people are lucky enough to have been gifted with strong interview skills; some are not. If you fall into the latter category, it is momentous to practice with friends or family. Employers will ask hard questions and it is important to be as best prepared as you can be for the toughest ones. It is amazing how different it is to say things out loud than just rehearse them in your head.

It is okay if you do not know the answer to some of the questions presented in an interview. What most employers look for is confidence in yourself and the capability to find out the answer. Sometimes you straight up just have to make stuff up. Saying something is better than saying nothing!

Before you go into the interview, read over your cover letter and resume. Say out loud the amazing things you accomplished in college or projects that you are most proud of. Go into this interview with the confidence and self-assurance that you know you are going to get hired because there is NO better candidate for the job than you. Even if you do not have a ton of experience, your belief in yourself will exemplify that you know what you are talking about and can do anything you set your mind to.

Smile. Be friendly. If you’ve followed my advice and researched the company, bring up specific points that you love about the company and what lead you to apply. An employer will be impressed that you thought their most recent campaign with XYZ brand was off-the-charts amazing or that their custom wine bottles as Christmas gifts to clients was super creative. This will set you apart from the other applicants who know nothing about the company.

5 – Follow Up

It is courteous, respectful and very important to follow up with the interviewer. Send them an email the same day as your interview thanking them for their time to sit down and talk with you. Highlight what you may have learned from the interview – such as that talking with them has assured you and confirmed that this is the career path you desire and the company that you would love to work for and revisit your skills that make you the ideal hire

You want to show that you are committed to this company. There are plenty of college grads that will graciously accept any job offer that is sent their way. When you are emotionally invested and committed in landing a job with a specific company, it shows in your interview and follow-up and you are more likely to land a job.

Employers want quality employees who are committed to the “good of the group” and what’s best for their business. Show that you are going to be indispensable to the business one day because of your commitment to this company and your career.

6 – Don’t give up.

I’m about to throw something at you that is absolutely terrifying – 17% of college graduates will land a job their first year out of college.

It is a process that takes dedication and perseverance, the same skills that got you through those long nights of studying and earned you your diploma. We’ve all had those moments when we feel depleted and that no more amount of studying will get us to pass an exam, but somehow we pull it off.

You will find a job.

Keep applying, keep an open mind and be willing to compromise. You may not land your dream job the first time around, but you will find a job that will give you experience and a foot in the door and that is invaluable to your career path. Good luck!!!

“If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking” – Steve Jobs