1. Go to your college career center and talk with a trained professional, and I don’t just mean a drive-by. Although virtual resources are important, whether you feel stuck or not, arrange a career coaching appointment and talk with an expert to fine tune your strategies and suggest specific contacts and employers. In addition, these professionals can review and help you customize your resume and cover letter. You will also be gaining a support system, which can help encourage you and make a big difference in your job search.
2. Do a personal “SWOT” analysis. Make sure you know your strengths and how to leverage them and provide examples to employers of how you could make an immediate impact and contribution to their organization. You also need to be honest about the things that you aren’t an expert in, and have a plan about how you might acquire these skills. In fact, providing an example of a time when you didn’t have a specific expertise, but learned it quickly, can go a long way in convincing an employer that you can get up to speed quickly and be a great hire.
3. Target employers strategically. So many young graduates make the mistake of extremes: either they narrowly only apply to one industry or they cast a wide net and apply to jobs they are clearly not qualified for. The most effective approach is to think about the jobs you are interested in and qualified for and look within different industries. For example, you may be applying for jobs as a Social Media Strategist and largely targeting communications companies, but your search should extend to different types of private and nonprofit organizations that increasingly have more of these types of opportunities.
4. Don’t limit your search to job boards or similar sites. No doubt you have heard about the hidden job market and in fact that are tens of thousands of jobs that fit into this category. You can learn about jobs by many different means including: Connecting with alumni, following organizations on Twitter, looking at a company’s “Careers” page, networking or by reading meaningful content that might discuss an organization’s expansion plans or the signing of a new client.
5. I cannot stress the importance of creating and reaching out to your networks. There is a great deal of quantitative and qualitative data to support that networking is a factor in almost every successful job search. Practice your professional pitch so you can make an impact when speaking with people within your network. Also make sure your LinkedIn profile is stellar and that you utilize LinkedIn and other platforms to connect with professionals and friends who can help you expand your network.
6. Demonstrate sincerity, knowledge and passion for the organizations you are applying for and interviewing with. I have heard so many employers say that as much as they are in search of specific skill sets, they are truly looking for new graduates who are truly excited about working for their organization. Jane Day, who leads college recruiting for Urban Outfitters, says that the first thing they look for when recruiting talent are students who have been to their stores and love their brand. I have heard the same thing from many other recruiting leaders, so it’s important to keep this in mind during your job search and find a way to show for the company.
7. Make sure that your social media presence online is professional. Use your settings to ensure that only your friends have access to personal contents, but still be careful about what you post. Even friends can have a way of tagging you in photos and posts that become part of a public conversation. Keep in mind that no employer wants to take a chance on a new hire that they believe may behave inappropriately and create some type of risk to the organization.
8. Follow-up on all applications, phone conversations and interviews. Employers are looking for candidates that distinguish themselves, and ones that are professional and demonstrate that they are truly interested in the opportunity will stand out.
A job search is in fact a search, and along the way there will be disappointments as well as encouragement and success. It’s important to understand that these experiences should motivate you to keep up the hard work to land that first and fantastic new job, which will enable you to begin your professional career after college.
By Trudy Steinfield, posted on forbes.com