SANTA MONICA, Calif., June 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — With degrees in hand, college grads are launching their post-graduate job hunt during a time of protracted national unemployment, which has risen to 9.1 percent for May 2011. So how do freshly minted grads find a job to love and stand out above the competition? One workplace expert says that graduates can be proactive and take steps to counter high unemployment.
“This summer is not the time to kick back and think for weeks about your career aspirations. While it’s wise to be strategic and take a short break, use this time to advance your career and build invaluable references,” says workplace expert Lynn Taylor, author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant (John Wiley).
“Employers want to know that you’ll be dedicated on the job, and will ask you in so many words, ‘what you did over your summer vacation.’ Remember that it’s not uncommon to parlay a summer job — including a part-time one, into a long-term, satisfying position once fall arrives,” she says.
Taylor, CEO of Lynn Taylor Consulting, adds that too often, not enough effort is put forth towards researching the prospective employer. “You can also spend some time on LinkedIn and industry websites finding out about the hiring manager. “That may create some common bonds and further demonstrate your interest in working at the company,” Taylor says.
“During the interview, make sure you spend ample time interviewing directly with the person to whom you’ll be reporting — to avoid working for what I call “terrible office tyrants, or TOTs. Assuming the job will advance your career ‘on paper,’ chemistry is critical, and so are your instincts about the cultural fit,” says Taylor.
- Get Out and About – “Use social media and trade groups to connect with those in your field,” Taylor says. “But don’t overlook face-to-face networking opportunities, community groups and organizations. “Write down every friend, relative, social contact you know,” Taylor says, “and ask them to spread the word — but always remember to also offer reciprocity — and help them in meaningful ways.” Also make a list of references you can produce at an interview.
- Volunteer – at hospitals, charitable groups, or ideally, at a job in your field. “If you can afford to volunteer without pay in your field,” Taylor says, “that will appear as preferable to waiting tables because of the head start you’ll get in your career expertise, as well as references from people who are ‘connected.'”
“It is better to be working because you are demonstrating initiative. There are many general job skills that have cross-over skills, regardless of the field, including: learning how to be a team player, meet a boss’s objectives, gaining positive references, showing that you have strong character, are reliable and dedicated.
- Be Poised and Polished – “Learning how to interact with people will give you an edge when interviewing. People skills are critical in today’s techno-centric workplace. Consider joining Toastmasters, take communications classes and consider making presentations at local professional societies. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money to be well groomed and appear neat. Leave the Lady Gaga tee shirt for the company picnic,” says Taylor.
- Be Confident, But Don’t Brag – “There’s a fine line between being self-assured and sounding conceited in your zeal to sell yourself. Hiring managers want to know that you can handle the job through facts and poise, not through hyperbole,” Taylor says. “At the other end of the extreme, don’t harp on any weak areas or be too humble. This is a chance to talk about your successes and how your past can contribute to their enhanced future.”
- Be Open to Jobs Outside Your Field – Contact all relevant temporary agencies, even if the jobs aren’t exactly in your domain. If you’re seeking a corporate job, even getting exposure in an administrative position can be of value. Use job sites such as Monster, Craigslist and online industry job listings. Consider working through high-level, industry-specific temporary and consulting firms. And consider becoming a Tempreneur – combining temporary work with some entrepreneurial consulting, or parlaying project work into a full-time job. Finally, don’t feel stuck in your hometown. Move to where jobs are, if necessary.
- Beware of the Overnight Sensation Temptation – “Creating your own business can be a challenge having just graduated, unless you’ve been developing a proven product or service as a student for some time. So be patient about creating ‘the next best thing,’ despite the overnight 20-something sensations of the past 12 years. And while you put in your proverbial time, just remember not to settle for the world’s worst job in the meantime,” Taylor says.
- Job Interview a Key Window – She explains, “The job interview offers a critical window through which to judge the job and your own future work life. Companies may have ‘TOT zones’ that you can spot at the interview stage. When you know what to look for, then you can save months and even years of time that could be put to a more fulfilling, positive career path.”
Lynn Taylor Consulting