As I enter my third week as a new professional, I think I can clearly reflect on my job search. 49 job applications, 7 interviews at The Placement Exchange (TPE), 4 phone interviews, 4 Skype interviews, and 3 on campus interviews later, I finally got a job offer (and a pretty AMAZING one at that)! Each day would consist of me checking college human resources sites for job opening updates, waiting for interesting positions on HigherEd Jobs, tailoring cover letters, or spending time carefully filling out and submitting job applications.
Even though I received my job about 6 weeks after I sashayed across LSU’s stage for a second degree, it did not seem so quick and easy when I started the search 4 months prior. Has getting a job after college changed from “back in the day”? The simple answer is hell to the yes. There is one thing that is consistent and inevitable in life and that is change. I don’t think I have to give anyone mind-blowing statistics and percentages of how there are so many more people who are seeking higher education, as well as the outstanding number of students graduating and enrolling in school (again) to get advanced degrees. This fact only equates in more people submitting job applications which is even more competition.
So, what are employers looking for? What will help you stand out in the stack of resumes and cover letters? A number of things will, but the the top thing employers are looking for is experience (and how well you can convey that experience in an interview). Almost equally as important is informal references. Sometimes it’s not what you know or even who you know, it’s what you can do and who knows you.
This epitomizes the college graduate’s job search. Getting your first job after graduation may be the hardest job to obtain, but once your foot is in the door, it’s easier to make your way in. And obtaining valuable experience can help get your foot in the door. Make use of your time during college by job shadowing, utilizing practicum and taking internship opportunities. Get involved with on/off campus organizations, or volunteer work related to your job interest. Doing this will allow you to kill 3 birds with one stone – getting experience, increasing your network for informal and formal references, and even assuring yourself of your career choice.
Also, don’t sleep on the power of your current job either. Your part-time job or activities may even translate into valuable experience. Even a McDonald’s employee could land a job or internship opportunity to be a manager (or co-manager) of a company. If you are a current student at a college and/or university, there is most likely someone (or multiple people) in the career services offices at your school that are willing and waiting to assist you in your job search… for free. Not a student? There are plenty of career counselors available to help you as well. I can help you too! If you know of someone in your job field or who has recently went through the job search, it doesn’t hurt to let them look over your resume or get advice from them as well. Don’t be scared to ask. A closed mouth doesn’t get fed, especially if it has no job and little money to buy food.
In the middle of my job search frenzy, a wise woman told me that, “You only need one job”. And she was so right. I am delighted to have that one great job that is allowing me to wedge my foot in the door as a Student Affairs professional. I get to counsel and work with college students, which is what I love to do, and I get to start counseling you guys right here on CueTheRant.com!