It’s that magical time of year when recent graduates appear en masse looking for work. Armed with your shiny new diplomas and fresh resumes, you take to the streets (okay, more realistically, the internet) in search of gainful employment in your field of study. As a business owner, I receive dozens of these solicitations every spring and summer.
Tips for graduates (and other job seekers)
Because many new grads just entering the work force don’t have a lot of experience under their belts, employers often need to look beyond work experience to gauge a candidate’s potential. And while I can’t tell you what every employer is looking for, I can tell you that doing these four things sets a candidate apart in my book:
- Do your research. A surprising number of resumes come across my desk addressed “To Whom It May Concern.” If you have access to my email or business address, you likely also have access to my name (use it). It’s also nice when a candidate takes the time to learn something about our company, and uses it in a personalized cover letter.
- Use spell check. Our clients expect us to be detail oriented. Typos in your resume or cover letter may not be a deal breaker, but they’re certainly a red flag. And be aware: your computer’s spell check doesn’t catch every mistake. There is no substitute for good ol’ fashioned manual proofreading.
- Be realistic, humble and eager. If you’re just starting out in your career, don’t expect to make the same salary as a more seasoned professional. You might be great at what you do, but they have on-the-job experience you lack. Present yourself as willing to do the work and earn your stripes. Feel free to follow up, too—a call to confirm that we received your resume and a post-interview thank you note reinforce your interest.
- Be genuine. “Fake it ‘til you make it” may seem like a good idea, but it’s hard to pretend to be someone you’re not for 40 hours a week. The interview is our first opportunity to see what it might be like to work with you, so let the real you shine through.
Of course, this advice isn’t strictly for new graduates. These tips (even the third one, with some minor tweaks) are good reminders for anyone seeking a new job!