5 Start Small
After all the speeches and well wishes at graduation, you think you’re going to take over the world, right? Sometimes it helps to think a little smaller. You may have a picture of your ideal starting position, but don’t ignore opportunities further down the ladder. Even though you’re no longer a student, you can still take an internship, or a basic office position, to get your foot in the door at a company you really like. It’s also a good idea to look outside your desired field—even a customer-service position can give you valuable time-management and communication skills that are useful in many other occupations.
4 Make an Appearance
So much of job hunting is done online these days, but there’s a lot to be said for appearing in the flesh. You don’t want to hound an executive with visits and phone calls, but you can keep tabs on whether the company offers seminars or hosts public receptions you can attend. And if your chosen career has any professional associations or groups in your area, don’t be shy about joining them or going to their social events. Even if you’re not yet employed there, showing up and talking to your industry’s leaders brands you as a go-getter.
If you think back to the last time you received a form letter and thought “Wow, they couldn’t even be bothered to write something specifically for me,” then you know how potential employers feel when they receive a resume and cover letter that are clearly generic and not targeted towards them in any way. Take a cue from online advertising designed to appeal to your interests based on your browsing history—target your resume to highlight skills particularly relevant to each job and use your cover letter to explain why you’re interested in that particular company and how you could help them within the position they’ve offered.
You may think you don’t know anybody who can help you, but you never know until you ask. Talk to extended family members and long-time family friends. They may be able to put you in touch with someone in your preferred field. Your former professors probably know of alumni who can help get you started and provide professional advice and connections. But don’t just talk to older people—even your classmates may have a connection or two as a result of an internship or a missed opportunity.
1 Clean Up
Before you send out the first resume or shake the first hand, make sure your public image is a professional, responsible one. Just as you do online research on a company when deciding whether to apply, that company researches you before they call you up. Take down that picture on Facebook of you doing a keg stand during spring break, and record a basic, professional voicemail greeting for your phone. Since a lot of contact with potential employers is done through email, make sure your email address is both simple and professional.