As we turn the corner into the latter part of June, the majority of commencement ceremonies have come and gone, which means that our now–former students will soon be pounding the proverbial pavement in search of that all-important first “real” job.
For those hearty souls, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that engaging prospective employers has never been easier than it is in 2011.
The bad news is that probably no one has showed you how to do it … and not knowing how to do it can get you into trouble. Or at the very least cost you some really good opportunities.
So, with that, allow me to present Auntie Rachel’s Top 5 tips for recent college grads:
1. “Grow up” your social profiles.
If you’re thinking that “the old f*rts” who are out there hiring are un-hip to social media, think again. For many employers, a cursory check of Facebook, Twitter, and other networks is now a standard part of the screening process for new applicants. That means it’s time to ditch the profile pic of you with the beer bong and the expletive-laden tweets about your ex. Sorry, dude.
2. Get on LinkedIn. Now.
I recently had lunch with a very bright young man who had been allowed to graduate from a well-known college without ever having heard of LinkedIn. (Career counselors, pardon my French, but WTF???) LinkedIn is the professional networking site, and getting yourself up there is the single smartest step you can take towards getting hired. Make sure you complete the Skills profile (so your profile will pop up in employer searches) and fill in any experience you have, including part-time jobs, summer jobs, church and other volunteer gigs, and freelance work (paid or unpaid). And remember to get recommendations from anyone you’ve worked for or with in the past.
3. Target prospective employers and engage them on social networks.
Chances are your dream employer has some sort of presence on social networks, so subscribe to their blog, join their LinkedIn Group, follow them on Twitter, and like their Facebook page. Then join whatever conversations they have going (respectfully, of course) by commenting or retweeting whenever possible. As part of their “social circle,” you may even get wind of new job openings before they’re officially announced.
4. Remember that face-to-face networking is (still) a must.
Sure, the Web is a great venue for making initial contact with a prospective employer, but nothing will ever replace a face-to-face encounter. Pick one or two professional organizations related to your field and start showing up at their events. You don’t necessarily have to join right now (memberships can get pricey), but the investment in a luncheon or seminar here and there will pay off.
5. Think “marathon,” not “sprint.”
Even in these days of instant communication, the process of finding and landing the right job with the right employer takes time. It’s kinda like dating: you don’t want to show up with an engagement ring on that first face-to-face encounter at Starbucks. Start with a little small talk and let things progress from there. When it’s right, you’ll both know it.
OK, grads, your turn. Any words of wisdom you’d care to share with your compadres about landing the perfect job in 2011? Let us know in the comments!