what new grads need to know about job searching

featured-on-usnWith a new class of college graduates preparing to leave school, millions of new grads are going to be trying to figure out how to find a job. Over at U.S. News & World Report today, I talk about 10 key tips that new grads should know as they enter into what’s still a tough job market, including not applying for everything they see, not waiting to start searching, and more. You can read it here.

{ 15 comments… read them below }

  1. Paralegal

    As a semi-recent grad, +1 to all, especially #1 and #8.

    For #1, I started applying to jobs in February or March of my senior year. Employers that are looking to hire recent grads know you won’t be available to start until mid/late-May, but a number start the hiring process fairly early. Other fields, like finance, typically start hiring in the fall.

    For #8, I had a practice interview at my career center that was incredibly helpful. The interviewer was a gruff older man who was very intimidating – he didn’t smile at all and wasn’t particularly friendly. It was immensely helpful because it was much more realistic than having a mock interview with a friend, and he wouldn’t let me get away with fluff answers or “I’ll figure out something to say before the actual interview.”

    1. KayDay

      Hmm, I had the opposite experience with #1. While yes, it might take a while to find a job, most employers I was looking at weren’t willing to wait around for months for you to be available. There might be some flexibility though–one friend was able to start in April on a part time basis until exams were over. I do, however, agree that it is field specific–some employers take a “class” of entry level associates, and want everyone to start at the same time.

      But yes, yes, yes, for the practice interviews! Interviewing can feel really unnatural at first, so practicing interviewing with a non-friend was really helpful.

      1. Henning Makholm

        On the other hand, it can also easily take months from applying to actually starting a job even if you’re available immediately, and this should definitely be factored in for when starts sending out applications.

      2. Amanda

        But for many new job-seekers, job searching takes a lot of failed attempts to get it right. It’s possible that a college student would get an offer on the first few tries-and then have to turn it down-but it’s much more possible that it’s going to take them at least several months to get used to the nuances of job searching. Best to get some solid practice in before someone is graduated and getting desperate.

        1. KayDay

          I agree that the practice can be good. My advice definitely isn’t “don’t job search at all before graduation;” but rather to be aware that unlike college, in full-time-job-world, you can’t always apply for jobs a year in advance (in my field). I think a month before graduation is a good time to start seriously applying, but unfortunately, that busy time for a lot of students.

          I’m trying not to repeat my comment from Friday, but basically, it was a huge shock to me that there was so little I could do early in the academic year (when I had more free time). Literally no one ever warned me that full time jobs might need you right away–I had only heard about the consulting/finance/law model of recruiting a class in the fall semester to begin a year later.

  2. Lexy

    #1 – definitely know your industry on this. (Or industries if you’re interested in multiple tracks). In accounting and law (my and my husband’s fields) the largest round of recruiting is in the fall. If students start their senior year as accounting students not really prepared for all the on campus recruiting their missing out on a lot of big opportunities. It doesn’t mean you won’t find a job but it means you’re putting up a totally unnecessary barrier.

    And, as I always tell accounting students, if the first time you’re talking to anyone at the firm is at Meet the Firms (fall recruiting event, generally just before on campus interviews) you’re too late. That’s a slight exaggeration, but only slight. And it is particular to my industry, which is brings me back up to my first point “know your industry”.

  3. College Career Counselor

    1. “Don’t wait to start job searching.”
    This is great advice–unfortunately, many college students don’t think about jobs until they’re about to graduate (or the summer after graduating). A colleague of mine used to have a rule of thumb with students: “Add a month to the job search for every 10k in salary you’re seeking.” In other words, it could take you up to three months to land a job at 30k. While I don’t use that one all the time, it is sometimes helpful in talking to students about salary expectations, different fields, etc.

    4. “Don’t apply for everything you see.”
    +1 Especially if you’re not keeping track of where you’ve applied. Hiring managers will get annoyed with you if you’re applying indiscriminately. Stop blasting away with the resume shotgun and like Alison says do a targeted search.

    6. “Don’t think you can’t intern just because you’re no longer a student.”
    While some places require you to be a returning student (or going to grad school in the fall–I’m thinking of certain government internships), many internships are for recent grads as well (non profits, policy research, etc.). The difficulty with internships for graduates comes when the internship site requires credit in order to do the internship. This is especially prevalent in media/journalism and some finance/business internships.

    8. “Practice interviewing.”
    Can’t agree more! Many students (especially the outgoing ones) think that they’ll be a “natural” at interviewing because they “can talk to anybody.” That makes you social, not necessarily effective at addressing work-related competencies, having a grasp of the organization’s mission, or knowing your skills/experience well enough to articulate why you’re a good choice.

    9. “Make sure that your….online presence….portray[s] you as a professional, mature adult, not a partying college student.”
    This is so easy for students to forget, since they’ve spent the last few years in the college bubble, where the professional stakes are low and tolerance for various forms of “youthful indiscretion” is fairly high. The last statistic I read was that around 70% of employers google prospective candidates.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      A colleague of mine used to have a rule of thumb with students: “Add a month to the job search for every 10k in salary you’re seeking.” In other words, it could take you up to three months to land a job at 30k.

      That was actually pre-recession advice — I would plan on much longer than 3 months for that now.

  4. Sabrina

    I’m going to be graduating in August and am planning on starting my job search pretty shortly. So this is very helpful. Though I think my situation is different because I’m not a 22 year old kid who’s never worked, I’m a “non tradition” student with years of work history. But still, I’ve been looking for a “better job” since January, 2006. I wish that equaled a $840,000 salary at the end of it all!

  5. HAnon

    Thanks for writing this! My brother is graduating from college this summer, and I am emailing this link to him today! :)

  6. Jessa

    #3 except listen to every single bit of advice Alison gives. Always. AAM rocks the advice thing.

  7. Nicole

    All very great advice here, and I want to emphasize #9 here. My company has actually turned away applicants who’ve applied for positions using an email address like “sweetcheeksxxx@xxxx.com” or something of that sort. I’ve also set my facebook to private when I started job searching a couple years ago.

  8. Chris

    How long is too long when looking for work as a new grad? A lot of new grad positions I’ve seen seem to have a 2 year buffer for the position (i.e. you can only apply if you got your Bachelor’s/Master’swithin the last 2 years.). Is there a benchmark date where it becomes unofficially official that the new grad…messed up / missed the hiring boat?

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