26 May What graduates didn't hear from college career counselors
CHICAGO – However, they can get the attention of prospective employers by demonstrating creativity with aggressive job search tactics.
The biggest challenge this year’s graduates face is finding opportunities amid a retracting job market. Since July 2009, employers have announced nearly 1 million planned job cuts. The climbing job-cut toll doesn’t appear as though it will recede any time soon. Through April 2009, 711,100 job cuts have been announced as compared to 290,671 during the same period in 2008.
As employers don’t expect entry-level candidates to know much, they’re looking for other traits that indicate the applicant will be a good hire. Some of this advice might be surprising since it’s contrary to what graduates may have heard from college career counselors.
- Advertise your job search. Use the network you have cultivated while attending school. This may include former bosses, teachers and fellow classmates.
Don’t hesitate to approach former professors with whom you have built a relationship to go over your resume and find job leads. Talk to older friends who may have already found a job. You can’t find a position unless you make it known you are looking.
- Have a seat and stay a while. If there is a company for which you want to work but you can’t get an appointment with the manager of the specific department (avoid personnel unless seeking a career in HR), show up at the person’s office and simply wait until he or she gives you 10 minutes. You have nothing to lose and will have gained an interview without a resume.
- Show up early and often. The manager with whom you need to talk will most likely have free time before or after normal work hours. If normal operating hours are between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., show up at 8 a.m. Conversely, arrive at the end of the day and be prepared to stay until 6 p/m. to make a compelling case as to why you deserve an interview.
- Use your research skills on the Web. These days, you can find virtually anyone or any company on one of the hundreds of social and professional networking sites. Look up your company or the managers with whom you would like to speak on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
You may even be able to find direct contact information. If you choose to message them through these sites, draft a correspondence before you send it and have a confidant review it with you. Follow up with a phone call.
- Create your own personal job fair. Plan a social event such as a pool party or barbeque and invite friends and family who are already employed.
Create business cards with pertinent contact information to hand to people who can help you land a job after graduation. Social events can foster business references. Your guests may keep you at the top of their lists when they hear about an available position.
- Contact professional associations. Practically every profession has a society or member organization associated with it. Find out if any professional organizations related to your field are meeting or holding a conference during your spring break.
Attend the event in order to meet a large number of potential employers. If no official events are being held, try to arrange a meeting with the head of the chapter in your area. That person will be connected to many people who can help you find a position.
- Land that interview. Once the relevant department manager has accepted your request for an interview, show how smart you are in the interview by saying as little as possible. As you’re not expected to know much as an entry-level applicant, anything you volunteer may sound as if you’re offering advice. That could end an interview right then and there.
Recent columns by James Challenger
- James Challenger: Make you employment record work for you
- James Challenger: How to handle the salary issue
- James Challenger: How to spot employer credibility trouble
- James Challenger: Slow hiring of college graduates: non-profits to benefit
- James Challenger: Transferring skills the key to new work in today’s economy
This article previously appeared in MidwestBusiness.com, and was reprinted with its permission.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. WTN accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.