Attention students and soon to be new graduates: despite the employment myth that claims organizations nationwide are staying away from young, inexperienced recruits, companies DO want to hire you. The truth is, many are searching high and low for young candidates they feel will make a good fit for the growth of their organization. And, frankly, they have to. In addition to higher numbers of millennials flooding the workforce, retiring baby boomers have forced companies into succession planning.
That being said, that doesn’t mean hiring managers aren’t swayed by negative millennial stereotypes. Many are afraid to invest in new grads because they believe you just don’t have what it takes to survive today’s business culture. There are great opportunities out there, but how you approach the job search process will be key. How can new grads build a solid college-to-career plan? Why is it so hard for new grads to get a job, and what are they NOT doing to prove their career readiness? These are just some of the questions we’ll be answering today.
1. Build a real career plan
Employers want candidates to know exactly who they are and where their professional futures are headed. That means taking the time to understand your strengths, weaknesses, and motivators and how they relate to the roles you’re applying for. You don’t necessarily need a comprehensive 10-year plan, but you do need to be able to connect your background, education, and experience and show employers how you can help them grow their company.
2. Change your mindset
Chances are you don’t quite know what you want to do for the rest of your life, and that’s ok. The best way to figure it out is by gaining more experience early on rather than focusing on your uncertainty. Look at your career as a series of chapters to build upon and evolve from. Learning what you don’t enjoy is just as valuable as learning what makes your heart sing. However, employers will want to hear a reasonable explanation for every career move you make, which means you need to think strategically. Long gone are the days when your college degree spoke for itself. You must compliment it with your own personal goals and vision in a way that resonates with potential employers.
3. Apply for an internship
Believe it or not, unpaid internships can be more impressive to employers than paid ones. By volunteering your time in exchange for knowledge and training, you can gain valuable exposure to work you haven’t considered before. Showing an organization what you can do is even better than a live, one-on-one interview. Make friends with colleagues, find a mentor, and ask questions. Garnering respect from professionals in your desired field will go a long way in building recommendations and networking opportunities. You should also consider volunteering for a not-for-profit in order to meet people who can help you and allow you to practice your interviewing skills.
4. Practice your 60-second career narrative
Your story should tell an employer who you are, highlight your relevant work experience and key ingredients, and show how they all fit into your career strategy. A hiring manager can read your resume, so this is not the time to list off your employment history. Instead, speak confidently about how your experiences make you the perfect candidate for the role. An employer recently said, “Young people lost the common courtesy of an interview.” My advice to you – get in tune with the ABC of a basic interview because it does matter!
5. Customize your resume to each role
Most people realize that an optimized LinkedIn profile is a must-have in the in the job-search process, but few people recognize that resumes, which are still the number one hiring tool, should be approached in a whole new light. Your resume is no longer a 1-dimentional piece of paper that simply highlights your education, skills, and experience level. Your resume, at a 10-second glance, must make a good impression, be customized to the specific role and industry (by using relevant keywords), and act as a communication liaison by concisely and effectively showing how your hard and soft skills will help employers grow their business. Does your resume answer: WHY you sent it, WHAT you have done that makes you a viable candidate, WHERE you did it, and HOW you can make an impact? We recognize that it’s a tall order for one sheet of paper, which is why our resume service might be your best solution.
6. Capitalize on your soft skills
Your soft skills (behaviors that employers seek out in candidates) are just as important as your hard skills (work experience and education). Make sure an employer knows that you have the soft skills (self-directed, communicative, empathetic, etc.) that employers value because that’s the “stuff” that creates a positive work environment.
Your career journey is your own blank canvas – it’s yours to create. The more effort you personally put into strategic planning and skills development, the more seriously employers will consider you. Your first real job is pivotal to building a strong foundation for a successful career.