You knew it would happen.
The thrill of being a recent college graduate is starting to wear off and reality is starting to kick in.
It is now time to get a “real” job.
You know what you want to do, but you’re not sure of the steps you need to take in order to land the perfect position.
The College Today asked Jim Allison, the executive director of the College of Charleston Career Center, for some basic tips on making the successful leap from college graduate to working professional:
Since a lot of places allow you to apply for a job online, is a résumé important anymore?
Yes. Often interviews and positions are secured through résumé referral or networking, which means a well-crafted résumé is essential. A résumé is also important to take to any in-person interview or job fair. It is always a good idea for any candidate to have an up-to-date résumé. Also remember to update your LinkedIn profile.
What should I put in a cover letter?
These should be written as business letters and separate from the body of an email. This letter should include the correct position you are seeking and examples of your skills.
Often candidates will write about personal attributes or characteristics such as “hard working” or “dedicated,” which are more challenging to prove on paper. Avoid those and instead list skills and experiences with examples in your cover letter. Cover letters are not always requested or required, however, you want to be ready if asked to submit one.
Do I need to inform people if I put them down as a reference?
Yes. You should always ask for permission at least a week in advance and ask ‘could you supply or serve as a good reference for me?’ Send your references a copy of your résumé and speak to them in person or by phone. Make sure you let them know specifically where you are applying for jobs or at least the types of positions you are applying for.
Is it too late to think about internships since I have already graduated?
No. Internships often lead to job offers. That is your foot in the door, depending upon the sector.
Should I take a job I hate just to get “my foot in the door” of a good company?
If you hate the job, you will hate the company. It is difficult to be qualified for or receive an offer for a job you hate.
Is it a waste of time to apply at a company that doesn’t have any current openings?
That depends on the company and person receiving your résumé or application. If you do send someone your résumé, make sure that you follow up. Good managers will hold onto good résumés for future openings.
Should I call a company to make sure they received my application?
Yes. Most people do not do this, but it helps to do so if you have not heard back from an employer or recruiter. Email can get lost or overlooked. This assumes you can follow-up and are encouraged to do so. Think carefully about what you want to say prior to following up.
Some online ads discourage calls to follow up. Most online ads lead to no interview and thus, no job.
The best method to get the job offer is through networking or résumé referral (someone you know refers or delivers your resume/application). In that case, follow up should feel like a natural part of the process.