OK, the college degree you earned is now in your hands.  The U-Haul truck with your couch, bed, desk, books and posters is parked in your parent’s driveway.  It is now time to jump into the next chapter of your life.

But where do you start?

How do you go from college student to new college graduate in todays ‘s job market?

Denny Ciganovic

Denny Ciganovic

Denny Ciganovic of the College of Charleston Career Center has answers to six big job search questions that come up when you are looking for your first “real job:”

Q: What is the first thing you need to do when you first enter the job market?

A: Have a marketing plan for yourself.  Your plan should include targeted organizations, how to convey your skills/talents and a list of individuals who can be solid references. It would also be a good idea to write a good resume and cover letter.

Q: How important is the resume?

A: Very. It is one of the essentials you need to apply for the vast majority of positions. A good resume will highlight your background and create an interest from the employer.

Q: How can you make an impressive resume if you do not have a lot of experience?

A: Depending on the position you are interested in and the employers’ requirements, extensive experience may not be required. The important thing is to know what skills you have and to research the position to make sure your skills fit the job. The cover letter is also very important for this.

Q: Do reference letters really help?

A: Yes. These are not normally included with the initial application, but they are expected when a person is a finalist and the organization is doing a background check before making an offer.  More reference checking is done via phone these days, but some fields like Education and Social Services expect your references to be written.

Q: Where is the best place to find job openings?

A: The best way is to have a marketing plan that includes a wide variety of sources.  One key thing we suggest is not to restrict your job search to only the big well known job boards like Monster, Career Builder and others. Networking is still the most important way. Also, using social media like LinkedIn and job postings in the career center will help.

Q: Is it better to work at one job while continuing to search for a “dream job” or should I spend all of my time trying to find my “dream job?”

A: Most individuals don’t have a “dream job” initially, but after several jobs they come to a better understanding of what a “dream job” is and then pursue it. For a person who doesn’t have a “dream job,” try to get a job that will not only fit your current skills set, but also something that you will enjoy doing.