In a few short weeks, the Class of 2019 will be crossing the stage in Cistern Yard as the newest College of Charleston alumni.

Now comes the hard part – finding a job.

The good news is that there are jobs available. A recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows that nearly two-thirds of respondents rate the current job market either “excellent” or “very good.”

Jim Allison

But how do you find the perfect job for you?

The College Today spoke with Jim Allison, executive director of the College of Charleston Career Center, for advice for upcoming graduates.

Besides online job sites, where else should a new graduate look to find job openings? 

Online job sites vary in effectiveness. For instance, just googling what you seek may take you to familiar online sites, such as Simplyhired, Indeed, Monster or CareerBuilder, and we typically do NOT recommend that method as a sole job search tactic. There is far too much competition on those sites and a certain “randomness” where you will often need specific, identifiable skills, experience or even certificates in order to pass initial screens (applicant tracking systems). On the other hand, an online job site, such as the one sponsored by the College of Charleston Career Center, called Handshakeis designed for employment recruiters to submit their open internships and jobs directly to the College (in this case the Career Center) seeking our graduates. Use Handshake and see the Career Center for assistance. We post a minimum of 50 new jobs and 25 new internships, carefully vetted, per day, to Handshake.

But the web should merely be one part of your search process.

Contacting your network (friends, family, faculty, current supervisors and former supervisors) for advice and guidance is also recommended. Lastly, the College held at least three on-campus job fairs this spring with over 150 employers on campus, and there are city specific or industry specific fairs held at various times throughout the year. Those fairs can be thought of as “if the employer is attending the fair, they are seeking to hire” and it is a good idea to take advantage of that when possible.

Since a lot of places allow you to apply for a job online, is a résumé important anymore? 

Yes, absolutely. Many online applications still provide the opportunity to upload a résumé, cover letter or other document, after completion of the application. Your resume is also very useful for networking, resume referral (networking emails), forwarding, using at Career Fairs and as a guide to revising your LinkedIn profile.

Is it a bad idea to apply for a position at a company that is not hiring at this time? 

Yes, since, if the company is not hiring, how are you actually “applying?”  If they are not hiring, then there would be no opening or application to apply to. Are you randomly sending your résumé to human resources? A vice president?  That is not recommended. Instead, consider networking via alumni, friends or colleagues, so you will be considered when positions do come open. That type of outreach is recommended.

Should I inform people if I plan to use them as a reference? 

Yes, always, and make sure to ask your references and secure their confirmation or approval, prior to submitting any applications.

Should I call a company to make sure they received my application?  

Some companies and applications indicate “do not call.” However, a call or email to the hiring manager, if identifiable, may get their attention. You can call, but part of that call is “how is or was my call received?” That tells you a lot about culture and fit.

Is it OK to apply for a job even if you do not meet all of the requirements? 

Yes, absolutely. Personnel directors are “notorious” for listing many bullet points in the duties or skills needed/functions section of position descriptions and most students have not yet had the opportunity to achieve all of the requirements. Instead, focus on the skills you do have or what you have achieved, then mention your reason for applying includes your desire to “learn how to do ____ and _____” which would be requirements they list that you do not meet, but could be trained to do.

What should and should not be on a resume? 

Good question, as this is an entire tailored workshop through the Career Center. We have some good links here. More importantly, we are open for appointments, drop-in hours and other options to assist students. This conversation needs one-on-one attention for almost all student-resumes. In other words, make sure the Career Center critiques your résumé, at least once, prior to graduation.

Anything else you want to add?  

Visit the Career Center site to make an appointment or visit drop-in hours from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. And remember to use Handshake to find job openings.