Graduating from college and jumping into the real world can be extremely overwhelming. I recall this period on my life feeling a bit like culture shock since I was totally unprepared for what lay ahead. I struggled for months in the job search and early career management which is probably why I’m so passionate about helping career newbies in my line of work. There was a ton of learning along the way and looking back, there are 6 pieces of advice I wish someone would have given me as I left college for the real world.
1. Try an Internship to Generate Valuable Job Contacts
Internships are a great way to network inside a company and lay the foundation for future opportunities especially if your goal is to eventually be hired with your internship company. The downside is that of working for free but the upside is that of an immediate entry point or foot in the door AND exposure to the hiring decision makers. If you’re struggling in the job search, and months are passing without any luck, you may want to try this route.
2. Work Your Butt Off
First impressions are everything so you’ll want to start by proving yourself as qualified and competent. Don’t slack off or be caught surfing the web. Do your job to the best of your abilities so that you’re exceeding expectations and keeping your manager happy. Raise your hand to take on more work at every opportunity as long as your quality of work is strong. This will send the message that you are serious about what you do. It will also help you start developing a wide range of skills and valuable experiences to speak to on your resume.
3. Network Network Network
When you’re not working hard, make a point to start building relationships with everyone around you: your manager, peers, and team. Don’t eat lunch or take coffee breaks alone. Think of these little breaks as opportunities to establish the personal connections from which to build your future relationships. If there’s one lesson worth learning early in your career it’s this: you never know how someone in your network will be able to help you in the future. Therefore establishing and nurturing networking contacts day one of your career, is super important!
4. Make Your Boss Look Good
Whether you start with a paid job or internship, it’s important to prove yourself to everyone around you. Companies will look internally first when it comes to promoting or hiring and a referral from your boss will go a long way towards helping you be considered. The easiest way to stand out: getting the job done and making your boss’s life easier. Every time you make your boss look good consider it a gold star in your favor and one step closer to the golden ticket. As part of this you will need to have a grasp on basic business etiquette so that you can fit into all the various office scenarios with ease.
“As a result of becoming a member of the Job Search Accelerator I have experienced improvements in my LinkedIn, networking, organization, clarity and focus. I have increased my networking contacts and job leads. I have more clarity around the direction of my job search. I feel like I am in control of my job search and am taking a more proactive approach. My resume has improved and I am more confident submitting applications.”
– Melissa C. | Happy Accelerator Member
5. Ask Questions
Even though you want to make a strong first impression, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Managers respect people who aren’t afraid to ask as this will help to build your skill and allow the team to perform more efficiently. Your manager is there to help you succeed but managers aren’t mind readers so do ask if you’re feeling lost. If you’re not comfortable asking your boss, find someone on your team who seems willing to help and ask them instead.
6. Get Optimized On LinkedIn & Be Active
As you start to build your network, carry it over to LinkedIn so you can start accumulating and managing your network in the virtual space. This will help you stay organized and connected throughout your career. Go ahead and start connecting to the people with whom you work and stay in touch. You’d be surprised how even your first professional relationships will come back to help you in your future.
7. Start Volunteering to Gain Resume Experience & Expand Your Network
If you haven’t landed a job yet, this tip’s for you. I can’t emphasize the value of volunteering enough! While working without a paycheck may seem counter-intuitive to your career goals, it can turn out to be the single greatest career move in terms of gaining real-world experience. It can also be a game-changer in terms of generating valuable contacts that will help you get into other companies. Finally, volunteering will allow you to fill the job gap on your resume. This will help recruiters and hiring managers see that you aren’t just sitting around waiting for a job to fall into your lap. Even when the job market is taking a hit from a pandemic, interviewers will expect to hear about everything you’ve been working on during the downtime. Volunteering will give you some great talking points where this is concerned. It may even result in a paid job!
If you’re hoping to improve your entry level job search and land a job in record time, check out the Job Search Accelerator. In this budget-friendly job landing community you’ll have access to all of Noelle’s expert resources including a FREE resume review, optimized resume and cover letter templates, networking scripts and templates, LinkedIn optimization courses, interview answer scripts and more – everything you need to feel confident, navigate the job search successfully, and put your best foot forward as an applicant.