Updated: January 2021
College graduation is a huge milestone and one of your greatest accomplishments. You feel like you’re on top of the world until you enter the job search. The job search can be a total downer after college graduation but it doesn’t have to be. With a smart approach and a little persistence, you should be able to land a job in no time! In this post, we will share one of the biggest mistakes made by college grads in the job search, as well as a simple tip for making a stronger impression with employers.
Flexibility in Your First Job, Will Harm Your Chances of Getting Hired
Many recent college graduates believe that having the flexibility to go anywhere for a job or fill any job opening, makes him/her more hirable. If a traditional college graduate has the means to start a new life, the possibility of a new adventure is hard to pass up. Unfortunately, being “open” to anything is not the best strategy for college graduates hoping to land a job. Your future employer wants to know that you are interested only in one job: the one outlined in their job description! If the hiring manager or employer receives a resume and cover letter that is unfocused, this translates to someone who is unsure of their career path – not openness and flexibility.
The First Step to Your Job Search: Getting Focused
One of the number one things employers are looking for is loyal employees who they won’t have to replace anytime soon. A candidate perceived as uncertain about their future is a huge risk. This is a risk employers won’t be willing to take. The name of the game for college grads must be FOCUS. When you walk into an interview or apply for jobs online, you must present yourself as focused 100% on the employer’s job. Focus is key for your job search at any career level. It’s the first step to my 8-step job search process. So it’s worth learning how to focus now. It will serve you the rest of your career.
What Employers Are Looking For When Hiring College Grads
In order to understand the problem with being unfocused, it’s important to explore the employer perspective. In my role as an Associate Director of Career Development at Northeastern University, I frequently meet with top employers to discuss hiring needs. The most common questions I hear employers asking are:
- Is the applicant qualified (does s/he possess the required skills/knowledge/experience) to do the job?
- Does the applicant want to do this job?
- Why does the applicant want to do the job “here”?
If there’s one audience you want to pay close attention to as you conduct your job search, it would be hiring managers since they have the power to advance you in the hiring process (or not). Therefore, you’ll want to speak to these questions with clarity and conviction in your application materials.
How to Communicate Focus With Your Resume
Recent graduates often tell me that they have send 100s of resumes without hearing back. When I ask whether or not they tailored their resumes, I am usually met with a look of surprise. Sending out applications in bulk, without landing any interviews should be your first indicator that something is wrong. The purpose of a resume is to land interviews – not to blast as many employers as possible in the shortest amount of time possible. Good things are worth working for and since you’ll only be getting about 6 seconds to create a strong impression, tailoring your resume to focus on the company’s specific job opening, is your best strategy. This is how you write the perfect entry level resume.
Fine-Tuning Your Focus Through Branding and Hit the Employer’s Hot Buttons
It’s important to know that quantity does not equal quality where your resume is concerned. Even if you are applying to several positions seeking similar skills, it’s important to know that each company is different. Every company will have a different culture, mission statement, or difference in size, etc. In order to set yourself apart from those that are simply clicking the “apply” button, it’s extremely critical that you demonstrate focus through your branding. Branding occurs across a variety of different platforms, documents and personal interactions but the place it matters most for applications, is your resume.
Branding Your Resume – What You Need to Know
Resumes today must be carefully crafted for different positions. A resume for a sales position should look different from a marketing resume and highlight a different set of skills. This takes effort, time, energy and creativity and a strong grasp of the English language. Many job seekers hire resume writers to help them craft the stories that highlight relevant accomplishments. However, most resume writers require that the job seeker has a clear target (focus) in mind. One way to hit a hiring manager’s hot buttons is by analyzing the job description. This is your closest insight into what they are looking for and you’ll need to craft your resume accordingly.
How to Find Your Focus if You’re Feeling Uncertain
Career coaching is one way to find your focus. When a senior in college or a recent graduate starts seeking career coaching, he/she often starts with so much enthusiasm because he/she is ready for that next step. Although the academic work is completed and the degree secured, it doesn’t necessarily mean there was a dent on the individual’s inner work. Considering your personality type is one tool a coach might incorporate to help draw out deeper insights. Here is a sample of best jobs for your personality type. Finding the “right” first job requires an exploration of several factors and exploration of some important questions:
- What are the most valuable skills that I enjoy using?
- What are the strengths I can contribute in order to be successful?
- What factors of an organization matter to me?
- In what type of environment will I be most energized?
- What do I need to be fulfilled?
These are tough questions and answering them requires work, maybe a sounding board, maybe time but most importantly a willingness to explore and understanding of the necessity to do so.
Clarity Coaching played a very critical role in my journey towards finding a career that is emotionally fulfilling and professionally successful, and I have no reservation in saying that clarity coaching has been priceless. – Patrick, Health Care Industry, Career Changer, TX
Coaching Uncovers the Insights that Produce Career Breakthroughs
When I work with college grads, I start by asking questions that push them to think about their previous experiences. Together we explore classes, extracurricular activities, previous jobs and internships that the client either did or did not enjoy and start looking at patterns of where and why the client was successful. For different people, different areas start making sense. For one it might have been the realization that she did not enjoy using skills she was good at but never considered not using them. For another, the “aha” moment was when he realized he just did not want to be one of many in a large organization. Instead, he was much more excited about possibilities in start-ups or smaller organizations. He had the skills for the jobs posted at the large companies but because he was not excited about these positions for reasons he at first was not able to articulate. His hunger did not show through and there was no excitement about putting in extra effort into the application. If this resonates with you, or you are experiencing one of the many signs that indicates a need for extra support, it may be time to recruit the help of a career coach.
Why Your Inner Work Will Attract Hiring Managers
I love helping college seniors and recent grads develop not only a focus for what they want to do but also a deeper understanding of themselves. This new perspective is the foundation of their new story – one that lets others know who they are and what they do best. They now have the language to talk about their strengths and their goals and how/where the two concepts can meet. They start telling their stories with confidence, clarity, and optimism. It’s this storytelling ability and powerful way to communicate focus with confidence, that attracts hiring managers to the focused candidate.
What Focus Looks Like for the Successful College Grad
Finding your fit in the career world and starting out your career path in a place where you thrive is the true definition of success. It will form the path you follow and make you further attractive to the employers in your focus area for years to come. It’s incredibly rewarding when clients realize that there is something out there that’s better than they thought – something that’s really right for them! That awareness begins to raise their sense of hope which in turn, energizes them to change their strategy. Finding your focus will help you gain insights into where you want to go and why. More importantly, it will help you communicate this to those who can help you reach your goals!
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