What’s your best advice for a recent college grad embarking on a serious job hunt for the first time?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
1. Re-Examine “Job Security”
For some reason, people mistakenly think that working for somebody else gives them more security. Not only is there now a ceiling on how much you can make or what you’ll be allowed to do, but your fate is tied directly to who’s running the company that employs you. If it hits a bad spot, you’re expendable. Always have a plan B in the form of your own projects just in case!
- Travis Steffen, WorkoutBOX
2. Bring Value
Most recent college grads don’t go for the best jobs because they are not confident in themselves or they don’t feel they have the experience. If you are able to show an employer why you would bring a nice return to them hiring you, chances are you will get the job. Know how to differentiate yourself from the rest, and be able to equate that to how you will help them run their business better.
- Louis Lautman, Supreme Outsourcing
3. Don’t Send “Drive-by” Applications
We get a lot of “drive-by” applications where it’s clear that candidates are sending the same cover letters to many companies. Go for quality over quantity of applications. If you take the time to research the company and use its product and service, you’ll have a much better chance of getting to the interview, and you’ll be able to tell a better story about why you’re a good fit.
- Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh Test Prep
4. Use Social Media
More than 36 million people found work through social media in 2011. Establish or revamp your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles to be sure that they all look professional. LinkedIn is likely the better option to use if searching for a job.
- Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
5. Be Exceptional
It’s no longer enough to just submit your resume and cover letter and expect a job. At this time of year, millions of recent grads who are essentially the same on paper flood the market. As such, you have to stand out. Recent grads need to be creative in the way they approach their search, persevere past all the no’s while still remaining positive, and hustle, hustle, hustle (take action!).
- Lauren Friese, TalentEgg
6. Forget What Other People Think
The last year of college, everyone is obsessed with getting a job or getting into grad school. Though it may seem like everyone is screaming about their offers on Facebook, don’t buy into the hype. A lot of people will spend a few months figuring things out post-graduation, which is smart. Make sure you don’t just accept an offer because you feel pressured; take your time and find a good fit.
- Heidi Allstop, Spill
7. Conduct Informational Interviews
The hardest part is getting your foot in the door. Use the “recent college grad card” to get informational interviews with people who you want to be like. Ask them what they did to get to where they are. Listen. When the interview is done, ask them if there’s anyone else they’d recommend you talk to. Inevitably, these informational interviews might lead down a path you never knew existed.
- Brett Farmiloe, Digital Marketing Agency
8. Look at Other Resumes
Find someone who owns a business, and ask him for the best resumes that he has ever received. If he doesn’t have them collected, ask him if he can send you a bunch of them. Take a look at the resumes, and pick elements that you like from them to come up with the most impressive-looking resume possible (I’m only talking about formatting and looks, of course).
- Ziver Birg, ZIVELO
9. Prepare for Interviews
When preparing for investment banking job interviews, I had hundreds of flashcards that allowed me to memorize equations and company-specific information. Having a huge volume of information to pull from when interviewing will increase the likelihood that you seem knowledgeable, prepared and trustworthy. The investments you’ll make learning about a particular industry will be repaid with more offers.
- Chuck Cohn, Varsity Tutors
10. Think of Tasks, not Just Missions
I see a lot of grads looking for jobs where they’re passionate about the mission, which is great, but then they get there and hate what they’re actually doing day to day. It’s important to care about why you’re doing what you’re doing, but it’s also important (potentially even more important!) for you to like what you’re doing every day.
- Alexis Wolfer, The Beauty Bean
11. Know Your Story
It’s rare these days that college students know exactly what they want to do. In the process, they collect a number of different tools (experiences), which can be perceived as random and less than mastery. Assuming you are wicked smart with a good culture fit, you will win over anyone with an authentic and intentional story that weaves your past experiences and your potential into a neat package.
- Matt Ehrlichman, Porch
12. Personalize Your Applications
Customize your applications and resume to show why any job you’re going after is ideally suited for you. In this market, you’ll be competing against hundreds of your peers, most of whom send the same resume and cover letter template to every potential employer. Having a message that is clearly custom tailored will instantly put you in the top 10 percent.
- Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics
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