Graduation itself can be a little scary, but graduating during a tough economy can really wreak havoc on your nerves. The good news? There are job opportunities out there; you just need to know where to look and how to demonstrate that YOU are the best candidate for the position. For strategies and tips on making your job search successful, the Career Development Center has pulled together helpful information just for you.
Graduation is now just a few months away! If you haven’t already begun your job search, NOW is the time to start! A job search can sometimes take months even in a good economy. Start with CDC’s eRecruiting website, but don’t stop there! A successful job search will utilize many different strategies, from job search sites to networking, to exploring short-term options. Even if you think you'll be going to graduate or professional school, it's a very wise idea to look at your "plan B" options. What if you change your mind about graduate school? What if you don't get in? The best strategy is to apply for graduate programs and jobs simultaneously.
Develop a top-notch resume
If you haven’t developed your resume or updated the one you already have, DO IT NOW! Your resume is typically your first contact with an employer, and in this market it needs to be impressive. Utilize all the resources at your disposal to be sure it is the best it can possibly be and revisit your document on a regular basis to update and make improvements.
Learn the art of writing a cover letter . . . and it is an art
Employers expect a cover letter to accompany your resume when you apply for a job and are not willing to overlook mediocre documents. Poorly written cover letters and those not tailored to the position will simply be discarded. Take the time to stand out in the competition by writing a custom letter to each employer! For guidance, read our How to Write a Cover Letter Quick Reference Guide. Give it your best shot and bring your draft to the CDC for a review during our Counselor-on-Call hours.
Update and use your eRecruiting account regularly
eRecruiting is the CDC's premier tool for job searches in a wide range of career fields. ALL matriculated students have access. That means YOU have a personal account!!
Use all available online resources!
There’s more to job searching than just Monster or Hotjobs! Use a variety of online resources, particularly those that are targeted to the career field in which you are interested. The CDC website has an extensive list of links, for example:
Think outside the box
Get creative in how you think about your job search and expand your search outside of traditional settings for your field. For example, public relations jobs aren’t only found in PR firms. They can also be found in non-profit organizations, the publishing industry, banks, among many other kinds of employers. Also, the government hires more than just politicians. They’re looking for scientists, accountants, artists, and engineers. Do your research; ask around; and take a chance. You’re likely to uncover some amazing opportunities!
Short-term service opportunities can be a way to gain experience, increase self-confidence, live in another part of the US or abroad, contribute to a cause that is important to you and perhaps position yourself for other more permanent positions. Consider service programs such as AmericorpsVISTA, Peace Corps, Healthcorps or Teach for America. CDC’s website links to many short-term experiences in the section “Short-Term Opportunities”. You can also learn about Year of Service Opportunities through Idealist.org. Numerous links to international opportunities are available on CDC’s website as well.
Consider a temporary position! Hiring temporary workers allows employers to be more flexible in changing market conditions. A temporary job can be an excellent way to make money, gain experience, get your foot in the door and perhaps position yourself for something long term. If you perform well you just might parlay the temp job into something more permanent. There are generally two ways to secure a temporary position. You can “temp” through a temporary employment agency or you can apply for a temporary position with an organization of interest. What may initially be presented as a one month position could be extended for several months based on the employer’s needs. This is a great way to break in to an organization with which you’d like a permanent job. The bottom line is, when applying for jobs and/or searching the internet, don’t overlook a posting for a temporary position. Apply and see where it takes you!
This is a critical step to a successful job search, especially in a difficult economy. But networking is often avoided like the plague, primarily because it is misunderstood. Avoid these common stumbling blocks:
And then there is the Binghamton University Alumni Association Professional Network on LinkedIn where you can tap an expansive group of fellow alumni for networking. We encourage you to join the Student-to-Alumni Professional Network subgroup and connect with alumni who have volunteered to be contacted by current students regarding their career. Alumni network volunteers can provide information and assistance whether you are conducting a job search, considering graduate school or contemplating a career change. Although the Network is not an employment or placement program, it is designed to help you connect with alumni and tap their talents and insight.
Research has shown that 60-80% of jobs are found through networking, so take the time to spend 60-80% of your job search time on networking activities. Remember to thank the people with whom you network and to return the favor (or pay it forward) someday!
Sharpen your interviewing skills!
Even with a solid resume, stellar cover letter, and great connections, you still need to ace the interview. It can be difficult to learn how to effectively talk about yourself, so use all the resources available to you:
Keep at it!
A job search rarely produces results immediately. It takes time and effort. Some leads will take you to dead ends, and, unfortunately, rejection is part of the job search process. But taking some action is much better than sitting around being frustrated and angry when your dream job does not magically appear- or when you don’t wake up just knowing what you want to do with the rest of your life. Try not to lose focus and keep going. Pick yourself up and get back in the race.
Position yourself for the future
While you may have to accept a first position that isn’t your “dream job,” keep in mind that many kinds of experiences can be career stepping-stones. Make choices that increase your future options. If you stumble upon something that interests you, embrace it! Many times, organizations are just looking for someone who they feel can be trained to do their job. That someone could be you. Take advantage of any opportunity to learn new skills, volunteer in a field that professionally interests you while working “just for money,” or thoughtfully investigate graduate school.
And what if I don’t know what I want to do?
YOU ARE NOT ALONE. But that doesn’t mean you should sit back and wait for the future to fall in your lap. Instead, visit the Career Development Center and speak with a counselor who can help you begin sorting out your next steps. To start, you’ll need to evaluate yourself – What are your interests? Your values? Your skills? Knowing answers to at least some of these questions before you meet with a counselor will be helpful. And keep in mind that the decision you make is NOT “for the rest of your life.” It is only a first step in a journey you will take and you can always change directions later. Check CDC’s website for Counselor-on-Call hours.
Attitude is everything!
Remember that this whole process is really not about what you look like on paper. Sure, employers look at grades and work experience as a quick way to get to know you. But if you really want to make an impression and get your foot in the door, your attitude needs to speak volumes. A person with a great mind-set can be taught everything else. Show employers that you are ready to learn and work hard!
The website of the Career Development Center at Binghamton University contains links to other websites as a convenience for its users and is not responsible for the contents of any linked site.
Last Updated: 3/28/13