College Graduates Hunting for Employment Opportunities


by Teri Hockett

Getting ready for that first career and/or job can be daunting. You have just spent the last several years learning new skills to apply on the job, but what about getting the job. Some questions that may come to mind are:

  • When do you start searching?
  • What type of work is best?
  • When is the best time to look?
  • Where do you even begin?

This can vary from person to person as well as the industry. Allison Barker, 2010 graduate from University of Southern California with a BA degree in International Relations and Spanish, stated “I started seriously looking for other positions probably a couple of months before I actually graduated, and continued after that.”

Tarryn Hicks, a recent Business Administration and Finance graduate from Oregon State University, shared “I started extremely early because I was an accounting major (recruiting happens a year in advance), so when I switched to finance I was just too early. So then I was able to calm down, relax and take the process slow. Which is always nice not to be stressed out when trying to find a job quickly.”

Five Tips when Hunting for Employment Opportunities

  1. Information Interviews.  Jessica Crossley, graduated with a BA degree in Psychology from University of Oregon agrees.  She said “Informational interviewing is a valuable tool: it can help you to discover (or weed out) certain career paths and in some cases can even lead to excellent networking opportunities! I used informational interviewing to explore careers that I wanted to know more about, and in doing so was able to get a better understanding of my own interests.” Tarryn stated to remember your needs as well, “you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Yes they are trying to see if you will fit into their company and are the best for the job, but at the same time you are judging them and hoping they will fit into your lifestyle.”
  2. Network.  Alison shared great networking advice “Everyone has a network – college, sorority/fraternity, hometown, etc. Don’t be scared to ask people about what they do for work, especially if you’re interested the same industry/position/etc. People love to talk about themselves. I’m not saying to go around and ask everyone for a job – but rather to talk to them and find out more about what they do. You can usually find out more from real people than you can from website, etc. I’m trying to do this more often, but have gotten positive results so far. At the very least it has helped me understand more about certain positions/industries.”  Jessica added in, “Make networking a way of life!! It’s not enough to start networking right before you start a job search. You should learn to incorporate networking into your daily life; just because you aren’t looking for a job doesn’t mean you should stop networking. You should ALWAYS be networking. By making a habit of establishing and maintaining relationships with professionals, it makes the job hunt far easier. You’ll have references and people to go to for advice or a leg up. I have received so many wonderful opportunities just by forging relationships with professionals in my field of interest!”
  3. Be the solution.  Alison said, “Think about how you can solve the company’s problems. I try to think about this whenever I am interviewing. Think about what problems they are trying to solve with the position they’re hiring you for, and think about what you could do to solve them, and what kind of characteristics you would need to have to be successful in that. I found that thinking about this and asking questions about it gets a really positive response because they can tell that you’re actually thinking about yourself in the position, and really thinking about how you can succeed and help the company in that role.”
  4. Follow-up.  Another critical component shared by Tarryn, “Follow up with companies about your cover letter or application. At first it feels like you’re being a nuisance but companies like to know you’re serious about their open position and that you’re persistent”.
  5. Organization.  “Keep track of the positions you apply for. There is nothing worse than getting a call from a company who received your resume and realizing that you have absolutely no idea who they are or what they are talking about!” says Jessica. “Scheduling conflicts” is another area where organization is crucial, says Alison. “Sometimes I couldn’t go to interviews because I had class/finals/etc. or sometimes companies wanted to fill positions before I would graduate. I do think that time where you are still in school is a great time to start doing the parts of the job search that don’t require you to miss school or even interview yet, like fixing up your resume, using your college’s career center, going to campus career fairs and even on-campus interviews, and starting to look at your alumni network and make possible connections there.”

Closing Advice

  • Jessica stressed, “use networking skills to find open positions (the majority of open positions are actually NOT posted publicly.” Along with this valuable piece of advice, “Picking the right job is like picking the right partner. Sometimes they might seem great on paper, but after you go and interview… not so much. It’s not going to work out if you’re a good fit for the company but they’re a bad fit for you. It needs to be a two-way street!”
  • Taryn emphasized, “During interviews, make sure to ask any and all types of questions that you’re curious about, because that is the time you have to determine what to expect before accepting a possible job opportunity. Remember, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.”
  • Alison shared, “Let the company reject you, don’t reject yourself. I used to reject myself all the time while reading job descriptions. For example, if I was reading about a position that sounded great and that I was qualified for, if I got to one line that said “Must have five years of experience in Marketing”, and I only had two years, I would think “Oh, I can’t do that one” and not apply. I’ve realized now that a lot of those job descriptions are mostly guidelines, and may not require everything, you just have to prove that you can do the job and do it well. Sometimes they might reject you for not having a qualification – and that’s fine, let them. Just don’t reject yourself. Since I’ve stopped doing that, I’ve had more interviews, even for positions that I initially had “rejected myself” from.”

About the Author

Teri Hockett

Teri Hockett is the CEO of What’s For Work? The Premier Career Site for Women.

About What’s For Work?

The Premier Career Site for Women. http://www.whatsforwork.com

Mission: To redefine how employers acquire talent and women find and preserve their dream jobs using innovative technologies.

Company Overview: What’s For Work? helps women take control of their careers by providing a rich set of tools that develop their knowledge, skills and confidence they need to land and preserve their dream jobs.
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