7 Actionable Career Tips for New Graduates!
"Finding a Job is a Full Time Job"
Being a new graduate is one of the most exciting yet daunting times of your life. You want to dive head first into something exciting, new, and challenging, but you have no idea how to start.
First of all, let me start by saying, IT IS OKAY to not have everything figured out when you graduate, and it is okay to take some time to do that. Spending time on yourself is not wasted time, and don’t punish yourself for not having everything figured out. It took me 5 months to find my current job, and no those 5 months were not easy, but I am going to give you all of the knowledge I acquired in those 5 months about finding jobs so that it can maybe help you on your journey!
My tips and advice may not work for everyone, and I understand that; these are simply some things that worked for me personally, and I am sharing in the hope that they can help you too!
A little background about me; I am a Computer Science major and Technology Management minor from UC Davis and really wanted to pursue a career in Technology Consulting. I just started as an Integrations Consultant at Workday and I am super excited and thankful to be at such an amazing company that really cares about their employees. However, it took me a long time to get here; in fact, I was rejected by Workday when I first applied. I re-applied after a year, and this time I went ahead with skills that better fit my job and a hard working, motivating attitude! I am sharing with you what I learned in that one year works and doesn't work while job searching.
Here are 7 actionable things you can do right now to help your chances of getting a job:
1) QUANTIFY your resume, and make it RESULTS ORIENTED
This means writing the experience section of your resume in a way that shows the work you did and the impact you had while at that specific company. This means, do not just simply state the facts; this doesn't show the employer the impact you had in your previous roles at all. There should be metrics that help show the employer this impact.
Instead of writing: "I gave my input on daily meetings with clients and created wireframes based on business processes and specifications assigned by my manager."
Write: "I worked with over 10 unique clients on daily meetings and created 25 wireframes for 6 pages within the existing system based on feedback from 4 collaborating teams. This then impacted over 2,500 employees within the company."
This article below really helped me drive home the point about writing an impactful experience section:
2) Change your resume slightly with every job that you apply to
The reason you should change your resume with each job application is because recruiters are looking for keywords in your resume. These keywords are often in their job description and each job description is unique. This does not mean start from scratch. It simply means adjust your resume slightly for each position.
For example, I am a Computer Science Major, but I applied to Software Engineering Jobs and Technical Consulting Jobs. However, in the Software Engineering Jobs I highlighted my technical skills and courses at the top of my resume with a section titled: Technical Skills. In my experiences section I focused on talking more about technical skills as well rather than my soft skills because when I looked at the job profile, those were the main skills and keywords that were listed. However, when I would apply to Technical Consulting Positions I would highlight some technical, but more management skills at the top of my resume (with section titled Management Courses instead of the previous title) and in the experiences section rather than highly focusing on just technical skills because I wanted to show these recruiters I had what was required in the job description.
3) Develop marketable skills in the field that you want to pursue (even if it isn’t related to your major)
I strongly believe that you don’t have to work in your field of study if you do not want to as long as you have the required skills and experiences in the field you want to pursue. There are plenty of resources on the internet to help you develop these skills! Once you take these courses and learn the skills that your targeted jobs require, put them on your resume and on your Linkedin profile because then they will match keywords that recruiters are looking for! Here are few good websites that I used to better either my technical or business-related skills:
- MIT OpenCourseWare (MIT has all of the material used in every class online, use it!)
One of my close friends majored in Environmental Science but decided he wanted to purse engineering after college instead. He is currently employed as a Software Engineer at a top tech company because he learned marketable coding languages like Java and Python, and did many side projects using those languages. Thus, his work was showcased in a way that showed the employers that he had the skills needed for the job even though he studied something completely different while in college.
4) Conduct Informational Interviews
Don’t feel embarrassed to reach out to the people you know. People are more willing to help than you think. Reach out to people that you know and even people you don’t know!
Side Story time: I remember I reached out to Payal Kadakia, the founder and current Executive Chairman of ClassPass. She also has her own dance company called Sa, and is basically a total #GIRLBOSS. I messaged her on Linkedin while in college asking for her advice on how to find a balance between our two passions of dance and technology. To my surprise, she responded, and that small, simple piece of advice she gave me has motivated and inspired me since!
When talking to people, you don’t have to outright ask them for a job at the organization that they work for. Start by asking them if they have some time to meet with you because you want to simply know more about what their position entails and how they got there. This is formally called an informational interview.
Some tips for informational interviews:
-Do your research. Make sure you are knowledgeable about the person you are talking to and their company. Also, do they have any side passions/side hustles!? People love talking about what they are passionate about!
-Go with a list of at least 10 prepared questions. You may not get through all of them, but having them there for reference is good. Examples: What does your typical work day look like? How do you maintain work life balance? What is one piece of advice you would give yourself in college?
- Follow up! I cannot stress this enough. This is absolutely necessary because this is one of the main ways to actually get something out of the informational interview that you just conducted. Make sure you thank them for their time, and tell them how useful their time has been for you. Most of the time, they will indeed ask you to send them your resume which they then can forward. But even if they don’t, it is okay! You can follow up with them a couple days later and ask them if there are any open positions in their company related to the field you are interested in. Make sure you do this AFTER thanking them and after the informational interview.
5) Use Linkedin, It Works!
Linkedin is essentially the facebook of the corporate world and is specifically created with working professionals in mind. USE THIS TOOL!
First, make sure that your Linkedin is up to date and well written (Use the new, detail-oriented resume that you created to help fill the experience section of your Linkedin). Recruiters constantly search Linkedin for keywords that fit the job positions that they are looking to fill. I personally also used Linkedin to find UC Davis alumni that were in jobs of my interest.
You can do this by simply searching for your school name, clicking on your school page, and then clicking on the button that says “See alumni”. When you click on this, you will see a lot of information. You will see where alumni on Linkedin live, work, and what career field they are in. This is super useful! I used this to search alumni that work in my job of interest. I reached out to a few of these people and out of five, one person got back to me and actually helped me really understand the job profile, requirements, and interview process.
So, not everyone will get back to you, and that is okay! But even if one person does, be thankful and use that as a chance to ask questions about the position and about that other person’s journey to get to that job. Lastly, be sure to thank them for their time.
6) Make the effort to go to Career Fairs PREPARED
Take full advantage of your school’s career fairs! I got my current job through a career fair, and I know of many friends that have done the same. That being said, there is no point going to a career fair unprepared.
Most Career Fairs announce the companies that will be attending their fair weeks in advance. When I go to career fairs, I:
Look through this list of companies and highlight the companies that I want to talk to/have positions that I am interested in.
Then, I look up these companies, read up a bit about them, understand what they do, and look at the job profiles for the positions I am interested in and what skills are required.
I usually tailor my resume to the kind of industry I am going for (Consulting, Software Engineering, etc.) and print out at 5-10 copies of my resume to hand out to employers.
I also prepare my elevator pitch. This is basically a 40-50 sec. summary about you and the kinds of jobs that you are looking for. It is usually a response to when an employer at the fair asks something along the lines of, "Tell me about yourself." I used this website to help me with my elevator pitch:
IMPORTANT: When looking at the job profiles online, even if there is a link to apply online, I don’t recommend doing that until AFTER talking to the recruiters at the career fair. This is because they often take your resume in person at the fair (which means SO MUCH MORE than applying online), and a lot of the time they have internal links specifically for your school from which you can then apply. These links are better so apply from there because it goes into a more filtered database.
7) Let it be known be that you are looking for a job
I know it can be embarrassing admitting that you are in fact looking for a job. But honestly, there is nothing to be ashamed of! If people ask if you are looking for a job and what kind of job you are looking for, let them know!
You never know who might be of help to you! People know people and most of the jobs that people have today, they have gotten through networking! So don’t be ashamed, be proud! You are a confident new graduate, actively looking to join the workforce and there is nothing shameful about that!
If you use any of these tips or have any other tips that you think can help new graduates with jobs please let me know! I would love to hear your feedback and comments!