Finding a professional job after college doesn’t have to be stressful, if you take a systematic approach, according to Micheala Bojorquez-Ford and Patricia Turnbull, two faculty experts on job searching from the Craig School of Business at Fresno State. Bojorquez-Ford and Turnbull offer these tips for successful job hunting.
1. Recognize that finding a job can take time.
Micheala Bojorquez-Ford: It usually takes about six to eight months of job searching to secure a full-time position related to your college major. You’ve got to stay organized and work to find a job. You should be spending about 40 hours a week researching companies and submitting applications.
If you’re planning to graduate next year, now is the time to start planning your job search to have a professional job in place after graduation. If you’re a recent graduate and looking for work, don’t get discouraged if it takes time to find the right job — be persistent and work consistently on your job search.
2. Make a plan for a long-term career, not a short-term job.
Patricia Turnbull: You want to find a place where you can learn and grow, not just a job. Once you graduate, it will look suspect if you don’t stick with a job for at least a year or longer. That’s not saying you have to stay with a job where you’re miserable, but it does mean you need to do your research, so you don’t accept a job where you’ll be miserable.
3. Network, network, network.
Turnbull: The best way to maximize getting hired is to get involved with clubs, organizations and internships. Talk to your classmates. Talk to your professors. Go to meetings and speaker events. After you meet with someone, follow up with them with a simple email and your resume.
Connecting with fellow Fresno State alumni is a great icebreaker for networking. You’d be amazed how much people want to help other people and Fresno State alumni are fantastic people who want to help their fellow Bulldogs.
4. Research companies before you apply.
Turnbull: The more research you do, the better you’ll know if a company is a good fit for you. I encourage using LinkedIn, CareerBuilder and Indeed to research jobs. See if it’s the kind of company you want to work for. Look up salaries. Be mindful not to believe everything you read online. But take a look as a starting point.
5. Make use of campus career resources, even after you graduate.
Bojorquez-Ford: The Fresno State Career Development Center offers individualized career counseling to help with resumes, interview skills, networking and career skills — and it’s available to both current students and alumni, no matter how long ago you graduated.
6. Customize your resume to make an immediate impression.
Turnbull: Statistically, a resume will be looked at for 7.5 seconds. If the spacing, font size and overall appearance are not eye-appealing, it may be dismissed quickly. Customize your resume for each job you apply to, and be sure to mention that you have the skills the job posting asks for, as long as it’s factual.
7. You have more experience than you think.
Bojorquez-Ford: It’s a classic dilemma — you can’t get a job without experience, but how are you supposed to get experience without a job? But every job and volunteer position you’ve ever had, no matter how humble, has taught you skills that can translate into professional experience you can put on your resume.
On-campus student positions are great ways of building professional skills. Volunteering for student clubs, nonprofits and other organizations, especially if you take on a leadership role, teaches you a lot of professional skills. And while it may not be formal experience, it might be enough to get an employer excited about you.
Turnbull: Your resume should emphasize hard skills, like computer applications and social media platforms and sales experience. Don’t waste valuable real estate on your resume with soft skills such as dependable, hard-working, team player. Every professional should have those skills.
8. You’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you.
Turnbull: Once you get an interview, take every opportunity to sell yourself to a prospective employer. Dress to impress for the first interview. You only have one chance to make a first impression so make it your best. Do your homework. Research the company and know the trends in the industry.
At the same time, the interview is a chance for you to ask employers questions and make sure that the job is right for you. Get to the interview a little early (10-15 minutes) in order to sit and observe the working structure and corporate culture. Are the employees walking around like you? Can you see yourself fitting in? It’s just as important for you to interview the company as it is for them to interview you.
And watch out for red flags that might mean the company doesn’t fit your needs. Ask in the interview how long the average employee in the position you are interviewing for stays with the company. If it’s less than a year, I’d be leery. If the average employee tenure is three to five years or longer, that says something about the company and that the company invests in their employees and vice versa.