Whether you’re graduating this spring, this summer, or further in the future, finding a job is going to be a concern sooner or later. What’s surprising to some new job seekers is just how difficult and disheartening a job search can be.
Most people try using a job search engine like Monster or CareerBuilder. These can be a great way to find what kind of jobs are available and where, but they’re not much good for actually getting you a job. For one thing, this is a common sight:
For another thing, even if you apply to 50 jobs for which you’re a perfect candidate, it’s entirely possible that no one will ever even look at your résumé.
There are many reasons why this may happen. Sometimes a recruiter receives too many applications to view them all in a timely fashion. At other times, the posting of a job opening is a mere formality; managers post a job because they feel like they should. It’s just what’s done. Just like companies still send representatives to job fairs even though they almost never hire people that way; it’s something they do because they’ve done it for years and everyone else does it and it hasn’t occurred to anyone that it’s all a waste of time.
Sound bleak? Fear not! There are literally hundreds of thousands (millions?) of unfilled jobs out there – you will find the one for you! In the meantime, here are some tips:
1. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
In addition to asking friends and family to keep their ears to the ground, take initiative and contact people yourself. This can be scary and awkward, but it’s much more effective than just sending out pieces of paper with your qualifications and education history. Show the potential employer or point of contact (POC) your personality by contacting them personally. It’s best to do this through a mutual friend (“Jane Doe gave me your name…”)
2. Doing your homework doesn’t just refer to the job itself.
If you don’t have any personal connection to your target POC, there are other ways to start a conversation. For example, you can view the person’s LinkedIn page for information about recent projects or committees they’ve been a part of or even just find out where they went to school. If you share an alma mater, that may be enough to pique their interest and keep their attention long enough for you to make your job pitch.
You can also google your POC’s name. If a recent article about/by that person pops up, ask about it in your introductory email. It’s likely something the recipient is proud of and will be eager to discuss.
If you feel it’s too awkward to come straight out and ask for a job, request an “informational interview” or ask if the person is willing to answer some questions about their industry. Yes, pretty much everyone will figure out that this is code for “I’m hoping you can give me a job,” but it shows that you’re eager to learn and diplomatic enough to give them an out if they’re not in the position to help you (some might not want to admit that they don’t have that kind of power and that’s okay).
3. Remember to use your resources.
Stop into the library and check out some books about how to look for a job. Thousands of books have been published in just the last five years about how to make the most effective usage of the tools available to you (like those job posting sites we mentioned earlier). There are even books that focus just on the field in which you’re trying to find work. Sure, the last thing you want to do after the stress of that final semester is read another book, but a few days of reading can save you hundreds of hours in hunting.
While you still have access to EICConnect, be sure to visit Learning Express Library. Their Career Center features its own job search. You can also learn more about different careers and in-demand job skills, as well as practice for occupational exams.
4. Seek out programs just for new grads.
There are places that really, truly want to hire new graduates. The federal government, for example, totally wants you to have a job. The more people who are employed, the better it is for our national economy, and the less strain there is on social programs such as welfare and food stamps. Check out USAjobs.gov’s Pathways program to learn more about the jobs available to current students and new graduates nationwide.
If you’ve read this far, congratulations! You’re ready to take the next steps. Do your research and take advantage of every opportunity to improve your skills. At this time of year, there are many events open to the public designed to help job seekers. Our friends over at the Davenport Public Library, for example, recently offered a seminar on writing a good résumé and cover letter, the rules about which change along with shifts in the job market.
Keep your eyes and ears open, and remember: if Joe Biden could recover from his embarrassing 1988 presidential bid to become a political darling at the age of 65, you can find a job that will make you happy.