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Graduation day is a celebration of the years of hard work and personal sacrifice associated with completing a degree program. But what if you aren’t feeling too relaxed or hopeful after walking across that stage? Maybe you were overwhelmed by the on-campus career fairs, or you decided to defer graduate school at the last-minute or you ended up not moving cross-country with your roommate after all…whatever the reason, you’re looking for work in June. And while graduates with degrees in computer science or information technology are traditionally in high demand, only 40 percent of IT hiring managers expect to increase full-time IT staff in 2015.
How can you stand out from the rest and land a coveted job with a top employer? We think these tips may help:
Think about what you want
If you know you’d like a job as a systems analyst or database administrator, for example, you’re halfway there. Tailor your resume and your talking points to emphasize key coursework or outside experience that fits the job description for your desired role. Remember that your dream job could exist in an industry you haven’t considered, so keep an open mind when researching companies and evaluating job postings. Spend some time thinking about one or two must-haves, such as a desired commute time, minimum (realistic) salary, flexible scheduling options, department structure or opportunity for employer-sponsored training. While no role or organization is perfect, understanding what you need and what you’ll compromise on will help you make the best decisions.
Not sure what kind of role you’re looking for? Keep reading.
Know what employers want
Your degree and certifications are just part of the equation. Organizations want candidates with certain characteristics and qualifications—and the good news is, you already have them. Think back to your coursework, internships, volunteer activities or summer jobs. You’re a master at making quick decisions, solving problems, learning on the fly, providing excellent customer service (no matter who that customer is), working in groups and communicating with others. Prepare a few examples that highlight your strengths and show employers how you can help them, too.
While you’re at it, drop your school-issued email address and set up a new account through an existing ISP or a personal domain. (You’ll want employers to see you as an accomplished professional and not a student.) Choose a name that’s simple, logical and business-appropriate, and funnel all career and networking contacts to this account.
Review your online presence
You likely have an account with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter already, and perhaps your college’s career counselor suggested that you create a LinkedIn profile. But being online isn’t enough; you’ll also want to make sure your public information is professional. Hiring managers will often search candidates’ social media presence and make judgments based on what they see. Remove that profile photo of you at spring break, and change your settings to limit visibility on anything you wouldn’t want a potential boss to see. Don’t give a prospective employer a reason to reject you.
Ask your network for help
Your college alumni association can be a powerful group to have in your corner, as you now have something in common with established career professionals in your city or desired field. But don’t stop there! Did you consider your manager at your old internship, or your roommate’s aunt who works for a great company in your area? These contacts could all be part of your network too. Also consider joining professional groups on LinkedIn and participating in their online discussions. While it may be tempting to send a mass email or a formal letter asking your network to find you a job, be respectful of their time and goodwill. Instead, see if you can have a conversation about their personal career path and any advice they may have for you. If a job opportunity is available, you’ll have a better chance of learning about it.
Find a career advocate
Job hunting can be discouraging and confusing, so don’t go it alone. While you may find solace in commiserating with your friends and family, you can turbo-charge your job search by turning to a professional. IT staffing and services firms, such as TEKsystems specialize in matching hiring managers with job seekers. They often have insight into opportunities that aren’t publicly advertised, and they can give candidates a clearer picture of the company, its culture and the specifics of the job description. Recruiters can also help you tailor your resume, prepare for interviews and negotiate offers, too. Best of all, they offer their services free of charge to the job seeker.
Have any other tips? Share them in the comments, and best of luck with your job search!
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As marketing communications manager, Sarah O’Connor develops and supports strategies to promote TEKsystems’ brand to job seekers, consultants and clients. She enjoys running and exploring new cities—preferably both at the same time.