I just recently spoke to a group of graduating high school seniors on the topic of social media — the power and pitfalls that lie within. Laying the foundation for your career can never start too early (or too late, for that matter.) What you do now, will most certainly impact what happens later in your life.
Appropriately, I got an email the other day with tips for college graduates from job expert Janice Bryant Howroyd. And although they are intended for college kids, I’m sure anyone — no matter where you are on the career ladder — will find a pointer or two that will help you get a leg up in your career.
It’s that time of year again, when thousands of eager job seekers are graduating, says Howroyd. According to her, here’s how you can stand out in today’s job market.
1. Get Social – Social networking can put you ahead of the curve. Follow the companies you want to work for on Twitter. Twitter is the quickest way to find out who is hiring, even faster than job boards. When you Tweet or update your Facebook status that you are looking for a job, make sure you have an online resume with a link.
Social networking has made it acceptable to “friend” people you may not know, but would like to get to know. Explore LinkedIn for professional contacts and make connections. Be aware that potential employers are looking at your social media pages, so go private.
2. Skills, Skills, Skills – Since many other candidates are going to have a lot more experience on their resumes, it’s important to point out that you bring fresh skills to the job market. Since the world moves at the speed of a tweet, most companies are seeking young people who are savvy on the internet and understand viral marketing.
Strong computer skills are extremely important, so make sure to be current with updated software. Also, being multi-lingual can be an enormous asset, so if you have language skills be sure to bring them up in your interview.
3. Be A Good Samaritan – Over the last few years, volunteering has become the interim job of choice. It’s a great place to network and add experience and skills to your resume while helping people. Volunteer for organizations that are located in robust business or industry areas in which you desire to work.
4. Be Yourself – When you are interviewing, try not to be stiff and nervous. You are there so they can get to know you. The last thing they want to do is ask you the 100-year-old question “what is your worst quality?” and have you answer “I’m a perfectionist.” Your personality and whether you will fit in with the company is why they are interviewing you.
5. The Big Picture – Find your career instead of letting it find you. Try to acquire a job that is going to lead to a better career fit rather than sending a blitzkrieg of emails. It’s best to target the companies you want to work for and then branch out if there aren’t any jobs available at the moment. Every job leads to a different journey in your life, so make the journey count.
6. Tailor to Fit – Don’t send out an “off the rack” resume. Research each company you are applying to and tailor your resume to fit each one. It takes more effort, but it will pay off.
7. Be Creative – Even though you might have a dream job in mind, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it right away. If your goal is to work for a certain company and the job you want isn’t available, take a foot in the door position. Companies like to promote from within. If you have the luxury, work a year for free at the company of your choice. At the end of the year they will hire you full time or you can take the experience and find a better job with the skills you take away from that job.
8. The Old Alma Mater – You already have a rolodex as big as everyone who attended your school before you. Research the alumni at your college and seek some informational interviews. Go to alumni mixers in your area. The old college ties are a gold mine of job opportunities.
9. Higher Education – If you are just graduating from high school and are looking to enter the job market, be sure to enroll in some classes either through a continuing education program or junior college. This will put your resume at the top of some piles.
10. Stay Positive – Even if your job search takes longer than you had hoped and it feels like you’ve hit the send button a thousand times and sent out a paper ream of resumes, always stay positive. The biggest killer of any opportunity is a poor attitude.
About Janice Bryant Howroyd
Janice is the CEO of ACT-1 and AppleOne, the largest independently owned staffing agencies in the US, as well as author of “The Art of Work” a guide to career enhancement. Follow Janice on Twitter: @JaniceBHowroyd
Thanks for these great tips, Janice!