As graduating college seniors enter the job market this summer, they can expect a better job market than last year and high demand for business, engineering, computer science and math majors.
That’s the word from San Diego State University‘s James Tarbox, executive director of university’s Career Services department. Tarbox said employers plan to hire 8 percent more new college graduates than they did from the Class of 2014.
He offered this advice for searching, applying and interviewing for that first post-college position:
1. Jump start your search
Graduates should get in contact with their campus career services office, many of which offer information on how to market oneself, stand out against other applicants, conduct effective job searches and negotiate salaries. Many universities also offer post-graduation resources, free to recent graduates for a set period of time.
2. Leverage your college experience
Many employers value and actively seek out graduates from their alma mater. According to Tarbox, they cite the job-ready strengths alumni from their universities bring to their organizations. Your job as a candidate is to clarify what you gained from your college experience. Emphasize the skills and knowledge you expanded throughout your time at your university and how they will allow you to contribute to the position and to the organization.
3. Know the strengths employers seek
Your resume should be a reflection of your expertise and experience. But knowing what hiring managers look for while reviewing resumes can help you to communicate your strengths better. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the key qualities are: leadership, ability to work in a team, strong work ethic, initiative and strong communication, problem solving, and analytical, technical and computer skills.
4. Maintain your ethics and integrity
Many employers have moved interviewing online, sometimes incorporating phone and video-based processes and social media. These require applicants to complete qualifying assessments, exams and skills inventories. Tarbox emphasizes that along with following employer guidelines for these requirements, it is vital to provide information that honestly reflects your work and experiences. A lapse in ethics and integrity could cost a job, even after an offer is made.
5. Use the social media advantage
Whether you maintain a personal web page or are active on LinkedIn, it’s important to proactively maintain professionalism on all of your social media profiles.
“Your LinkedIn profile should include your education, professional summary, diverse recommendations and a display of relevant group connections,” Tarbox said. “Customize your public profile URL, link your social media accounts and stay on top of updating any new responsibilities or experiences you have.”
6. Network, network, network
Many graduates have already made connections through internships and jobs they had while students. When making new connections, Tarbox says it’s important to be interested (ask questions) and interesting. He suggests exchanging business cards, connecting on social media and asking for an informational interview. Don’t know where to start? Make the most of your relationship with your university by attending networking events and alumni functions. Aside from athletic games, join your college alumni association and look for affinity groups that hold a range of events.
7. Persistence pays off
If you are taking advantage of networking opportunities, checking and applying for experience-appropriate positions and making the best use of your online presence, your professional image will catch the attention of employers and recruiters. Persistence pays, but maintaining an updated paper and online resume is a vital part of what gets you noticed.
“Even in a solid economy, the job search takes time. Use the job search period to learn, connect and grow,” Tarbox said. “Each interview is a chance to learn more about yourself and a company. Before accepting an offer, assess the position, the fit with the organization and your career path.”
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