With graduation comes an onslaught of new responsibilities and adventures, from finding a dirt-cheap place that’s just nice enough that your parents won’t be in a tizzy, to paying your own bills for the first time, but none are quite as daunting as locking down that first post-grad job. Like most collegiettes, you’ve probably done all of the prep you thought you could ever need—you rocked out an internship or two, you slaved away at your resume and you’ve got a couple of killer recommendations. But like many collegiettes, you may have found that even that isn’t enough. If you’ve got nothing but a string of rejections to show for your efforts, then it might just be the little things bringing you down. Here are a few tweaks you can make to get yourself out of that job hunt slump and get you on the radar of an employer:
1. Retool your resume. By now, you’ve probably heard that it’s crucial to confine your qualifications and experience to a single page – the trick is what things to include. Mira Lowe, former editor–in-chief of JET magazine and associate editor for recruitment at Newsday, believes that one of the most common resume pitfalls is failing to properly sell what you have to offer as an employee. “Qualify and quantify things,” she says. “Don’t be shy about stating that you were the first or only to do something, or that you led a project or that you started an initiative. Show with examples what you have accomplished, don’t simply tell it.”
Recruiters will oftentimes blow through hundreds of resumes a day, leaving about 10 seconds of attention for that one page that is meant to represent all of your achievements, so forgo flowery, flashy descriptions of work experience for a factual account of accomplishments. It’s important to keep in mind that most applicants will have similarly jam-packed resumes, so the way to catch an employer’s attention is to communicate what you brought to the table in each individual situation in the clearest, most illustrative way possible. So, for instance, don’t just say that you’re a “good problem solver.” Give your potential employer a specific example of a time when you exhibited those killer problem-solving capabilities—if you bailed out a big project in crunch time by devising a new approach, say that instead. Trade in descriptors like “innovative” for anecdotes about what innovative ideas your brought to the table. Not only will you stand out for your specificity, they also won’t question whether you’re giving yourself too much credit.
For more tips on perfecting your resume, check out this HC article
2. Cultivate your online presence. If no one’s told you that your future rides on whether or not an employer can dig up photos of you with a red cup in hand, then you missed out on an important part of the college experience. But keeping your Facebook profile squeaky clean isn’t the only thing to keep in mind while tailoring your privacy settings. “From Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn and beyond, your biography, photos and postings should be personal yet appropriate,” Lowe says.
What employers see online can definitely make an impression on how they view you as a candidate, so keep in mind that you don’t just want to lock down anything incriminating – you want to leave them with something positive to remember. Thanks to Facebook’s extensive privacy settings, it’s easy to hide inappropriate posts and photos while still allowing an employer to get a sense of who you are instead of blocking them out completely. If you’re involved in any extracurricular activities or working on any projects with a social networking presence, make sure that you’re making posts about them that are visible to someone who might be looking to hire you. Showcase all of the unique things you offer because seeing them will help shape an employer’s impression of you. It also doesn’t hurt to show that you know how to use social networking in practical applications.
Another hot tip on managing your social presence: Make sure to keep your personal Twitter on a private setting and check to make sure that your tweets don’t automatically post to your LinkedIn profile or some other place on the web the professional world can see. And, if you do need to lock down your Twitter, make a separate, public account that documents your career-related ventures and proves your tweeting process.