If you’re part of the recently-graduated class of 2014 like Sacramento Kings shooting guard Jason Terry, but don’t have an NBA contract to fall back on, job prospects may be daunting. This year’s class faces the highest student debt load of any group that came before it. The grads will also have to get in line behind young professionals who finished years ago and are still without jobs, as employment among those aged 25-34 drops to a five-month low of 75.5 per cent. However, whether you’re fresh out of college or a veteran of underemployment, here are five ways to turn your luck around, catch the attention of employers and get hired.
Write the right kind of resume
With each year come ever flashier resumes—avoid these unless you’re actually in a creative field. For the rest of us, keeping them short and sweet is key. New grads are tempted to pad their resumes with school activities, making them lengthier than some workers who have been on the job for decades. Keeping them on-point (around one page) is more impressive. If you can’t score an internship at the start, find a volunteer position where you can put your skills to use. Once you get some experience, order it high on the page, followed by skills, education and other fields, in that order. Don’t overstate your experience, especially with trendy topics such as social media.
Research the company before you even apply
The resume is only there to open the door—the carrier will be a thoughtful and detailed cover letter. To make it particularly personal, research the company via social media, their website and news articles. The more specific details you can pack into your letter, the more it will look like you are really passionate about getting the job. Furthermore, the research will help you not only prepare great answers for the interview, but ask good questions. Ask them about why they employed one strategy over another, or how an event impacted their company. Above all, don’t ask basic questions that you could be asking any other employer. Ask those or none at all and you might as well have skipped the meeting.
Have a solid online presence
You know how you researched your potential employers? They’ll be sure to return the favour. Even if you don’t have a massive Twitter following or a well-known blog, a detailed LinkedIn profile shows you’re accessible and professional. Populate it with great references and portfolio pieces that might get a passing mention in your cover letter. The extra details will interest the interviewer and have them wanting more information.
How to nail a job interview
Few things are as intimidating as a job interview, especially for a recent grad with little experience in such things. After researching the company and getting the ‘view, our advice is to suit up—and that goes for jobs with casual dress codes, too, where it a tie can really show how serious you are. If you’re introduced to other employees, politely ask what they do. Shake hands while maintaining eye contact. Answer questions honestly and to your best ability. Try making the interview a conversation by asking questions and offering input, too. Lastly, when you’re out of there, be sure to send a prompt thank you note for the chat. Use the opportunity to tell them something you learned, or to send them some more impressive material that may have come up during the meeting.
Create your own job
If playing the numbers game doesn’t suit you, entrepreneurship is becoming an increasingly viable option for recent grads. If you’re lucky enough to plan ahead, getting started while in school has the benefit of giving you access to grants. However, if you’re stuck on capital, it’s becoming easier to crowdfund your ventures via investor websites like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter, which have helped other grads get their businesses off the ground.