Sponsored: Finding that first job after graduation can be daunting, but with these tips from the University of Utah’s career experts, recent college graduates can be on their way to success!
Landing that first job out of college can be overwhelming – students spend years working hard to earn their degree and now the rubber meets the road. It can be scary, but the good news is that a little strategic preparation can go a long way.
Experts at the Center for Career and Professional Development at the University of Utah (U) are happy to help by offering graduating students key tips for landing their first job with a degree in hand. In fact, the U has more career resources available than ever thanks to the President’s Career Success Initiative, which launched last fall with the intention of encompassing more targeted collaboration with employers and personalized learning for students.
Career coaches are embedded in various colleges and programs and are trained to help students explore career options, self-brand on online platforms, find internships, write impact-oriented resumes, prepare for interviews, and negotiate for salaries. Students may also visit the Career Center to review a resume or cover letter Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Mary Arola is the Assistant Director of Marketing at the Career Center, where she worked as a career coach for five years. “The first thing I recommend is to start as early as possible!” Arola says. “With all the excitement and events surrounding graduation, it’s hard to find time to dedicate to job hunting and can add stress to what should be an exciting and festive time.”
The best way to work within time constraints is for students to see their career coach early and often, says Katie Abbey, special adviser to the president for the President’s Career Success Initiative and assistant dean of Business Career Services in the School of Business David Eccles.
“It’s like the old adage, ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ If time is dedicated to professional development and constantly looking for internships and careers, it’s far less compelling,” says Abby.
Here are 8 tips for finding your first job out of college from the U’s career services experts:
Inventory your personal skills and strengths. What are the applicant’s skills? What examples do they have that illustrate their competence? Students are encouraged to record details of their successes and failures and use them to reinforce their answers to questions.
Tailor the resume and cover letter to each job. Employers can find out when an applicant has submitted the same documents to hundreds of jobs. Applicants who do this will likely be the first to be removed from the application process.
Network, network, network. Networking still has some of the biggest ROIs when it comes to learning about job openings, interviews, and getting offers. Managers feel more comfortable hiring someone who comes with reliable references. Family and friends can help graduate students in their job search by sharing their personal and professional networks, and LinkedIn is still a very useful networking tool.
Get to know the company before the interview. It’s important for candidates to do their due diligence to get to know a prospective employer, and that means more than just a quick Google search. Review the organization’s website, social media channels, and even customer reviews to understand what they do, what they value, the challenges they face, and what their culture is like.
Practice telling stories. Candidates should know their stories well in advance of interviews because it’s challenging to think of a story in the moment. Instead of telling the employer, “I’m a strong team player,” candidates are encouraged to say, “I’m a strong team player, and here’s an example of a time when I led a team on a specific project with specific results.” Applicants must anticipate the types of stories that will resonate for each job.
Think from the employer’s point of view. Candidates should avoid making it all about themselves. Employers want to know what a candidate brings to the company, and candidates must be willing to tell them.
Don’t worry about having all the qualifications. Fresh graduates tend to underestimate their experience and will often avoid applying for a job if they don’t meet every single qualification that usually represents the “ideal candidate,” but often not who they’re actually hiring. Applicants should focus on achieving most qualifications, or at least those required, rather than all.
Take advantage of alumni connections. Alumni are often very eager to give back by mentoring students. The U has nearly 300,000 alumni worldwide. To help students tap into this network, the Office of Alumni Relations has developed a networking site called Forever Utah that connects students with alumni in the profession they are interested in and indicates which alumni are willing to help. The responses on this platform are quick and timely and have led to many rewarding connections.