Recent Grads: 5 Tips to Improve Your Job Search

By Lea McLeod 

     Do you have a clear goal for your job search plan?
Do you have processes set up to support you throughout?
I'm often surprised when I speak with recent grads in the job search. Though anxious to become employed, they often do not have clearly set goals about that search. As well, they often don't have good structure and processes to support the effort.
     Without a clear goal, and a good job search strategy, you'll end up wandering in the proverbial desert and get discouraged pretty quickly. Here's a better way.
My suggestion is that a good job search starts with a clearly defined goal, and goes from there. So here are 5 ideas on how to get your engine running. We'll cover the rest in Part 2 of this post.

1. Set a goal!

     As they say... if you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.
Even if you don't know exactly "what you want to do" you can still identify other qualities you desire in a job or an employer, and construct a job search around that. You probably have an idea about things that are interesting to you. What kind of employers interest you? What type of work you would like to pursue, in what industry, in what location, by when? Pick your starting place, and go after it.
     Write your goal down and look at it every day. When you ask people to help in your job search, the more specific you are, the better able they are able to help. Get a clear goal and let it saturate every part of your job search.

2. Create a structured workspace.

     You need a good workspace that's devoted to your job search. Create one that gives you easy access to all of your necessary information. Your job is now to find a job. So create a workspace to accomplish that mission, just as you would if you were working from home.
     Keep all of your materials at hand, like extra copies of your resume, business cards, or work product. Then you aren't running around looking for them if you get an interview in short order.

3. Create your personal profiles.

     This is all the self assessment you need to do before you ever write a resume, or go on an interview. Look at all the attributes you offer an employer, and clearly develop your marketing messages. How do you want to present yourself? What is your key value proposition?
     These are the messages that go into your resume, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and social media persona.

4. Target your desired employers.

     Since you've identified your goal and desired qualities for your workplace, it's time for research. Evidence shows the best way to find a job is to target potential employers and go after them, whether they have jobs posted or not.
     So, identify 15 - 20 employers or organizations that appeal to you from a career perspective. This list may morph and change as you start putting your plan into action. But a target list is a good starting place.

5. Develop your job search strategies.

     Research also shows that sitting on the big job boards is probably the least effective way to spend your job search time. Only 7 to 10% of all jobs are placed through them. A job board like gets 1.5 BILLION hits per month. Yikes, that's a lot of competition! Why work that hard?
     Though this may be the place where you are most comfortable, I urge you to expand your comfort zone and come up with ideas for more effective job search. They should include:
  • Online - Include the big job boards if you must, but also niche job boards as well.
  • Social Media - Leverage Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to connect and explore job opportunities.
  • Warm Networking - Don't make this harder than it needs to be. Start with the networks you already have and go from there.
  • Informational Interviews - These can be a great resource for you, a chance to leave a great impression, and a way to build your contact base!
  • Cool [Offline] Networking - This is about creating connections where maybe you don't have any direct links already in your network. Pick up the phone and call organizations that do work you are interested in. Even with no contacts you can call and ask for the hiring manager of a job that appeals to you. Also, check out networking events, career fairs, and other face to face opportunities to boost your connection factor.
     For a more detailed look at all these steps, download my audio tele-class recording - Job Search Secrets for New Grads. It's free, and in the second session you'll hear a deep dive into creating a job search plan.
For a more detailed look at all these steps, download my audio tele-class recording - No More Back to School: Job Search Secrets for the New Grad.
It's free, and in the second session you'll hear a deep dive into creating a job search plan.

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