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Advice from an Expert:

The Full-time Job of Finding a Job

10.17.2018
The Alexander Group launched its blog on June 4, 2009 with an article that addressed a question I often field from friends and clients with college-age children: "How can I help my son or daughter who is a recent college graduate get a job?"

Back then, the United States was plummeting into a steep recession. Only 22% of college graduates secured jobs. No doubt things have changed. 2018 college graduates have encountered a job market with the lowest unemployment rate in two decades and an average starting salary over $50,000 per year. But it is not all rosy news. Employers plan to hire 1.3% fewer graduates from the Class of 2018 than they did from the Class of 2017 according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

So back by popular demand is an updated job primer for the 2018 college graduate.

1. The mind-set. Finding a job is a full-time job. Your job is to spend your day—all day—trying to find a job. The important thing is that you are not distracted by personal phone calls, household activities or friends, and dedicate eight hours a day to getting a job. Merely sending out three or four resumes a day will not suffice.

2. Have a good resume. It is surprising, and a little disappointing, how many resumes we see that have spelling errors or are not properly formatted or thoughtfully prepared. Ask friends, and people you know who have jobs, for feedback on your resume. One of the best investments you can make in your future is to hire a professional resume writer to help you, and by extension your LinkedIn profile.

3. Know thyself. Ask yourself these important questions: What do you want to do? What companies offer positions that would allow you to do this? What size company? Which industry? Which geographical location?

4. Start researching. Once you have answered these questions, get to work. Look at business periodicals. I find the Book of Lists to be an amazing resource because it lists a number of different types of companies—those that are growing the fastest, pay the most, best places to work, etc. Most major cities have these books. They are a good investment. Fortune, Forbes, Business Week and local papers also have articles that talk about notable companies.

5. Transmit your resume with a strong letter. Once you have found companies you would want to work for, email a brief letter along with your resume to the president of the companies, the head of human resources or the manager of the department in which you want to work. The devil is in the details. Do not address your letter to "Dear Sir or Madam" or "To Head of Human Resources”. Always use the individual’s first and last name, middle initial and exact title. That shows that you are detailed and resourceful.

6. LinkedIn: Your new best friend. We have written often and extensively about how to use Linkedin both to land a job, to recruit and as a networking tool. The advice we have can be synthesized as follows: have a fully developed profile with a good picture and headline, add as many contacts as you can possibly think of (your parents, professors, older contacts), and spring for a souped-up subscription (such as Premium Career or Premium Business) that can give you access to better search tools. Use LinkedIn’s job search function to find postings that match your skillset and learn how to search for people who can open the door to a company in which you have an interest. Remember that you are connected to the contacts of your contacts, so the more contacts you have, the better.

6. Network, network, network. Remember that many positions are not advertised and are found by word of mouth. As such, the most important part of any job search for a college graduate—or anyone looking for a job for that matter—is this: network, network, network. Do not be afraid to ask for help. If you went to a certain college, get lists of alums that may be working at companies in which you are interested. If you are a member of a certain fraternity or sorority, try to find alums at those companies. People are usually happy to do a favor for someone with whom they have something in common.

7. Do not get discouraged. It is easy to get down if you are sending resume after resume and not getting a response. Do not take it personally. It says nothing about you, but only that there is not a need—at this moment—that matches your skill set.

8. Say thank you and commit to helping someone else. There will be people who will help you along the way. Thank them and offer to return the favor. It is the law of karma—what you give comes back to you again and again.

Summary: Getting a job is a numbers game. How many resumes do you have to send out to get a job: Ten resumes or 10,000? Assuming it is 10,000 resumes, the faster and more disciplined you are at getting those resumes out, the faster you will land a job.



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