This is one of the most terrifying questions you can ask a graduating senior. The day after commencement, you've officially joined the ranks of the unemployed. Welcome to the real world. The job hunt after college is tough. However, if you know the common do's and don'ts before you apply for a job, step into an interview or negotiate a job offer – you'll be employed in no time.
It's all about who you know: Why? Because people tend to hire people they know and trust. You're more apt to try a new hairdresser if your friend with great hair recommends theirs. Same goes for the career world. I know what you're thinking, "But I don't know anyone." Wrong! As a college student you are the most connected. You can reach your to your professors, friends, family, former employers as well as alumni. Start mapping out your network and thinking critically about how you know already and who you'd like to know. Use tools like LinkedIn to research people in your desired field and pick their brain. Ask to set up a phone call to learn about the industry. A compliment never hurts either so be prepared to discuss your respect for their career. Come prepared with questions.
Do the extra credit: Step 1. You look on a company's website or a job search site and find a job you love. Step 2. You apply directly from that site. Step 3. Avoid step two at all costs. If you apply in this manner your application will get lost in the "black hole" of job applications. You'll be applying against thousands of other job searchers. Instead, do a little extra work for a bigger pay off. Scour the internet and LinkedIn for the hiring manager's name and address. Not only will a real live human be on the other end of that email, but they'll be about to see you have great perseverance and investigative skills.
Interview Intervention: If you've been interviewing a ton but not getting the job offer it might be wise to rethink your strategy. Always do your homework on the company and who'll be interviewing you. What does this mean? Read everything you can on the company. If they're in retail – buy their product and see it through the eyes of a consumer. When I applied to work for a person who was an author – I bought all 3 of her books and read them before the interview. I was able to use to show I cared about the position and respected her so highly that I invested 5 hours of my life reading her expertise. She was impressed and I was hired. The more work you do beforehand, the more it will help you during the interview. You'll be able to analytically talk about the company and be an active participant. Make a point to ask about upcoming products and goals. Never talk about salary, hours or vacation time during the initial interview.
Choose your outfit wisely: What we wear subconsciously tells people about our personality. Depending on what industry you are applying – your clothing should follow suit. If it's corporate stick to a suit but wear a colorful tie or blouse to enhance your creativity. If you're working in a creative environment then you can play around with your "power interview outfit." What you don't want to do is show up to a casual start up where everyone is in shorts and flip flops and you're in a boxy suit. The hiring manager there might think you're conservative and might not want to work in such a relaxed atmosphere. Make them think you already belong by mirroring how they dress. That doesn't mean you should show up in shorts but a dark blazer and jeans would do the trick.
To accept or not to accept: You got your first offer! But do you really want it? What if something better comes along; what if it doesn't? Don't play the "what if" game. Follow your heart and brains. Did you get a good feeling when you interviewed, do you respect the company and want to learn more about the industry? Do you see yourself there? Accept. If you are miserable you can always look for another position down the road.
Don't accept the first offer: Don't accept the first salary offer without trying to negotiate. When you're a recent graduate and you go from making zero to making thousands of dollars, you're apt to say OK! But don't! You'll be selling yourself short. Research what people generally make starting out in your industry so you know what you'll be expected to make. The worst thing you can do is to ask for 50K when you know the base is generally 35K. Ask for 40K and see if they can meet you in the middle. If they can't, see if you can honestly live on the salary and are passionate about the job.