Applying for jobs as a new graduate can be a daunting task. The safe world of college has given way to a competitive workplace where the rules aren’t the same. Thankfully, many businesses look for a lot of the same things when searching for a new employee. Here are some things to consider when applying for an entry level position as a new graduate.
If you write a cover letter, make sure to personalize it to the company. Each company wants to know why they are special and not just one of many that you’re applying to. Don’t just repeat your resume — take this chance to connect the skills from your resume to the skills listed in the position. Be personable but professional, don’t take yourself out of the running by including a silly or irrelevant letter.
Be Creative, But Within Limits
I’m not sure what’s being taught at colleges, but from what I’ve seen there’s a big push to differentiate in creative ways. New graduates may not feel as confident in their skill set, so they go over the top trying to be unique, but neglect to mention how that relates to the job they’re applying for. Link your creativity to what the position requires. For instance, if you’re applying for a writing position, you want a resume that shows off your writing skills, not your design skills.
Prep for Interviews
The best way to blow an interview is to go in thinking that you’ll just wing it. Taking forever to answer questions, saying “um” and “you know” a lot, asking to come back to a question–these are all giveaways to your interviewer that you didn’t prepare. Being prepared can also help you feel less nervous; if you are the type that gets extremely nervous, try these tips to manage anxiety.
If you’re worried about the level of experience you have, compile a list of all your internships, volunteer work, professional organizations and college groups you were involved in. Employers will be interested in the skills you’ve learned from a variety of places in addition to your internships. Like in the cover letter, make connections between skills learned in these positions and the skills needed in the open position; it will make it easier for the interviewer to see how you’ll fit in and what you’ll bring to the table.
Research the Company
It is easier than ever to find out about a company you want to work for. Almost all companies now have social media accounts and most have blogs. Do research to see if the company’s mission and culture are something you’d like and agree with. Additionally, check out the news stories that have been published about the company for an unbiased view. A company may ask which of their recent work you like the best, make sure you have an answer; each business has its own identity and mission and they want to make sure you understand it.
If there’s not a lot of information on the company, try researching industry news. Even though you may never have worked in the industry, this shows that you are passionate enough about it to read up on it in your spare time.
Be yourself in an interview, albeit the professional version of yourself. Either you fit into a company’s culture or you don’t, and if you try to be someone you’re not, neither you nor the company will be happy. Don’t forget about your social media accounts, because an interviewer will be sure to check them. Make sure your accounts reflect the image you want. Here’s a good post about what companies look for on social media.
Don’t forget that you are being interviewed, but you are also interviewing the company to see if you’d like it there. Not asking any questions makes you look like you really aren’t interested in what you’ll be doing or what kind of company you’ll be working for. If you’ve done your research, this is a great time to bring up recent events or news stories.
If you’re a new grad, hopefully these tips will help you land the job you want. If not, keep trying and you’ll eventually find your spot.