Excellent news for the class of 2014: employers are optimistic about hiring you!
According to NACE’s Job Outlook for the College Class of 2014 report, employers expect to hire 7.8 percent more 2014 graduates than 2013 graduates.
Although the outlook is looking good, you still need to put some serious work into your job search between now and May. To that end, here are some ways to become the person every employer wants to hire:
Define Your Marketable Skills
When employers are looking to fill their entry-level positions, the first two things they look for is experience and the candidate’s soft skills. Sixty-one percent of managers believe soft skills are essential for Gen Y because employers want them to have the ability to prioritize work, possess a positive attitude, and have great teamwork skills.
However, there is one challenge when it comes to making yourself a marketable college grad. Unfortunately, half of HR managers say they have open positions they can’t fill with qualified candidates. What’s worse is 46 percent say positions remain this way for more than a quarter of a year. If you want to overcome this skills gap, you need to know what skills employers are looking for. Once you have the skills that land you on the radar of employers, you’ll be able to improve your job search.
According to the 2014 Occupational Outlook, here are the top 10 skills employers look for when hiring college graduates:
- Communication skills
- Customer service skills
- Ability to work well in a team
- Literacy and numeracy skills
- Confidence in learning about technology
- Planning and organization skills
- Initiative and a can-do attitude
- Problem-solving skills
- Good work habits and independence
- Good understanding of health and safety
If you feel like you need to brush up on these skills, there are endless opportunities for you to do so. The best way for you to do this is through doing some pro bono work during your last few weeks of school. This is the time of year when it’s too late for a spring internship since you’re graduating in May, but if you’re looking to get some experience under your belt, freelancing your skills or pro bono work is the way to go. Reach out to local businesses and leaders in your college town or hometown to find clients who could utilize your skills. This will help you develop your soft skills (such as taking initiative), as well as give you the opportunity to gain real world experience to add to your resume.
Not only can you do pro bono work, but also you should be attending networking events, workshops, and conferences related to your field. This will help you make some great industry connections, as well as work on your soft skills. Employers want to see you’ve tried building a reputation for yourself and have taken the initiative to develop your skills outside the classroom. All of this preparation will help you feel more confident in yourself, as well as your job search, upon graduation.
Sharpen Your Professional Tools
Employers don’t have time to sift through sloppy resumes and cover letters. They also don’t have any interest in hiring someone with an unprofessional online reputation. If you want to get hired immediately, you need to invest time in your job search marketing tools.
What are your marketing tools, you ask?
Well, they’re things such as your resume or LinkedIn profile that will land you a job. Your resume and cover letter should go hand-in-hand with your personal brand.
- The resume. If you have no experience or you’re feeling in the dark about writing one, it’s a good idea to head over to your school’s career center. This will give you the opportunity to meet with a career adviser who can help you get started and figure out the best way to market your skills. When you don’t have much experience, the secret to a perfect resume is selling your soft skills. It’s also a good idea to avoid using any over-used words that could cause employers to overlook your application.
- The cover letter. Again, if you’re feeling lost with writing your cover letter, it’s always a good idea to ask a professional or have a friend meet with you to help you get started. Writing a cover letter isn’t the easiest task, but it’s definitely important for your job search. Whenever you write a cover letter, make sure it is tailored to the for which job you’re applying. You should also include accomplishment stories that illustrate your skills and experience.
- Your personal brand. If you haven’t already started building your personal brand, don’t go into panic mode just yet. There’s still time for you to build your online presence and clean up your social media profiles. To help you get started, it’s a good idea to create a professional Twitter account, sign up with LinkedIn, purge your Facebook of any content you wouldn’t want employers to see, and even start a professional blog. These are just a few things you can do to solidify your image as a college grad and get noticed by employers upon graduation.
Remember, employers want to hire candidates who take initiative and have enthusiasm. When you take the time to make sure you have a cohesive personal brand, you’ll be able to catch the attention of recruiters and employers.
Prepare Yourself for a Successful Interview
After you have gone through all the steps of defining your strongest skills, figuring out how to market yourself to employers, and tweaking your job search tools, it’s time to focus on the interview process. Once you’ve applied to a few jobs and followed up with employers, you should start preparing yourself for interviews. An employer could email or call you at any given time to set up an interview. To help you feel prepared, here are some tips to get you interview-ready:
- Have your elevator speech perfected. Elevator speeches aren’t just for networking events, but also they are important for any job interview. As soon as you enter an interview, you’re going to be expected to introduce yourself and explain a little bit of your background. You should also be prepared to explain what makes you the best candidate for the position and why they should hire you. One of the most missed questions by job candidates is being able to explain who they are, why they love their career, or what attracted them to the opening. If you can have an elevator speech prepared, this will help you feel a little more confident upon entering the interview.
- Research the company. Before every single interview, you need to research the company and the person who’ll be interviewing you. Research is key to excelling in any interview, and if you want to show the interviewer you’re enthusiastic about the position, research is the best way to build your confidence. To begin your research, taking time to study the job description is a great place to start. Next, you should read through the company’s history, learn about their current projects, and uncover anything newsworthy about the employer. There’s no reason for you to go into the interview in the dark. The prep work you do prior to the interview will prevent you from missing out on landing the job.
Prepare Today: Don’t Wait a Minute Longer
The sooner you begin your job search, the faster you’ll land a job. If you’re feeling lost, your first step is to reach out to your university’s career center and set up a meeting with your advisor. Although your advisor can’t exactly land you a job, he or she can provide you with the resources you need to begin your search. Once you’ve found some jobs to apply to, you need to make sure you have all of your documents (such as a resume and cover letter) prepared for the application process.
By following these tips, there’s no reason for you to not be the college grad every employer has been looking for. As long as you stay focused on your goals and develop a plan, you’ll be able to stand out to employers and land a job by the time you graduate.
What are you doing to make yourself a marketable college grad?
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Come Recommended!
About the Author: Olivia Adams is a Content Creator Trainee at Come Recommended. She is a senior at Ferris State University studying public relations and Spanish. Olivia is a member of Ferris State PRSSA and has gained experience in public relations, social media, and writing through her multiple internships and writing focused jobs.