As she walked to receive her diploma, she felt two overlapping emotions: relief and panic. Relief that tests and grades were a thing of the past; panic that she now had the overwhelming task of finding a job with a liberal arts degree.
That technical writer was me.
Don’t worry. This story has a happy ending. After I bumbled my way through my second interview, I successfully landed a marketing job at a local start-up.
For anyone in a similar boat, here are three things I wish I had known way back then. Each would have helped my attempts to start my career. A lot.
Take No Time Off
After my initial graduation, I turned in a few job applications. Then I spent my days hanging out with my brother who was going overseas for the next two years. I also spent time feeding my animals on Farmville, watching television, and reading voraciously. I occasionally sent more job applications. Four months later, after my brother left, I finally dove into my job search in a real way.
The problem is not that I took time off from my job search. The issue is that I spent four months off-off, doing things like playing dead-end Facebook games!
If I was thinking clearly, I would have spent a small sliver of that time perfecting my writing, crafting articles that would be seen by real people, or acquiring other skills that hiring agents may want.
No matter your career path, two or more hours a day working towards mastering your professional skills can greatly decrease the time it takes to land that first job.
Work Very Hard at Social Networking
Until recently, I’d never been active on social media. I only used Facebook to cultivate my imaginary farm or dabble with other similar activities. Sometime in my senior year, I created a Twitter account… that I never used.
Here are some social media techniques that will take you just minutes per day. More important, they will help your job search when you need the help most:
- Join Industry groups on LinkedIn and Google Plus
- Engage in intellectual conversations with authorities in your field
- Announce your job search with a link to your resume on Twitter, Google +, or Facebook
- Ask followers, friends, and family to let you know of any opportunities they hear about
- Search for hashtags like #hiring, #jobopening and #needjob
Confidence Will Take You Far
My first interview did not go as well as I hoped. My biggest mistake during that interview was very simple: I failed to demonstrate conviction in my own abilities; I lacked confidence.
Unsurprisingly, I did not get hired. After all, how can a job interviewer invest (and that’s what you are to the company, an investment) in your abilities if even you have doubts? And since it takes 5-months for companies to recover from the cost of hiring an employee, most companies will not to give candidates who lack confidence the benefit of the doubt.
If you doubt, you’re out.
Remember: You are a skilled professional who has been juggling tasks for years. If you lack confidence still, if you are asked any of the following questions, the answer is always – always – yes.
- Can you handle multi-tasking?
- Can you complete tasks quickly and efficiently?
- Are you a fast learner?
- Can you handle working in a group on projects?
Does this mean you should lie about a skill you just don’t have?
My rule of thumb is this: if you have time to learn a skill before the first day, feel free to say you have that skill. If you don’t have the time, admit it – and then assure the interviewer you’re a fast learner.
Locating a job can be an intimidating task, especially when you’re fresh out of college; there are so many small aspects that you just don’t know!
Use my experience to shorten your learning curve… and once you’ve landed your first great job, be sure to pass on three things you learned along the way to other graduates who don’t know what they don’t know.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Ms. Career Girl!
About the Author: Samantha Stauf graduated from the University of Idaho with a degree in technical writing. In the last year and a half, she has been working in the marketing department at a local start-up.