Positioning Yourself Well for Your First Job Search

Mix Pragmatism with Planning

If you find yourself with a college degree, but you still don’t know what you want to do with your life, that’s okay. A lot of us have faced this very dilemma. As a new grad, you need a job, but it’s likely you are still in the investigation phase identifying which job is most appealing and best utilizes your strengths and experience.

Go ahead and start looking for entry-level positions within your major. Change your mindset and don’t think about it as the job that will define your future. Consider it a test run. If you don’t like the position, figure out why and identify what job has the opposite functions to the ones you don’t like. Or identify what you do like about your job and pursue a job with those functions as its primary responsibilities.

Excise desperation from your mindset. Avoid taking any old job because you need money. Odds are you’ll end up hating it and leave quickly. Your first job will stay on your resume for at least 10 years which means you’ll have to answer the question why you took the job and why you left it so quickly. You are building a brand. Making a hasty or poorly thought out decision early on can come back to haunt you and dull the gleam of the polished personal brand you’ve established in subsequent positions. Mixing pragmatism with a bit of planning will pay off.

For example, maybe you are in an entry level sales position for a robotics company, but you realize you’re much more comfortable explaining the product, problem-solving and training others on the product rather than closing the deal. Those are the functions of an applications engineer. That is the position to target next. Or let’s say you’re not as fond of being in front of people and being under the gun having to trouble shoot and problem solve at the client’s whim, but you do like the programming aspect of the job. Your next step would be to look for a programming or software engineer position where coding is going to be your primary responsibility.

Most importantly, BE CURIOUS. Talk to people who are doing jobs that look interesting to you. Find out how they landed in that position. How do they recommend that you get a job in that field?

Network Like A Pro.

What does that mean? Build relationships. It is wonderful to have well-connected people in your network ready and willing to help you. It is critical in any networking relationship to add value, build the relationship and show them you’re serious about being a professional and peer and not someone who’s in it to only get and not give. Seeing alumni, your connections and/or your parents’ connections as the proverbial genie in the bottle ready to grant you whatever favor you ask displays a lack of social and self-awareness. When meeting with your networking partner, listen and see where you can help him/her. Show a willingness to do something for them.

When asking for help, be clear and specific. Saying, “I was hoping you could introduce me to someone at your previous employer so I can talk to them,” lacks specificity and doesn’t create a sense of urgency for your partner to respond. Far better to say, “Do you happen to know Beth Johnson from your days at Acme, Inc.? I was hoping to get an introduction to her because of her work with autonomous vehicles.” This is much better. You’ve named a person you want to be introduced to and you’ve also identified why. This is a call to action for your networking partner. If your connection doesn’t know Beth, they may know someone else within autonomous vehicles to whom they can introduce you.

Social Media Derailment.

Avoid it. Figure out what others can find out about you online via all your social media channels. Remember nothing ever leaves the internet so be thorough. Change your privacy settings to ensure just anyone can’t look at your social media profiles and make sure to remove anything that reflects on you poorly.

Tailor Your Resume.

This will take time and who wants to stop to tailor each application? Resist the temptation to simply apply for positions. I know you’ve already invested a lot of time and/or money on your resume. But it’s not quite ready to go. There are always ways to improve a resume to better suit a position. Putting in the time to analyze the posting and show the company you did your due diligence by articulating a reason why you want to work for them will go a long way. Understand that the people reviewing your application materials are seasoned professionals. They can tell when an applicant has phoned it in and when they’re giving it their all.

Utilizing new tools and paying attention to these four tips will make for a more successful job search for any new grad.

The best is yet to come,