Finding a professional job after college doesn’t have to be stressful, if you take a systematic approach, according to Micheala Bojorquez-Ford and Patricia Turnbull, two expert job-search professors at Fresno State’s Craig School of Business. Bojorquez-Ford and Turnbull offer these tips for a successful job search.
1. Recognize that finding a job can take time.
Micheala Bojorquez-Ford: It usually takes about six to eight months of job hunting to secure a full-time position related to your academic major. You have to stay organized and work to find a job. You should spend around 40 hours per week researching companies and submitting applications.
If you plan to graduate next year, now is the time to start planning your job search to have professional employment in place after graduation. If you’re a recent graduate looking for work, don’t be discouraged if it takes time to find the right job — be persistent and work hard at your job search.
2. Plan for a long-term career, not a short-term job.
Patricia Turnbull: You want to find a place where you can learn and grow, not just a job. Once you graduate, it will look suspicious if you don’t hold down a job for at least a year or more. It doesn’t mean you have to stay with a job where you’re miserable, but it does mean you have to do your research, so you don’t accept a job where you’ll be miserable.
3. Network, network, network.
turnbull: The best way to maximize hiring is to get involved in clubs, organizations and internships. Talk to your classmates. Talk to your teachers about it. Go to meetings and speaker events. After meeting someone, follow up with them with a simple email and your resume.
Connecting with other Fresno State alumni is a great networking icebreaker. You’d be amazed at how much people want to help others, and Fresno State alumni are fantastic people who want to help their fellow Bulldogs.
4. Research companies before applying.
turnbull: The more research you do, the better you will know if a company is right for you. I encourage the use of LinkedIn, CareerBuilder and Indeed to search for jobs. See if this is the kind of company you want to work for. View salaries. Be careful not to believe everything you read online. But take a look as a starting point.
5. Use campus professional resources, even after you graduate.
Bojorquez-Ford: The Fresno State Career Development Center offers one-on-one career counseling to help you with resumes, interview techniques, networking, and job skills — and it’s available to current students and alumni , regardless of the length of your degree.
6. Personalize your resume to make an immediate impression.
turnbull: Statistically, a resume will be watched for 7.5 seconds. If the spacing, font size, and overall look aren’t appealing, they can be quickly ignored. Customize your CV for each job you apply for and be sure to mention that you have the skills required by the job posting, as long as they are factual.
7. You have more experience than you think.
Bojorquez-Ford: It’s a classic dilemma — you can’t get a job without experience, but how are you supposed to get experience without a job? But every job and volunteer position you’ve had, no matter how humble, has taught you skills that can translate into work experience you can put on your resume.
On-campus student positions are great ways to develop professional skills. Volunteering for student clubs, nonprofits, and other organizations, especially if you take on a leadership role, teaches you many career skills. And even if it’s not a formal experience, it may be enough to get an employer excited about you.
turnbull: Your CV should emphasize technical skills, such as computer applications and social media platforms and sales experience. Don’t waste valuable real estate on your resume with soft skills such as reliable and hardworking teamwork. Every professional should have these skills.
8. You interview them as much as they interview you.
turnbull: Once you have secured an interview, take every opportunity to sell yourself to a potential employer. Dress to impress for the first interview. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so do your best. Do your homework. Research the company and know the industry trends.
At the same time, the interview is an opportunity for you to ask questions of employers and make sure the job is right for you. Arrive for the interview a bit early (10-15 minutes) in order to sit down and observe the work structure and company culture. Do employees walk around like you? Do you see yourself fitting in? It is just as important for you to interview the company as it is for them to interview you.
And watch out for red flags that might mean the company isn’t meeting your needs. Ask during the interview how long the average employee in the position you are interviewing stays with the company. If it’s less than a year, I’d be suspicious. If the average tenure of employees is three to five years or more, that says a lot about the company and that the company invests in its employees and vice versa.