The Spartan Echo went to CareerBuilder’s Chief People Officer Michelle Armer to get advice for people entering the job market for the first time as college graduates. Here’s our question and answer session with Ms. Armer.
I’m graduating in a month. What should I already have done and what should I be doing now? (In other words, how far behind is the average college graduate in their job search?)
As they embark on the job search process, college seniors should think about how they effectively network, clean up their social media profiles, and craft strong resumes and cover letters
Networking is an effective tool that job seekers of any level can use as they embark on the job search process. Whether they are through school, previous jobs and internships, or even family and friends, students can leverage existing relationships to learn about the fields they are interested in, find out about open opportunities, and receive advice. Connecting with people you are already familiar with is a great way to get your feet wet as you start looking for a full-time role. Beyond that, students should take advantage of job fairs and alumni events so they can meet people who are looking to hire recent graduates, or who have attended their college in the past. Networking isn’t just about finding out about open positions, it’s also about developing new relationships, learning, and getting career advice from others with more experience.
Before applying to jobs, students should clean up their social media accounts. In a CareerBuilder study, we found 70% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, and of those that do, 57% have found content that caused them not to hire candidates. It’s important to keep things in check by making sure you don’t have anything that could turn off a hiring manager, like tasteless content or complaints about a former job or boss. However, in some cases, social media can work to students’ advantage; 43% of employers said candidates’ social media content influenced their decision to hire them. If used wisely, social media can help you stand out and show skills or interests that don’t fit on a resume.
Crafting a resume that best highlights skills and other achievements is important for students who may not have much work experience. Providing strong descriptors, mentioning accomplishments with data that shows success, and including details about awards or membership to different organizations can paint a fuller picture of what a candidate may bring to the table.
How can I turn my “not in demand” major (i.e.—history) into an “in demand” job (i.e.—marketing)?
When first entering college, determining the “right” major can be tricky, however, the tight labor market offers a positive outlook for recent graduates no matter what they majored in.
We are currently in a job seekers’ market where there are more open positions than candidates, and around half of all employers have open positions they cannot fill due to a lack of qualified talent, providing opportunity for workers with limited experience. In fact, in a recent CareerBuilder survey, we found 65% of employers plan to hire recent college graduates this year, and 59% of companies are open to hiring candidates who may not be fully qualified for the position but have potential for growth. Also, while some jobs require specific certifications, soft skills have become increasingly relevant, especially when it comes to entry-level workers. For entry-level jobs, three in five employers have said soft skills will be just as important as hard skills in the hiring process, and are looking for candidates who have basic knowledge of the position, are team-oriented, and have attention to detail – skills that recent college graduates of any major can possess.
Majors such as math and sciences, business, social sciences, humanities, agriculture and natural resources, and communications all have average starting salaries of more than $50,000, indicating that students across a wide variety of majors and with diverse interests can find well-paying roles following graduation.
What kind of cover letter and resume leads to an interview?
A resume that helps a candidate lock in an interview is brief, well formatted, and shows clear results. Keep your resume to one page by including only the information that pertains to the job at hand. Breaking your resume into sections with bold headlines and bulleted text makes it easier to read. CareerBuilder found 34% of hiring managers want to see quantifiable results on a resume, so consider including data and stats that show your success wherever possible. Additionally, since most resumes are submitted online, you should confirm you have key words from the job description in your resume, as this helps make sure it doesn’t get excluded by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).
When it comes to a successful cover letter, less is more. Draw out a few highlights of why you are applying to one particular job without reiterating what is already listed on your resume.
What kind of interview leads to employment?
Interviewees who are well prepared and clearly express their interest in the position are most likely to leave a positive impression on a hiring manager. Also, while sending a thank-you note after an interview seems like an obvious step, CareerBuilder found that 57% of job seekers don’t send them. Not only do employers expect to receive one, but this also gives you the chance to reiterate why you’re the best person for the job. A follow-up note also offers an opportunity to highlight something you may have forgotten to mention during the interview. Whether you send a note via email, traditional mail or both, send a thank you to everyone you spoke with during the interview process, and do so in a timely manner.