1,791,000 students will graduate from college this spring, each and every one of them harboring high hopes for landing a great job and embarking on life as an independent adult. While the official unemployment rate is currently 7.5 percent, down from 8.2 percent at this time last year, there is still a tremendous amount of competition to land any job, much less a dream job. Most students dread the thought of having to live with their parents, unable to afford a place of their own, as 45 percent of recent college grads do. To get a leg up on the competition, here are ten tips to ensure a successful career launch.
Photo Credit: Flickr user westoncollege
1. SPEAK ENGLISH. We all know that students speak a different argot on campus, but you need to remember to talk like an adult during your job interviews. Lose the laid-back surfer style -- no more dude and bro. Girls, you are not a Karadashian: no baby talk. It comes across as unprofessional and demeaning and it makes potential employers of either gender uncomfortable. Use your adult voice.
2. PLACE LOTS OF BETS. It's important to apply to several, and when I say several, I mean at least 30-40 jobs. Sure this takes time and interviews are a lot of work, but the practice is great experience.
3. CUSTOMIZE EVERYTHING. Don't think you can use the same cover letter for 29 applications. Get a thorough understanding of the company and tailor your submission accordingly.
4. BE ACCESSIBLE. If a headhunter calls and asks if you can be in Chicago tomorrow morning for an 8 a.m. interview, don't hem and haw. Just get there. Be responsive and make it easy for the organization to schedule you.
5. TAKE RISKS. Most successful leaders, thinkers and innovators are not afraid to take risks. Facebook's motto is "Move fast and break things." Stretch yourself -- leave your comfort zone. Don't overreach ridiculously -- you're not going to get a job as a lawyer if you don't have a law degree -- but don't undersell yourself either.
6. NETWORK. Make your friends and family work for you. Use social media to sell yourself. Don't be afraid to reach out to people you hardly know. Most people welcome the chance to help someone.
7. WHAT DREAM JOB? The very notion of a dream job is a little far-fetched. Your first job isn't likely to be glamorous or exciting -- ideally, it will provide you with an opportunity to hone your skills, pick up some experience, and make important contacts. If you have to keep looking, remember you're much more desirable employed than unemployed.
8. GET MOBILE. More and more, industries are clustering in certain geographic areas. High tech is in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Austin, New York, Seattle and Massachusetts; music is in LA, New York and Nashville; advertising in New York, Chicag, and LA. Cast your net widely, while still considering which city fits you best.
9. BE VALUABLE. Rather than explain why a job with an interviewer's company would be good thing for you, clearly state how your skill set can help them. Make them need you.
10. EMBRACE FAILURE. Most job hunters freak out at the first sign of rejection. Successful people embrace failure as part of the learning process. Treat failure as a time to grow, reflect, reinvent, and ultimately push forward in new directions. Sometimes failure is just the beginning.