Being a new graduate can be an exciting time. One chapter of life is closing and another is just beginning. But, in many ways, finding post-grad work is a job in itself. Making that transition from student to employee is not always easy. There are a lot of mistakes to be made if you don’t know what to look out for.
Fortunately, members of the Forbes Human Resources Council shared their best tips and actionable steps that may make job hunting a little easier and lessen the worries that come with starting a new journey post-graduation.
1. Include All Work Experience On Your Resume
Do not over-edit your resume to include only the work experience that you believe is relevant to the position for which you are applying. Babysitting gigs show trustworthiness and restaurant/retail jobs show that you are outgoing and tenacious. Moreover, the more experience listed, the more likely you will have something in common with your interviewer, making you a more memorable candidate. – Cristin Heyns-Bousliman, Blake’s Lotaburger, LLC
2. Know What You Want
One, understand your values. This may seem a bit odd, but understanding what is important to you in life and in work will serve you well over your career and can serve as a common thread as you interview. Two, know what you want to do, and be clear about it. If you are new to the job market and looking for a role, you need to be able to answer a simple question: “What do you want to do?” – John Sigmon, johnsigmon.com
3. Give Flexibility
Flexibility is like trust: you need to earn it. If you want a certain experience, you have to show you can contribute to the employer’s expectations as well. The best employee is one who is nimble, one who can adjust their approach with different people/personalities, flex their schedule when the business requires it and quickly problem-solve/innovate when faced with obstacles. – Lotus Yon, NCH
4. Utilize Social Media
5. Be Proactive
Take charge of your own career by becoming proactive, not reactive. Get to know and understand your audience. When you accomplish that, you will know what the expectation is. Then plan ahead to meet that expectation before being asked. – Adam Mellor, ONE Gas, Inc.
6. Make Connections Before Graduation
Start making as many connections as possible in your chosen field prior to graduation. Not only will this improve your chances of landing a job, but those who know someone in the industry often land more coveted roles than those who just apply to job ads. New grads with no connections who are unsure of their path can still do well, though they have more work ahead of them to find their ideal role. – John Feldmann, Insperity
7. Keep A “Yesterday” Journal
If you want to mine your experiences for the most learning possible, keep a “yesterday” journal. Keep it online, on your laptop, tablet, phone or even paper. The only rule is every entry has to start with “yesterday.” From there, you go over what happened and formulate your thinking for tomorrow. There’s no faster way to learn. – Pamela Potts, neosystemscorp.com
8. Be Ready To Work
One of the issues I often hear from managers who hire recent graduates is they spend a lot of time teaching them how to be employed: show up on time, dress the part, prepare for meetings, complete work by the deadline, collaborate, communicate, etc. It may seem basic, but if you’ve mastered these skills, you’ll start at the top of the class. – Tracy Bittner, SPHR, Ionic Security Inc.
9. Show Your Employer You’re Hungry
Take the time to learn your role well and ask for more. Show your new employer you’re hungry by kickstarting your learning. Offer to assist with projects, stay late, come in early, take on extra challenges or even propose a project. Even if you get shut down or told to go home, it shows you are excited to be part of the organization (and grow in it) and grateful for the position. Always go the extra mile. – Brooke Peterson, Skyfii
10. Find A Mentor
Maybe the best way to accelerate your career growth is by finding a mentor who can help guide you through your early career and beyond. When interviewing with companies, be sure to get a feel for the leadership styles of those you will be working with. Is there someone who seems willing to be there to help you get and stay on the fast track, or will you be relegated to finding your way alone? While it is easy to focus on the money or the name brand of the companies you are interviewing with, don’t forget that your career is going to be constantly evolving. Having a person you can trust to help you navigate the twists and turns will be invaluable. – Peter K. Murdock, Blackmon Mooring/BMS CAT
11. Create A Positive Brand
Start branding yourself with your very first job. Your work ethic and interactions with colleagues set the tone for your next move. Your behavior creates the path to success and all you need to do is treat every opportunity like it’s the last. – Charece Newell, MSILR, sHRBP, CCLC, Sunspire Health
12. Look Beyond Your Degree
Graduates think they are limited to the field their degree is in. While their degree will certainly help them land a job in that industry, they should not limit themselves if they are interested in another career path. Many entry-level positions require a general bachelors degree and upward mobility comes more from experience than it does from your degree. Don’t be afraid to take another path. – Tiffany Servatius, Scott’s Marketplace
13. Be Confident, But Humble
Graduates are coming with new perspective and learning. Employers need to see a person who is confident in their skills and abilities. However, employers also want to see a willingness to learn and grow. While demonstrating all the necessary qualifications of the job, a graduate needs to show the interviewer that they have the humility to ask questions. Both traits go hand in hand. – John Mauck, American Public University System
14. Take Advantage Of Additional Training
Take advantage of additional training offered by your new employer. Many companies enroll employees in onboarding, but most new grads don’t realize that more training options could be available. Ask managers and HR what courses are available. Self-selected training serves as a strong signal of employee drive and can be the springboard into a thriving and fulfilling career. – Jeff Weber, Instructure
15. Be Curious
The best part of this season of life is that you have the ultimate bandwidth to be curious. So learn as much as you can. Ask the hard questions, ask the obvious questions. You will find opportunities where you can add value by being guided by curiosity. It’s tempting to have an answer at the table, but often having the right question will lead you to far better outcomes. – AJ Thomas, Auction.com
16. Say Yes And Learn from Mistakes
Get your foot in the door and volunteer as much as possible. Only by trying will you learn valuable knowledge about yourself, develop and gain experience. Embrace failures by learning how to change your behavior to improve results. You become stronger by how you handle adversity. – Thoai Ha, Lynx Innovation
17. Do Your Research
Learn more about the scope, expectations and challenges of your target job and industry by browsing the internet and connecting with professionals in similar positions in that industry. Find out the minimum and preferred requirements for your target job by studying similar job descriptions and create an achievement-based resume that shows how your work history, skills and knowledge fit the job. – Ochuko Dasimaka, Career Heights Consulting, Inc.
18. Focus On Installing Different Mindsets
What I learned after being in talent acquisition for more than 10 years is that mindsets are more important than skill sets. For example, installing the mindset of learning will serve graduates more than just picking up a skill, because skills are getting obsolete every two to five years. If graduates have a mindset of learning they’ll keep mastering skills required to do their job in the future. – Shahid Wazed, City of Edmonton