So, you’re a recent graduate of one of the best online paralegal programs or the top online criminal justice programs? Looking for work? You and thousands of others. What can you offer that they can’t? Well, hopefully you know that or will learn as you search. Your job search is a project in itself, with various stages. Here are some tips to get you to your goal of a great first job.
Keep building your skills.
- Practice your writing skills. In today’s Internet-oriented world, good communication skills are crucial. Technical writing and documentation seems to be a weak point for many new grads.
- Stay updated. Read and subscribe to relevant blogs and industry news sources. Use web feed subscription tools like Bloglines or Newsgator Online Edition.
- Take refresher courses. You may not get a job in your first interview round. Consider some refresher courses before you rewrite your resume.
- Start a blog. Demonstrate your knowledge of a topic related to a field you’d like to be employed in by writing a blog and mentioning it in your resume.
- Do some volunteer work. Find something you like doing and volunteer. It shows depth of character on your resume.
- Learn networking skills. Finding the ideal job usually means knowing the right person at the right time.
- Take a MOOC. Massive Open Online Courses are huge right now and free. There are plenty of MOOC providers like EdX, Coursera, and Udacity that will allow you to take a course that focuses on whatever career choice you’re working in or toward.
Tools and Miscellaneous
These are some tools that you might need for your job search, and other expenditures.
- Computer. Whether you buy or borrow, you’ll need a computer for typing your resume, cover letter, and references page.
- Internet access. Your job search will likely take you online. As an alumnus, you probably have access at your college (or local library).
- Briefcase or portfolio. Perfect for protecting your materials against the elements when attending job fairs or going to interviews.
- Cell phone. If you’re pounding the pavement looking for work, you’ll want to make it easy to be reached for additional interviews or changed schedules.
- The average headhunter will tell you that their clients usually spend thirty seconds on most resumes, while culling the stack. Make yours stand out, and defensible.
- Don’t lie on your resume. It’s not a novel. Mention skills you’re capable of. Say “learning such and such” for everything else.
- Be relevant. Don’t list your parents’ names and birthdays or your dog’s breed.
- Customize your resume. You may qualify to work in various industries. Tailor your resume accordingly for each.
- Follow standard format. There are a variety of resume formats and you can probably follow any of them. New grads should emphasize education and grades first.
- Make it easy to read. Even while following standard format, there are a number of ways you can make your resume easy to read including using bullet points or tables.
- Be brief. One page for a recent college graduate is sufficient.
- Use the right terminology. Do use industry terms but don’t be too academic with lingo.
- Promote yourself. Your resume has to sell you. Write it using action words but without bragging. Be factual, with concrete details.
- Have references ready. Have two or three references printed on a separate sheet of paper and only provide them when asked for. Professors that know you well might be ideal candidates.
- Indicate your interests. Depth of character is something interviewers look for.
- Stick to the file format. If a company asks for your resume in a specific format and/or provided by a particular method of delivery, then comply.
- Use a cover letter. These are specific to the job and company that you are applying to, so use a different one for each application. They should summarize in a few paragraphs your objective, strengths, and relevant interests.
- Proofread. Don’t waste your entire effort by sending out resumes and cover letters only to find that it appears a monkey wrote them. Use a spell checker and grammar checker.
- Print quality. Use quality white or light tan paper for printed resumes and cover letters. Don’t use gimmicks like colored or scented paper. Stapling is not recommended, but at least keep your cover letter separate.
Finding a Job and Interview Preparation
Before you can get an interview, you obviously have to find a job to apply for.
- Ask friends and family. This is not nepotism. You are merely asking around about opportunities where they work.
- Ask in social settings. Someone in your church or other social organization may have leads.
- Ask on campus. Your professors or the university might have work available.
- Check with former classmates. Some companies pay employees referral fees for finding new candidates, so a former classmate might have leads.
- Try networking. Career networking websites such as LinkedIn or JibberJobber can go a long way toward helping you find a job.
- Use a job search engine. Job search engines like Jobster, Dice, Indeed, and Simplyhired can narrow down your search. Some let you post your profile and resume.
- Attend career fairs. Career fairs are sometimes ideal for finding a job. Dress as you would for a one-on-one interview, and you might find yourself in one. Take a clipboard, copies of your resume, and a general cover letter.
- Be selective. Don’t apply to jobs that you know you won’t like or are not qualified for. But you may want to give it a shot anyway.
- Practice being interviewed. Have a friend help you out, setup a video camera, then review your answers and body language. If possible, have two friends interview you “firing-line” style.
- Beef up your skills. Missing a skill? Can you learn it fast? Say on your resume that you are learning it, then do so before an interview.
- Know your strengths. You’ll likely be asked, in an interview, what you think your strengths are, and possibly your weaknesses and what you’re doing about them. Make a list of both.%3s offer differing opinions on this. If in doubt, call reception and ask their suggestions, especially if you haven’t heard back within two weeks.
- Keep an interview log. It’ll help you track the state of each application (sent application, pending interview, interview complete, followed up, rejected, etc.). Include dates.
- Keep learning. An advanced degree may help your career, but you can also learn without returning to school. Many large universities are offering their courses free online. Also check the Open Courseware Consortium.