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Job Search vs. the College Search: Tips for Recent College Graduates

Tue, Feb 10, 2015 @ 02:53 PM

Job Search Tips for New College GradsFinding a Post Grad Job is A Lot Like Applying to College

For many December college graduates, the New Year has been spent searching for that first post-grad job. Recent grads may feel lost in the process, and struggle with this unfamiliar landscape. What many don’t realize, however, is that they’ve been through this intensive process before – when they applied to college!  

A lot of college prep lessons can be translated into the job search process. Applying to college may have been stressful for some, but they made it though! Taking this approach to the job application process can take some of the edge off, and help college graduates focus on the factors that they can control, like cover letters, resumes, and interviews.  

Here’s how recent college graduates can find success in the job search process by implementing tips and strategies from when they applied to college:  

You Have to Do Your Research

Just like in college admissions, research is key to success in the job market. When applying to a particular company, whether it’s for a specific position or just inquiring about future openings, make sure to do your homework on the company’s history, mission, and office culture. Much of this information can be found online on the company’s website, LinkedIn, or other sites like Glassdoor. Learn everything you can so that you can write a targeted cover letter and resume (we’ll get to that in a minute!) and be able to successfully articulate your related experience and goals during an interview.

Fit Is Key

Just as colleges want to admit qualified applicants who are great fits and will contribute to the campus community, the same goes for employers. Fit is one of the most important considerations in college admissions, and it’s equally important in the job market.  

When applying to college or a job the objective is to find a best-fit institution or role that matches your interests and goals. This where research really comes in handy – if a job opening sounds really promising but includes a task you’re not very familiar or comfortable with doing it might not be a great fit. The same is true for the company or organization itself. You may have found the perfect job posting, but if the hours, location, or office culture is not to your liking, it might not be a good-fit either. While not every job prospect will be perfect, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons and factor in fit – the same as when deciding where to apply to college.

Cover Letters as a Personal Statement

The key to writing a great college application essay is to tell the admissions office something that they wouldn’t learn anywhere else in the application. The essay is your chance to highlight something new about you – not regurgitate your activity list or resume. Job seekers should approach their cover letters in a similar fashion. The cover letter is your chance to articulate how your abilities will benefit the company and demonstrate your knowledge of the organization and why you’re a great fit for the position. Think of it as a hybrid of your personal statement and the “Why this college?” essay. Be detailed and specific and help them get to know you outside of just what’s on your resume. This is your chance to shine.

Refine Your Resume

A student applying to an undergraduate engineering program wouldn’t submit an activity list with just arts extracurriculars. Tailoring resumes, activity lists, and essays is crucial when applying to college, and recent college graduates should do the same when applying to jobs. It takes time to tailor resumes to certain positions in order to highlight your experience and potential – but it’s worth it. Just as college applicants shouldn’t include one-off activities that are irrelevant to their course of study, job seekers should avoid listing random high school jobs on their resumes. Only include relevant experience that pertains to the job to which you’re applying. It’s about quality – not quantity.

Follow Up and Say ‘Thank You’

One of the best things college applicants can do to demonstrate interest – which can enhance their chances of admission – is to stay in contact with admissions representatives and send thank you notes after college visits or interviews. Demonstrated interest is a big part of college admissions – colleges want to admit qualified students who really want to attend – and the same goes for employers. Send a follow-up email after applying (unless they explicitly ask you not to) and be sure to send thank you notes or emails after any interview. Reiterate your interest in the position and offer any additional information that might be helpful when making their decision – but don’t overdo it. There’s a fine line between following up and providing helpful information, and harassing and overloading them with irrelevant documentation. Strike a good balance.  

While the stakes and outcomes are considerably different when applying to jobs versus applying to college, much of the approach is the same. Recent college grads can use the lesson they learned when applying to college to help them navigate the sometimes murky job application process. By taking time to tailor materials and do extensive research, job seekers will find their best-fit job – same as they found their best-fit college!


Written by IvyWise

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