Web is the Word:
Take it from a journalism major whose industry was hurting before the economic meltdown—this bit of advice may be easier said than done. Fortunately, some of the things you are already doing may turn out to strengthen your résumé. Know much about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networking platforms? Have a blog? Say so! There are many employers looking for web-savvy individuals to help take their business into the 21st century. If there is still time to learn more about HTML, Flash and all things Web 2.0—do it! It can only help your chances of finding that first big job.
There’s Green in Green:
Helping the world while making a living is perhaps more plausible today than it has ever been, especially in Santa Cruz, where since 2007 the Residential Green Building Program has required all proposed construction projects to meet a minimum level of environmental design, for both private and commercial structures. Learn about Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), organic gardening, sustainable landscaping, alternative energies, the local movement and slow food. In addition to making yourself a more desirable candidate to many employers, you may find that you begin leading a more fulfilling life in the process.
If you are having trouble finding a full-time position that doesn’t consist of whipping up espresso drinks or waiting tables, consider going for a higher degree. For those at Cabrillo earning an associate’s degree, think about getting a bachelor’s from U.C. Santa Cruz. Already have your B.A. or B.S.? Consider graduate school. Sure, it requires planning, exceptional grades, standardized tests and money, but it is a worthy investment and may very well be just the thing to ride out the recession and emerge a stronger, more qualified job candidate. Talk to your councilor or go to you’re school’s academic resource center to explore furthering your education.
LANDING YOUR FIRST JOB
Where to Look:
In order to apply to a job, you must first find a job that is seeking applicants. There is more to this than meets the eye. While Craigslist and other big job boards are a great place to start, they may not hold the job you really want or are most qualified for. Many bigger companies only post jobs to their own websites. Additionally, there are smaller, more specialized job boards out there. A Google search of your field along with the word “jobs” is sure to bring up these sites. The harder you search, the more jobs you will find. Which, brings us to the next point.
Finding a Job is a Full-time Job:
With the way the economy is right now, especially in California—currently at about 11.9 percent according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics—the chances are that if a company is hiring they are getting many applicants who may have much more experience than you do as a recent college grad. Short of writing an awesome cover letter and crafting a great résumé, there is little you can do to change this. That is why it if you want to get a job you will have to apply to many in the process. The more you apply to the higher your likelihood of getting an interview.
Landing an Interview—Your Résumé:
Your résumé and cover letter is what will ultimately land you an interview. And grabbing a prospective employer’s attention is even more challenging these days—but not impossible. A cover letter needs to be detailed enough to demonstrate you are competent, understand the position and company well, and are a good fit for the job. It also needs to be concise, so as not to bore the reader. Your résumé must detailed, but concise and easy to read. Avoid large blocks of text in favor of bullet points. Don’t be hubristic, but confidently state your best accomplishments. There are bountiful Internet sources with tips on writing cover letters and résumés.
Nailing the Interview:
You’ve secured a few interviews with some cool companies and you’re feeling pretty good. But don’t go celebrating, just yet. Now it’s time to really get to know the job for which you are interviewing. Find out as much as you can about the position online and through any other means you have. Anticipate the questions you will be asked and prepare some good questions of your own. Remember, the real contest begins in the interview chair. Get a haircut and dress appropriately. Wear a suit to interview at a bank. A button up shirt should be fine if you are trying to get a job with a surfboard company.
Working For Free:
The money your rich uncle gave you at your graduation party is running thin and you’ve been hitting the job boards for a month to no avail. That’s OK. Ever considered working for free? If you are in the position to take an unpaid internship at a good company it may be your best bet. Much like going to grad school, working a good internship will pump up your résumé and prove to employers that you can actually do the work. Maybe you can (gasp) move in with mom and dad, get a part time job at the record store and put in 20 hours a week as an intern. Experience is key!
THE REAL WORLD
Saving Money and Living Better:
Long nights at the bar and eating at restaurants can do more than harm your performance at work. College was fun, but you’re not going to be 23 forever and you should start thinking about saving money soon. Make your lunches at home with food you buy at the market. Avoid those mid-week drink specials as much as you can, as a $2 well drink can quickly turn into a $50 tab. Your health will be reflected in your work. And the money you save in the process will be useful as well.
Moving on Up:
Keep your eye on your goals and never let yourself get in a rut—whether that rut be unemployment or a comfortable level of employment. Even if you have a job, there is always room to advance. Too many people plow through their working lives simply punching time cards and monotonously completing compulsory tasks. Keep current on all the goings on in your industry and try to anticipate changes before they come. These days with online news and blogs it is easier than ever before to stay plugged in to what you are passionate about. People with ideas are always valuable. Stay active and alert! Your career will surely benefit from it.