Unfortunately, none of us here at LD are technically qualified to give you a job. However, I was recently a college graduate looking for employment, and my current job relates to helping others during their search for a job. Here are some unofficially official tips for helping you get hired in your 20s.
1. Bring your resume everywhere.
You never know when the opportunity will arise to submit your resume to an employer. Have a resume written out that you can print or send away quickly. Update it regularly it as you gain more experience. I also cannot stress enough the importance of bringing several copies to career fairs and other employment events. While this may seem obvious, it’s shocking how many career fairs I’ve attended where students don’t bring a resume. That is one way to ensure that you will not be considered for a job.
One last tip: Make verb use consistent in your resume. For instance, stick to saying “I learned,” “I led,” “I taught.” Also, your resume should not be longer than one page unless you have significant experience.
2. Put your resume on career sites.
Most career sites are free for jobseekers. My personal favorite is www.indeed.com. Employers post jobs on the site, and can also search the resume database based on their specifications. Both searches work off Boolean queries, so make sure you fill your resume with important keywords from your experience. For instance, an employer might create a query to search for a “Freelance Writer” in Boston, Mass., with five years of experience and a master’s degree. Ensure that your resume includes all relevant information so that you appear in front of employers.
One last tip: If you’re actively searching for a job, update your resume frequently. Employers can choose to search by date, which means only those recently updated resumes will appear. Even changing one word, period or sentence can make the date more recent.
3. Actively search for jobs.
Again, while this may seem obvious, it’s very easy to perpetuate a state of unemployment by applying to one job a year. Actively searching and applying for jobs shows employers that you’re serious about working. You can also search for jobs for free on www.indeed.com using the simple “What” and “Where” box. While it might be tempting to leave the “Where” box blank to increase the volume of jobs that appear, this will actually limit the jobs that appear. Narrow your searches very specifically using the Advanced Search option to ensure that you’re qualified for the jobs that show up.
One last tip: If you’re looking to relocate, make sure you state this in the beginning of your cover letter and resume. Candidates will often apply for jobs across the country without indication that they want to or are planning on moving. An employer will most likely ignore your resume if you don’t show that you can relocate.
4. Do not apply to jobs if you don’t have the qualifications.
There is one caveat here. If you believe that you possess commensurate experience, apply to the position and sell yourself in your cover letter. However, don’t waste time applying for jobs that require a Master’s degree if you don’t have one.
One last tip: When you search on www.indeed.com, for instance, there are filters that appear on the side of the search results. You can select specific degree requirements or years of experience to ensure that you meet the minimum requirements.
5. Act professional through all stages of the process.
I’ve overheard interviewees telling recruiters that they can’t make time to come in for an in-person interview even when they live in the same city as the position. I’ve seen candidates on their phones during the interview. An employer needs to believe that you’d be a good fit for their company, and that you’re serious about the position. Don’t text anytime you’re in front of a potential employer, and work your schedule around when they can see you. Dress appropriately, because no one wants to be the object of office gossip after an interview. Don’t wear jewelry that will clang together when you move, and pull your hair out of your face. Even if it makes you feel like you’re “selling out” because you’re not being completely your authentic self, it is imperative that you act and dress professionally when applying for a job.
One last tip: If you have tattoos and facial piercings, cover them up or take them out for the interview. Don’t wear too many earrings in each ear, depending on how corporate the company is. Talk to the potential employer about their policy on piercings and tattoos, and be candid with them to determine if you have to cover them up or take them out.
6. Learn about the company before you speak with them, and come prepared with questions.
There are few things worse than hearing an interviewee stutter over their words when a recruiter asks what they know about a company. It is so important to show that you did your research, and to ask thoughtful questions about the company when speaking with any employee.
One last tip: Some good questions are: “What is the day-to-day in this role?” “What do the growth opportunities look like at this company?” “Where does the company generate revenue?” “What is your favorite part about the job?” Engaging the recruiter will not only show them that you care about the job, but allow them to talk about their passions and offer valuable insight into the company!
7. Practice your handshake.
There is nothing worse than a dead fish handshake from a candidate. When I was in high school, my father taught me how to give a proper handshake, and since then I’ve constantly been commended for my “vice-like handshake.”
One last tip: When you shake someone’s hand and they say their name, repeat it back to them so you remember. I have a huge problem with this, and I never remember anyone’s names. It’s embarrassing and makes it look like you don’t care.
8. Follow up.
While it may feel like you’re being a needy puppy, employers want to feel schmoozed. Send a handwritten thank you note, as well as an email right after the interview. Don’t forget to get the contact information of every person you speak with, so that you can immediately open the lines of communication and ensure they know how interested you are in the position.
One last tip: If a recruiter gives you a timeline on when you should hear about the position and you haven’t heard anything by then, wait one more day and then reach out! Don’t let them forget about you. Seeing your name in their inbox will prompt them to give you an answer!
The process of finding a job can be grueling and unpleasant, and very few people are actually prepared for it. There is no manual to help you find a job, and finding practical knowledge is often difficult. While these tips are certainly not comprehensive, they will make your job hunt less daunting. You are now ready for the real world, Darlings. Good luck!