If experienced pros can't find jobs today, what's a new graduate with little or no professional experience supposed to do? College students who adopt the same tactics as their experienced counterparts have better chances of success than you might think.
That's the main takeaway from a recent Wall Street Journal column that presents a smorgasbord of promising advice aimed at college and graduate students entering the job market for the first time. WSJ columnist Toddi Gutner recommends:
- Pursue internships (of course).
- Go all-out to build a career network. Keep in touch with colleagues and other professionals you meet during summer internships. Seek informational interviews (meetings where you solicit advice and information, rather than specific job referrals) with everyone from parents' friends to alumni working in target companies you locate through your university's alumni database. Attend industry cconferences and exchange business cards with professionals - then email them your resume and ask for a 20 minute informational meeting. Use networking vehicles like LinkedIn to seek out new contacts and build relationships online.
"It's practically impossible to land a job today without some kind of professional connection," Michael A. Sciola, director of the Career Resource Center at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., told the Journal. That statement is equally true for both high-performing pros and new entrants to the labor force.
- Focus your resume on accomplishments, both in jobs or internships and in college activities such as sports and volunteer work. Quantify your contribution with numbers wherever possible, just like pros do. Says the Journal: "Describe actions and accomplishments that show leadership skills and initiative. If you were the treasurer for your college student government, highlight the size of the budget you managed and any results you delivered."
- Being flexible about compensation, job location, industry and other job features represents your main advantage over slightly older rivals who already have a few years of experience.