New Grad & No Job Offer? Make Your Summer Count

So you haven’t landed your dream job yet. Last time we established that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But you can’t justify your break forever. What can you do to improve your chances of getting the one you have your eye on when you embark on that career search again?

First, let’s review the obstacles you encountered.challenges

You only applied for one job. But, hey, it was the one and the first two interviews went really well. How were you to know they’d offer the job to someone else? Bad move. Take advantage of all the money you invested in college and visit Career Services. They have relationships with tons of employers and can give you some referrals.

This time, make sure you cast a wide net. Where do your interests lie? Is it only nursing, or do you also enjoy physical fitness, social work or other fields where you’d be able to help people? Or you might be interested in some totally unrelated fields—aviation and IT and law. Personally, I am not only interested in recruiting, but finances, writing and philanthropy. Since few jobs would incorporate all of these areas, you will have to satisfy some of your interests outside of the workplace. Just make sure you tailor your resume accordingly when applying for jobs. Don’t send your aviation-related resume in for a programming career at Microsoft.

Do some research to find out if you’ll need more education or a certification for your desired career. If so, consider it—the cost, the time and what sacrifices you might have to make. Perhaps, with those qualifications under your belt, even more avenues will be open to you.

You bombed the interview. It happens. Use it as a learning experience. You will live to interview again—believe me. I walked into an interview for a sales position my senior year in college. Back then I was extremely shy. (Shocking, I know.) Much to my horror I found myself facing five—yes, five—interviewers.

It did not go well. I filed it under the category of Things I Don’t Speak Of. If interviews make you break out in hives, this is another area where Career Services, local organizations like the Urban League or other job centers can help. Take advantage of a mock interview (or two) or a resume critique and get some feedback on where you can improve. You’ll walk into your interviews much more polished than you were in March.

Lack of experience 

If this is the case, is there something you can do over the summer—volunteering, working part-time, taking a course—that can help you gain that experience? Let’s say you applied for an accounting position but you never had an internship. Why not try to obtain one over the summer if a company is open to hiring graduates as interns? If that doesn’t work read some entry-level accountant job descriptions. Will the company accept banking as related experience? If so, head over to US Bank or 5/3rd and fill out an application. You’ll not only gain cash handling experience, you’ll gain customer service and sales experience as well. You might even qualify for promotion into their accounting division after a few months of proving yourself.

This is the best way to gain experience—hands on, and it’s what I personally like to see on a resume. But there are also other ways which I’ll cover below by order of preference.

 

Honing Your Skills

Do not take a random summer job if you can avoid it. Choose one that will help you gain new skills. If you were turned down for a communications position and re-apply for the position in the fall with the same resume you’ll more than likely get a similar result. And I’m not sure you can sell your parents on taking another three months to find work.

Previous jobs

As I mentioned, I love to see real life experience on a resume. Because I hire for a sales & management trainee position I am even more drawn to candidates who held leadership roles or who met goals. So if you work in a department store and there are no sales goals established by the company, and you would like to get into sales, set some goals of your own and highlight the results on your resume.

Volunteer/Organizational

Rotary, relay for life, habitat for humanity, missions trips just to name a few. This is also solid experience because it involves real situations. Don’t settle for showing up at organizational meetings and filling in where needed. Is there an opportunity to take the helm for a project? Conceptualize and plan events? I am so impressed by candidates who can organize and motivate teams to accomplish tasks. Why? Because so few recent grads have that experience.

No too long ago I hired two candidates who had been on missions trips. They had to raise money (sales/persuasiveness/resilience), set appointments (communication/self-starter) and organize Bible studies and outreach (time management, leadership). All of this while in school (flexibility/adaptability).

Classroom — This is impressive when you have had the opportunity to present solutions to an actual company who decided to implement them. However, classroom experience is typically hypothetical or simulated. While it gives students an understanding of what happens in a company nothing beats that face-to-face customer encounter you had as a server where you were able to turn him into a repeat diner at your restaurant. No theoretical idea can take the place of the organizational process you implemented at your last job to help keep track of inventory that was later adopted by three other divisions.

Years ago I interviewed a solid guy for our internship program and asked him to tell me about a time when he had a leadership role. He was an Assistant Manager at a car wash but for some reason he started telling me about his classroom project. I interrupted him and said, “If you tell me about your capstone… You were an Assistant Manager! Tell me about that.” We both laughed, but he got it. He went on to describe some of his responsibilities, the number of people he managed and even how he was able to impact the bottom line. I brought him on board and after he graduated we hired him full-time.

Check out this link for even more ways to gain experience:

http://education-portal.com/articles/10_Ways_for_New_College_Graduates_to_Gain_Job_Experience.html

Transferable Skills

Let’s face it, there is only so much experience you can gain in three months’ time, so what’s an alternative? I guarantee many of you already have valuable skills you never even considered—transferable skills.

Some of the most beneficial skills include: leadership-ability to motivate a team, communication—written & verbal, flexibility/adaptability, teamwork, time management, self-starter, problem-solving, organization, creativity, resilience, results driven

Recent grads often discount their “college jobs”, but don’t sell yourself short. Server, Sales Associate, Laborer (warehouse, landscaping), construction and athlete are all job experiences that will add to your skill set. Think about the skills you’ve gained and ways you can highlight them on your resume and, once you land the interview, what specific examples you can share that prove you have that competency.

Job   Title Experience   &Transferable Skills
Server Multi-tasking/adaptability, customer service, sales,   leadership–ability to oversee a process
Athlete Leadership, work ethic, tenacity, resilience, teamwork,   dedication, goal-setting, problem resolution, results driven, time management   (school, practice, games/meets & sometimes a job)
Landscaping/Construction

(bonus points for crew leader)

Self-starter, ability to meet deadlines, teamwork;   entrepreneurship if you started your own mowing business, leadership
Tutor Planning, training, teaching, motivation (with proven   results), communication
Resident Assistant Leadership, customer service, planning, problem resolution,   organization, creativity, sales if you had to persuade other RA’s to accept   your ideas, budgeting
VP of fraternity Event planning, leadership, creativity, able to motivate a   team, sales—ideas or fund-raising activities, budgeting

Job Shadow

One final suggestion for your summer. You think you’d like to work in a non-profit, but you’re not entirely sure. Why not tap into your network this summer for a connection in that field? (Networking is a topic all its own that I will cover in a future post.) Perhaps you can shadow someone a few days a week or even volunteer. This will give you insight an interview might not offer and you could discover you’re not as interested as you thought or it’s the perfect fit for you.

Remember, just because you haven’t landed your first job is not a license to take it easy this summer. Take advantage of some of these tips and, after you get a few months’ experience under your belt, get back out there! Everyone had to start somewhere. Make that first step pay off in the long run.

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Post Grad & No Job? Relax.

The ceremonies and graduation parties are behind you at long last, but you are in meltdown mode because you still haven’t found a job. What are you going to do? Student loans are looming just six months away. How will you ever repay them? And you’ve seen the news reports. Jobs can be hard to come by. (Insert panic here.)

Panic

Image from Photobucket

You might feel like it’s your fault. You put all your eggs in one basket or submitted too few applications. You were so sure you’d get an offer you didn’t even bother putting in applications at other companies and now it’s too late. You learned a valuable lesson. Now take some time to regroup.

On the flip side, maybe you were the one who did everything right. You’ve been going to the college fairs since freshman year. You had your first interview in October and accepted the job in December. And then…the offer was rescinded. Can they do that? It wasn’t even your fault! What is up with this company? While it’s rare, an offer might be rescinded for a number of reasons. Budget cuts. Hiring freezes. You took too long to decide and another candidate accepted. The recruiter detected your uncertainty about the position. No one wants to get this news, but if you did, it’s not the end of the world.

Relax. That’s right. I said it.

I realize mom and dad probably won’t agree—especially if you’re camping out in their house with your feet up on the coffee table. If that’s the case they absolutely should give you the kick in the pants you need to get in gear. Give me a minute to make my case.

‘Relax’ does not translate into ‘do nothing’. It just means not having that career locked in this summer might be a blessing in disguise. You have your whole life ahead of you and you will be working for the next forty plus years. (!) Why not make this summer work for you?

Relax2

 

Why it Might be Okay to Find Your Career in the Fall

The competition was fierce. Sadly, another candidate swooped in and took your perfect job right from under your nose. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Apparently, it wasn’t the perfect job for you. At least not right now. Maybe you didn’t get the job because you weren’t quite there. It’s very difficult due to the volume of applications and interviews for recruiters to give you specific feedback regarding your interview. Or any feedback at all. Go back and read the job description and be honest with yourself. If the position required six months of customer service and you only have three, summer is the perfect time to remedy that. Choose your summer job wisely. Make sure it will add to the skills you can offer an employer.

You didn’t feel good about the offer(s) you received. You’re sure a better fit is out there. You took a risk and declined an offer or two, and that’s okay. It wouldn’t look good on your resume to quit a job just three months in. I see short stints like this frequently on resumes, but despite the message sent by many professors, new grads can and do enter companies and build very successful careers without job-hopping. I interviewed for several opportunities the summer after graduation and weighed my options before making a decision. I’ve been with my company for several years, as have many of my co-workers, and have received many promotions.

But on the other hand…some of your classmates might have accepted the first job offer that came their way thinking they wouldn’t receive another one. Or they really thought it was the right job. In a few months reality could set in. It becomes obvious their skill set or interest(s) don’t line up with the company goals or job duties. Perhaps the career path isn’t going to take them where they want to go. (They want to be an event planner, but there are no opportunities like that in the organization.) If by that time you’ve spent the summer discovering and honing your skills you might find that same job would be great for you!

You were barking up the wrong tree. Admit it. During your final semester you applied for anything and everything. Big mistake. You’re a sales person. You knew it in high school, the day you talked your dad into buying you a $6000 car for you instead of the $2000 beater he had his eye on. So why did you apply for Administrative Assistant? Well, you reasoned, it’s a foot in the door. But maybe not the best way in. Wouldn’t the company be most likely to promote someone in their training program who they are specifically grooming for sales management over someone in an unrelated role? Plus, the recruiter could tell when she read your objective: To contribute to an organization by increasing revenue utilizing exceptional sales techniques and negotiation skills. So, you avoided six months of misery typing documents when you don’t even like typing!

Enjoy one final summer before you begin your ‘real job’. Everyone earns vacation time, but unless you become a teacher the chances of having three full months off work again are slim. But I caution you, don’t do this without planning ahead. You should have attended career fairs, collected information, and shook a few hands to lay the groundwork for your career search. Use this time to do something meaningful—volunteer, travel abroad or reflect on your long-term goals.

Three months to network and find the right job. Networking happens every day, not just at networking events—and it’s not all job-related. I meet aspiring writers all the time and invite them to the writing group I attend. I invited a girl in the cafe at my gym to church. (Yes, l make conversation with random people. I consider it a gift.) I put an acquaintance seeking work in touch with someone who works in her field. You can connect with others at your summer job (and you should all have one), parties, wedding receptions, sports leagues and anywhere else you find people. Luckily, due to social media you don’t have to limit your networking to your own city. But remember, it’s not just about you. Consider what you can offer to those you meet.

Get to know your likes & dislikes through your summer job. Shadow, volunteer or intern in your field of interest. You might find it’s right up your alley. Or it’s not what you’d hoped for— and you’ll have time to make adjustments to your plan.

Now that I’ve talked you down off the ceiling, realize you’re not the only recent grad still waiting to begin your career. Your free time can actually work for you. Be sure to check out my next entry for tips to make your summer count.