Opinion: Tips for finding that first job

Job searching. The daunting task that all of us soon-to-be-grads are constantly stressed about. I’ve done my fair share of scouring online classifieds for jobs in cities across the southeast. My recently panicked state has led me to read several articles that give advice for being more successful when it comes to searching for jobs. If anyone else out there is struggling to find a job, take a deep breathe, and read some of the helpful tips that I’ve learned from professionals.

Haslam Business School sits to the left.

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Sadee Hanson is a senior studying public relations. She blogs about professional advice for the present and future. She will graduate in May 2015.

Job searching. The daunting task that all of us soon-to-be-grads are constantly stressed about. I’ve done my fair share of scouring online classifieds for jobs in cities across the southeast.

In May, I’ll have to face the inevitable real life, and hopefully I’ll be able to walk right into a full-time job as soon as I graduate. But the reality is, most of us aren’t lucky enough to have a job lined up when we throw our graduation cap up in the air.

Scary, right?

My recently panicked state has led me to read several articles that give advice for being more successful when it comes to searching for jobs. If anyone else out there is struggling to find a job, take a deep breath, and read some of the helpful tips that I’ve learned from professionals.

1. Start with a direction. Determine which cities you’d like to live in and which field you see yourself in. A common mistake that a lot of recent grads make is what my professor calls the shotgun approach: you throw your resume out all over the place with no real idea of what you want to do. Instead of wasting your time applying to dozens of random jobs, focus on a few companies that you really want to work for. This will allow you to direct more effort into getting the jobs that you want.

2. Make a LinkedIn. Instead of spending all of your time on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media outlets that most likely won’t benefit you in any way, create a LinkedIn profile and keep it updated. LinkedIn is an absolute must in today’s market. It provides you with a way to showcase all of your professional accomplishments, connect with people you’ve worked with, network and even look for jobs. I can’t tell you how many companies that I’ve applied to have viewed my LinkedIn profile. I know this because LinkedIn actually shows you who has viewed your profile. Even if you have a LinkedIn profile, you can and should keep improving it. Forbes has some great articles for creating and improving your LinkedIn profile.

3. Follow-up. So you’ve sent in your resume, a cover letter, and some awesome samples of your work, but still haven’t heard back from the potential employer. This is normal, and it doesn’t mean they don’t like you. Recruiters receive a ton of applications. Sending a follow-up email or making a phone call to express your interest in the position shows that you’re not only motivated, but you really want the job. An article I recently read on Careerealism suggested waiting one to two weeks to follow up. I normally include when I plan to follow-up in the bottom of my cover letter.

4. Network. Take every chance you get to put yourself out there with professionals in your field. I’m convinced that every interaction is an opportunity to network. One of my professors said that we should carry a resume with us everywhere we go. This may seem a bit excessive, but you never know if your bank teller is married to the manager of a company that you want to work at, or who the guy knows that’s sitting next to you at the bar.

5. Create a customized cover letter and resume, and yes, I know this sounds like a total pain. Creating resumes and writing cover letters are painful enough, and it’s not fun to change them for every job that you apply to. But trust me, it’s not as hard as it sounds. You don’t need to re-write a cover letter, or make a whole new resume for every job. I typically read the job description of the position that I’m applying to, and highlight my strengths that are most relevant to the position. For example, if I’m applying for a job that requires me to use a specific kind of software, I will include my knowledge of the software in my resume. Tailoring your resume for different jobs is definitely worth the extra effort.

6. There doesn’t need to be a position posted for you to apply. I’ve been told that 40 percent of employees are hired for jobs that were never posted. There’s no harm in sending your resume and cover letter to an employer that doesn’t have a position posted. There could be a position that hasn’t yet been posted, or they might keep you in mind when a position opens up.

7. Get help from Career Services. They are an incredibly valuable resource for finding jobs. They can provide you with networking contacts, give you interviewing advice and help you critique your resume.

Sadee Hanson is a senior studying public relations. She blogs about professional advice for the present and future. She will graduate in May 2015. 

Edited by Maggie Jones