It’s the time of year when college seniors will walk across the stage to accept their degrees, but as one chapter closes another one is just beginning. It’s now time to transition into that first full-time professional job.
Jacqueline Whitmore, an internationally-recognized etiquette expert, author of Poised four Success: Mastering The Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals, and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, offers these nine helpful hints to land your dream job and cultivate the career you desire.
1. Tailor your resume to the job you want
As a new graduate, you probably have little to no professional experience. To make your resume competitive, keep the “Education” section at the top. It will help you get noticed for opportunities designed for new graduates. Then break the “Experience” section into two parts: “Relevant Experience” and “Additional Experience.” Include your internships as well as work-study experience, if applicable.
2. Make a five-year plan
You may later regret the decision if you take the first job offered to you. Consider your long-term career goals first. What are you interested in pursuing? What do you enjoy? When you apply for jobs, contemplate the company size of potential employers. Do you want to work in a large office or work remotely from home? Make sure the corporate culture jives with your values. If you want to wear jeans and a t-shirt to work, a traditional corporate job may not be for you.
3. Ask for referrals
Let friends and family know you’re about to graduate and will soon be looking for work. Ask if anyone knows of an open position in your area of study. Email your professional contacts and request a referral. Even if they don’t know anyone who is hiring, they may be able to write you a recommendation letter or serve as a reference.
4. Master your “Mingle-Ability”
It’s not who you know; it’s who knows you. Network with local businesspeople. Join a professional organization or industry association. When you make a new connection, ask what they do and where they work. Discuss the types of jobs that interest you. They may be able to introduce you to a friend who’s hiring.
5. Prepare for your interview
Before you head to your first interview, research the company online. Use LinkedIn to learn more about the people who will be interviewing you. Prepare some statements on why you’re qualified and how you’ll be a good fit. Arrive early to ensure you have time to find parking, use the restroom and gather your thoughts. Be confident, stay engaged and ask questions.
6. “Clothes” the Deal
Your image says a lot about you. When you dress well, you send the message that you are confident, professional and disciplined. Keep your clothes in good condition and avoid a wrinkled appearance. Invest in quality shoes and buy useful accessories like a nice pen, briefcase and portfolio.
7. Become a better listener
Excellent listening skills will serve you throughout your career. When someone speaks, show your interest. Use your body language to let them know you hear them and value their opinion. Don’t interrupt, even to complete someone’s sentence. When a speaker finishes, ask pertinent questions to spur conversation and give him the opportunity to elaborate.
8. Say “Thank You”
A small touch, like a thank-you note, can have a big impact on your career. Send a handwritten note after you interview for a job, meet a new professional acquaintance and when you receive a gift. A well-written thank-you note shows your thoughtfulness and attention to detail. Invest in nice stationary and keep your notes short and simple.
9. Become more likeable
People prefer to work with individuals they enjoy being around. If others like you, you’ll attract new career opportunities and build stronger professional relationships. Practice empathy when dealing with others. A common experience can form an immediate bond. In everything you do, cultivate a reputation of integrity and trustworthiness.