You’ve finally made it—you’re now a college graduate. Anyone who’s ever done the same will agree, it’s an achievement. But, before you’ve have time to pat yourself on the back, just about everyone has been asking where you’ll be applying that hard-earned education. And, while you may not have had an offer the day you got your mitts on that diploma, with a few strategic steps you can land that coveted dream job.
Have a Unique Story
One of the greatest assets you have when looking for your first job — and every one after that — is your life experiences. Who you are, and what makes you unique and interesting, is something all employers seek to understand during the interview process. And, while the job description may not give you any guidelines on what exactly they’re looking for, a well-rounded, cultured perspective is always in demand.
Remember, it’s all about perspective. If you think your Spring Break trip to Mexico isn’t relevant, think again. Find ways to give your stories depth — like how bungee jumping off Macau Tower in China gave you a new perspective for facing personal fears, or how running the New York City Marathon taught you how to overcome challenges. Have a few good stories in your back pocket (can we say “elevator pitch”?), and be ready to smoothly deploy them at a moment’s notice. Who knew getting a little culture would be so useful?
Forget What You’ve Been Told
It’s not what you know or who you know — it’s who knows you.
I know it may sound unsavory, but let’s face it: Relationships rule the world. There’s a reason “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” exists, and that’s exactly why you need to get your own game going starting now.
Make a name for yourself by getting in front of every person that falls in line with your interests. But when I say get in front, I really mean make yourself valuable. People in positions of influence are peppered with “asks” all day, every day. Don’t be that person. Instead, find a way to make yourself useful to them.
Create a “Hit List”
Finding a job is no easy task, so it should come as no surprise that I’d suggest you approach it like a covert assassin. In other words, you need to create a hit list of the companies or gigs you’re after and pursue them relentlessly.
Start by creating a knock list of the top 20 companies you’re coveting an offer from, then use your social media and networking expertise to acquire a target contact at each. In time you’ll have a personalized, top-secret list of known informants and assets to help you achieve your mission of finding a job.
Creep — Just Don’t Be Creepy
Call a spade a spade, right? Well, when you’re trying to get in with your dream company, that sometimes requires a bit of high-level interaction, aka, creeping. But don’t get it twisted; do this right and creepy won’t even be in the vocabulary of your new employer.
That said, get back to your creeping, stalking senses and dig in deep with the companies you’re interested in. Follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr and like them on Facebook, but don’t just be a passive bystander. Interact with your coveted companies in intelligent, relevant and memorable ways. Just as you’d hope companies would interact with you — with information that’s relevant and interesting — do the same for them, and you just might make a name for yourself before you even apply.
Learn the Art of Relationship Building
Networking is not a dirty word. In fact, when you look at more as relationship building, it becomes a whole lot easier. Ask anyone who can really work a room—either networking or relationship building—and they’ll all tell you the same thing: It’s all about asking questions. When you want to make an impression, it’s all about the person you’re talking to—at least at first. Learn as much as you can by asking genuine questions based on what you know about the person so far.
Don’t know anything? Not to worry, there are loads of pros out there that are more than happy to share their conversation starter secrets. And, the beauty of relationship building is, eventually, if you do it right, the conversation will circle back to you. Now, aren’t you glad you’ve got that elevator pitch in your pocket?
Create A Buzz
Sure, you’re a freshly-minted grad, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a fantastic story to tell. And, everyone knows, a good story creates a buzz, and that’s exactly what you need to start attracting potential employers.
Of course, unless you have your own personal publicist, you’re going to have to do a little legwork to achieve this. But, thanks to social media, and a plethora of blogging platforms, it’s easier than ever to create a name for yourself on the Internet—where I assure you, your prospective employers will be checking you out. Create a blog or a landing page with your basic information, include a portfolio of completed projects (yes, college assignments count) and if at all possible, get a few approved quotes from former employers and professors to back up the buzz. Before long, your online presence will speak for itself. Just remember, the Internet never forgets, so keep it classy.
Graduating was hard work, and you should be proud of that achievement. But, the work doesn’t end there. So, now that you’ve turned in that last final, start working on these tips, and you’ll stay ahead of the class when it comes to landing a choice gig after college.