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Job Searching tips that they should have taught us in college but didn't

Updated on August 4, 2013

Like many recent college graduates, I am looking for a well-paying job. As I continue the search for that miracle opportunity, I began to think that although college managed to enrich our minds, taught us how to question, think and have a social interaction heyday, it failed to provide marketable skills that real world employers would like to see (for me at least). This is some of the things I learned this past year that I wanted to share and that I ‘wish’ my professors could have taught us.

1. Gain a marketable/unique skill that could be used on the job

Before I graduated, I used to think that getting that degree was like a golden ticket into the entry-level job market. Not so much anymore. In the article, The Declining Value of Your College Degree, Greg IP writes that most job opportunities these days are open to a selective group of people that have a particular skill that most people do not have. These skills ‘[don’t] necessarily have that much to do with your education…a college degree is often necessary but not sufficient to get a paycheck that beats inflation.’ Whether that skill be speaking a foreign language, obtaining a license/certificate in a field you’re interested in or beefing up on your software skills, we should attend a university but along with education try to spend some time perfecting a skill that a prospective employer would die to hire you for.

Brand thyself: name tags--marketing yourself the old school way
Brand thyself: name tags--marketing yourself the old school way | Source

2. Think of yourself as a brand

my friend made this for members of our school's Japanese organization. ain't that cute?
my friend made this for members of our school's Japanese organization. ain't that cute? | Source

I recently had a conversation with an alumni from my school working in the publishing industry and one of the advices he gave me was to ‘treat yourself as a brand.’ Pretend that we are a product that needs to be marketed to an audience. What is cutting edge or novel about this product/service that the people should purchase us (i.e. what marketable skill do you possess that not many people in this industry might not have yet so it makes you stand out?) This thought process might help when brainstorming for experiences to write in a resume or for conjuring up our selling points that we want to cover during an interview.

3. Networking

From what I read from job searching guidebooks and heard from career center advices, they say this is the best way to find a job. In the book, 48 Days to the Work You Love, Dan Miller gives us a percentage of how finding a job through someone you know or have met increases the chance of getting a job:

  • 47% of people found a job through walk-ins (retail, restaurants, etc)
  • 34% got a job through a friend
  • and 27% snagged a job with the help of a family member

Compared to this, applying to a job through an online ad posting has a return rate of about 8%. That’s about the same as Harvard’s undergraduate admissions rate. Sending more applications doesn’t increase our odds either…I have a friend who graduated from college, sent about 200 applications in the course of 6 months and she finally landed a job in retail. Although it might feel embarrassing to have to admit to the people we know that we are struggling to find a job, let them know. Attend job fairs and professional conferences that interest you. Visit old bosses and tell them about looking for work. Participate in alumni gatherings (whether it be school, former employer, or clubs/organizations) The thing about networking (I think) is to remember that you never know who will want to help you.

So join the circle~~
So join the circle~~ | Source

4. Rude, Weird and Unprofessional People

There are people like this everywhere but I feel it’s more noticeable in the work environment. For example, we might encounter someone who:

  • we set up a date and time for an informational interview with, but the person decides not to follow through with his promise, fails to inform us and ignores all subsequent phone and email contacts.
  • we apply for a company and they fail to follow up with us with a decision and so we call back only to find out that there was no opening for that position in the first place.
  • we go to an interview where the interviewer initially says that the interview will take no longer than one hour, but we end up staying a total of three hours because the interviewer went out to lunch during the middle of the interview and not once does the interviewer ask if we are ok on time.

5. Practice interview Q&A on a regular basis

Even if there isn’t an interview coming up, I find this to be a good idea because it keeps my mind comfortable with the idea of vocalizing your skills and experiences.

Yuppie~~!! | Source

6. Be enthusiastic (or fake it really well)

This is a tough one because sometimes we apply to a position because we need the money, and not necessarily because we want a career out of it. One of my old supervisors said that she believes nowdays when employers hire people, they look for people with particular skills as well as someone who has a passion to finish the job. If we ever get that interview, let’s be (or pretend to be) super excited for that janitor position.

7. Do something you are passionate about

As the quest for the job hunting continues, after a period time, sending resumes but receiving very few responses might start to feel as if we are hitting our own head against a brick wall.

When that happens, take a break and get in touch with an activity that makes yourselves happy. I feel that this will save ourselves from brooding thoughts that build up inside and gives back a sense of clarity. And they do say ‘Do what you love and the money will follow’ so hey, we never know.

I hope this was helpful…feel like I was just babbering ;D

Job Searching tips that they should have taught us in college but didn't by StellaSee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


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