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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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    • StellaSee profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from California

      Hi FlourishAnyway, I wrote this hub a few years ago so I think I'm in a better position since then, still working toward the dream job though. I guess it just takes time like my old supervisor used to say. Thanks for stopping by :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      These observations are unfortunately on target. I used to be in HR. I wish you the best in landing that super job of your dreams, Stella.

    • StellaSee profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from California

      Hi carozy, I feel like keeping yourself busy and doing activities that keep you in a positive spirit are the best tactics toward dealing with the not so fun part about job searching. Thanks for your comments!

    • carozy profile image


      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Good article and you make excellent points. It's tough out there for new graduates. Good luck.

    • StellaSee profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from California

      Hey Au fait, oh no you experienced that too? I think some people forgot what it means to have a sense of decency. Short answer, No. But when money starts to run tight, you start making compromises...I also think being an 'independent thinking, wanting friendly coworkers' Gen Y/Millenial, my expectations for my employers might be a little high compared to some other people. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      8 years ago from North Texas

      Some good advice here. When a person is looking for a job it pays to leave no stone unturned. I've had a couple of those experiences that you mention where you have an appointment but your interviewer decides to have lunch then while you wait, or where there never was a job opening in the first place. Seems like employers have all the advantages and power. Do you really want to work for an employer that doesn't respect you?

    • StellaSee profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from California

      Thanks Jeannie, I wrote this hub a while ago so I've been working! But yeah I feel you, I think ideally the student should pick a career before picking a major, so that way they have more time to prepare for any other skills/licenses/internships they might need to get employable that schoolwork can't offer.

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie Marie 

      9 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      I hope you find a great job really soon! There are so few out there now. This is really great advice, too. I am still sitting at my job and wondering each day where I went wrong. In a bad economy, it is even more crucial for colleges to teach practical skills like what you've mentioned, rather than just the basic gen eds that you probably don't need. Great hub and voted up!

    • StellaSee profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from California

      Hi CASE1 oh yeah job searching itself is a job! I read somewhere that employers nowdays are getting even more picky with hiring people because I guess training a new employee costs more for the company than keeping a current employee so they really want someone who they can train for a short period before they hit the ground running. And so unless one has the exact skills and experiences that the company/industry you applied to is looking for, it's hard to get hired. I'm glad to hear you're working!

      Thanks Simone! If I ever become a teacher or something, I'll make sure I teach this to my kids haha.

    • StellaSee profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from California

      Hi Claudia! I agree and adding onto your point, not just know a lot of people but getting to know the people in the industry that you would like to break into is probably the best.

      Thanks Docmo! I wish my professors would have taken the time to teach us this life lesson in addition to the scholarly stuff.

    • StellaSee profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from California

      Ahh I feel you Arlene! Wow I didn't know they offered courses on my school's career center you could do mock interviews with a career counselor but that was about it. I agree, whether you take a class or not, interviewing well is a skill, unless you have a natural salesman personality.

      True, true, true Linda! Before I go to every interview I look up the company website, check out their Facebook/twitter (if they have one) and research the company like it's a test or something.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      9 years ago from San Francisco

      Right on!! I really do wish that schools were better at hammering these things into students. GREAT advice.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image


      9 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      It is hard work finding a job, even when you have skills and experience. After leaving a ong term job (23years) I got a job through a friend at church and once I got that things seemed to slot into place as I now have another decent pensionable job.

      A great hub and good ideas- I know that the University I work at is taking steps to give students more work placements so that the skills they have are those required in the world of work.

      Voted up and interesting

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      9 years ago from UK

      Great advice. I like the way you have turned your personal experiences into practical, usable advice. voted up! And good luck with your search. Your outlook and enthusiasm means it shouldn't be long before you land your perfect job.

    • Claudia Tello profile image

      Claudia Tello 

      9 years ago from Mexico

      Great advice Stellasee!!! I agree with Arlene, selling oneself is really tough, I have always struggled with that. One of the most important things you have mention is networking, the bigger your network, the greater your opportunities of finding a job.

      All the best of luck with your job-hunt :)

    • Linda Bliss profile image

      Linda Liebrand 

      9 years ago from San Francisco

      These are some great tips for landing that first job! One of my best tips is to learn as much as possible about an organisation you're interested in joining (you can do this while you're still studying) and then when an interview comes up - you're ready to go and can ask lots of clever questions and give examples from their business. You could even get involved on their Social Media Channels beforehand so they get to know you before they've even seen your application :-)

      Great Hub - voted up and shared with my followers.

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 

      9 years ago

      The hardest thing? Selling myself. I took a class in college on interviewing, and it opened my eyes. I did not have the skills to sell myself. Job search and personal finance skills should be mandatory. I spent months after college, trying to find a job.

    • StellaSee profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from California

      aww thank you both :)

    • sallykwitt profile image


      10 years ago

      Good ideas. Good Luck!

    • Charlotte B Plum profile image

      Charlotte B Plum 

      10 years ago

      Helpful information! Rated up and useful! =)

      Welcome to Hubpages, I see this is your first hub! I hope you like it here. =)

      All the best for your job search too!


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