I’ve Got My Diploma Now What?

Congratulations on your well-deserved success! As a recent college graduate, you have good reason to be excited and optimistic about your future, and many of you may be launching your job search and may need advice on landing a job. Consider the following strategies to help you be successful in your job search.

Understand what employers want
When you begin to apply for jobs, it is important to first understand what it is employers are looking for. For example, employers tend to seek candidates who are self-directed, which means they know what they want and they are willing to go after it. Candidates who are self-motivated and can problem solve and think on their feet are valued. In addition, candidates who have both a solid reputation and display trustworthy character are candidates employers seek to potentially enhance an organization’s brand. In fact, the top 6 most in-demand soft skills for 2017 are communication skills, analytical thinking, teamwork and collaboration, initiative and drive, ability to adapt to change, and personal accountability.  

Don’t limit your search strategies
Using only one job search method can prolong your job search by months at a time. For example, do not only use one job finding website to search for job postings. Instead, find a variety of job posting websites to check regularly and sign up for alerts for roles that satisfy a specific criteria. Also, always be on the lookout for networking opportunities. You never know when you might meet someone valuable to your career. In fact, in a MonsterCollege survey, 78 percent of college job-seeker respondents said networking was a factor in their job search. Using more than one job search method such as networking and responding to job announcements online may increase the likelihood of your job-seeking efforts being successful.

Follow four essential steps when searching for a job
The job search process involves four essential steps:

  1. Self-assessment – Explore and discover your strengths, skills, values, uniqueness, and where you might potentially fit in an organization. Before you can begin your job search, you must understand who you are and effectively communicate that in your resume and cover letters.
  2. Knowledge of employment options – Determine the kind of work you want to do, your preferred work setting, your long-term career goals, your ideal occupational titles, and the types of companies that employ workers in your career field. This step will help you narrow your search and provide direction when seeking opportunities.
  3. Multiple job hunting methods – Savvy jobseekers use a variety of methods to contact prospective employers, rather than limiting themselves to one method. Effective job search strategies like networking, recruitment events, job fairs, job search web sites, state employment offices, volunteering, internships, and temporary agencies can increase your chances of landing a job. Studies show fewer than 5 percent of openings are filled by employment agencies, only 15 percent of available jobs are filled by “job ads,” and 80 percent are filled through recommendations of friends already employed by the organization.
  4. Job search tools – Online job tools can be essential in helping you find your next opportunity. For example, online tools can assist with tailoring resumes and cover letters targeted to a specific employment goal, job opportunity, or company. By developing a custom resume or cover letter for specific jobs, you demonstrate to employers that you have a clear understanding of what you want to do and you effectively relate your skills to those required for the job. There are also online career tools that can help jobseekers prepare for an interview. Interview preparation tools such as InterviewStream and Quinncia prepare jobseekers by tailoring interview questions to the skills and experience included on their resume, and they record user’s responses to be played back and reviewed. These online interview tools help job applicants more clearly articulate their qualifications as well as identify any interview strengths or weaknesses through video.

Breaking into the workforce takes focus, determination, and a great deal of patience. As you look for jobs and navigate the hiring process, remember to stay positive. Keep in mind that UMUC Career Services is available to help you in every stage of your career. Click here to set up an appointment with a UMUC Career Advising Specialist.

Rhoda Smackum is a career services advisor at University of Maryland University College. She in an associate certified career coach and global career development facilitator. Her areas of expertise include career coaching, career transition, career exploration, working with special populations, job search strategizing, and supervision.