A study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers has revealed that potential employers would hire 13% more graduates than last year and the fields getting priority would be business management, engineering and computer education. Though the prospects of getting a job look brighter for college graduates this year, you would have to play it smart in order to land the right job. You can do that by being aware of some of these widespread myths and taking care to see you are not influenced by them.
No. 1 – It is going to be an easy task getting a job after finishing college
Despite better prospects this year, placement offers are not going to come in a rush. A few of the people may still manage to land jobs quickly, but most will have to put in a lot of effort to find suitable jobs. The time taken will also depend on:
- The existing vacancies scenario
- The location preference
- The academic qualifications
- The duration and effort you are willing to devote to the job hunt activity
- How well you fare at the interview
- The kind of multiple resources you make use of to search jobs
If the process takes time, you must not get disheartened. You must give yourself about four months to find the job of your choice and this is the average as per the recruiting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas. You might have to make do with something less paying in the meanwhile to tide over this difficult period. Many of my peer group friends have taken up odd jobs in call centers sold burgers and even scrubbed toilets till the time they found something suitable and matching with their qualifications.
No. 2 – The Internet is the best resource to search for jobs
This is one impression that most job aspiring candidates have. They feel that the internet is a magical resource that will land suitable jobs at their table. Randall Hansen who is the associate professor of marketing doing duty at the Stetson University and also brings out a magazine called Quintessential Careers feels that it is best to keep the internet as one of the search options and not rely on it totally, considering that only about a fifth of all job vacancies are advertised in a public medium like the internet. Moreover, with only 5% of people becoming successful at finding jobs through advertisements, he feels that you should be looking at other resources as well if you wish to land a job sooner than later.
So is word of mouth the answer?
Mr. Hansen feels that the best tool for an effective job hunt is networking. Obviously when you are just starting out on your career, you may not have a network of professionals who can help you, but that should not worry you as there are other ways to ensure you are noticed such as:
- Find out avenues that the college alumni has on offer.
- Enlist yourself in an organization or association that provides an opportunity for you to meet professional who are already working.
- Acquire subscription to periodicals that is of interest and value to the profession you have in mind.
- Become an apprentice under a professional to learn the ropes.
- Participate in discussion forums online related to the industry and join relevant groups.
- Never lose contact with your college peers, superiors as they may be able to recommend you to some company.
Having said the above, the internet is indeed a very valuable resource and should be used along with the tips mentioned above so that you are benefitted in the long run as well. The contacts you develop now will automatically create more avenues for you as you progress in your career. The trick is to make optimum and smart use of the internet while searching for a job.
No. 3 – Unrealistic salary expectations
It is natural to imagine yourself working and earning a fat sum of money as you near the end of graduation. It is also not inappropriate to make plans on how to spend that money. However, these expectations need to be tempered and must be in line with what is the scenario outside. The good news is that graduates can expect better salaries to start with as opposed to their colleagues last year.
The study by NACE has revealed that the salaries at the entry level was lower than US$40,000 and the preferred fields were in the computer and engineering disciplines where the salaries were closer to the US$50,000 mark. However popular disciplines like English, sales and marketing and even business administration jobs paid less than US$40,000. Biology, arts and psychology graduates could get salaries only close to US$30,000.
Salary offered is also influenced by location besides academic qualifications and skills. For instance, an individual working in public relations at the entry-level in Dallas will get a salary of $40,000, but when he goes to Los Angeles, he could be paid much higher. It is therefore advisable to use the salary calculator and find out what is it that you can expect for a job in the neighborhood. There are a lot of fields and you may select the appropriate one for your field to have a good idea of the salaries being paid at different locations for different jobs at various levels. It is very likely that at the beginning, you may not be paid your expected salary and would have to settle for a lower salary. But the positive thing is you have a job in hand and can definitely work hard to make an impression and command a higher salary as you grow with the company.
You must also be prepared for all statutory deductions which will mean that what you get on hand is not the same as what is shown on the salary slip. You must allow for security, social and Medicare deductions as well as other deductions made for some of the benefits you may have opted for. Here again, you must make use of the paycheck calculator to get a fair idea of what you would get on hand after these deductions are made.
No. 4 – Salary negotiations at the start is unacceptable
Though this could be true with certain jobs, many employers do understand and are willing to listen to fresh out of college job aspirants and may even accede to requests for a rework of the salary. The point is that you would never know till you ask them.
When you discuss the job offer with the employer, you are also sending out a signal that you are being selective about the company despite having virtually no work experience. The mere fact that you have graduated out of a well known college does not guarantee you better pay and you need to be careful about how you put your point across while requesting for better pay from your prospective employer.
You must remember that employers look at what you bring to the table such that the company benefits and that is how you should be positioning yourself in your interview. You will do well to find out the real worth of the job using the salary calculator and then work out a figure in your mind. When you negotiate with the employer, take into account the skills and talent you know you possess that will make a positive contribution to the position and discuss around that figure you have in your mind. Always remember that salary should not be a deal breaker and you should be concentrating more on getting that first job in hand.
If you get the impression that the employer is not willing to consider any increase in the salary, try discussing the other aspects such as holiday time, any signing bonus proposal, working hours, benefits that the employer can extend for relocating and so on. It is natural as a young college fresh graduate to get thrilled about receiving a job offer and just accepting it for what it is. However, you must try your best to get something better out of the employer at the time of receiving the job offer rather than regretting the lost opportunity a week down the line.
No. 5 – The one hired is the person best suited for the job
Mere academic qualifications are not enough to get you a job. The way you are able to convince the interview panel about your capabilities and the rapport you can build with them are significant elements as well. You need to convey very clearly as to why you should be considered for the job. Ultimately, you also need to prove it on the job itself.
Make things easy for yourself by turning up on time and looking your professional best in terms of grooming and body language. You must appear confident and not over confident. Try to back up your qualifications with examples of how they can help you function more efficiently. Always maintain proper eye contact and do not appear fidgety.
Ensure that you do a proper follow up just before exiting the interview session. Carole Martin, who has written the book, ‘Boost Your Interview IQ’ and has coached many interview candidates recommends asking the panel whether you can make a call or send an email a week or two down the line just to find out the status. This will indicate to the panel that you are seriously interested and want to be kept aware of where you stand.
No. 6 – A beautiful resume is key
On the contrary, a snazzy resume can turn out to be an obstacle since many employers are pretty chary of opening attachments on their email for fear of contracting viruses. It may just happen that your well designed resume may never get noticed. It is therefore a good idea to have two formats of the resume according to Kim Isaacs of ResumePower.com. One should be a single and simple format without any fancy fonts or italics and something that can be pasted on the body of the email you are sending. Ensure that you restrict the length of each line to below 65 characters and use simple asterisks instead of the snazzier bullet signs. The other resume is the one which you must design nicely and carry along with you to the interview.
No. 7 – The employer is king and how I feel about him is irrelevant
It is absolutely essential to make a good impression and get the job. However, the fact that you would be spending twenty five percent of your life at the workplace is enough reason for you to seriously think about whether you like the employer, the place and the company.
You will have to get more information about how the company functions, the style of management and so on. Do not hesitate to ask more questions about the job, the challenges and the growth opportunity going ahead at the time of interview itself. It will project you as somebody who is serious about the opportunity and is thinking of the future.
There are some employers who do introduce you to your potential co-workers and you can take the opportunity to chat and find out more about the general work environment, what they feel about the job they are doing and so on. If you do not get this chance, then take contact information of a couple of workers at the place and call them up later on to check on some of the facts before accepting the job offer. Remember that while it is essential to impress the employer, you also need to be comfortable about working at that place or else it will show on the performance.
No. 8 – Flooding the job boards with my resume will ensure more interview calls
The fact is that there are others who think like you and also plaster these job boards with their resumes and therefore it is next to impossible for employers to pay equal attention to all resumes. The truth is that employers only interview one individual out of every 245 resumes they receive and it is thus clear that you would have to look at other resources besides the internet for the job hunting activity to get the best results.
You must customize your resume and the covering letter to suit the job you are targeting in order to derive the maximum benefits out of your job hunting process.
The internet can still be used to get promising leads:
- Take the help of sites such as Quintessential Careers or use the Riley Guide site to check out job opportunities in your chosen field. You may also refer to the job boards posted on Craigslist.org.
- Before attending the interview, find out as much as you can about your potential employer, their business and how you can make a difference by visiting the website. The site WetFeet.com provides you links to many such company profiles.
- Join forums and discussion boards on Google or Yahoo related to your interest and also speak to professionals in that field to know more about the job. This way you will also improve your chances of getting the right job opportunities through references.
No. 9 – The door is closed if the firm is not hiring
One example I can think of relates to a friend who wanted to work for a particular insurance company and since they were not hiring at that time, he informally sought to meet one of their executives to find out more about the industry. He was smart enough to take a copy of his resume and managed to hand it over to that executive, who offered to get back to him when the opportunity came along. He was pleasantly surprised to receive an interview call within a fortnight and this was for a position that they had not advertised. He attended the interview and got the job.
Yes, not all such informational interviews will have such a positive ending but it would still be time that is well spent as you will learn a lot about the industry. This will prepare you adequately for any future interviews and the contacts you make are anyways going to be of great use down the line.
No. 10 – Since I am not sure about what I want to do, I should just attend graduate school
When you pursue higher studies, it has to be with a clear purpose and not to just pass time because you are unclear about what to do after college. That will result in gross wastage of time, money and effort. Your attempt to study further should be a well thought one and should be useful to you in the future.
According to Peter Vogt of Career Planning Resources, you should be clear about the purpose for which you are going to the grad school and only then proceed as it is a big investment not only in monetary terms but also in effort and the time you would have to make in order to complete it successfully.
If you are unsure, then go searching for a job. Coming out of school and getting some job experience could be the trigger you need to ascertain your skills, talent and career objectives. You can always get back to schooling later on if you do not fancy the job and that should be comforting to you. Find out more about whether grad school is the right choice for you at The Back to School Decision.