Finishing school is only half the upward battle of paying for it. Now that you’ve got your degree, you’re understandably anxious to use it—because what good is an education that doesn’t pay for itself in the long run? Here’s where to start:
- Flexibility is key—and that means going where the jobs are. In this day and age, with a bad economy and unemployment sticking above 8%, your willingness to relocate could be essential to finding the job you want. But don’t think in terms of the nearest urban center. Start to think globally. With some of the highest economic growth rates coming out of China, India, and Brazil, it pays to accept that your dream job may not be close to home.
- Broaden your search. Think creatively about how your major applies to various industries. One of the hardest parts of scoring a good job is finding one in the first place. The more places you look, then, the more opportunity there is. Did you go to school for creative writing and always want to write a novel? Pay for the dream by writing copy for an advertising firm. Break into the industry as an editorial assistant at a publishing house. Teach English as a foreign language.
- Network effectively. It’s not just about knowing people. It’s about knowing the right people. Stay involved with your major department. If you don’t already, get to know the professors and the alumni. They’re probably full of advice and could serve as great references in the future because they’re relevant. Or did you have any internships while in college? Touch base and see if they’re hiring. Or if they know someone who is.
- Master the application process. This is a nicer way of saying don’t get lazy, tailor your resumes and cover letters for each job, and always use spellcheck. Competition is tough in a down economy, so when an employer has a stack of a hundred candidates to sort through, it’s easy to judge on an irrelevant mistake. Don’t give them any. Generalities: keep your work experience relevant; keep your letters short; and make sure your references actually like you.
- Adopt this mentality: you’re not a newbie, you’re a fresh perspective. This is by far the most intangible piece of advice but arguably the most beneficial. It’s really a philosophy of recognizing your skills and communicating how you can use them in the workplace to benefit your employer. Think about the way you interview, write, and shake hands. It’s not ego, it’s confidence. You’re not eager or desperate, you’re ambitious.