Post graduation tips from an expert to help you land that big job.
Graduation is an bittersweet time for students. It’s the benchmark for getting to call yourself “real” adult, and it marks the first of many years of avoiding calls from the university asking for money.
But before you can start paying off that endless amount of student debt, you’re going to have to land a job that can foot the bills. And that alone is perhaps the biggest thing on everyone’s mind following graduation: finding that job. Between seeing your peers move onto new places, your family constantly asking you, “So what’s your plans now?!,” and email reminders from student loan groups that your payments start in a few months; it’s a daunting task that looms over our heads and it often makes you feel immobile and overwhelmed.
How do I write a good resume? What is a good resume? Are cover letters really that important, or are employers just wasting my time?
These are the kinds of questions swirling around our unemployed heads and some sweet relief in the form of expert advice could be that breath of fresh air we so desperately need as we attempt to keep our heads above water while we search for a job. We sat down with Scott Kustis, assistant director of the College of Arts and Sciences career services, to talk about the biggest mistakes and best practices for soon-to-be grads.
Revisit your resume
One of the biggest mistakes Kustis sees
both undergraduates and recent graduates making is sending out a sloppy resume. Instead of putting general bullet points about their skills, Kustis said job-seekers should be giving actual examples that demonstrate how those skills were built.
“I think a lot of times in people’s heads they know what they did on a job but they’re not articulating how it developed them and that’s what employers really want to see,” Kustis said.
Graduates who haven’t yet landed a job are often in limbo simply because of a bad resume, said Kustis. Luckily, most career services offices across campus allow recent grads to use their services up to a year after graduation, which includes resume help.
Cover letters are a major key
Writing cover letters can be one of the most difficult parts of the job process for many students. Kustis said the mistake he sees most often is students regarding cover letters as simply repeating what they put on their resume.
“The cover letter should talk about the things that can’t go on the resume, which basically are goals, motivations, how did you reach this point, how did you decide on this industry, and then also why are you interested in this specific company that you are sending this cover letter to.”
Additionally, Kustis said the cover letter needs to be tailored specifically to the company being applied to. So forget sending out applications en masse to companies, instead be sure to articulate why you’re interested in that company and why you’re applying for that role.
Coursework still counts
If you’re applying for a job in a field that lands outside of your major, or if you don’t have internship or work experience the company is looking for, coursework can be used to articulate skills that you’ve developed. Kustis said many companies are flexible in taking people from a broad range of majors and that employers enjoy seeing substantive course projects listed.
Many students don’t spend a lot of time networking while in school and after graduation, which Kustis said can be a problem. He highly recommends having a complete LinkedIn profile, not only for employers to see but to potentially find connections in the future.
“You really want to develop your profile and use as many of the keywords and key terms that you’re finding in job postings in your LinkedIn profile, so if a recruiter is doing a deep search and basing it on sort of key words, they’re going to find you in that search,” Kustis said.
Additionally, students should be looking to their social networks for connections that could potentially be useful down the road. You never know if that guy you met a party sophomore year is going to be the CEO of his own company one day.
Finally, LinkedIn has a feature where users can find rosters of Ohio State alumni in their field, and narrow down by factors like location and company. Kustis said once you find those connections, it’s definitely important to reach out to those connections and ask to join their network.
Interview like a champ
Before landing any job, every job-seeker must do well in an interview (or several interviews). Kustis said the key to doing well is practice and preparation. Knowing about the interview style before putting on your suit is important, as is actually practicing answering interview questions out loud.
“Even if you’re just speaking into the mirror in your room, be sure you’re actually physically articulating your answers, because sometimes in our head we think we know what we’re going to say, but when we actually have to speak those words they just don’t start coming out,” said Kustis.
All of Ohio State’s career services programs offer mock interview programs where students and recent grads can practice an interview targeted to the industry they’re going into. If you can’t make it to your college’s career services office, Kustis said practicing with a friend can also go a long way.