Top 10 Tools Grads Need to Get a Job

Dawn Papandrea | May 18, 2010

A recent National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) report found that 5.3 percent more new graduates will be hired this year than in 2009. But what NACE doesn’t mention is that new grads aren’t just competing with each other for work; they’re competing with record numbers of unemployed, experienced workers!

So how can you, the new college grad, land the job that everyone else wants? Career Coach Ford Myers, author of “Get the Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring” (John Wiley & Sons, 2009), lists the top 10 tools that all grads should have in their “Job Seekers’ Tool Kit.”

1. Accomplishment Stories
Myers recommends writing stories about five or six school- or work-related tasks of which you’re proud. It’s no secret that stories can be much more memorable and compelling than bullet points on a resume.

2. Positioning Statement
This has become known as the “15-second pitch” or “elevator speech,” listed by every career expert as a must-have job-search tool. Your “commercial” should highlight who you are, what you’ve done, and what you will do for an organization.

3. Professional Biography
Here’s your chance to get creative. Every detail of your bio must be true, but you have the opportunity to write the one-page career narrative in the third person. Don’t bother with false humility; sell yourself!

4. Target Company List
This is a two-part tool. First, brainstorm a wish list of adjectives to describe your ideal employer. Include such considerations as industry, location, size, culture, etc. Then do some research to find organizations that match your criteria, and create a list of 35 to 50 target companies.

5. Contact List
It’s time to hit up your Facebook friends and Twitter followers (are you following us, by the way?). According to Myers, about 80 percent of new career opportunities are secured through networking, so get ready to contact everyone you know – professionally and personally.

6. Professional/Academic References
Use your contact list to highlight professors or colleagues who would love to sing your praises, and ask for their approval to be listed as a job reference.

7. Letters of Recommendation
Now go even further to request recommendation letters from four or five colleagues or academic associates. Never underestimate the power of a personal letter from a career professional.

8. Networking Agenda
If you’ve ever planned your words before you got on the phone with a love interest, you’ll understand the value of creating a script for your networking discussions. Write out your statements and questions, and try to anticipate reactions in order to prepare appropriate responses.

9. Tracking System
Scribbling phone numbers on scraps of paper lends itself to disorganization and unproductivity in your job hunt. Keep a detailed record of all your job search activities (e.g., phone calls, e-mails, faxes, etc.) so you can regularly refer back to your notes and follow up with key contacts.

10. Resume
Of course, you still need to have a resume, and it needs to be amazing. Your one-to two-page synopsis should be well-written, carefully edited, and intuitively designed. All the other job-seeker tools won’t make up for the lack of this critical document.

Taking the time to gather these tools and utilize them effectively will demonstrate the dedication, professionalism, and creativity you need to get hired. Are you ready to beat the competition?

Comment up: What tools did you use to get your first job?

-Robyn Tellefsen

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