As graduation rolls around, hundreds of college grads in Philadelphia will find themselves with nothing to do. If you’re one of them, here are some tips to help your job search.
- Broaden your requirements. So, you’re a liberal arts major with a degree in Philosophy and no idea of what to do? Take time to research jobs outside of the obvious fields. (Not everyone has to teach – or work the fryer at McDonalds.) Odds are, if you’re a fast learner, you could probably perform well at a lot of jobs that you aren’t trained for and haven’t even thought about. Browse Yahoo! HotJobs or Monster for listings that apply to you. And don’t be afraid to take a risk doing something you’re not familiar with.
- Update your resume. But you’ve probably done that already. Better yet, make two or three resumes for two or three different positions. When I graduated from college, I had three variations of my resume. One for babysitting jobs. Another for teaching jobs. And a third one that could be submitted for everything else. (For me, that meant I ended up with three jobs.) And don’t be over-confident about your resume. Find a friend who goes to grad school for business and have them take a look at it. Grad business students know how to write a winning resume. Trust me on this. Don’t bother wasting your time at your college’s alumni center. They’re not going to tell you anything you don’t know.
- Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty while you’re waiting for your dream job. There’s no shame in working at Pizza Hut while you work towards your dream job. Many people are to embarassed to tell their friends that after four years of college, they’re delivering pizzas or watching kids on the Main Line (me). But guess what, you’re going to make it. As long as you’re actively working towards your goal (which means submitting as many job applications per day as possible) and you’re making enough money to cover those job-hunt expenses (suit, transportation, etc), you’ll be fine. Don’t sit on your butt and let your parent’s sympathy ride you till you find something. You’ll be a) depressed and b) you won’t learn anything. You can learn a lot from working crappy jobs. Like customer service skills. Which you’ll need when you’re working your way up the ladder at your corporate job.
- Find an internship. I thought I had it all. High GPA. Academic awards. Research work. Recommendations. But I didn’t have an internship that corresponded with my major. And if you graduated and didn’t spend some time that resulted in some sort of work portfolio, you’re SOL.. I found myself trudging out to CityPaper in between babysitting and teaching, etc to grind out some newspaper clips. It was painful. But it was worth it. When my editor spoke to my current boss, she didn’t even bother speaking with anyone else. I was hired immediately. So get work experience. It’s not too late. [More on internships, later.]
- Be honest. So you’ve got the interview. But how to get the job? Don’t lie. Employers can immediately sense when you’re exaggerating your work experience, etc. You’re fresh out of college, dummy! They don’t expect you to have cured cancer. So be honest. About everything. What you’re doing (even if it’s delivering pizzas). What you want to do. It works. And it doesn’t, you don’t want to work for that company anyway.
- Don’t listen to your parents. While you’re hunting for jobs your parents are probably all “Blah, blah, blah should’ve picked a better major, should’ve gotta job by now, blah, blah!” At least mine did. Here’s what you do: ignore them. Because let’s face it. They’re probably not going to be familiar with your situation. The job market is drastically different from what they knew. And if, like mine, they’re immigrants to America, the sheer number of careers one can enjoy while making a good living that aren’t engineering or medicine is staggering. So just ignore them. They’ll shut up when you get a job you like in a field you enjoy.
- Have a backup career. So you found your dream job. But your dream job didn’t find you. What next? Have a plan. There are a number of things you can do while you’re still working towards your ideal career. Teach for America. I prefer Teaching for Philadelphia. Oh yeah, wait that’s Philadelphia Teaching Fellows. Normally, I’d say substitute teaching, but I think that’s been cut off. Find something else to do if you’re impatient. But the fear is that you’ll get caught up in that and lose sight of your end goal.