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How to get your first job (as a recent graduate)

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Having finally achieved that often dreamed about goal, getting my first real job, I thought I'd share a little bit about my experiences and what worked for me.  With the economy being what it is, especially here in Michigan, tension runs high for graduating seniors.  I know it did for me.  Following is the culmination of pieces of advice and tips I garnered along the way, as well as a few things that just worked for me.  Most of the advice is generic, and can be applied to most degrees, but towards the end I included a few tips specific to my fellow Computer Science graduates.

The following was originally published on my site at: http://www.lukejduncan.com/2009/12/getting-that-first-job.php
 
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Step 1: Yourself on Paper

Picture of Yourself on Paper

This may be obvious, but you need to write a great resume and cover letter.  This needs to be a long process, and in some cases it may even be a little painful.  Like any important document, both of these need to be proofread by your most trusted advisers.  For me, each version of my resume initially took two to three weeks of proof-reading before I finally had a framework that I was ready to use and easily modify. 

I also like to write these types of things in waves.  I'd write the first version, and the next day review it myself.  With the second version I'd review it myself and then send it out to my first group of reviewers.  These were my friendly career service councillors, friends, and family that had the best grammar and patience for my emails.  At this stage, it's important to keep in mind your reviewers backgrounds.  Some of them may be great at grammar but know nothing about your field.  In my case, most of my friends that were reviewing had degrees in journalism and screen writing, but often misunderstood the technical parts of my resume.  It's important to make sure you understand where their advice is coming from and in some cases know which parts to heed and which to ignore. 

The next round of reviews came from professional relationships.  Site's like LinkedIn help a lot for this kind of stuff.  There were a handful of family friends and former colleagues who I knew had an industry perspective to bring to the documents.  This is the part that can sometimes be painful.  There may be things that you include that they think are completely irrelevant.  It may seem odd, but at this point these documents start to feel very personal.  For example, I had a few people suggest I take my Associate Degree off of my resume.  It took some time, but I eventually understood exactly where they were coming from.  In the end, I chose to keep this section.  However, the criticism offered by my reviewers showed me how employers would read my resume and taught me how I wanted to sell myself to them.  This sections inclusion was thought out and I knew exactly how I wanted to present the information in an interview situation.  As always take this criticism for what it's intended, friendly advise that you sought out.
mrmitchboyer5 months ago
You give some great advice on refining your resume (on paper and in pixels) and applying to jobs through a traditional route, like job boards. I really liked your section on getting reviews/feedback from contacts on LinkedIn. I'd also recommend taking people out in your industry to "coffee" and asking them about their careers. This does 2 things: 1. it builds your network and 2. it gives you inside information on what to include in your resume.
Alex-Tarasenko12 months ago
Very interesting, thank you.
great general advice, I am a recent (graduated in may), double major (business and sociology), can agree with everything you’ve said, recently found a job that equated to my degree i.e. not cashiering at Safeway etc, not to belittle those jobs, but I got alota college debt to get my degree, anyways, I found for job searches, since I did not have a technical degree like you seem to have, craigslist to be the best, I got the most responses and interviews through that site, monster and others have millions of pyramid door to door salesmen who make themselves look like something they are not.
If someone is reading this for help finding jobs, my business department head told us the class of 09 to start searching for jobs in September (graduating in may), and usually people don’t start till a month or 2 before graduation, and usually he recommended an average of 200 apps sent out to find a good job, for us he told us 500, no joke.
there were some articles, I can find the links if need be stating that the average graduate having a job within a year of graduating has switched in the most recent years from 70-80% employed to around that percent being unemployed. I'm sure the numbers were exaggerated.
in my opinion in these tough times for jobs, the major advice for graduates,  hopefully this changes by end of this school year, is be willing to take less than you want pay/benefits for a job with good experience, and an in to a good company that can lead to more down the road. second you will hear this 2 million times and maybe like me just blow it off as yea I got friends and alota relatives blah blah, but really, network, it is the best way to get a job in the hard times, all my friends with jobs or getting jobs have gotten their resume handed in to the ceo or hr by a friend or connection that works in the company...it sounds small but it helps...alot
third if you have the time, money w/e, if need be take part time contract work, or an internship, if it fills the empty space, keep looking for something better, but what will you say if in a year you find your dream job, you are lucky enough to get an interview, and they ask you so what have you been doing for the past year? I know it’s true but, the excuse of "its the economy" is getting old already.
Hi,
Some really interesting points have been made in this discussion. I just wanted to add that I came across a really good company that offer advice and stuff. They're called GRB and I signed up to them at fresher's fair and their website is really useful for interview/cv hints and tips, and recent employment news, as well as looking for internships or grad jobs.
Have a look for yourselves, http://www.grb.uk.com/ and good luck everyone!
it sounds like you are very frustrated with the job search. I think you need to find several experts who specialize in advice for you.  Game Avatar HD. In bad economic times, jobs are scarce. When you are fresh out of college and have no professional experience, the only way to land a job is to know someone who can give you one or introduce you for a job
grigory3 years ago
I've found that lots of tech companies post interesting job ads on Craigslist. I personally found some good work that way. What's true with a lot of smaller gigs though (website dev, etc) is that they often get taken by somebody else.

So I've built a website that helps me track craigslist and other classifieds sites using text messages.

How it works: search for work that's relevant to your skills, copy/paste resulting link into my app, and done! You'll now receive SMS text messages whenever new ads matching your search are posted.

Check it out, let me know what you think: Greg's Pulse

cheers, grigory.
nanosec124 years ago
While your Instructable is obviously aimed at the recent graduate, It shows a lot of wisdom that even people who are looking for a more 'experienced' position would do well to pay attention to.  Very Nice Writeup.

soleada4 years ago
great article!
One good site for journalism peeps is journalismjobs.com.
I haven't been having luck landing a job, but I'm hoping it's true about persistence.
Good luck, everyone!
Our inability to find a job is not necessarily a bad reflection of ourselves, but more likely on this sh*tty economy!
Axldeziak4 years ago
Bribery has always worked throughout history. Promise to give the person in charge of hiring 10-20 percent (or more) of what you make for an XYZ amount of time, and once hired honor that agreement. (Instead, straight out handing them a stack of cash works as well.) And before anyone squawks about legality remember this, in the world of business there is no law as long as you don't get caught. Keep it hushhush and it never happened. This has been a unwritten rule of business since the beginning of time and will never change so long as human greed is what promotes people to produce.
It's a sad state of affairs to have to resort to this but you are talking about your livelihood and the possibility of keeping yourself fed and a roof over your head. There are too few jobs out there and too many monkeys lining up to get them. I have seen this done many times in the past and it usually works like a charm. Everyone has their price. It is up to you to figure out what that price may be and pay it promptly and covertly.

This may sarcasm or it may not be. Think about it.
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