How To Enter a Competitive Job Market Fresh Out of College
Competition is fierce the minute you throw your graduation cap in the air. It's time to put your game face on and land your dream job.
This is easier said than done, especially when entering a competitive job market.
With thousands of eager graduates all vying for the same positions, how can you stand out?
We're here to share tips and tricks to help you get noticed and enter the competitive job market with confidence.
Straighten your jacket, hold your chin high, and let's get into it!
Volunteerism is a valuable, often underrated approach to gaining relevant experience and job skills. It also shows potential employers that you're willing to give back -- a commendable character trait that many employers look for.
Beyond that, volunteering is one of the easiest ways for students to gain work experience while still in college. You don't need specific training or credentials to volunteer.
Many recruiters want candidates with at least some level of experience. Even if you've never worked in your field of study, volunteering gives you familiarity with the position and, more importantly, an edge over the competition.
2. Gain Relevant Work Experience
With 43% of undergraduates juggling both a job and their coursework, gaining work experience in college is not only possible but recommended.
While a glowing resume and cover letter will get you far (more on this in a minute), work experience is the number one thing prospective employers look for. Volunteering is a great start, but hands-on work experience in your field is key to standing out in a competitive job market.
Landing a job while still in school can be tough, which is why internships are a college student's best friend. There are several types of internships from paid to non-paid and even college credit internships.
Regardless of how (or if) you're getting compensated, applying for an internship is a great way to gain work experience and job skills in your specific field of study.
Employers can see that you've already worked in the industry and are familiar with how things operate.
Another reason to consider internships? Almost 60% of all internships result in at least one job offer. That's great news for any college grad entering a competitive job market.
3. Perfect Your Resume
Your resume is the first thing prospective hires will see. And you want to make a good first impression.
Although knowing how to enhance your resume is important, the way your resume looks is just as important as what it says.
Be consistent with your format. Your resume should use the same font throughout.
Bullet points make it easy to read and follow. It's okay to italicize and bold certain points to draw the reader's eye but don't overuse them.
Highlight your most important skills first, with a few personal tidbits and accomplishments sprinkled throughout. Keep your resume up to date with the most recent and relevant information.
Make sure you know what your resume says at all times. If you land an interview, the recruiter will reference it throughout the meeting and you don't want to be caught off guard.
Keep in mind that you may need to adjust your resume for particular positions. Read the job posting carefully and make sure your resume reflects the skills and attributes that make you the perfect candidate.
4. Build a Marketable Online Profile
Did you know that 54% of employers have terminated staff members based on a social media post? While this is a debatable practice, the truth remains that 70% of employers are checking out more than just your resume.
If you're active on social media, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you may want to clean up your act -- and your news feed.
Swap these platforms for something more professional, like LinkedIn. Designed specifically for professionals seeking work and candidates, LinkedIn is a social media tool that might actually benefit instead of hinder you.
Here you can connect with other reputable companies and professionals, gather reviews and recommendations, and put yourself at the top of a competitive job market.
When creating your LinkedIn profile be sure to include your education, work history, skills, and relevant certifications.
5. Stay Up to Date on Market Trends
Companies want eager, energetic, and knowledgeable candidates. That means staying up to date on market trends.
You need to show prospective employers what you bring to the table, not what they need to teach you.
Before you apply, research the market trends in your field of study. The job market is rapidly changing.
Are your skills and education still relevant? If not, you may have some work to do.
Computer skills are quickly becoming a requirement, not an option. Make sure you have a basic understanding of the software needed to perform the job.
6. Prepare for the Interview
So, you've followed these tips for dealing with a competitive job market and landed an interview. Congratulations!
But don't take that sigh of relief just yet. You still have plenty of work to do -- like nailing the job interview.
Some positions require several rounds of interviews, so the more prepared you are for this process, the better.
Confidence is key when entering any interview scenario, whether in-person or virtual. Do plenty of research on both the company you're applying to and the specific position.
Gain a good understanding of the company's values and mission statement. Nothing insults a prospective employer more than speaking poorly about the company or industry or sharing incorrect information.
One thing many candidates forget is to prepare their own questions for the interviewer. After asking their own series of questions, the recruiter may ask you if you have any. Having a list prepared shows that you're professional and organized.
Don't Let a Competitive Job Market Intimidate You
As you prepare for graduation, your eyes are set on the prize -- landing your dream job in a competitive job market. While it might feel impossible, with the right tips and advice, you'll find yourself interviewing for the opportunity of a lifetime.
Always put your best foot forward with a polished resume and knowledge about the position. Gaining as much work experience as possible through internships and volunteer opportunities give you a leg-up on the competition.
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