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How New Grads Can Nail the Interview and Hammer the Gig

graduation day

Congratulations! You’ve officially graduated college and are ready to hit the grown-up world. However, before you start dreaming big, you (eventually) need to land that first job. Yes, the days of sleeping until 15 minutes before a lecture and making cafeteria plans are over, sadly. To help get you started, we’ve laid out several tips on how to tackle the search, nail the interviews and land the job. Don’t worry – you’ll be telling mom you got the gig in no time:

Gather the goods. No matter what job you apply to, you’re going to need some paperwork. First is your resume: When you’re beginning your career, it’s usually best practice to list your educational credentials at the top, followed by relevant work experience and finally any leadership or volunteer work. Next comes the portfolio: This can be a mix of your best college papers or assignments from previous internships. Try to hit at least three items, but two is always better than one. Lastly: Secure at least two letters of recommendation and/or reference contacts – one of each is fine. These will prove to be helpful when you start submitting applications. Think professors, bosses and coaches – anyone who can speak to either your character or work ethic, or both.

Take advantage of your resources. Yep, this is just like those school papers you’re done with. When you begin your search, start with any and all resources available. This could end up saving you lots of time, and you never know where opportunities might come from! We’ve highlighted a few great starting points below:

College Career Center: Even if you’ve already moved home for the summer or you’re no longer in class, many schools will still help recent graduates. Set up an appointment and bring your resume, recommendations and portfolio. Even if nothing happens quickly, it’s better to have your information with them than not. Doesn’t hurt, right?

Previous employers or professors: Shoot a note to an old intern boss or any professors you had a good rapport with, detailing your situation and interest in any current opportunities. Pro Tip: If it’s been a while, remind them of a project you completed or your favorite class of theirs – it’ll spark that common ground and ignite conversation.

Parents’ friends or acquaintances: Most people love to help people. Also, it will make you look pretty driven if you take the initiative to reach out to a common acquaintance rather than going through your parents or contact. Many of them will be well-established professionals who might need help for the summer or (more likely) will know someone who they can put you in touch with. #Networking

Be social. It’s just the world we live in, ya know? Most (if not all) employers publish job openings on their social channels and website. You’ll encounter the most jobs by leveraging multiple platforms (e.g., LinkedIn and Monster). Also, watch out for friends who might post current opportunities where they work on their social profiles as well. Pro Tip: Follow, like, tweet (you get the point) the social profiles of any favorite companies or dream jobs you have. Employers will often post jobs there first, which could keep you a step ahead of the competition instead of waiting for opportunities to appear on a job board.

Interview. At some point you’re going to get an email or call asking you to come in for interview! Yes, this is worthy of celebration. But after a few high fives, remember there’s still work to do:

Do your homework. Yes, there’s “homework” in the real world. You can never know too much about an organization. In other words, the more you know, the better. By being able to speak extensively to specific parts of a business and their history, you prove to them that you’ve done some proactive research, which can show off your impeccable work ethic at the same time. Boom.

Know your role. You should know the key responsibilities of the position you’re applying to pretty well. This will drive any experience and work examples you discuss, making it easier for the interviewer to recognize your qualifications. What’s more, the background info will enable you to speak more confidently, making your interview all the more strong.

Rehearse. It never hurts and will get you into a rhythm when speaking of your past work experience and education. Friends and family make great audiences, as they’ll be honest with feedback. Extra points if you record yourself and catch any mannerisms or habits you normally wouldn’t! Pro Tip: Show some old-school class and bring several printed out copies of your resume and portfolio. And don’t forget a pen! You’d be surprised by how far the small things go.

Phew. That was a lot, but once you get started, you’ll be applying to jobs faster than you expect. Remember you’re an asset to employers too, so don’t overthink it – you’ll be great. Congratulations on completing a major milestone in graduation! Now on to Owning the next phase…

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