How to get an edge in today’s job market

Graduate ✔️

Now what?

It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement as you finish college — anticipation is high as classes end, your last finals week comes and goes, and you prepare to walk the stage, frame your degree, and put that final capstone on your college experience.

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But for all of the “ending” that goes on in those final days of your academic journey, it’s really just the beginning of the next, much longer stage of life, and the thing you spent so much time dedicated to learning in school: your career. It won’t always come easily, and sometimes it might even be the hardest thing you have to do, but landing your dream job is within reach, especially if you know a few tips and tricks to get your foot in the door.

Know the Recruiter’s Game

First things first, it’s helpful to know what kind of world you’re going into as you start to fill out those job applications. Consider this: the average cost-per-hire was a whopping $4,129 back in 2016. It also took an average of 42 days to fill a position. The point? Businesses take hiring new talent seriously. Knowing recruiter tidbits like these can help increase your chances of “speaking their language” as you try to stand out amongst each pool of candidates, especially since you understand the “what’s-at-stake” for the people hiring you.

In fact, using AI to weed out applicants is a common, modern recruiting tool. Often recruiters are faced with piles of resumes and cover letters, many of which don’t stand a chance at getting a position. Recruiters will use programs to “sift” through the applications and remove unlikely candidates — which only emphasizes how important it is that you stand out, and know what you’re talking about. While it’s difficult to create a single formula for how to approach this, knowing that an AI sorting method could be in the cards is extra motivation to take care as you fill out each application.

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Don’t just write the same, bland thing every time. Tailor your word choices to the job description and research the company in order to sound knowledgeable and specific rather than ignorant and generic. Even though it might take more time, avoid copy/pasting the same resume and cover letter for every position you apply to — saving a few extra minutes may risk you that job you’re shooting for. Another common recruiting tactic is social recruiting. Social platforms have been hotspots for recruiters to advertise, communicate, and research candidates for years now. That’s why it’s critical that you perfect your online presence — and we’re not just talking about that LinkedIn profile you started several years ago and never finished — although that profile could help you land more jobs than not when it’s updated and cleaned up, so finish it!

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In addition to LinkedIn, employers could also be looking at your other social media accounts as well. After all, these offer a unique window into your personal life. It’s a gold mine of information for recruiters to use in order to vet potential employees, so make sure to curate all of your social media profiles in order to showcase a professional online presence across the board. While there are many other hiring tactics, one other that we’ll highlight here is the new trend of Conversational Recruiting. This involves recruiters meeting candidates right on their own devices via video, text, social media, and so on. The idea is that they want to engage with you “on your turf.” In other words, when you apply somewhere, be prepared for a recruiter to come right into your phone or computer to interact with you if they think you’re a good fit for the position.

Setting Yourself Up for Success

While knowing how recruiters think is helpful, there are other critical components that should also be in place as you start scouring the job market and interacting with recruiters: Networking is king. No matter how advanced the modern world gets, the age-old power of networking continues to be a surefire way to increase your chances of landing a job. From attending professional events with potential future coworkers to joining a professional society within your field, make sure that you’re looking for opportunities to rub shoulders with industry peers and professionals, no matter the field you’re entering. They’re the ones who can ultimately put in a good word on your behalf in order to help you get your foot in the door. For example, new lawyers across the country are facing challenges when it comes to getting their license and then taking the next big step — finding a firm where they’re qualified to actually practice. Specifically, Greene Broillet and Wheeler LLP describes: “Eager to find work, newbie lawyers face a harsh reality — they have no real-world work experience. Whether their dream job is at a big corporate, middle size or boutique law firm, non-profit or government agency, if these rookie attorneys haven’t cut their teeth on a real case, they won’t get any bites when sending out their polished resumes.”

They go on to explain how this problem can be resolved: “Law school is where students learn critical thinking skills, legal theories, and how to become problem solvers. But it’s the nuts-and-bolts of practicing law such as how to meet court deadlines, format pleadings, interview clients, draft contracts, negotiate or examine documents, which can only be learned while working alongside an experienced professional.” While a shiny resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter, what have you, all help to get you noticed (and past the AI that weeds out the rest!), it’s truly real-world experience and strong network connections that are going to put you at the very top of a recruiter’s list — whether you’re a new lawyer, a teacher, or a chef!

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A Few Other Tricks

Keep a learning attitude. It’s tempting to hang up your willingness to learn along with that cap and gown, but a critical part of surviving in a career is having a willingness to continue learning as you go. Not only will you need to learn new systems and procedures with each position you take, but the rapidly evolving world ensures that learning is an integral part of every job, from a CEO, to a custodial engineer, and everything in between.

Adapt. You know the old adage. When at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. However, this isn’t just a case of stubbornly beating your head against a brick wall. If you find that your job search is coming up dry, don’t be afraid to be flexible with your job parameters. Having a job that isn’t exactly what you may have imagined at the beginning of your search is still better than holding out for an unrealistically idyllic position while you sit at home and twiddle your thumbs. If you do accept a position that isn’t what you initially had in mind, just remember that you can always continue looking for other jobs while you work. In the meantime, you’ll only be helping to develop your resume and skill set, along with bringing in a bit of cash, all of which are better than doing nothing.

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Don’t Lose Who You Are

Finally, make sure that you don’t compromise on everything else in your life in the obsessive search for a job. Balance the job search with your social life, family life, and other responsibilities as well. Heck, this could even be the perfect time to finally start that blog you’ve been thinking about. The point is, maintaining a good work-life balance is a challenge that will follow you throughout your professional career, so make sure to start things off fighting for a good balance from the getgo.

Happy job hunting!

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