College Grads Don’t Know How to Job Search… Here’s How to Land Your Dream Job After Graduation
We often ask advice from “people like us” – our peers. To get a different perspective, I asked Joey Randazzo, 2016 graduate of University of Puget Sound and Project Manager for Paleo Magazine, for his thoughts on landing your dream job. Here is his advice as he begins his career journey.
If you want to find your dream job after graduation, you’ll have to job-search differently than the other 2 million grads leaving college this year!
Most recent graduates get their jobs by searching through online job boards trying to find jobs they’re qualified for, and they end up working 50-60 hours a week in jobs they hate. So why would you approach job-searching the same way?
The strategies below takes you step-by-step to find your dream job after graduation.
Find 10 Companies You’d Love to Work For
Most college graduates do it backwards. They go to job boards on Monster or LinkedIn and type “Marketing” and “Entry-Level” and hope to find something that they’re “qualified for.” Then they submit their résumé online and hope for the best. They don’t realize that when they do this a computer will be reading their résumé. A computer – not a person!
You need to do it the other way around Find 10 companies you’d LOVE to work for (don’t restrict it by location, there are a lot of remote jobs nowadays). Make that list!
Research Those Companies and See if They Have Job Openings
If they do, great. If some of the companies you’d love to work for aren’t hiring, no worries. According to NPR and LinkedIn, between 70% and 85% of the jobs out there are NOT posted on the Internet…
Don’t apply yet though. There are some more tips below, so read those first!
When you’ve finished the following steps, apply through their online portal. Be thorough. Have a polished résumé when you apply.
Find 5 People Within Each of Those Companies or 15 People in the Same Industry
Now that you have the companies you’d love to work for, you need to connect with people within those companies. This is where the magic starts to happen.
Find 5 people in each of your target companies by researching their websites or LinkedIn. Write down at least 5 names per company (but don’t contact them yet).
If you can’t find 5 people per company, find 15 successful people in the industry you want to work in.
Contact People Within Each Company
Contact the people you listed in your target companies by sending an email or LinkedIn message.
Say something along the lines of…
“Hi, my name is [your name]. I’m graduating from [your university] soon and want to create a fulfilling career in the [industry you want to work for]. I see that you’re a successful [their title] in the [industry]. Is it possible to have 5-10 minutes of your time for a quick phone call to see how you became successful? Thank you so much for your time.”
They’re going to be flattered and want to help. It’s only 5-10 minutes, right?!
Offer to Help Them (for Free…)
How many people, when applying for a job, offer to do the job for free for a week or two? NONE. You’ll stand out.
Do your research on the 10 companies you want to work for and find areas that they could use some help. What are their “pain points?” They might have a horrible mobile website or they struggle getting new customers…
Explain how you can help with their pain points. Offer to work for one or two weeks for free, no strings attached.
They will see your ambition, your willingness to take risks, and your enthusiasm. They’d be crazy to at least not have a conversation on the phone with you. And if they allow you to do to do free work (and you do a good job) I’d be surprised if they didn’t offer you some type of job.
Make your proposal via LinkedIn message or email to your contact list in all 10 companies.
I’ve used this tactic multiple times – I recently sent a LinkedIn message like this to a company I’d love to work for. I researched everyone who works for them and sent every single person – more than 30! – a message.
A woman responded and said that she loved my enthusiasm and things are moving in the right direction. Give it a shot.
Understand that You’re Solving the Hiring Manager’s Problem
Hiring is horrible….
I had to be a hiring manager once for my first job. After a week, we had over 900 applications. Every application looked the same. It was brutal!
Understand that the hiring manager is hoping that every candidate that applies will be the right fit. They want someone like you to make it easy for them.
Every time you communicate with a hiring manager, whether during an interview or when sending in an application, focus on solving their problem.
Follow Up. Follow Up. And Then Follow Up Again.
One of the biggest mistakes that college grads make is that they don’t follow up. My friends will tell me that they had an interview for 2 or 3 jobs. So a couple weeks later I’ll ask, “What’d you hear from those jobs?” and they’ll say, “Oh I didn’t hear back from them yet. They told me they’d reach out to me.”
What?! To land your dream job you’re going to have to be relentless (yet respectful). You have to follow up with hand-written thank-you notes sent in the mail, thank-you emails, or even thank-you phone calls. You’ll have to follow up at least once a week.
If you’re nervous about seeming impatient and contacting them too often, then send an email about something else. Maybe they put out a Facebook post about releasing a new product, or they wrote a new article on their site. Structure your email around that; say something like:
I just read that awesome article about __________. I love all of the innovative work you’re doing and I think this new initiative that you’re planning will really impact your followers/clients/customers because of _________. One idea I had to increase engagement with your customers through this new initiative would be to _____________ .
I’m still very excited about the potential opportunity to work for ________ . Let me know if you need any other information from me in the meantime. I look forward to hearing from you soon.”
Here’s an important note – it’s not just following up after a job interview. If you grab coffee with an alumni, communicate over email with someone, or connect an individual on LinkedIn, then you should still follow up! This shows a lot about you as a person, and people remember the little things.
Don’t Let False Beliefs and Ineffective Job-Searching Tactics Hold You Back
Use these tools to take control of your life after you graduate. Don’t just settle for some entry-level position doing something you hate.