How a New Grad Can Compete in a Tough Market

Graduation time is just around the corner and while this year’s fresh-faced graduates will be beaming with pride as they wear their cap and gown, there is no doubt that many of them will be concerned about their next step.  You’ve graduated…now what?  The bad news is that the class of 2015 will be graduating into a tough labour market; the good news is that there are always opportunities available.  Here are some tips that will help you leverage your assets so that you are a competitive applicant even without much work experience:

Be flexible.  When you’re looking for your first job, be as flexible as possible.  Tell the employer that you are willing to work evenings and that you are flexible about your work location.  Since many people are unable or unwilling to be flexible, it is a way that you can stand out.  It shows that you have a strong level of commitment, and you may be one of only a few candidates that are able to meet the employer’s needs.

Customize your resume.  Do your research and find out exactly what type of candidate they are looking to hire.  Write your resume in a way that shows that you are an excellent fit for the job.  Highlight your relevant soft skills and be creative; if you don’t have direct work experience, focus on your volunteer work and extracurricular activities.

Network.  When you are looking for your first job, you are asking someone to take a chance on you.  People will be a lot more willing to do this if they are connected to you in some way.  Talk to the people in your network and let them know that you are looking for a job.  They may alert you to possible opportunities and they might even be able to bring your resume to the top of the pile.

Be enthusiastic.  One reason that employers like to hire new graduates is because they are so excited to get the job.  They are a pleasure to work with because they are happy to be there.  The enthusiasm that you bring is contagious and can boost the morale of the organization.  Attitude is important to managers when they are making hiring decisions, so if you come across as being passionate, you can have an edge over your (more experienced) competitors.

When you look at the job market, it is easy to get discouraged.  Today’s job seeker needs to be more resilient and resourceful than ever before.  Stay positive, work hard, be strategic and a door will open just enough for you to squeeze through.  Good luck!

(Written by: Karen Bivand)


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