Sponsored: Finding your first job after graduation can be daunting, but with these tips from the University of Utah’s career experts, prospective college grads can be on the road to success!
By Elainna Ciaramella | For the University of Utah
| Mar 6, 2023 at 6:13 p.m
Getting that first job out of college can be overwhelming — students spend years working hard to graduate, and now the rubber is hitting the road. It can be scary, but the good news is that a little strategic preparation can go a long way.
Experts from the Career & Professional Development Center at the University of Utah (the U) are here to help by sharing important tips for graduates on how to land their first job with a degree in hand. In fact, the U has more career resources at its disposal than ever before thanks to the Career Success Presidential Initiative, launched last fall with the intent to include more focused engagement with employers and personalized coaching for students.
Embedded in various colleges and programs, career coaches are trained to help students explore career opportunities, market themselves on online platforms, find internships, write impact-oriented resumes, prepare for job interviews, and negotiate salaries. Students can also stop by the Career Center Monday through Friday from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. to review a resume or cover letter
Mary Arola is Associate Marketing Director at the Career Center, where she served as a career coach for five years. “The first thing I recommend is to start as early as possible!” says Arola. “With all the excitement and events surrounding graduation, finding time to look for a job is difficult and can add to the excitement and celebration of the time.”
The best way to work within the time constraints is for students to visit their career coach early and often, says Katie Abby, special presidential adviser for the Career Success Presidential Initiative and associate dean for business career services at the David Eccles School of Business.
“It’s like the old saying, ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ When consistent time is devoted to professional development and internship and career search, it is far less overwhelming,” says Abby.
Here are 8 tips from the US Career Services experts for getting that first job out of college:
Make an inventory of personal skills and strengths. What skills does the applicant have? What examples do they have that illustrate their competence? Students are encouraged to write down the details of their successes and failures and use them to support their answers to questions.
Customize your resume and cover letter for each position. Employers can see when an applicant has sent the same documents to hundreds of places. Candidates who do this are likely to be the first to be eliminated from the application process.
network, network, network. Networking still has one of the biggest ROIs when it comes to finding out about job opportunities, interviewing and receiving offers. Managers feel more comfortable hiring someone who comes with trustworthy recommendations. Family and friends can help graduates in their job search by sharing their personal and professional networks, and LinkedIn is still a very helpful networking tool.
Get to know the company before the interview. It’s important for applicants to do their due diligence in getting to know a potential employer, and that means more than just a quick Google search. Check out the organization’s website, social media channels, and even customer reviews to understand what they do, what they value, the challenges they face, and what their culture is like.
Practice storytelling. Applicants should know their stories well in advance of interviews, as it’s difficult to think of a story in the moment. Rather than telling an employer, “I’m a strong team player,” applicants are encouraged to say, “I’m a strong team player, and here’s an example of a time I’ve led a team on a specific project with a specific one Outcomes.” Candidates should anticipate the types of stories that will resonate with each job.
Think from the employer’s perspective. Applicants should avoid making everything about them. Employers want to know what the candidate brings to the company, and candidates should be willing to tell them.
Don’t worry you have every qualification. New graduates tend to underestimate their experience and often avoid applying for jobs unless they meet all the qualifications – which usually represent the “ideal candidate” but often not the one they actually hire. Applicants should focus on meeting most or at least the required qualifications rather than all.
Benefit from alumni connections. Alumni are often keen to give back by mentoring students. The U has nearly 300,000 alumni around the world. To help students tap into this network, the Office of Alumni Relations has developed a networking site called Forever Utah that connects students with alumni in their area of interest and indicates which alumni are willing to help. The responses on this platform are quick and timely and have resulted in many worthwhile connections.