Job Hunt

5 Myths About Finding A Job

5 Myths About Finding A Job

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There’s no question that the job market in America is improving, especially for recent and future graduates with a major in business or engineering. While this is encouraging news, it doesn’t mean that the sky will open and job offers will fall from the heavens. Myths abound concerning current job prospects and the college grad’s place in it, tripping them up and slowing them down. Don’t get caught in the net and prepare yourself ahead of time.

Myth #1: The job market is easier than ever for a college grad to break into.

Not entirely. While things have improved for college grads all the way around, that doesn’t mean you can stand back and watch a job offer fall into your lap. It’s still going to take considerable time and effort on your part, and factors such as where you live, how qualified you are for the job, how you present yourself at interviews and how much you search will affect the outcome. You may even need to take a job you don’t like while waiting for a job you do, like waiting tables or working retail.

Myth #2: Nearly all entry-level salaries start at $35,000-$50,000.

Depending on what your degree is, you may be looking at a starting salary that’s significantly lower than $35,000. Some jobs can drop down to $20,000 or lower, depending on where you live. Some degrees will always be in demand, like engineering and computers, but even solid work-based majors like business, advertising and chemistry will be surprised to learn that starting salaries are consistently below $35,000, with liberal arts and English majors even further down the chart.

Where you live will also determine your starting salary. A business or marketing grad in a suburban midwest city might make $40,000 to start, while a graduate with a business degree in on of the major metropolitan areas (NYC or LA) will make $5,000 more. Look at salary calculators online to see what you can expect to make where you’re living or plan to move after graduation. And don’t forget about taxes: the federal and state government will be taking their share out of that starting salary, leaving you with less than you thought.

Myth #3: I can find my dream job just by searching the Internet.

While online employment bulletin boards have made the online job hunt more popular, only a small percentage of jobs that companies have available will ever make its way into cyberspace. A more effective way to search for jobs is through networking, especially when you’re just starting out. Look for alumni resources before you graduate, or join a professional organization your major is based in. You can also look for an internship in your field, and try to interview people who are doing what you want to do. Make sure you stay in touch with friends who share your major, especially students who will graduate before you do (hey, you never know if they’ll remember you when deciding to open a business or refer you to their boss.) While the Internet is a valuable resource for job hunting, it shouldn’t be your only source.

Myth #4: If I spread my resume on the Internet enough, I’m guaranteed to get a job.

That might have worked years ago, but the truth is, every other college grad is thinking the exact same thing. The result is a massive pile-up of resumes that lay siege to job-hunting boards and potential employers’ inboxes. Your resume will only get hopelessly lost in the electronic sea of virtual paper. Blindly sending out a resume to every employer you’ve heard of will achieve roughly the same result. Being proactive in your search doesn’t mean throwing a sheet of paper at everyone you see. To get the results you want, you’re going to have to tailor your resume and cover letter to each prospective employer, doing research of the company beforehand to help you focus your words. If you unsure, seek the advice from professional writers and have your resume in a perfect shape. Use the Internet to browse the company’s website, and ask yourself if you could see yourself working for them. Some websites offer company profiles to help you in your search.

Myth #5: If someone is hired, it’s because they’re the most qualified one for the job.

Unfortunately, this usually isn’t true. Prospective employers may look at your education and background experience, but often it’s the interview that will get you hired. This is why colleges emphasize interviewing skills so much. Always show up on time (or early) and look as down-to-earth and professional as you can. Being confident is an advantage, but don’t overdo it. When asked about your qualifications, give solid proof and examples of your work rather than speaking in abstracts (i.e. don’t just say you’re good at leading a group, explain an incident in your past that illustrates this.) Have questions ready to ask the interviewer when they’re finished grilling you; if you don’t, you risk giving the impression you’re not interested in the job. When you’re finished, make sure you thank the interviewer for their time and ask how they’d like you to follow-up: by phone, e-mail or letter.

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5 Tips Towards A Winning Cover Letter And Resume

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Employers and hiring managers to receive a mountain of resumes and cover letters every month, especially during job slumps. So how do you make your resume and cover letter stand out from the sea of other applicants? It may be easier than you think, and following a few simple tips can add the luster your materials need to land you that coveted interview slot.

Focus on Your Skills

Use the experience portion of your resume to focus on skills and past experiences that mesh well with those of the new job. For example, if you were a cashier for a traveling circus and are applying for an accounting position, you may want to highlight the money handling aspects of your job instead of your experience cleaning up after the Tigers.

Highlight Your Education

Do the same thing with your education background and hobbies – highlight what is most relevant to the job. If you want that accounting job, list your duties as treasurer of your local tiger appreciation club, or showcase your financial management coursework. Now is not the time to show of that A+ you received for underwater basket weaving – though that may be a point of interest in a face-to-face interview!

Keep Your Writing Short and to the Point

Use active words that get your point across in a limited amount of space. For example, rather than writing, “I was responsible for handling the money for Fun Times Circus, working with the tiger cage cleanup crew, and acted as a carnival game barker for the ring toss,” use, ” Managed finances, supervised game booth, and staffed tiger pens.” Sounds a bit more impressive and saves that valuable resume real estate. There’s especially no need to reiterate where you worked since that is already included in the main bullet point under “Employer.”

Proofread!

After you look at your resume and cover letter a few times, hand it off to a friend or family member, or even to a professional writing service. You have been looking at it for days, so the typos may start to blend into the background as you read it. Your friend or family member, however, can often catch errors you missed since this is fresh reading for them. You would be shocked how many grammatical errors and typos slip under the radar and wind up in front of potential employers. Show off your attention to detail and your dedication to a job well done by turning in your best, most error-free work.

Choose a Font That isn’t Obnoxious

Have you ever tried to quickly decipher tiny, scrolly font? It is a nightmare, especially if you have a stack of resumes to get through by the end of the day. Use crisp, sharp lettering that is professional and easy on the eyes. Trust me, those of us who read a lot of resumes really appreciate it! If you want your materials to stand out, choose a heavyweight paper, and experiment with the different professional fonts. We see a lot of Times and Times New Roman, so when Courier or Arial font crosses the desk it definitely stands out.

If you have implemented these steps, congratulations! You are on your way towards a great new job!