Job search tips for new graduates

Published: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 12:52 PM.

To the roughly 1.6 million college graduates in the class of 2014: You have my heartiest congratulations – and my sympathies. I graduated during the early 1990s recession when finding a decent job was very difficult, so I have an inkling of the challenges many of you now face.

Although the job-search technology available has changed considerably since then, as someone who is now on the other side of screening candidates, I can tell you many of the underlying principles for waging a successful search remain the same. Let me share a few:

Stand out from the crowd. You'll probably be competing with dozens, if not hundreds, of applicants for most jobs, so:

  • Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight education, skills and experience relevant to the position – check out's Resume Center for writing tips.
  • If your work history is brief, play up education highlights, volunteer or internship positions, awards, organizational memberships, etc.
  • Have strong references – and make sure they're willing to speak or write a letter of recommendation on your behalf.
  • Proofread everything carefully and ask a trusted acquaintance to review.

Before applying, research the company to make sure it's a good fit. If you do get called for an interview, kick it up a notch:

  • Make sure you understand the company's products, services and customer base.
  • Examine their business structure and how your potential department fits in.
  • Research competitors so you understand the business environment in which they operate.
  • Investigate their social media presence for clues on how they interact with customers.

Employers are forced to do more with fewer resources, so they seek employees who are focused, polished and willing to work hard. I've spoken to numerous hiring managers who say many candidates they see don't convey those qualities. A few tips:

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