*Editor’s Note* A similar version of this article first appeared on Careerealism.
Have a Unique Story
One of the greatest assets you have when looking for your first job — and every one after that — is your life experiences. Who you are, and what makes you unique and interesting, is something all employers seek to understand during the interview process. And, while the job description may not give you any guidelines on what exactly they’re looking for, a well-rounded, cultured perspective is always in demand.
Remember, it’s all about perspective. If you think your Spring Break trip to Mexico isn’t relevant, think again. Find ways to give your stories depth — like how bungee jumping off Macau Tower in China gave you a new perspective for facing personal fears, or how running the New York City Marathon taught you how to overcome challenges. Have a few good stories in your back pocket (can we say “elevator pitch”?), and be ready to smoothly deploy them at a moment’s notice. Who knew getting a little culture would be so useful?
Forget What You’ve Been Told
It’s not what you know or who you know — it’s who knows you. I know it may sound unsavory, but let’s face it: Relationships rule the world. There’s a reason “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” exists, and that’s exactly why you need to get your own game going starting now.
Make a name for yourself by getting in front of every person that falls in line with your interests. But when I say get in front, I really mean make yourself valuable. People in positions of influence are peppered with “asks” all day, every day. Don’t be that person. Instead, find a way to make yourself useful to them.
Create a “Hit List”
Finding a job is no easy task, so it should come as no surprise that I’d suggest you approach it like a covert assassin. In other words, you need to create a hit list of the companies or gigs you’re after and pursue them relentlessly.
Start by creating a knock list of the top 20 companies you’re coveting an offer from, then use your social media and networking expertise to acquire a target contact at each. In time you’ll have a personalized, top-secret list of known informants and assets to help you achieve your mission of finding a job.
Creep — Just Don’t Be Creepy
Call a spade a spade, right? Well, when you’re trying to get in with your dream company, that sometimes requires a bit of high-level interaction, aka, creeping. But don’t get it twisted; do this right and creepy won’t even be in the vocabulary of your new employer.
That said, get back to your creeping, stalking senses and dig in deep with the companies you’re interested in. Follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr and like them on Facebook, but don’t just be a passive bystander. Interact with your coveted companies in intelligent, relevant and memorable ways. Just as you’d hope companies would interact with you — with information that’s relevant and interesting — do the same for them, and you just might make a name for yourself before you even apply.
Make Yourself an Industry Expert
Sure, you’re a freshly-minted grad, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have great industry content to share. Thanks to social media and a plethora of blogging platforms, it’s easier than ever to create a name for yourself on the Internet (where I assure you, your prospective employers will be checking you out). Create a blog or a landing page with your basic information, include a portfolio of completed projects and, if at all possible, get a few approved quotes from former employers and professors to back up the buzz. Before long, your online presence will speak for itself. Just remember, the Internet never forgets, so keep it classy.
What are some of your tips for landing a job after graduation? Share in the comments below.
Ryan Kahn has helped thousands of college students and recent grads get hired into some of the world’s most coveted internships and jobs. Kahn is founder of The Hired Group, career coach on MTV’s “Hired,” and author of “Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad.”
Forbes described Kahn as a “Top resource for helping students and recent grads in landing their dream career,” and included his company in this year’s “Top 100 Websites For Your Career.” His work has been praised in hundreds of media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Huffington Post, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Star Magazine, Washington Post, “NBC News,” Chicago Tribune, Career Magazine, Yahoo! News, and US News & World Report.