Getting Your First Job

932058640Within a month a new crop of college grads will enter the job market and, hopefully shortly thereafter, they will land their first “job”. Perhaps the upcoming grad already had a summer/part-time/internship, which is a good way to prepare. If you don’t have a job yet, no sweat, but it’s time to move and get the search in gear.

I assume a recent grad wants to/needs to work. Many are saddled with substantial debt, averaging close to $40,000. Ouch. That’s a ugly harsh reality. Many recent grads are forced to return home and live with family for a while as a result. My beloved Garden State leads the U.S. in millennials still living at home, an added benefit of living in a high real estate cost/high rent/high tax state like New Jersey.

But if you’re graduating shortly, and don’t have a job lined up yet, don’t sweat. Just get your butt in gear.

As you start your search it’s best to have a clue about the kind of profession you’d like to enter. If it is directly related to the major/courses you took in college, great. But it’s not always essential.

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Identify the several kinds of careers you’d be interested in

2. Have a specific resume for each

3. Draft a crafted cover letter than demonstrates your interest in (fill in the company name) given your passion for (industry)

4. Do your homework on that industry, so you don’t sound like a superficial kid if/when you have an interview.

This takes work and a process. Getting a job is a job. It takes focus, volume, and homework.

And it takes time and lots of follow up. Imagine you were on the receiving end of a stream of resumes. How would you deal the tsunami of resumes?

A few other pieces of advice that are not as obvious:

1. Sending a resume and cover letter into a digital black hole in cyberspace is a VERY low odds strategy. You might have to do some of this, but don’t focus your search this way.

2. Find a person to reach out to even if they are way above your hiring level. Tell that person why you should be hired. Suggest you title your outreach, 3 Reasons why you should hire (your name goes here). Then give them 3 good reasons based on your passion for their company and your interest tin their industry. Then tell them you’d appreciate a road map within their company of who best to contact. If you reach high, chances are the email could get passed to HR with the note. “Interesting email. Maybe we should talk to this person” If you reach high enough a pass along will get you an interview.

3. Develop a big database of people 75-100 names and pound away. Hours a day. Day after day.

And when you get an interview (and you will), prep like crazy. Know everything under the sun about the company and do homework on the person you are meeting. Ask them questions not just about the company, but also about them. “How did you first come to xxx company? Why did you first join? What were the qualities that made you stay for xx years”. Even if you are unsure about the industry and are thinking about different paths, DO NOT SAY IT. No one wants to waste their time on a kid who is not sure whether they want to work in the industry where you are interviewing.

To be honest when I started my job search light years ago after getting an MBA in Marketing from NYU, I had six different resumes

1. Marketing/ Product management

2. Finance

3. Advertising account management

4. Retailing

5. A & R rep in the music industry

6. Sports marketing (focused on the Yankees, duh)

I appreciate my mom who helped me create great looking resumes and cover letters. No email back then obviously. And based on this process I got offers in the first 4 areas (though I would jumped at a music industry or sports marketing opportunity). I graduated on a Friday in May 1976 and started on Monday in the ad industry as an AE at Needham, Harper & Steers. It all worked out fine.

And if this reach out process is successful and you get an interview, here’s the “secret” about how to end an interview—Ask for the Job!

Say something like this:

“From everything I’ve read, everything I’ve heard, and all the people I’ve met, I really like (company). Moreover as I met people I felt like I’d be a great fit and team mate. I want you to know I would really want this job. And if you put your confidence in me, I would repay that confidence every day through hard work”

Even if you are not 100% sure the job is for you, pitch it anyhow. You can figure it out if they make you an offer. Don’t be coy and play hard to get.

Hope you/your child gets something out of this process. I would be happy to give my 2 cents to any Strumings reader on this topic. Just reach out. I am happy to help.

Good luck.

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