It’s still pretty hard to get hired for jobs that you’re under-qualified for in this market—and as a new grad, you’re probably being told that you’re not quite qualified for a number of jobs. So how can you work around this?
1. Have a career focus. The graduates who find good jobs are the ones who know what it is they want to do and go after it.
2. Be realistic about how the job market works. You’re going to have to take an entry-level position at an entry-level salary. Plan to get your foot in the door and work your way up.
3. Make sure you’re looking at the right types of jobs. You have the best chance at getting jobs where you’re close to a perfect match. For example, if they want 10 years of experience and you have two, you probably won’t get an interview. But if they’re looking for 3+ years of experience, you can highlight your achievements of that two years in a really good cover letter—and this might be enough to get you in the door.
4. Make a case for yourself. What you want to do is put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes and look at your qualifications. Why should they hire you? What sets you apart from the other applicants? Think of the popular interview question “Tell me about yourself” and make a list of the adjectives that best describe you, what makes you unique, some of your key accomplishments and what you can bring to the table.
5. Have a contingency plan. As the saying goes, “If Plan A fails, there are 25 more letters in the alphabet.” Have one or more backup plans, because you may not get your dream job on the first — or twentieth — try. Your contingency plan might be to explore other companies or industries, or to take some time off to freelance.
6. Network, network, network. As another saying goes: “it’s all about who you know and who knows you.” Work on developing relationships everywhere you go. Join your alumni association or professional organizations and attend events. Pump up your social media presence on LinkedIn and Twitter. And set up as many informational interviews as you can—they’re a great way to meet potential contacts and get good information on companies and fields.
As you seek your first major full-time job, stay positive, be flexible and be willing to do whatever the position requires. You may not get your dream job right out of the gate but if you mix persistence with drive, ambition and hard work, you’ll ultimately land a position that will kick-start your career.
Want a little help in reaching your career goals? Contact the recruiting experts at Synerfac, where we can help you clarify your goals, identify and communicate your skills and get your foot in the door. We look forward to hearing from you!