5 Ways College Graduates Can Gain An Advantage in the Job Hunt

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I don’t envy college graduates these days.

The economy has been so bad for so long, it seems, that finding a job is an uncertainty even with the best education.

But a new study gives those leaving college this spring some hope. Employers expect to hire 10.2 percent more new graduates this year than last year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

The job market for new college graduates “is improving steadily,” says Marilyn Mackes, executive director.

That’s the good news. The bad news: Competition is stiff for the job openings. About 32 grads are expected to apply for each position, up from 21 last year, the study shows.

How can someone gain in advantage in landing a job? If you have a child who is nearing college graduation, this question has special significance for you.

1. Be prepared for the job interview.

Start by learning about the employer. “You’d be surprised by how many candidates walk into an interview knowing little to nothing about the employer they’re considering working for,” says career consultant Alison Doyle. “And it shows.”

Spend a few minutes reading the company’s website. It probably has all the information you’ll need to get a grasp of the firm.

2. Anticipate interview questions.

You want to avoid being caught off guard entirely by a question. Some common ones:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What unique skills do you offer?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • How did you choose your college and major?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. You simply want to provide honest, well-reasoned replies that give the employer an insight into your personality. It’s OK to rehearse your answers, but don’t try to memorize a script. You’ll sound like a phony.

3. Ask the interviewer some questions.

Be careful. You don’t want to try to turn the tables and grill the person who might hire you. But it shows self-confidence if you pose a few questions that demonstrate your curiosity about the job.

Some examples:

  • How much travel is expected for this position?
  • What’s a typical workweek like?
  • Is relocation a possibility?

You aren’t simply trying to get this job – you are also interviewing the employer to assess whether this company and the position are a good fit for you,” Doyle said.

4. Give out positive non-verbal messages.

For instance, offer a firm handshake. Look the interviewer in the eye. Don’t slouch or fidget.

“The nonverbal messages can speak louder than the verbal message you’re sending,” according to Monster.com.

5. Send a follow-up email promptly after the interview.

Thank the interviewer for his or her time and reiterate why you’d be a good fit for the job. Make comments that show your understanding of the company. Sound eager but not desperate.

“You should say, ‘I listened, I understand your needs and your challenges, and here’s how I can help you address those,’” says Roy Cohen, author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.

A college graduate’s first big career test is the job interview. It’s normal to be nervous. But it’s possible to ease anxiety by preparing diligently for the interview. If you perform well, you’ve taken a big step toward getting the job.

THE TAKEAWAY

New college graduates should be encouraged that the job market is gradually improving. But they should remember that competition is intense. Success in college is no guarantee that they’ll be offered an attractive job. Grads need to sell themselves during the interview to boost their chances.

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About Ed Housewright

Ed Housewright is the chief cook and bottle washer at Single Dad House. After three decades as a newspaper reporter, he’s trying to adapt to the social media world. He’s matrimonially challenged with two divorces under his belt and is trying to do a better job at raising his 12-year-old son, Connor. Follow Ed on Twitter: @singledadhouse.

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