The Dos and Don’ts Of The Post College Job Hunt

By Margaret Aprison

Hello to all my scared, confused, and frustrated recent grads! Hope you’re well and not going insane over this whole “you must find a job” thing. Right now, you’re probably thinking, “What am I doing wrong? I have a degree! I did well in school! Why don’t I have a job?” Hopefully, these tips will help put you on the path to employment.

Do: Realize College Is Over

Many of my friends graduated yet still held on to their college lives. They thought that they could still go out every night, drink until the world turned blurry, and sleep in until noon and would somehow still be able to find work.

This does not happen. College was a glorious four-year period. But, it’s over. Take good care of your body. Go to bed early, get healthy amounts of sleep, and eat right! No employer is going to want to hire someone that looks hung-over, depressed, or sleep-deprived.

Seriously…drink some tea, exercise, watch what you eat, and enjoy life being a college grad.

Do: Become A Brand

You need to realize that you, your name, and your image are now wrapped up in the brand that is, well, you! What you put online is considered a “digital shadow.” Anything you say, upload, or even retweet becomes a part of you. Make sure your brand is a good representation of your professional attitude.

Don’t: Forget To Use Twitter And Facebook In Your Job Search

I was always told to hide my Facebook and Twitter pages when searching for a job. However, I decided not to. In an age when even your 92 year-old Grandma has a Facebook, employers aren’t going to play dumb. Give up the act; they know you’re social!

Instead of hiding, make your social network a voice. If you volunteer in your spare time, post photos. If you are looking for a job, tell people! Posting a simple status such as “Hey friends, I’m looking for work in the Chicago area. Any help is appreciated” is a great way to reach out to your valuable social network! (Hey, it’s called a ‘network’ for a reason.)

In terms of Twitter, USE TWITTER. I can not emphasize this enough. Let’s say you are looking for a Marketing internship in Atlanta. Go to Twitter and, in the search bar, type “Marketing Intern Georgia.” A plethora of options should show up. If not, try other key words. Even if your perfect job doesn’t appear, it will at least show you companies that are hiring in your area!

Also, friend and follow potential and/or interesting employers! This is one of the best ways to learn about a company. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, CareerBuilder, and many other social networks to aid your search.

Do: Be In-Your-Face

Note: you can send more than two emails! Be in your face and show the employer that you want this job! It takes two minutes to send an email. Employers are busy people and often put off the hiring process until they are desperate. Always email employers to say thank you and check in during the job search process.

Don’t: Forget To Update Your Resume At Least Once A Month

Your resume should never feel stale. Keep it updated every month. This should also remind you to be active while job searching. Volunteer, shadow business professionals, and even read career-related books. Never, ever just sit on your butt waiting for the perfect job. Make sure your résumé is changing and growing with experience!

Do: Set Goals

Right now, like many other recent grads, I’m living at home.

My next goal: By New Years, I want to know where I see myself living. This does not mean I’ll be living there; I just want to know the path to achieve my goal.

Remember when the goal was to graduate? Well, congrats, you did that. Now, you need some new goals. Setting goals is a great way to survive in this new period of post-college life. Make a list of career (and social goals) you want to achieve this month, year, and 5 years down the line. This is a great way to prioritize your life to make sure that if you get a job offer, it aligns with your life goals.

Do: Eliminate Stupid Stress

This is something I had trouble with. In college, you sometimes have to deal with people you don’t like, professors who for some reason hate students, and social commitments that made you stay up until 3am. In this period of life, take care of yourself. Job-hunting is stressful. Having to deal with that stress plus “stupid” stress will only make things worse. Once again, college is over (hey that must be the theme of this article!) and your priority should be YOU! Start being selfish. This exercise will also build self-confidence. If you can be happy with yourself, employers will be happy with you.

Don’t: Forget Patience Is A Virtue

Be patient. The perfect job is right around the corner. Or if not, the awful-paying yet wonderful-experience-gaining job is! Take opportunities that will let you grow as a person. Say no to job offers that make you anxious, question your morals, or just make you feel uncomfortable.

Remember to breathe, relax, and keep your eyes open. Getting a job ASAP is not the goal…. The goal is to get started on a rewarding career.

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Using Your Imagination

Saw this in today’s edition (Friday, May 27th) of The Daily Oklahoman Sometimes, as this article shows, finding your dream job can take persistence, hard work and occasionally, a little unorthodox approach!

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Jumping Ship When The Ship Is Going Down

Recently I was talking to a friend who’s employed at a business that’s failing. My friend has been there for 15 years, knows the business inside and out, and is finding that he’s the guy the remaining staff is coming to for answers. Yet, though the ownership’s plan for saving the company remains uncertain, when I asked him if he was looking for a new job, my friend said he was confident he’d land on his feet, pledged loyalty to his employer, and was ready to go down with the ship.

So, if you find yourself working for a failing or downsizing company, where does your loyalty lie? Needless to say, the answer is different for everyone, especially when you consider the current economy, your longevity, your family situation, and any number of other factors. But if you do feel you need to jump ship, consider these points as you don your life jacket:

• Loyalty
Not so long ago, this was the glue that kept employees at one company for their whole career. Needless to say, in the current job market, loyalty is a forgotten concept for both employees and employers. In the current recession, people who’d been at a company, 20, 30, and even 40 years found themselves on the street when their employers terminated their positions or replaced them with younger, lower paid staffers. Conversely, these days many career coaches say it’s not unusual for someone to change jobs every two years. So where does your loyalty lie? Obviously, if yours is a family owned business and you’ve been treated like family, or your employer bent over backwards for you during a time of need, your decision may be difficult. Otherwise, look out for number one! No matter how long you’ve worked somewhere, don’t expect a company to be loyal to you. Your income, and your livelihood, is at stake. And remember, as Robert Duvall said in The Godfather, “It’s business, not personal!”

• Timing
Again, the timing is different for every situation but remember, it’s always easier to find a job when you have a job. But generally, once you see it’s time for you to jump ship, start looking for another job now! If you’re pursuing a new job online, only do it at home on your personal computer. Using the office copier to print current résumés? Always remember to take the original with you when you’re done. And when scheduling interviews, try to arrange them early or late after your regular working hours or during your lunch hour. If a company is really interested in you, they’ll understand your situation and make the time for you. Better yet, use a vacation or sick day since, if your current employer does fold or close, you might lose the time off you’ve earned anyway.

• Intangibles
If the interviewer asks why you’re leaving your current job, don’t mention the company is failing, as that might leave them wondering what your role has been in the downfall. Instead, give it a general, yet clear answer, such as, “It’s simply time to move on,” or “Im looking for a more challenging position.” Don’t make your current employer the bad guy or say anything that will cast a negative light on your present job. With that said, remember to emphasize your dedication to your current employer and make sure the interviewer knows you’ll bring that same level of commitment to a new job.

Finally, when you do land a new job, make sure to leave your current position gracefully. Whenever someone leaves a job, there’s always chaos in his or her wake. Generally, the higher up the ladder you are or the longer you’ve been with a company, the more havoc your departure will create. Do your best to minimize that havoc. And remember that, no matter what the situation is at your current employer, your old boss or co-worker might be just the contact or reference you need to find a new job somewhere down the road.

It’s been said that if you want loyalty, you should just buy a dog. And if you see your employer’s ship is sinking, plan your jump on your own terms. Your current ship might be going down but ultimately, your goal is to keep your career afloat and sailing the right direction.

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How Brand Building Can Boost Your Job Search

Let’s face it, searching for a new job is basically marketing yourself. In broader terms, you are a brand and your work history is your product. And, even though you may not be Coke or Nike, positioning yourself as an established brand can put you at the head of line in your job search. Just follow these easy steps…

Establish Your Personal Brand
In the connected world, this is easy. Start by establishing your own web site and make it a promotional tool for you and your skills (don’t worry if you’re not a code writer, since setting up a web presence is as easy as setting up a WordPress or Blogspot account). Include your résumé, recommendations and/or testimonials from previous employers or clients and, if applicable, an online portfolio of your previous work. If possible, include video testimonials or even a promotional video highlighting your skills. Make sure everything you place on your website paints a clear picture of who you are, what you do and have done, and what you can offer a potential employer.

Polish Your Brand
Now, Google yourself and see what comes up. If your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts show up at the top of the list, make sure they all link to your promotional website. In addition, make sure everything on every one of those websites, reflects positively on you and your brand. In other words, as fun as Facebook may seem, there are some things that just shouldn’t appear there if you’re looking to enhance your brand.

Expand Your Brand
Coke and Nike are big brands because they’re everywhere. And, while being everywhere on the web is virtually impossible, there are plenty of things you can do to raise your profile and boost your Google ranking. Start by blogging. Blogspot and WordPress are both basically designed as blogging sites and, by commenting on news and events in your industry, you can establish yourself as an authority. From there, find and read other related blogs and don’t be shy about adding to the conversation. Doing so will further establish your brand presence and expand your web presence. Like all your social networks, make sure every comment reflects well on your skills and brand and links back to your website.

Sell Your Brand
With your web presence and authority established, it’s time to get your name out there the old-fashioned way. Attend meetings, workshops, and seminars in your field and don’t be shy about handing out your cards. Make sure to follow up new acquaintances with an email or even a written letter. Offer to speak to groups or present at conventions. Play up your awards, accomplishments, and other recognition that position you as an authority (both inside the office and outside your present employer). Just as Coke and Nike have grown worldwide, make growing your network an ongoing part of building your brand.

In today’s economy, brand awareness is what sells. And that’s why establishing your brand on the Net, in the office, and around town, can help raise your profile and put you at the head of the pack in your job search!

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What A College Football Coach Can Teach You About Your Job Search

As a graduate and proud supporter of the University of Oklahoma, I watched with interest several weeks ago when OU football coach Bob Stoops was mentioned as a candidate for the then vacant University of Florida job. Though Florida’s interest wound up elsewhere, Stoops cited the same reasons he has in the past for his desire to stay at OU: He still works with the University President and Athletic Director who hired him, his family is happy in Oklahoma, and he loves the job he has.

What’s notable about the above is what Stoops passed up in Florida (and what he’s passed up previously). Certainly he gave up more money, more glamor, and a higher profile. He also passed on a coaching position at a school that’s much easier to recruit to (for some odd reason, some 18-year old kids prefer to spend four years in Florida instead of Oklahoma). And finally, he didn’t take the opportunity to go back to what he once said was his dream job.

Granted, Stoops currently makes upwards of $5 million a year, is in the process of completing a $3 million house, and is likely set for life financially, but his stated reasons for staying at OU are the very things many people overlook when engaging in a job search. In other words, the grass isn’t always greener…

If you’re considering a job change, start by asking yourself “Why?” If you hate your boss, your co-workers, your job, or you need more money then, by all means, start looking for a change of scenery. If you can’t stand what you’re doing, contact a career coach and find the field that makes you happy. But if you’re comfortable where you are, enjoy your job and co-workers, and are comfortable with your current wage, ask yourself again “Why do I want a new job?”

It’s a fact that it’s easier to find a job when you already have one. But, it’s not so easy to find a great job when you’re already in a great spot. Job-hopping has become quite acceptable in today’s workplace but, if you’re happy where you are, will more money or more prestige make you happier? What about six months or a year from now? And are you willing to give up all those things (good boss, good job, good co-workers) to essentially begin a new working relationship?

So before you punt your current job for a new road game, consider what your current team offers you. Think about everything you have in your present job and if it’s worth giving up to join a new team. You might discover the home field advantage you have now is too good to risk going for a big score in a new job!

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A Few Facts For Finding A Franchise That Fits

The dream job for many people is to own their own business and be their own boss and, for some, a franchise is the way to reach that goal. If you can think of a business concept, big or small, odds are it’s already available in the form of a franchise. And, while a franchise offers an easy, turnkey way to own your own business with an established history of success, it also requires a significant outlay of cash and plenty of research on your part. So, before you break the bank to buy your franchise business, make sure you know what you’re buying and who you’re buying from.

Make Sure You See The FDD
Read the Franchise Disclosure Document, or FDD, (formerly known as the Uniform Franchise Offering Circular, or UFOC) from top to bottom, back to front, inside and out. Then read it again! An FDD is required by the Federal Trade Commission and it’s the document that defines the relationship between the franchiser and franchisee. To the uninitiated, it can be long, boring, and full of legal terminology that’s best deciphered by an attorney. Thus, make sure you get help from an attorney or independent business advisor to make sure you understand every component of the FDD, because this is what will define just about every aspect of your business and your relationship with the franchiser.

Dig Deep
When you buy a franchise, you’re investing your livelihood on what is basically someone else’s brand. That’s why you should find out everything you can about that company. Consider things like what you get for your business when you buy their franchise. What’s the ratio of support staff to franchises? Is the franchiser more focused on selling franchises than selling their product or services? Check with other franchise owners and get their input on how they’ve been treated by the franchiser. If the franchiser is publicly held, there will be plenty of information available. However, if the company is privately held, you’ll have to dig even further. Remember that even the slightest miscue at the corporate level can drastically affect the brand and your business. Look up consumer satisfaction information. Finally, research the market. Is that new, hot franchise concept an original idea or just a different take on an old fad, and how is that brand perceived in the market place?

Your Business, Their Concept
When you buy a franchise, you’re buying someone else’s model for how to run a business. That means, when it comes to running your business, you have to do it the “franchise way.” While, on the outside, it’s silly to buy a business model then not use that model, many franchise buyers quickly become frustrated when they can’t do things their own way. Remember that FDD? It’s what can dictate everything from the hours you’re open and the thickness of your napkins to how much you spend on advertising and the color of your floors. If you think you can do it better, then that franchise probably isn’t for you.

Be Ready To Walk
It’s your money, and that means there’s too much at stake for you to find out too late that buying a franchise was a mistake. If there’s anything you don’t like about a certain franchise or franchise agreement, be prepared to walk away! Will monthly franchise fees or defined franchise territories inhibit your ability to grow? Do you really want your favorite hobby or passion to become your business as well? If you have any lingering questions about your ability to profitably operate and enjoy your franchise, then don’t be afraid to walk away until you find the franchise that’s right for you!

Buying a franchise is a big step. Before you make the leap, make sure you know what you’re jumping into, who you’re jumping with, and where you might land.

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The Irreparable Reference

We’ve written previously about how your social profile on the web can affect your job prospects, but surely an employer would never go viral with negative information about your performance (or lack thereof), right? Wrong!

I came across this story last week and was both amused and shocked at the same time. It details the blog post of Heather LeFevre, an Amsterdam-based ad agency planner who, after a new hire (Sam Ismail) turned out to be a con man with a marked inability to actually show up for work, blogged to the world about his lame excuses, his pattern of deception, and her desire to “remove a cancer from adland.” Though she called him “exceptionally bright and charismatic,” LeFevre also added a slide show to document all of Ismail’s deceit, theft, and false identities she had subsequently discovered. The goal of her post, LeFevre noted, was to prevent anyone else in advertising from being used or deceived by Ismail.

While Ismail might be able to pursue some legal action (LeFevre has since removed her original post), one thing is certainly clear: his career in advertising is most likely over. LeFevre might have been charmed enough by Ismail that she didn’t bother to check him out via Google, but future employers likely won’t be, especially if they simply check a reference. Ismail did post a response but it was probably too little, too late. Barring an identity change, background scrubbing, plastic surgery, an SEO campaign, and maybe even entrance into the Witness Relocation Program, Ismail will almost certainly have to find a new career.

Granted, this is an extreme case and, barring bad behavior up to and including murder on the job, a poor reference on your previous job performance probably won’t wind up on the Internet. That said, regardless of how you left (or will be leaving) your job, be mindful that in the digital age, as this example shows, everyone can have a voice, an outlet, and an audience. And when they go public with what they know, it can be on World Wide Web for everyone to see! Be careful not to burn your bridges and make sure you keep control of how everyone sees you in your job market!

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