Finishing school can be an exciting, stressful time. While the days of homework and late night study sessions will soon be behind you, the pressure to find a job and earn money is quickly approaching.
Luckily, college graduates today are walking into a healthier job market than in previous years. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, companies plan to hire four percent more new graduates in the U.S. this year than they did last year.
But that doesn't mean that employers are eager to hand out positions to anyone who applies. To increase your odds of landing a job shortly after graduation, make sure you take these three steps:
According to Joshua Howarth, district president of global staffing firm Robert Half, one of the biggest mistakes you can make during your job search is relying on your resume to do all the work for you.
"You want to get yourself out there and network and meet with people in person," he tells CNBC Make It. "If your job search strategy is simply to sit behind your computer and send as many online job applications as possible, then you may not get far."
To put yourself in a position to meet more employers in person, Howarth suggests joining network groups that cater to your industry.
Even if you're qualified for a job and have a stellar interview with a hiring manager, you haven't sealed the deal yet. Following up after an interview is common career advice, but Howarth says it's a step that many job seekers fail to take.
Before you end your interview, he suggests asking an employer, "What do you see as the next steps in the process and the timeline for when those steps will occur?" That way, he says, you're setting expectations for when you can hear back from the company.
"They may just say, 'We will follow up to schedule the next round of interviews in a week,'" he says. "Now you know that if you don't hear back in a week then follow up with them."
If an interviewer doesn't give you a direct answer to the question, then Howarth says you should wait a week to 10 days, at most, to initiate a follow up.
He also notes that following up about the hiring process does not mean you shouldn't follow up with a thank you note right after the interview. To show that you're really interested in the job, he suggests sending a note of appreciation to each person you met with no more than 24 hours after your meeting.
Hiring managers understand that most recent graduates won't come to a company with a ton of work experience. But they still want to know that you're professional, smart and can learn how to get the job done.
"If you had any internships, contract positions or temp positions in college and the skills in those roles are transferable, then you want to make sure you highlight those," says Howarth. "Use whatever real world experiences you have to show that those transferable skills can help you in a new job."
Gary Burnison, CEO of executive search firm Korn Ferry, agrees with Howarth. In addition to showcasing any transferable skills you have, he adds that you should also show hiring managers that you have a real hunger for learning and accepting new challenges.
"Hunger is much more powerful than pedigree," he says. "So having an insatiable appetite to grow and learn is really important."
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