Get a job
You know what field you want to work in, and you’ve worked on how to market yourself to an employer. That means it’s time to get out there and get your first post-grad job! Below are tips which can guide you on the way
Searching for jobs
First, you need to find a job you want to apply for. The most obvious place to do that is on job boards, which can be a useful way to find open positions. Visit the Career Centre’s job board (you’ll have access for two years after graduation), as well as other sites specific to your industry. You can also meet employers at in-person events like career fairs, where you can learn about open jobs and learn how to apply.
There are also many jobs out there that aren’t formally advertised, so you’ll need to start networking to find them. Start by telling everyone you know that you’re looking for a job in a certain industry — maybe a friend of a friend or a second cousin works at your dream company and can put you in touch with the hiring manager. Reach out to any contacts you have in the industry (from past internships or jobs, friends from the club you were in or anyone else you’ve met along the way) to see if they know of any jobs that would be good for you.
And it never hurts to research your favourite company’s website or call them to find out when they’re hiring!
Once you’ve found a job that you want to apply for, it’s time to update your resumé. This is a document that summarizes your experience, skills and education that has prepared you for the position. Since every job has different requirements, your resumé should look different depending on what type of job you’re applying for. And remember, employers read through these quickly because they receive so many! It’s important for your formatting to be clear, to use keywords relevant to your industry and be succinct. Visit the Career Centre for even more resumé tips.
Try to keep it to one page
While resumés can sometimes be two pages or more, most recent graduates should be able to comfortably fit their resumé onto one sheet of paper. Filling a resumé with babysitting jobs you had in high school or a bulleted list of adjectives to describe yourself isn’t an effective use of space. Instead, use relevant experience and make your skills and personality traits shine through in how you talk about that experience. For example, instead of writing that you’re “goal-oriented,” make sure you talked about specific goals you had at each job and how you met or exceeded them.
Remove anything that is too old if it is not relevant to the job. Consider deleting sections that don’t tell the employer anything about you, like the line “References available upon request” or the objective (obviously, your objective is to get a job at their company). Adjust the formatting — you can extend the margins and change the font as long as the document is still legible and clear.
Put your most relevant experience first
The content at the top of your resumé will be what the employer first notices. Make it something that will grab their attention and convince them that you are the right person for the job. This could be a summer job or work study position in a similar field, a leadership position in a club or — since you’re a recent graduate — your degree in a relevant program. If you are applying for a job that isn’t directly related to your field of study or any of your past jobs, choose something that demonstrates your transferable skills like teamwork, leadership or communication.
Get another opinion
Ask a friend or mentor to read over your resumé if you can. They’ll be able to tell you what stands out, whether your formatting makes sense and what kind of impression they get from the piece of paper. Consider attending a workshop at the Career Centre to sharpen your resumé writing skills.
Should you put your GPA on your resumé?
You can, but many employers will care more about your experience than how well you did in your classes. If your GPA is high (think 3.5 or above), it can only give a positive impression, so include it. If your GPA is average or low, consider leaving it off.
Even if the job posting doesn’t specifically ask for one, you should always submit a cover letter. While your resumé tells employers about your experience and skills, the cover letter is a chance to talk about how your experience has prepared you to work for them, and why you would be a good fit for the job. This is especially important for recent graduates who may not have as much obviously relevant work experience. It’s also a chance to let your personality and passion shine through!
Write to a specific person
Address your cover letter to a specific person, and make sure to spell their name right! Double check the person’s gender: you don’t want to write “Mr.” if “Alex Smith” is actually a woman. If there is no name in the job posting, don’t be afraid to call the company’s main line and ask who the hiring manager is.
Target your letter
You should definitely not be submitting the same letter with each job application. Employers want to know why you want to work at their specific company and why you think you’re a good match for their unique job posting, so you can’t just submit a generic letter about why you’d make a good employee anywhere. Research the company and write about why you can see yourself working there — why you want to be there and how your experience has prepared you for it.
Do your research
The Career Centres at St. George, UTM and UTSC all have some great resources on how to write a great cover letter. Want more advice? Purdue’s Cover Letter Workshop is useful. Search on Google for example cover letters from your industry to get an idea of what kinds of writing styles are effective and what kinds of things to include.
Many employers will ask for references at an interview, so you should prepare them while working on your resumé and cover letter. Often this means collecting the name and contact information of three people who employers can call to ask about you. This could be a boss, professor, volunteer supervisor or someone else who knows you well in a professional sense and can talk about what you’re like at work. Don’t use your mom or your best friend!
Reach out to the people you’d like to use as references and tell them that you are applying for jobs and would like to know if you can put them down as a reference. Let them know what kinds of jobs you are applying for, and always tell them whenever you do a job interview and they might be contacted.
You’ve been called for an interview — congratulations! This means that the company thinks that you’d be a great fit for the job. Now is your chance to prove them right by presenting yourself well in the interview.
Practice your answers
You can probably guess some of the questions that your interviewer will ask you (and if not, check out this list of common interview questions). There’s no point in writing and memorizing a speech for each one — or you may come across as robotic — but do think about what experiences and stories you want to talk about for each. Do a practice interview with a friend or record yourself to get used to talking about your experiences. Check with the Career Centre to see if they are offering mock interviews at this time of year.
Come up with some questions
Asking questions at an interview shows that you are engaged and interested in the position. Don’t ask something that you could have easily found out by Googling the company, but do ask about the culture of the office, what a typical day in the position would be like or where the person who had the job before left to go. Remember, an interview is also for you to decide if you want the job! Asking questions helps you learn more about the company and position and can help you make that choice.
The day of
Make sure you show up on time for your interview — in fact, it’s even better to plan to be early. You can use any extra time waiting at a nearby coffee shop and reviewing your resumé. Speaking of your resumé, you should always bring extra copies of it with you in case the employer hasn’t printed one off. Also, take a notebook and pen to write down any information or questions that pop into your head during the interview. When you’re done, send a thank you note to the person who interviewed you (physical notes are great, but nowadays an email works well, too) to let them know that you’re grateful for the opportunity.
Good luck in your job hunt!