Preparing For Life After Graduation: How To Land A Great Job Your First Time Out
As college graduation season is nearly upon us, students and parents alike are beginning to focus more intensively than ever before on what’s required to land a great role in an exciting field – one with good compensation and room for growth – in today’s ever-changing job market.
In my career coaching work, and as a parent myself of grown children who are forging their way to creating professional lives they’ll enjoy and find rewarding, I know there are hundreds of questions that new graduates needs answered, in terms of how to best position themselves for success in the working world.
To help answer those pivotal questions, I was thrilled to catch up this week with Austin Belcak. Belcak is the founder of Cultivated Culture where he helps people leverage unconventional strategies to land jobs they love without connections, without experience, and without applying online. His strategies have helped people get hired at Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and more
I recently interviewed Belcak in my Finding Brave podcast on How To Land a Dream Job at the Salary You Deserve, and was riveted by his personal story of how he turned his failure (to land ANY employment at all after graduation), to creating phenomenal success, along with his tips for graduates who feel they don't have the experience and connections that others have.
Here’s what Belcak shares:
Kathy Caprino: Austin, as graduation season is upon us, and the college graduating class of 2018 steps into the job market, what resources should they be taking advantage of before their days on campus are up?
Austin Belcak: The two best resources new grads can leverage are LinkedIn and their alumni network.
We live in a world where 75% of candidates apply online but only 2% land an interview. Additionally, referrals drive the most hires of any channel at 40% (which is more than the next two channels combined).
Landing a referral is key to edging out the competition and avoiding the black hole of online application portals. One of the best places you can start is with your school’s alumni network, and LinkedIn is the easiest place to find those people.
You can use the platform’s search filters to narrow down the scope of your search. Looking to find a job that doesn’t match your major? Find alumni who already did it. Want to work at a specific company like Google or Tesla? Find alumni who currently work there.
The best advice you can get is from people who have already achieved what you want to accomplish.
Caprino: How can soon-to-be grads best prepare for their first job interviews?
Belcak: When it comes to interview prep, there’s a big difference between working hard and working smart.
Most interviews follow a similar framework where you’re going to be asked a similar set of questions in different ways. Here are a few of the most common ones:
1. Why do you want to work for us?
2. Tell me about a time you failed.
3. Tell me about a time you succeeded/beat expectations.
4. What is your greatest weakness?
The best thing you can do is begin formulating answers for these “core” questions. Spend a week on this. Start by writing out answers to each question then, every morning, rehearse and refine your answers. By the end of the week you should have a clear, concise answer to every question. Next, leverage a psychological principle called spaced repetition to cement those answers in your memory.
That will allow you to walk into almost any interview without much notice or additional preparation and totally crush it.
Caprino: What’s the best way to tap into the alumni network, make connections, and get a foot in the door?
Belcak: The easiest place to find alumni is on LinkedIn. You can filter for people who went to your school, as well as any other criteria to help you find the best people (remember, only take advice from people who already have what you want).
As you find potential contacts, add them to a spreadsheet so you can keep track of your outreach. The data I’ve collected shows that sending an email is the easiest way to get in touch, you can use a tool like Hunter or Voila Norbert to find their email address.
When reaching out, you want to mention that you went to the same school, but then you want to make the conversation about them. Don’t ask them to review your resume or if they have any job openings. Instead, tell them that their experience stood out to you and you want to ask them a few questions about their career path. Finally, aim to get them on the phone.
When you do chat, ask them questions about their experience, as well as challenges they are facing, initiatives they have coming up, and their personal goals.
These questions will give you ammo that you can use to add value to your contact, something I like to call a Value Validation Project. As a new grad, your focus should be less on actually solving their issues and more on showing that you’re enthusiastic about the industry/company and aren’t afraid to roll up your sleeves.
Caprino: Of course every grad needs a resume and a LinkedIn profile, but what about a cover letter or a website?
Belcak: Of everything mentioned above, the two most...