Graduated, Now What?

It takes two or three hours to write a specific cover letter, customize the resume, and go through all the ridiculous, dehumanizing, online hoops to apply for even a low-paying, part-time job, yet a business can’t spend one minute to send even a simple reply? Many applicants are your customers, you know. Or now former customers. This is your community, we’re your neighbors and you are rude. RANT


What I hear often is “I did everything right: got good grades, participated in extracurricular activities, interned, reworked my resume over and over. Why can’t I get a job?” Oh, this reminds me of myself (read: The Entitled Intern – pages of a career journal for some insight and laughs). Though as a person who was once in these shoes, and now as an employer and a professor, I will say this is a common theme. Here are a few words of hard-won wisdom that I wish someone had told me as I drove off into my future.

  • Don’t get hung up on job descriptions. Pitch in. You can create your own job description in time- click here to read how to make it happen
  • Interview the interviewer. When applying for a job, remember that you are sussing out if you and a company are a good fit just as much they are trying to figure out if you’d be a good hire. I often find it refreshing when a candidate shows enough interest and curiosity to ask questions about the job. Here are a few examples that can not only ease the tension, but also steer the interview toward your own strengths and help you discover needs that may not have been expressed in the job description.
    • Why is the position available? It seems like a simple question with an obvious answer, but it can lead to a discussion about how the position was created, how the job has evolved over time, and what will be expected.
    • What problems would you like to solve in the next three months/six months/year? By putting a time frame on this question, it urges the interviewer to provide more specific descriptions about goals to be met. It will also help you determine how quickly the manager wants to see improvement.
    • How is success defined in this position? This is a critical question to find out if there are measurable criterion for advancement in the position. You can also get an idea of the supervisor’s management style and find out how much feedback you may expect.
    • How does this position fit into the big picture at the company? This is another way to focus on overall goals of the job, not just a list of duties. During a discussion about the needs of the company, you may discover ways to use your skills that were never considered in the original job description.
  • Be yourself. It’s OK to show your personality during an interview. Don’t be afraid to let the interviewer see your personality or sense of humor. Just make sure the recruiter or hiring manager sees a professional version of the real you. Employers don’t want to hire robots; they want to hire real people.
  • Conduct polite follow-up. After the interview, send a thank you email or note. Use the information you obtained from the hiring manager regarding the next steps and the time frame for the decision to create your follow-up plan.
  • Dare to fail. Rejection can be useful and even lead to a new opportunity.
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4 Responses to Graduated, Now What?

  1. There is that delicate balance when interviewing but you are so correct in noting the importance of remembering it’s not just about them hiring you but most important you giving you and your time to them. Time you can’t ever get back.


  2. msw blog says:

    It is a very delicate dance but, I always encourage the interview to ask a few question after all you never know what you might learn. I think you might enjoy this post 🙂


  3. Gail Kaufman says:

    Reblogged this on Mentoring Students and commented:
    Excellent interview questions, in reverse. My personal favorite: “What problems would you like to solve?” This may open a discussion that allows you to sell yourself as the prospective employer’s solution.


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