The short answer is: CARE! Show you care. Demonstrate, at every level that you care and you want the job.
You have your degree, presumably in a field where you have some level of passion, excitement or at least a desire to work.
Why are the companies not beating down a path to your door? Why are you not getting calls for interviews? Why are you getting the interview and not getting the job? What are you missing?
This is not intended for everyone. Up front, let me say I know there are thousands of graduates out there who are doing everything right and still not finding the job of their dreams.
This is for the others…the ones who haven’t figured it out yet.
This is going to seem pretty basic. I find that many recent graduates are not looking for work, or they are looking for the wrong kind of work.
Looking for a job IS a full time job. Use the services of your college career center. Use the on-line job boards. Use social media. Know what you are looking for and how you fit. Not just how you fit, but how you can make a difference and how you can shine.
Start with your resume. Is it perfect? If it’s not perfect, fix it. Simple, right? If you have a single typo, spelling or grammatical error on your resume that will be what the hiring manager sees. Nothing else will show up, just that you didn’t care enough about your resume and the application process to make sure your resume was perfect. That attitude will likely be carried over into the work environment and no one wants that employee.
If you are a recent graduate, submitting your resume for any position that has the title of “manager” or above, you are not likely going to get any response. On the other hand, if you submit your resume with a cover letter (in the email) stating that you know you are not qualified for this one, but if there is an entry level (or more suitable) opening you would appreciate being considered for it. NOTE: There should not be typos, spelling or grammatical errors in your cover letter either. This is not where you showcase your ability to use emoticons or acronyms or see how few keystrokes you can use.
Tailor your resume for the job you are going after. If you have any experience that is relative to the position or if you have specific course work that covered the requirements for the position, make sure that is on your resume. Assuming the hiring manager knows what you can do is a huge mistake.
If you are fortunate enough to get an email or a call from the hiring manager or anyone at the company, ANSWER the email or the call. Be polite, professional and respond as quickly as possible. I’ve had people answer me weeks or months after I’ve sent an email or left a message. The job is gone by then or at the very least the company is in the process of narrowing down the search. And, even if they are not and are still looking for the right person, your lack of responsiveness is a reflection on you. You just sent a message: You either don’t care about the job or you are too unorganized to follow up or you are lazy. It’s very difficult to overcome any of these perceptions.
Once you have an interview scheduled, whether it is a phone interview or an in-person interview with ANYONE in the company, be sure you know everything you can about the company and the job opportunity.
Not knowing what you are interviewing for or what the company does means you are lazy, don’t care or are unorganized and didn’t have the time or inclination to research it before you spoke with them.
Going on the interview in person.
Dress professionally. Jeans and a tee shirt may be what everyone wears once they are employed with this company, but for the interview, business professional is required. No one has ever failed to get a job offer because they wore a suit or a tie or looked professional. On the other hand, I’ve seen several people get the job because they were the only candidate to show up dressed professionally. It shows you care.
After the interview.
Follow up. Send a thank you note. Email is fine. Typed letter is fine. Handwritten is fine (assuming you have nice handwriting). It shows you care. Down to the finalists, all things being equal (same degree, same GPA) the one who sent the thank you note almost always gets the job. Everyone “says” they send a thank you note. Not everyone does. Stand out from the crowd.