The Way to Work


Post-Graduation Job Search: Find Your Fit

May 17, 2010
by Erin Harris
College is over. While this should be a time to celebrate, many of today’s college graduates feel hopeless and lost, desperately scrambling for jobs in today’s bleak economy. But with the right attitude, the job search can be an exciting process that allows you to discover your passions, meet new people and explore opportunities in places you’d never considered.

Who Are You?

Before you dive into job search engines and networking events, get to know yourself. What motivates you? What makes you happy? If you are going to spend around 40 hours a week at your job, you want to make sure that it’s in a field that you enjoy. There’s no sense in wasting time applying for financial accounting positions if your real love is the fashion industry.

This early in life, however, it can be hard to stand back and pinpoint exactly where your passions lie. Fortunately, many career preparation Web sites offer tools to help you learn more about what drives you.

CareerPath has a free Career Planner Quiz that evaluates your personality and provides feedback on your interests and work style. It then suggests a handful of careers that coincide with your values to help you get started in your job search.

One positive outcome of the recession: more and more people are relying on their passions, rather than financial incentives, to guide their career search. Peter Bregman, author of “Point B: A Short Guide to Leading a Big Change” and writer for’s “How We Work,” notes in an article for CNN that “successful people are passionate.” He says that employers want people who are naturally driven and self-motivated because they make the most productive workers. So why not take your passion and turn it into a job?

Explore the Industry

Once you’ve determined where your interests and skills lie, start looking into the industries where you can best apply them. FindingDulcinea’s Choosing a Career Web Guide has a collection of resources for conducting industry-specific research, including links to Web sites that track top careers and career trends.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also has a comprehensive Occupational Outlook Handbook online. Updated each year, the handbook contains information about the training and education required for hundreds of jobs, as well as salaries, working conditions and more. The site is easy to navigate and includes statistics on nearly every job imaginable, from acoustical carpenters to zoologists.

Network, Network, Network

Don’t limit your career research to the Web. Get out and talk to people working in your field of interest. Setting up informational interviews gives you the opportunity to learn more about specific jobs and can sometimes lead to a referral. According to Lindsey Pollak, career development specialist at PricewaterhouseCoopers, “70-80 percent of jobs are found through networking.” She advises young jobseekers to ask networking contacts for an “action step”—a specific take-home task that will help them draw closer to their career goal. In a series of career advice videos hosted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Pollak also offers tips on resume building, developing a personal brand, and making your job search recession-proof.

Take advantage of social networking sites, too. Almost everyone is subscribed to a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account; make those accounts into tools for advancing your job search. An article from US News & World Report says that the number of recruiters on Twitter has mushroomed in recent months and that entrepreneurs are increasingly using social networking sites to track down creative, skilled candidates. FindingDulcinea’s feature, “Online Social Networking,” explains how to use these sites to reach out to prospective employers.

Make sure that your profile on these social networking sites presents you in the best possible light. There have been too many horror stories about qualified candidates who have been dropped from consideration because recruiters came across compromising photos of them on Facebook. With competition at an all-time high, employers will look for any reason to eliminate candidates and make their decision easier. Don’t give them a reason. Clean up.

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