As an early career job seeker, you may have mixed feelings about establishing yourself in today’s economy. Starting a new position is an exciting prospect. Finding stable, satisfying employment on the other hand can be challenging—especially when labor market data suggests young workers struggle more with higher unemployment than most.
Some good news is that US hiring trends remain strong. According to Robert Half Talent Solutions, in fact, 46% of companies are hiring for new roles while another 46% are hiring for vacated positions.
By taking a strategic approach, you can find and compete for more career opportunities matching your interests, motivations, and aptitudes. Here are six critical steps to think about before starting your job search.
1. Research the companies you’re interested in.
A recent Harris Poll study shows 58% of job seekers search for information about potential employers on social media (with nearly half of Gen Z and Millennials with work experience applying to jobs found there). Other places you can go to learn about organizations you might like to work for include a company’s about us or careers page, Google’s News tab, and employee/employer sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn.
2. Establish a job opportunity network.
Building connections in your desired industry will help you learn about job opportunities and gain valuable trade insights. This can be done through networking events, professional associations, and platforms like LinkedIn. Optimizing your LinkedIn profile helps build your personal brand. It’s also a great way to connect with other members of your field, break into the workforce after college, and land your dream job according to the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS).
3. Define and showcase your strengths.
Transferable soft skills like communication, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving are in high demand across various jobs. Whether it's professional skills like these—or your unique experiences—identifying and highlighting your strengths (especially when networking) can help you get noticed in a competitive job market. As McKinsey partner and talent expert Bryan Hancock puts it, “Knowledge workers with skills that are easily portable across employers and geographic locations have power.”
4. Maximize the reach of your job search.
The more job resources you access, the more opportunities you’ll uncover. Consider contacting recruiters, attending virtual career fairs and events, and utilizing search engines to find openings that match your interests and qualifications. Recent grad and Harvard Business Publishing contributor Justin Nguyen also suggests that, “Online communities are quickly becoming the new alumni network for Gen Z and are a great way for students to launch their careers and find job openings.”
5. Tailor your resume and cover letter.
Make sure your resume and cover letter showcase your skills, qualifications, and experience in a way that’s relevant to the specific job or industry you’re applying to. Optimizing your resume for applicant tracking systems (ATS) will also ensure it stands out to human reviewers. Taking the time to craft a stellar cover letter, meanwhile, could help you secure an interview even when your resume isn’t ideal.
6. Prepare for a successful interview.
Once you’ve landed an interview, set yourself up for success by researching the hiring company, reviewing how your skills and experience fit their job description, and thinking about your answers to common interview questions (such as ‘Why do you want to work here?’). It’s also important to choose a work culture-appropriate outfit (including for video interviews), arrive on time, and let your confidence and personality shine through. If you’re feeling intimidated, remember this is as much an opportunity to ask questions and evaluate a role’s fit for you as the other way around.
If you’re a recent grad, starting your job search is a great time to lean on your college alumni career services. Established institutions like Purdue University Global offer valuable search tools, development opportunities, and professional network access that keep job seekers connected and moving forward with their careers.
Purdue University Global
Purdue Global delivers a fully personalized, world-class, online education that’s tailored for adults. Purdue Global is part of the respected Purdue University system, one of the most prestigious research universities in the world. We offer more than 175 programs, including associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, as well as certificates in areas such as business, IT, education, health sciences, nursing, criminal justice, and more.
Rise at HCLTech
HCLTech is investing into the next generation of talent by hiring individuals early in their careers, offering a variety of training programs and helping individuals “find their spark.” We believe that giving employees the freedom and flexibility to grow in unique ways will supercharge progress and their career potential while bringing the best of technology and our people. We are rapidly expanding our locations across the US and innovating technology on projects in Texas, North Carolina, California, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. Learn more by visiting our Rise at HCL careers page and our growing partnership with Purdue Global.
Employment and Career Advancement: Purdue Global does not guarantee employment placement or career advancement. Actual outcomes vary by geographic area, previous work experience, and opportunities for employment.