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You can beat the competition and find a job after college.

December Graduate Checklist: 7 Tips for Getting Ahead

By Giana / December 7, 2016

If you’re graduating and making the transition from academia to the “real world” this December, you may feel slightly out of sync with your peers and with standard hiring cycles. Typically, companies prepare for a wave of new interns and entry level hires in the summer, and they expect to have these new hires up and running by the end of the year. In the case of the December graduate, the flow may be slightly upended, and you may feel like you’re navigating the job search or finding your footing in a new position without much support. Be prepared to blaze your own trail and shape your own post-college destiny and you’ll be just fine. Here’s a simple to-do list that can help you stay on track.

Finals first

Solve one problem at a time. If you’re living too far in the future, you risk cutting corners and neglecting important responsibilities in the present. Don’t let your focus on the job search cause you to fumble your final exams, forget your overdue library books, or make any other mistakes that could compromise your graduation. Important milestones always seem to come with a host of administrative hassles; don’t let any of them slip through the cracks.

Establish your living situation

The job search is hard enough when you have a secure roof over your head. If you’re couch surfing or, worse, temporarily living out of your car, it can be exponentially harder. If your off-campus apartment lease or dorm room contract are coming to an end, get your moving plans settled first. Worry about your job search second.

Set a geographic search range

If you’re like many new college grads, your search range is “anywhere.” You’ll go where your first job takes you, and if you don’t like that city or town, you’ll move on when the time comes. But some first- time job seekers have a very specific location in mind, and if you’re in this category, set a target area on your LinkedIn profile and the heading and contact information section of your resume, as many recruiter and employer resume filters hone in on this information first.

Start blanketing your search area with resumes

It doesn’t matter if your first job isn’t your dream job—first jobs rarely put us at the very pinnacle of our careers. Remember, right after graduation, time is of the essence. If you refuse to “settle” for anything less than absolute perfection while searching for your first job out of college, you might be searching for a very long time. During that time, your resume will develop a widening gap and your bank account may thin out, leaving you with fewer options, not more. Just get your foot in the door—any door. First jobs don’t usually last longer than 2.5 years, so think of your first job as an adventure, not a life-long commitment.

Make your resume stand out

You may be submitting lots of resumes, but that doesn’t mean your resume should be sloppy or second-rate. Make sure every word is well-written, every detail is polished, and your proudest credentials appear prominently on the page. Add numbers and specifics to your accomplishments whenever possible.

Gather your references and recommendations while you can

You favorite professors, advisors, and work study supervisors can be powerful advocates during your job search, and while you’re still on campus and these people are within reach, make sure you connect with them and secure their support. Ask for letters of reference and ask if you can count on your supporters to speak well of you if they’re contacted by future employers in search of a testimonial.

Lean on your friends

The holiday season provides a great opportunity to reach out to your friends, your friends’ parents, your parents’ friends, your former bosses, and any potential contacts you may have within your target industry. Use the season as a reason to say hello and establish a personal connection. Keep this list in mind, and when you’re finally out on your own you’ll be ready to seize the opportunities that come your way. Turn to LiveCareer for resume, cover letter, and job search tools that can help you navigate this exciting transition.
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The Office Holiday Party: A Survival Guide

By Giana / December 12, 2016

Every year in mid-December, employers like to show their appreciation, largesse, and respect for holiday traditions with a soiree as grand as the company budget allows. There’s no better way to celebrate corporate bounty and bring employees together than a fun, relaxed gathering with plenty of free-flowing booze. Sounds like a great time, right? There’s just one catch: As experienced employees know, the holiday party is not all about fun, it’s not the time guzzle drinks, and it’s certainly not time to let your hair down the way you might at a friend’s party. If you’re concerned about the growth of your career, don’t cut loose. You should treat this party as an opportunity, and consider it just another day (or night) at the office, even though you might be off-site. Here’s how to have a great time at this year’s holiday party while ensuring your boss and coworkers still respect you in the morning.

Commit

Don’t waffle. Just go. Clear your schedule and show up. Don’t wait until the last minute to RSVP, don’t respond with a “maybe,” and don’t plan to make it a quick stop and then head for the door. Make a night of it. This event is management’s gift to their employees and should be handled with respect. If you can’t make the party, respond promptly with your apologies.

Bring your best self

Eat food with substance (like almonds or a cheese sandwich) before the party so that you’re armed with energy and steady blood sugar. You don’t want to have to depend on champagne and canapés for sustenance. Approach clients and colleagues you don’t already know and mingle like it’s your job…because it is. Instead of thinking about the fun you’re going to have (or the misery you’re going to endure), focus on making sure others have a good time. To do this, you’ll need to put on your game face and bring a genuine positive attitude.

Stop at two drinks

Fill your glass at the beginning of the event, drain it slowly, then move onto a few rounds of water or soda. In an hour or two, you’ll be ready for your second drink. A few hours later, and you’ll be ready to leave. Pacing is everything. If you’re losing track of the drinks you’ve had, you’ve had too many and it’s time to cut yourself off. Remember: This isn’t really a party. It’s work, and drinking at work is usually not a good idea.

Be yourself

During the regular workday, you may not feel comfortable talking about your family life, your friends, your hobbies or your personal past. It’s wise to follow that instinct, for the most part. But the holiday party gives you an opportunity to share some of your real personality while staying within the bounds of professionalism. While you’re at it, ask others about themselves and employ your listening skills when they answer. This is a great time to connect with those you rarely get to interact with during the workday.

Don’t make it all business

If you really want a deadline extension, a raise, a promotion, a more flexible project budget, or a certain plumb assignment, lay the groundwork by schmoozing with those who can help you, but don’t ask directly at the holiday party. There’s a time and a place, and if you engage in non-work-related banter now, you can follow up and get what you need later, during regular business hours.

Avoid oversharing

The holiday party may seem like a great time to tell people what you really think — about a client, about a political event, or about an annoying colleague — but it isn’t. Always think before you speak, party or no party, especially if you have been drinking.

Take in the spectacle

When will you have another chance to sit with your boss and nerd out over your favorite movie franchise? When will you get to see Doris from accounting drunk and tearing it up on the dance floor? Or to flirt with your office crush without raising an eyebrow? Never again! At least not until next year. So enjoy the side of your coworkers that you rarely get to see. Just make sure you’re part of the audience, not the show. For more on how to keep your career on an even keel as you navigate the drama of the holiday season, turn to the experts at LiveCareer.
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Get the Most Out of Your Job Search

By Giana / November 30, 2016

Keep these simple tips in mind and you’ll keep your job search quick, efficient, and in motion until the day you accept an offer. There are two kinds of job searches: 1.) A lean, efficient swoop out of one position and into the next, and 2.) a slow, meandering, non-linear adventure through an open-ended wilderness that lasts for six months (or longer) and may or may not end with an offer that’s satisfactory (or even acceptable). When most people set out in search of work, their process resembles either of these, or something in between. And while a slow meander may provide some benefits, most of us would prefer the first version. A quick, efficient search is safe, satisfying, and financially manageable. So how can you tighten up some of the loose ends before your job search even begins? How can you ensure a safe landing before your plane leaves the ground? Keep these tips in mind.

The more cards in your hand, the better.

Apply for every job under the sun. When an opportunity comes your way, reach out. Don’t spend too much time scrutinizing the terms, requirements, and circumstances before you dive in. Why? Because submitting a resume doesn’t represent a commitment of any kind. And the more offers and interviews you collect, the more negotiating leverage you’ll have when a perfectly perfect opportunity appears on the horizon.

Approach your cover letter strategically.

If you’re going to reach out to five or ten employers per day, you won’t have time to create ten beautiful, personalized cover letters from the ground up. (Not if you have any other obligations in your life, which most of us do). So create one simple template and customize your template for each position you pursue. At the same time, invest some thought, time, and care into your customizations. Each letter you write should make the recipient feel unique and special… even if your letters are all essentially the same.

Keep your eggs in multiple baskets.

If you find a job post for a position that seems made for you, it’s okay to get excited about it. It’s okay to get carried away, even. And of course it’s okay to invest attention and care into every detail of your application process. But it’s not okay to put the rest of your job search on hold while you eagerly wait to hear back from your target employer. Never stop moving; after you submit your application or schedule an interview, get back on the trail immediately and focus your attention on the next post or lead.

Change it up.

Some job search activities may be more comfortable than others, depending on your personality. Some introverted job seekers like to scroll through online job posts in their comfort of their homes, sifting silently through posts and responding to ads. Some extroverts like to attend “networking events” (i.e., any social event at all) in order to meet potential leads and contacts over drinks and small talk. But to keep your search in motion, make sure you’re doing plenty of both. Reach out to actual people AND search every corner of the internet for opportunities you might otherwise miss.

Stay open to new possibilities.

As you launch your search, you may have a very narrow set of specifications in mind. You may have a specific job title in your sites (like “regional account manager”) and a specific industry (like “consumer electronics distribution”.) But if you find an intriguing position outside of your industry or your experience, go for it. Your past doesn’t define your future, and you never know when a moment of curiosity and boldness might change your life for the better. Stay flexible and keep an open mind. For more on how to set clear goals, create an action plan, and land your next job as quickly as possible, turn to the tools and resources on LiveCareer.
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How to Ace Your Retail Interview

By Giana / November 28, 2016

You have what it takes to succeed in the people-focused world of retail. But are you ready to make this clear during your interview?

The retail industry has been a mainstay of the national employment landscape for a long time, and during the fall and winter months, retail hiring typically spikes. This year, the spike is predicted to rise higher than it has in more than a decade. Which is to say, if you have the right skills for a retail position, managers may be rolling out a red carpet for you.

Are you ready to take advantage of the opportunities available to you? Do you have your polished resume in hand, along with your winning attitude and customer-friendly smile? Most important, are you ready to ace your retail interview? Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be on the payroll in no time.

Review your candidacy through the eyes of a busy retail manager.

Your interviewer will be looking for a candidate who can show up on time and quickly learn the ropes of the job. But mainly, she’ll be looking for someone who can appeal to her customers. So can you do that? Make sure you step into your session with your customer in mind, not just your interviewer. Be neat, approachable, confident, and interested in solving whatever problems your customer/interviewer might send your way.

Make things easy.

When you speak, keep your words and your message as clear as possible. Don’t confuse your interviewer. If you can only work on Wednesdays, say so upfront. If you know some things about the job already, but will need training in other areas, be clear about this. If you can work a register or POS system, say so. If you can’t, answer honestly when asked. This won’t necessarily be a deal breaker, but your manager will need to know what resources you already have and what resources you’re going to need.

Show interest and signs of life.

Of course you probably don’t have an abiding passion for selling things in a store and your work doesn’t define your entire personality. But when it comes to “passion”, meet your employer halfway and rise to the occasion. Show that you truly care about rolling up your sleeves, helping others the way you would want to be helped, and doing your part for the team. Sit up straight, speak with energy, and be fully present. Even the smallest signs of personal investment can go a long way.

Reliability matters.

Hiring is expensive and risky, especially on a very tight deadline (which the holidays represent). Mitigate this risk and reassure your employer that you have no intention of coming in late, leaving them in a lurch, walking away before your shift is over, or otherwise not showing up when and where you’re needed.

Be nice.

Recognize that your employer may be very busy. So if she asks you a question that you’ve already answered on your resume, or asks you the same question twice during your session, roll with it. Be graceful and patient. Again, demonstrate the demeanor that you’ll present to your customers. If you don’t understand a question, politely ask the employer to repeat it. If you hear something about the job that you don’t like, ask politely for confirmation.

For more on how to get what you need during your retail interview, while also impressing your potential employer, explore the job search resources at LiveCareer.