4 Tips for Avoiding Post-Grad Job Panic

First, take a deep breath. Then, read on: Lauren Friese, the Toronto-based founder of Talent Egg—a career board and resource centre for recent grads—has some solid advice for you

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You’ve returned the robe and spent your graduation cash. Now sh-t is getting real: it’s time to find a job. To put it mildly, going from full-time student to working professional is a “transition,” and one that can only be made smoother by getting some been-there-done-that expert advice. Lauren Friese, founder of Talent Egg, a resource centre for recent grads, offers up a four-point plan for getting a meaningful gig after bidding post-secondary education adieu.

GIRLS, (from left): Lena Dunham, Becky Ann Baker, Peter Scolari, 'It's Back', (Season 2, ep. 208, ai

Your parents can’t keep bankrolling your “groovy lifestyle” forever, Hannah (Photo: Jessica Miglio/© HBO/Courtesy of Everett Collection)

1. Have a little patience
Post-grad panic is the norm, but don’t let your anxiety (or mounting overdraft) get the better of you. Be patient and purposeful in your job search rather than frantic. If you can afford to take your time finding the right opportunity for you, do it. “Ideally,” says Friese, “take six months to find the right fit or job that will lead to a career.” The drawbacks of accepting the first opportunity you’re offered are significant. For one, if it’s a job you don’t want, you’ll likely underperform, which is detrimental to establishing a solid network.

Not everyone can afford the luxury of living six months income-free, however, a reality Friese acknowledges. If you are financially pressed, you’ll have to get a job and quick. If you can get by with part-time work, do so: it’ll allow you more time to pursue your long-term goals.

2. Polish your online presence
While opportunity, luck and timing are all factors in landing your dream job, Friese says there are also plenty of tips, tricks and best practices that’ll improve your chances of getting in the door. Start by cleaning up your online presence. Employers know how to Google (and they do), so delete or make private any pictures, comments or posts that you wouldn’t want a future employer to stumble upon. (On a positive note, if you’ve started a cool blog or social feed that pertains to your field of interest, make a note of it in your cover letter.)

Next, make sure your resumé is absolutely letter-perfect. That means no grammatical errors or formatting inconsistencies. And never send out a blizzard of cookie-cutter resumés, but rather target the places you want to work and personalize your cover letter and resumé each time. No exceptions.

3. Know how to answer that dreaded Q
Why do you want to work here? It’s the most important interview question, and it’s also the most terrifying—at least if you’re unprepared. Score big points with your future employer by knowing the answer before you even get the call for an interview (you can even make it part of your personalized cover letter).

Start by studying up on the company. If it’s a non-profit, for instance, mention that you’re chuffed by its presence in a certain part of the world and its impact on the issues at hand.

4. Go rogue
Your dream company isn’t hiring—at least not publicly. But there are ways to make your presence known. Start by contacting someone there in a position you aspire to, and asking them out for a coffee. (Friese calls this approach “job searching outside of the lines.”)

Should he or she accept your invitation, be sure to make the chat a casual and amiable fact-finding mission rather than a self-centric sales pitch. “Show an interest in that person and how they got there,” says Friese. Ask them about their career trajectory and what it’s like to work for the company—making sure to steer clear of making any kinds of explicit appeals for help. “Don’t ask for anything beyond advice,” says Friese. That means don’t ask them to pass your resumé around, keep you in the loop about jobs or make inquiries with HR on your behalf.

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