If you didn’t land your dream job before graduation day, don’t worry. It can take college grads anywhere from three to six months to find work post-graduation. If you’re still looking for work, here are our 10 best job search tips for new HBCU grads.
- Refresh that resume
Your resume is one of the most important parts of your application package. You should tweak your resume and cover letter for each application. Today, over 75% of companies use applicant-tracking systems to screen applicants. Adding the right keywords to your resume can help you get past the bots and land an interview.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread
While this might seem obvious, proofreading matters. Most hiring managers will chuck a resume into the “circular file” after finding just one typo. So, proofread your resume, proofread it again, and then have someone else proof it for you. (The same goes for cover letters and emails to hiring managers.)
- Apply quickly
Most job search sites advise applicants to apply for jobs during the first week that they are posted. You should heed their advice. Being an early applicant helps you stand out and increases your chances of scoring an interview. Keep your resume updated so you’re ready when your perfect job gets posted.
- Use job alerts
Speaking of timing, you can’t apply quickly if you don’t know when a job has been posted. Most free and paid job search services allow you to set up alerts for jobs that interest you. (You can also set up a Google jobs alert.) Knowing about opportunities will help you strike while the iron is hot.
- Connect with your alumni network
The best part of being an HBCU graduate is that you are now part of your HBCU’s alumni network. We’ve talked before about the importance of using your HBCU network to your advantage. Join your HBCU’s alumni association and take advantage of the benefits it has to offer. Perks like job boards and networking just might help you find your job.
- Join industry-specific groups
Joining industry-specific groups (like the Society of Professional Journalists or the American Bar Association) is a solid career move. As an HBCU grad, you should also consider industry-specific groups that serve people of color (like the National Association of Black Journalists or the National Bar Association). Both types of groups typically provide mentoring, job boards, and other job search assistance.
- Say “thank you”
You landed an interview. Great! But you’re not done yet. Though it may seem like an outdated practice, you must send a thank-you note promptly after your interview. A recent survey found that while 80% of hiring managers thought thank-you notes were very helpful or somewhat helpful, less than 25% of interviewees sent them. Sending a thank-you note is an easy way to set yourself apart from other applicants.
- Use this time to develop your skills
The bad news: you don’t have a job. The good news? You have time to make yourself into an outstanding candidate. Use this time to volunteer in your industry, intern at the company where you want to work, or find a part-time job related to your career. These opportunities can help you to add new skills to your resume and new people to your professional network.
- Don’t forget about career services
Even though you’ve graduated, your HBCU is still there for you. Most schools allow recent grads to use career services resources after graduation. If your job search has stalled out, getting help from the experts in your HBCU’s career center might be the jump start you need.
- Don’t get discouraged
Looking for a job can be tiring, stressful, and downright frustrating. Hearing “no” after “no” can make anyone lose hope. While this feeling is normal, don’t let it overtake you. Surround yourself with supportive family, friends, and mentors who will remind you of how wonderful you are.
We hope these tips help you in your job search. If they do, let us know! Come back to The Drill for more job search tips for HBCU grads and HBCU students (And don’t forget to check out job opportunities at The Home Depot).