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Welcome to the Real World: Finding a Job

You just spent four years of your life working like crazy. It's finally time to land that job and get your career started. Finding the right position requires thoughtfulness and planning. Here are a few tips for a successful search.

Get Started
It's easy to get overwhelmed by the process, and to put it off. But starting your job search before — or shortly after — graduation can mean beating the competition to open positions. It can also take time to find a job, so starting early is generally the best approach.

Decide What you Want
Doing some research and deciding on a path that interests you is key to going after it. Look past your first job to the next step of your career. What will get you closer to that step?

Know Where to Look

  • Internet job boards: The key is to look daily and send your resume as soon as you see a listing that interests you.
  • Search the websites of companies you'd like to work for; some may list openings here instead of on job search sites.
  • Check trade magazines in your field.
  • Speak to a recruiter who is likely to have an inside edge.
  • Stop by your school's career center to find listings and see about on-campus interviews.
  • Network: One of the best ways to find a job is to let friends, family and social networking contacts know that you're looking for a job.

Do your Resume Right
Your resume is a first look into who you are, so yours should be well-done and error-free. For most jobs, you should send it along with a cover letter or introductory email. Here are a few more tips:

  • Include only relevant information: education, work and other relevant experience, and any applicable awards you’ve received.
  • Cater it to the job you’re seeking, using terms relevant to that industry and the types of experience they’re looking for.
  • Make sure it reads well by using action verbs. And be concise: even if your experience is limited, be careful not to use four sentences if one will do.
  • Have someone proofread it for you. In this competitive market, a single typo can sink you.

Ace the Interview
Your resume can open doors, but you still need to sell yourself in person. That's where the interview comes in. The key to success is being prepared. Know the company and the industry and how you fit in to that picture. Be ready for the standard interview questions: What's your biggest weakness? Where do you see yourself in five years? And have some questions of your own ready: about the company, the job, and opportunities for advancement.

Have Offer...Will Travel?
How far are you willing to go in pursuit of your dream? Depending on your goals, your decision could be made for you – if you want to be a fashion designer and you're in North Dakota, you may need to extend your search. One tip is to factor in cost of living if you’re considering taking a job elsewhere.

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