Dear graduates: it’s a great time to be you

College graduateIt’s a great time to be a new graduate.

This year’s college graduates have a strong job market for landing that first job. And, we know more than ever about the skills and qualities employers are looking for in new hires – with multiple blogs, college career center events, surveys and more giving insight into employers’ wish lists. We can even pinpoint an employer size that’s showing the highest job growth, to make new graduates’ job search a little less intimidating.

Two sources offer especially helpful advice for this year’s newest alumni.

Know the qualities employers are looking for

The National Association of Colleges and Employers recently published a survey detailing the qualities employers are looking for in new graduate job candidates. More than any other attributes, employers are looking for candidates with a strong teamwork orientation, who have problem-solving abilities, and who write well.

Right behind those skills, employers value a good work ethic and excellent verbal communication skills. Employers added that the indicators they weigh most seriously when reviewing a new graduate’s resume are, in order: academic major, leadership experience, extracurricular activities, and a GPA of 3.0 or above.

That’s critical information! But while you’ve earned that degree (congratulations!), and may have even built an appealing resume, you still need to know where to look for that great big, culmination-of-all-those-years-of-schooling-and-tuition first job. Where to begin?

Go where most of the job growth is happening

A contributor to USA Today College  wrote last week that “This year’s college graduating class will enter the strongest entry-level job market in years.” And one of the best places to look for those entry-level jobs is the smaller employer market. More than 70% of new jobs created over the past two years are in companies of 500 or fewer employees.

Not only is there less competition for jobs with smaller employers than with large corporations, but the opportunities for learning and professional growth are often excellent. Positions in smaller companies tend to develop a broader set of skills and knowledge than do those in larger firms where specialization and a narrower focus is more common.

So, graduates, to action!

  • Start wowing the employer with your writing skills by writing a knockout resume, and a persuasive cover letter. If this is your first cover letter, CareerOneStop has a brand new video to walk you through the steps.
  • Include on your resume: your academic major, any leadership roles you’ve held, your memberships in extracurricular organizations and activities, and your GPA, especially if it’s 3.0 or higher.
  • Highlight your accomplishments, all the skills you’ve developed through different means – college coursework, internships, volunteering, campus activities, summer jobs, and community involvement. How can your experience help meet the employer’s needs?
  • Prepare to talk in your interviews about teamwork skills you’ve gained from group projects, athletics, service efforts, arts involvement, or wherever you participated in a group.
  • Develop a story around some of your experiences that demonstrate your ability to solve problems.

How about finding those smaller employers to target for your job search?

Find employers in your desired geographic area using CareerOneStop’s Business Finder. Search by your chosen occupation, the industry you want to work in, or the name of a business you want to target. Your search results will show the business name, address, number of employees, and distance from your search location. Go one level deeper to find detailed information on the company, including key contact, their job title and the company’s website.


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