Summer is near, and for the class of 2017, that means it’s about time to get a grown-up job.
While we’re sure you’re all charming and talented, we wanted to help you by asking jobs experts what recruiters want to see from new graduates this summer. Hopefully these tips can help you polish your resume or change your approach to interviews and land that post-graduation job.
What Skills Are Most in Demand?
Monster, the employment website, recently released data on entry-level job postings that showed the top “hard skills” employers want are computer-related, including quality assurance, structural query language and Java. Other skills in high demand are pediatric specialization and knowing another language.
If those skills aren’t already in your toolbox, don’t fret. Monster also compiled the most sought-after “soft skills.” They include oral and written communication, marketing, Microsoft Office, being detail-oriented and problem solving (pro tip: these key words should be in your resume if you have these skills).
Applicants can demonstrate good communication skills through impeccable cover letters and resumes, said Vicki Salemi, career expert for Monster. Also, prepare well for interviews and speak clearly.
Keep your cover letter succinct to ensure it “pops” for recruiters who might spend only seconds reading it, she said.
“Think of your resume as a sheet of paper and you have a yellow highlighter,” Salemi said. “What two or three things would you highlight to show a recruiter that you’re an incredible candidate?” Once you know that, you know what your cover letter should focus on, she said.
If they’re not proficient in Microsoft Office, Salemi recommended taking online tutorials. Don’t take this lightly: Some recruiters test candidates to make sure they’re proficient in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Where Are Employers Hiring?
Monster’s data also included the cities that had most entry-level job postings. Salemi said new graduates should certainly consider applying where the jobs are, but also make sure to have a plan to get to far-flung cities quickly if they need to attend an interview or, even better, get hired.
“Hiring can actually happen quickly as many times as it may feel like it’s dragging,” she said.
While cities like New York and Washington have plenty of jobs, there is also plenty of competition, Salemi said. Depending on the industry, some graduates should also be sure not to ignore suburbs where employers might have more trouble attracting young applicants.
What Recruiters Like
Be likable, Salemi said. Yes, it sounds obvious, but as when she worked as a recruiter, and two candidates left were identical on paper, it came down to who seemed like they would fit better in the company interview.
That means be respectful, but be yourself. When it comes time for small talk, make sure your personality shines through.
“The top thing they’re looking for is someone we can see fitting in there,” Salemi said. That means someone who won’t stress out while dealing with a tight deadline, someone they wouldn’t mind working late hours with and someone who has more to chat about at the water cooler than work.
And if the job search doesn’t pan out right away, recruiters want to see that applicants haven’t wasted their summer. Employers are looking for resilience and an openness to change, according to Marc Cenedella, CEO of Ladders, a career site. There’s no better time to demonstrate that than during a dryer-than-expected job search.
“They want to see that you’ve done something with your time,” Salemi said.
Salemi recommends volunteering or taking local classes to keep your skills sharp and build your network. Getting part-time work during the job search might also help those who need to start paying back student loans. (You can see how student loan debt affects your credit with a free credit report snapshot from Credit.com.)