Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t found a job after graduation yet. Many recent grads are in the same boat as you. To pass the time and make it worthwhile, intern or volunteer somewhere that will help you gain experience and make connections in the industry you desire. Even if it’s unpaid, at least you are developing the skills and general work experience that will count for something on your resume.
Work references can either make or break your chances of getting a job. A good reference will increase your chances of landing a job and a bad reference will lower your chances. Either way, you’ll be asked to provide a reference or two at some point in your life. So you better have some good people to vouch for you!
Why are references important?
Employers will usually ask for references during or after the interview. This is to give them an idea of how you conduct yourself in a professional environment, how well you work in a team or with other colleagues and whether or not you are reliable – basically, if it’s worth it for them to invest their time and money into hiring you.
Who to use as references
You have to be very careful when choosing your references since they can either make or break your chances at landing a job. The best people to use are:
Former managers or leaders:
They are the best ones to use because you worked with and took orders from them. Also, it shows your true colors within a professional environment. They will be able to tell your prospective employer about your work ethic and desire to meet your personal and professional goals.
Current/former professors or teaching assistants (TAs):
If you’re just starting out in the working world and don’t have a lot of experience, you can ask these people to provide a good word. Even though they’re not “work” references, you still showed work ethic, reliability and drive at school, which were presumably noticed by professors and TAs.
Supervisors from internships/volunteering:
These can be even more valuable than former managers and leaders or professors and TAs. Know why? Because interning and volunteering is free labor and can show your true work ethic and drive when you’re not getting paid. If you made a good impression on these people, they will tell your prospective employer that you sacrificed some moolah to gain valuable experience, arrived to your placement on time and went above and beyond your means to complete each task.
This can sometimes be tricky because the closest bond that you form at work is with the people you work with on the same level. A colleague that you chill with outside work can be perceived as biased and your prospective employer may not take their word about you seriously. Instead, use someone that you were on a “hi” and “bye” basis with at work – someone you would call an acquaintance and nothing more. They will be able to tell the prospective employer how well you got along with and interacted with them as well as with others in the workplace.
Tip #3: Giving Your Time to the Community
You’ve graduated, you’re ready to hit the job market, you’ve been sending out resumes and networking with everyone you can think of and still nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Well here’s something: think about volunteering or doing an internship. You still may not be getting paid any money, but you are getting work experience.
Get an Idea of the Industry of Your Choice
Whether you have a very clear idea about the sort of job you’re looking for or your future still looks a little murky, a fantastic way to get some experience under your belt and/or get a better perspective for future prospects is to volunteer.
You want to work in radio? See if your local station will take you on as an intern or a volunteer. Interested in learning more about marketing? Want to work in a museum? A lot of places may not be hiring, but they might be open to bringing on an intern or a volunteer. You’ll get a chance to see the business from the inside. See how you feel in the environment, learn a few things, meet a few people – add to your networking network.
Advantages of Volunteering for Non-Profit
Gain work experience:
Volunteering is a huge way to gain work experience. Not-for-profit organizations are usually working within a pretty tight budget. That means they need to make the most use of every single person that comes to work with them. By doing this, you’ll most likely get the opportunity to really dig in – and come out with more hands on, diverse experience than you’d get in a bigger corporation that can afford to hire more hands.
Work experience on your resume:
Not only are you gaining experience, and feeling good about what you’re doing, volunteering also looks great on your resume. Employers may be impressed with you even more if they see that you dedicated your time to work for no pay. Also, the skills you learn today may be the one you’ll use tomorrow in your new job.
Tomorrow we’ll feature our final tip in the series. Don’t miss it!