So, you are in your senior year of college, and all the hard work and connections you have developed over the last several should lead to a good-paying job. Right? Well, not so fast. You need to take a number of steps to ensure that you land your first job to launch your career and set down the road to success.
In this short article, we will look at several important actions that you have to take to overcome the competition in the ever-competitive job market.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news; just because you finished college does not mean that your test-taking days are behind you. As of 2024, around 80% of Fortune 500 and 75% of companies with over 100 employees have turned to pre-hire psychometric tests to ensure that incoming applicants have both the hard and soft-skill necessary to get the job done and fit in with the company.
Test like the Criteria Cognitive Aptitude Test (CCAT) are used for a wide range of job descriptions, including: Sales reps and managers, product and project management, software engineers and financial analysts, along with even senior manager and VP positions, and more. These tests draw upon math, verbal, abstract, and logical question and employ strict time limits to see how you do under pressure in real-time.
Click here to see a complete prep guide for the CCAT test.
Other tests, like the Predictive Index (PI) Behavioral Assessment test, indicates how you interact and influence people, deal with rules and structure, and how you process information. These qualities are vital to so many different types of jobs and will help the company better understand your ability to successfully transition into the company culture.
Last year the US. Bureau of Labor and Statistics noted that upwards of 85% of job applicants were not hired because of their CVs but rather networking. Considering that the job market is crowded and growing more competitive by the day, it is essential to invest in your networking skills – here are some tips you should know.
- Get off the computer: Networking means getting off the computer (or using the computer) to find the next job fair, convention, or next business social. The latter can be a great way to help close the deal; just make sure not to drink too much – seriously.
- Learn Etiquette: There are a couple of important rules to know before going to your first networking event. First, never ask for a job directly, but rather mention that you are in the market and inquire what opportunities they might know about. Second, instead of asking for an interview, instead ask pointed questions about the company, its culture, products, and anything else you think is valuable information.
- Show your expertise: For instance, once you direct the conversation to a specific product or service offered by the company, offer your educated advice (but only if you genuinely know what you are talking about) on how to take it to the next level.
- Follow up: So, you had some great conversations, gave out your business card and received some in return, but what next? Ensure to send a follow-up email or LinkedIn as soon as possible asking them to stay in touch. Periodically try sending them business-related articles or your insights to try to keep them in your loop.
Make your CV smarter than AI
Another crucial element of the job hunt is knowing how to build a CV that will blast you past the initial gatekeeper. According to a recent survey by LinkedIn, around 70% of hiring managers use AI (artificial intelligence) to weed out CV’s that they don’t want to look at. So, how do you beat an AI? Here are a few tips!
- Avoid too many keywords: On the one hand, the AI will scan your text for important keywords related to the position. Anyone who remembers back to the early days of Google ads, knows a thing or two about keyword stuffing. When building your CV, you should avoid that because, like Google, the AI will pick it up.
- Customization is Key: When writing your resume, try using the job description as your CV dictionary. Also, it is essential to avoid using shorthand industry jargon (maybe in parentheses) because the AI might only be programmed to pick up full terminology.
- Keep the Format Clean: AI and RPA’s don’t seem to do very well with PDF’s; therefore, use Word with plain standard text. For instance, if your education, work experience, and skills are all in different boxes, the system might not capture all the relevant info. Make sure to clearly label every section with headers (heading 2, 3…). Don’t worry; save your illustrated CV for the interview itself.
- How AI grades your CV: Hard skills, length of experience, demonstrated results, soft skills, and lastly, adverbs (like efficiently or successfully), adjectives (like compelling or strong), or nouns like mastery or proficiency) that express your extent for a skill or task.
Prep for your Interview
Great, so you successfully networked, got your CV past AI, passed your pre-hire test, and now have an invitation for a face-to-face interview. So how can you best prepare? Here are several important tips to help you ace your next interview.
- Research the company: You want to impress your interviewer by showing them that you are interested in the position and their company. Make sure to read up on past and current projects, past and current markets, clientele, news stories, social media presence and impact.
- Research Likely Questions: After carefully reading the job description, you will begin to understand what type of questions you might be asked. Make sure to create a list and devise your version of the questions. You can ask a friend or family member to hold a mock interview; if you have no one to turn to, use a mirror and interview yourself.
- Think long term: Research the fullest career path possible regarding the position you are applying for. List skills you don’t yet have, but that are necessary to continue growing in the position.
- Dress the part: Make sure you know in advance what type of clothing to wear for the interview. When in doubt, you can always go “smart-casual” as it is between dressing up and down.
I hope you enjoyed these tips for your first job hunt out of college, wishing you the best of luck!