10 Holiday Season Job Search Tips for College Graduates

By: Anne Brown

1. Focus 90% of your job search on networking, but be sure you know how to network effectively
To be successful at networking, you must reach out to your network in a way that makes people want to recommend you or hire you. One way to do this is to be positive. Instead of sharing frustrations with your job search, talk about what types of positions are appealing to you and what kinds of challenges you are eager to take on.

2. Do not limit your search to only "available" positions
Spend time researching companies you 're interested in and make connections with people who work there. Get the name of the person who has the authority to hire you and write him or her a detailed letter explaining why you want to work for that company. Describe what your unique contributions would be. Be proactive and send along your list of references and resume. Be willing to start on a part-time basis or in a contract position. One foot in the door is better than a closed door.

3. Send an end of the year "Happy Holidays" email to all of your close business contacts with a brief mention about your job search
Be sure to include a short description of the types of positions you are interested in pursuing. Keep this short, positive, and professional.

4. Attend holiday events
You'll especially want to focus on events hosted by professional organizations and alumni associations you belong to.
If you do not currently belong to any, join some. You can always tag along to friends parties if invited as well.

5. Learn how to differentiate between jobs posted by placement firms and jobs listed by actual companies
This is especially important for entry level workers who waste a lot of time on wild goose chases by simply sending a resume to every job posting they find. Be on the lookout for:
&bullthe same contact phone number attached to several job listings
&bullmultiple listings for the same position listed by the same firm

6. Be easy to find
Update your online alumni profile. If you use social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, or MySpace make sure your information is up to date.

7. Be Friendly and Meet New People
You never know who is looking to fill a position that you would be perfect for. Better yet, you may just convince someone to create a position just for you. This is a good reason not to blow off your spouse's holiday party either.

8. Appreciate Informational Interviews
Too many job seekers blow informational interviews off as a waste of time, but they can be an invaluable resource. The person you talk to just might think of the perfect position for you in a week or two, or recommend you to a friend.

9. Keep Your Online Image Clean
If you wouldn't want your mother to see it, keep it off the Internet. Employers are researching job applicants online in increasing numbers according to a survey administered by the National Association of Colleges and Employers in 2007. Ten percent of employers who responded to the survey said they would review social networking site profiles before making a hiring decision. Out of that ten percent, over half said the information they find online will impact whether or not that candidate is offered a position. The remaining employers surveyed said they are unsure how their online findings should influence their hiring decisions.
If you have a blog, podcast, web site - or you regularly participate on someone else's - what you put out there may be reviewed by a potential employer. Maintain a professional image both on and off the Internet and you won't have anything to worry about.

10. Always Have an Updated Resume
Keeping a well written, updated resume handy is critical during your job search because this allows you take advantage of opportunities as soon as you learn about them. For someone who wants to help you find a job there is nothing more frustrating than learning you don't have your resume finished or updated. Even when you aren't looking for a job it is important to keep your resume updated. Revisit your resume at the end of each month to add new achievements and information.

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