Here at City Personnel, we get a lot of feedback from our employer partners who tell us what they want in the recent graduates they interview. We’ve used this feedback to create a set of guidelines to help millenial candidates start their career path and make a good impression with hiring managers.
Start the job hunt while you’re still an undergrad. Pick a field to pursue well before you graduate so that you can start making networking connections in that field. Follow-up is key: when you attend a networking event, email your new contacts the very next day to keep yourself on their radar. Say how nice it was meeting them and hearing what they had to say about that evening’s event. Leave your communication open-ended, perhaps by asking them a specific question or asking to meet for coffee with them to learn more about their line of work.
Personalize your search and be assertive in your job hunt. Instead of a generic “To whom it may concern” introduction for your cover letter, find out the recruiter or hiring manager’s name and address the letter to that person specifically. Cite skills and examples of your experience that apply directly to the requirements listed in the job description. If you don’t have a lot of experience, talk about your academic track record and why you’re passionate about your field. In the following weeks and days, reach out to the recruiter to follow up on your application so they’re know you’re interested.
Be patient and humble with your career development. Remember that having a degree, or even a masters degree, is no guarantee of a certain salary level or job title. Chances are, you will have to start off making less than you’d desire and possibly in a lower position than you think you deserve. After some tenure with your firm, people will learn to trust you and rely on you, and you’ll likely be granted more responsibility within a year or two. Older generations of workers (i.e. your supervisors) will want to see that you’re willing to “pay your dues” for a while. While it’s good to have high expectations, keeping expectations realistic will help you gain professional traction instead of coming off as having a sense of entitlement.
Come to your interview prepared. Be prepared to pass a background check, ask questions, know about the firm and its culture, and maybe even take a drug test. Be prepared to leave your phone in your handbag or pocket, even while you’re in the waiting area. Spending a lot of time of your phone can make you seem disinterested, unprofessional, or easily distracted. It’s also a good idea to polish up your social media profiles. The majority of employers check out potential hires’ social media profiles before making a hiring decision.