By Lisa Correu, Principal/Job Search Advocate, AfterSchool Career Workshops
So what do you want to do with your life? You’ve just graduated from college or maybe you’re about to enter your final year. Hopefully (definitely) you’re working on a job search and reaching out to build your network. In a perfect world you know tons of people who can help you, you’re perfecting your communication skills and your resume reads like Tolstoy. Well maybe not Tolstoy because that would mean it’s really long and no one ever finishes it. But you get what I’m saying. The entry-level job world is out there waiting and so you gather your courage and apply for…? What? Do you know the job titles and duties of the positions you’re qualified for? No? Do you know the diff between a communications coordinator and a communications manager? A documents administrator and a documents liaison? I made those last two up but they probably exist somewhere. It’s tough to network and speak about yourself if you’re unfamiliar with what you’re qualified for or know the job titles that exist in your chosen profession. Just throwing a resume out there with a cover letter saying, “whatever you think I’m qualified for” is asking for an eye roll and the electronic version of oblivion. You are in charge of what you’re qualified for.
This is where the job boards can come in handy. Spend some time on the big ones like Monster.com but also on the industry specific and individual company sites as well. Read the job duties of the entry level positions and make note of the similarities and differences. You’ll start to get a feel for your industry and what your part will be to promote it. As you begin to expand your network and encounter more people in your chosen field you can ask them about job titles in the places where they work. And as you get savvier on the lingo and can speak with authority on the specific positions you’re after you’ll make it easier for them to help you.
A peer-to-peer informational interview is another great way to get clear on what’s out there. Ask about the entry-level positions, titles and duties. When you follow up with them, connect with HR or another hiring manager you’ll be able to describe how your qualifications match up to the duties of their particular positions. Make their jobs easier by showing them how perfect you are for the job.
I should mention a couple of other resources. The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Department of Labor have a couple of useful sites for information on various industries and their specific positions. Any information is good information.
Remember, you don’t have to be employed to be able to speak about your chosen profession with knowledge and confidence. The more ways you can separate yourself in a positive fashion from other job seekers the more you’ll be noticed and the sooner you can get to work.