Dear Working Wise:
I am about to graduate with a diploma in business administration. I’m really excited to get out there and start working, but stories about the gloomy job market have me worried. Do you have any tips to help me land my first job? Signed, Eager Graduate
The unemployment rate has increased over the past year, but Alberta’s unemployment rate remains the third-lowest in the country, and so there is still a lot of opportunity out there. Here are some ideas and tips to help you break into the job market.
Use your school
Ask the chair of your program for advice and suggestions about where to look for jobs. Put your school’s career services office to work for you. These offices usually provide help with resumes and job searches. Employers interested in hiring new graduates also often post jobs on their job boards.
Polish your resume
Is your resume representing you as well as it should? Recruiters spend as little as 30 seconds glancing at your resume—does yours scream “I’m perfect for this job”? Target your resume and cover letter to each specific job by listing your most relevant skills, qualifications, training, accomplishments and experience right at the top. Fill your resume with key words from the job posting. Eliminate errors and ensure your resume looks as professional as you are. Always include a cover letter with your resume and use it to quickly explain why you are the perfect candidate for the job. Want an expert opinion on your resume? Use the free e-Resume review service at http://alis.alberta.ca.
Attend job fairs
Did you know that there are job fairs happening all year long around the province? Check out upcoming job fairs near you at http://employment.alberta.ca/jobfairs.
Let your network of friends, family and teachers along with your former employers know that you are looking for a new job. Some people estimate that fewer than half of all jobs are actually advertised. Networking is a great way to tap into that hidden job market. Send everyone you know an e-mail letting them know what kind of job you’re looking for along with a quick summary of your skills, training and experience. Attach your resume if you feel comfortable and don’t forget to update, clean up, and use your social networking sites, like Facebook and Linked-In.
Expand your job search
Some grads make the mistake of limiting their job search to a specific occupation, industry, or organization type. Take inventory of your transferable skills—like organizational, computer, and time-management skills—and consider opportunities in related occupations and industries. Don’t forget to check out small businesses and not-for-profit organizations.
Register with recruitment agencies
Some employers have stopped advertising job opportunities and are relying on word-of-mouth and recruitment agencies. Agencies will not look for a job for you, but they will call you if you are a good match for a position they are recruiting for. Registering with recruitment agencies is free, takes very little time, and is another great way to tap into the hidden job market. Some agencies specialize in specific occupations and industries and so it would be a good idea to figure out which agencies are the right ones for you. You can start by checking out http://alis.alberta.ca/js/ws/jp/jobpostings/ea.html.
Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Charles Strachey is a regional manager with Alberta Employment and Immigration. This column is provided for general information.
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