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job hunt checklist

As many university seniors enter their final year of college, it’s time to start thinking about finding a job after school is over. For new graduates, the job market can feel overwhelming, especially with the bleak outlook for 2014 grads. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the unemployment rate for young college grads under 25 is 8.5 percent, compared with 5.5 percent in 2007, and the underemployment rate is 16.8 percent.




These numbers just prove that it can be tough out there for inexperienced job seekers, but having the right tools will give you an edge. Follow these tips to start your job search with confidence.

Resume

A professional, yet stand-out resume and cover letter are possibly your most important tools when job hunting. Regardless of experience (or lack thereof), the right language and format can help yours make an impression among a sea of resumes. CBS MoneyWatch points out that new college grads commonly overlook some basic rules for crafting a professional resume.

First, while it’s good to emphasize your strengths, don’t oversell yourself. Outline your experience from internships and school and any special skills you have, but don’t boast or use too many adjectives. Also, don’t put emphasis on skills that are not relevant to the job position. Pay attention to the job requirements and what the employer is looking for. Customize your resume and cover letter to each specific company and position you are applying for.

Change Your Look

When you are on the job market, you have to look like a professional, not a college kid. Whether it’s your first interview or first day on the job, business attire can help impress employers. Workplace attire is not as formal as it once was, says Forbes. You most likely will not be expected to wear a suit and tie to work, but remember that first impressions are everything and dressing formal for a job interview is better than under dressing. In the article, Mark Strong, a career and life coach, said 80 percent of job applicants usually dress appropriately, but many people make common mistakes like wearing a skirt that is a tad too short or too much cologne. Forbes suggests wearing something that makes you feel confident and comfortable.

Reliable Transportation

Most employers won’t look twice at a candidate who doesn’t have a reliable source of transportation. If you don’t live in a city with extensive public transit, a car or other vehicle is a necessity. Buying a car after college can be an overwhelming experience in itself, but you can research the best and most affordable used vehicles on sites like Kelley Blue Book. A major purchase like a car is also a good way to build your credit worthiness.

Before The Interview

Landing an interview is just the first step. For most positions, you will have to interview two or three times and stand out above the other candidates. Before meeting with your potential employer, research the company online as well as the interviewer (if you know). Sites like LinkedIn can be very helpful to learn more about the company and interviewer. U.S. News Money suggests going through the job description line by line and then think about how your experience or skills compare. Use these as points in your interview to emphasize your strengths. Lastly, prepare some questions to ask during the interview. Good questions include: “What are the biggest challenges of this role?” or “What is a typical day look like for this position?” and “What are the next steps in the hiring process?”

Above all, stay confident in your job search and don’t get discouraged. Follow the right steps, be prepared and learn from the experience.

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