Lookin’ for a job?

With commencement just over a week away, new PSU grads will soon be looking to take the first step toward gainful employment. That’s right: no more surviving on student loans.

With commencement just over a week away, new PSU grads will soon be looking to take the first step toward gainful employment. That’s right: no more surviving on student loans. It’s time to step out into the real world and put the skills behind your degree to the test. Here are some tips that the Portland State Career Center recommends when applying for a job.

What to remember before you ever apply

All employers are looking for the same kinds of skills–interpersonal skills, communication skills, team building and leadership skills. It doesn’t matter what you majored in, because if you were privy to a decent education, you’ve got the skills you need. Don’t sell yourself short or get hung up on technical details.

Research, research, research

Always take a good look at the company or companies you’re thinking about applying to. What kind of company is it? What is their product or the service they provide? Who do they serve and how does the process work? The more you immerse yourself in the ways of whichever companies you’re applying to, the more attractive you are to employers. If you really have a handle on things by the time of your interview, it’s going to greatly improve your chances. No one wants to hire someone who doesn’t know anything about how their company works.

Dress appropriately

Knowing what to and what not to wear is important, and helps create a good first impression with employers. If you’re unsure, just trust your judgment. If you think it’s appropriate, it’s generally better to overdress than to underdress.

Be a good storyteller

It helps to know what you’re talking about and be able to express it. You have to be able to sell your idea to them with proof rather than just a bunch of empty words. If you get asked about your communication skills, give them an example that demonstrates those skills. Make sure you include the results of your actions in your example, too. Be as specific as possible. Remember, employers like to ask specific questions. Take a look at the job description and the skills needed, and try to think about experiences you’ve had in the past that have demonstrated those skills. Your examples can be about anything that’s happened to you, as long as the skills are applicable.

Ask questions of your own

Generally after the interview, an employer will ask if you have any questions. Going back to the research you did before you applied, make sure you have at least a few questions. It doesn’t matter what exactly you ask, so long as they’re questions that would indicate your interest in the job field.

Other things to remember at the end of the interview

After you’re done with the interview process, employers will generally tell you what the next step is. This is where you’ll hear that they’re going to narrow the list of candidates, or that they’ll keep you under consideration, or that you can expect to hear back from them in a few weeks, etc. Remember that if they don’t say anything about the next process it’s perfectly acceptable to just ask when you can expect to hear from them. Also remember to thank the interviewer and express your interest in the job to them. If you really are interested, it never hurts to send them a thank-you letter (right away), thanking the employer again for the interview and again expressing your interest in the position. If a lot of designated time passes and you haven’t heard anything, feel free to call them.

The biggest mistakes to avoid

The biggest mistakes that new grads make is not knowing what they’re applying for. It can’t be stressed enough: look at the job description. Make sure you know what you’re getting into.

Additional career and interview information can be found at http://www.pdx.edu/careers.