Being a young professional in the job market is a rite of passage. The key to enjoying a search, and leveraging your experiences to make it fruitful is being prepared. Take time to get organized, develop a strategy, and prepare for what you’re going to face. You’ll find the process much less daunting.
Get Your Online Presence in Order
Everybody’s digital. That means it’s important to audit, and edit, your online presence. What does that mean? It’s more than deleting photos of yourself you don’t like, it’s about thinking about who you want to present yourself as professionally and making sure your online presence backs that up.
Create a professional-use email if you don’t already have one. An email that’s just your name is best. Avoid using emails that include your birthday, hobbies, etc. You can easily get a free gmail account!
When you’re creating this email (or before you use an existing, professional-sounding email) be sure to include an email signature that links to all of your relevant professional links. Popl offers you the ability to create a branded email signature quickly and easily.
You can also design a virtual background for Zoom and Google meet interviews. Not only does this look great, but it also shows your ability to use technology professionally.
Audit your social media profiles. Trust us: one of the best job tips is taking time to get your social media cleaned up before you put your name out there. Take time to go through your Facebook, Instagram and other social media profiles. Go back to the beginning and look for things you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see. Change your privacy settings or delete content that could work against you.
Take time to search for old and unused social media profiles and make sure there’s nothing lurking there that could make an employer question your ability to be a good employee.
Create a digital business card. Imagine if you could create a simple, accessible portal to all of your job search materials. You can. Use a digital business card to share with prospects.
Here, you’ll want to share your contact information but also relevant social media profiles and other links that position you as a strong candidate.
Popl allows you to create multiple digital business cards.
If you’re looking for different types of positions or even in different industries, create a card for each so you’re easily sharing what you want connections to know.
Build a professional online presence. It’s okay to reinvent yourself as a young professional online. The best way to do this is by building a LinkedIn profile.
Consider a simple website or online portfolio with a link to your digital business card, resume, an “about me” section and snippets of recommendations and reviews. The better online presence you have, the more eyes on you as a candidate!
Take Time to Think About What you Want
It’s easy to apply for anything and everything and take the first offer that comes along.
But a good candidate is able to show passion and knowledge about specific roles and positions.
Spend some time thinking about what your perfect job looks and feels like. For example, do you prefer working independently or on a team? What do you want your employer to value? Do you need a flexible schedule to be most productive?
Job Tip: If You're Not on LinkedIn, You Essentially Don't Exist
95% of recruiters are actively using LinkedIn to search for prospects. If you’re not actively using LinkedIn, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to propel your job search.
Not only should you have a professional, up-to-date profile, though. You should use the platform. Join forums and groups for other young professionals. Read and engage with articles about job hunting, interview tips and what employers are looking for.
LinkedIn is a vital tool for anyone searching for a job. Make sure you link to your online business card from LinkedIn and that it’s one of the first links on that digital business card.
Don't Limit Yourself to Online Applications During Your Job Search
When applying to large companies and jobs far away from where you currently live, applying online is the way to go. This also guarantees your application gets in front of the right person.
An oft-forgotten item on lists of job tips, though, is that there’s nothing wrong with applying in person. This is especially true if you're looking at a small business that is local to you.
Keep in mind the power of someone seeing your passion for a position. We highly recommend applying in person if you’re looking in the non-profit sector.
Keep your Resume Updated
Your resume is a living, breathing document. As you take on new volunteer opportunities, or earn certifications, update your resume.
It’s also smart to look at your resume every few weeks and see if there is better wording you could use or a skill you’re not showing off. It’s okay to edit!
And speaking of editing your resume…
The Resume you use Should Reflect the Job You’re Applying for
Imagine if every action film had the same tagline. Lazy, right? Sure, they all follow the same general path and offer the same levels of excitement, but you want to know more.
Before applying, make sure that your resume and cover letter show you off as a person with that job.
The best way to do this is look at the job posting and make sure you’re using similar language and highlighting skills. Your resume is not carved into stone. It’s a tool to present yourself to potential employers, all of whom have different needs.
Consider Getting Your Resume Online
Make sure your resume is hosted online. The more eyes you can get on your resume, the better. Be sure that you include it in your digital business card so that people you network with, friends, contacts and interviewees can access it quickly and easily.
Scan Your Resume
Employers are using AI to scan your resume. This has made resumes that were once standouts fall by the wayside.
Use a free service, like that provided by JobScan to scan and get feedback on your resume. Then make the recommended changes. This helps push you to the top of the pile with employers who use similar software.
Interview Tips for Young Professionals
Interviews are scary, yes, but mainly because people don’t prepare for them properly. The best interview tips are around preparation. Here are our favorite interview tips.
Be able to Tell Them About Yourself
No matter how they phrase it, you’re going to be asked some variation of “tell us about yourself.” You should have a very polished, agile answer at the ready. You don’t have to recite it like a robot, but you should be able to answer this question.
How do you answer it? With exactly the information they want. Indeed breaks your answer into three parts.
Three Steps To Answering This Dreaded Question
First, tell them your current situation. Whether you’ve outgrown your position or are searching for a first job where you can use your skills and passions, lead with this.
Next, take them through your professional journey. And take this interview tip to heart: they don’t need a recitation of your resume. Think of this more as your highlight reel, including projects you’ve worked on that were successful or awards and recognition you’ve won.
Finally, explain how your background, interest and qualifications are a good fit for the position and company.
Know Your Audience
Another of our favorite interview tips connects with the final step of answering this question: do your research. Know the company’s vision and mission so that you can thoroughly explain how your values align.
Own Your Gaps
It’s not unusual for candidates to have gaps in their resumes. Whether you stopped to go back to school, took time to travel, or worked on an independent project or creative endeavor, it’s okay. Just answer the question. Often, these experiences make you a better candidate. Don’t be afraid to answer them.
Prepare for Interviews
Every list of interview tips includes this, including ours. Please prepare for your interviews. These aren’t everyday occurrences so chances are you’re a little rusty.
Use this practice as time to improve your skills. As a friend or mentor to ask you some questions and give you feedback. It doesn’t have to be the full interview, it can be one question. Also, this is a great reason to join young professional or networking groups. They often offer mock interviews.
Have Questions Prepared
At the end of your interview, they’re going to ask if you have any questions for them. This is not just because they want to answer your questions. They want to see if you’ve approached this opportunity thoughtfully.
Have at least one question prepared for your interview. It’s best to have this be about how you fit in or based on something specific about the company.
One question we like is, “If I were to start tomorrow, what would be the biggest priority for me?”
Final Interview Tips for Young Professionals
There are a few small things that make an impact on potential employers and help set you apart. None of these are going to guarantee you a job, but they will make a great impression.
Knowing you’re walking in a step ahead can boost your confidence and make the interview process less stressful.
Bring a pen and something to write on. Even if you don’t write anything down, it’s important to come prepared.
Silence your phone and don’t look at it. Stay focused on the task at hand: your interview. Unless you’re sharing your polished online business card, there’s no reason for them to see your phone.
Shake hands. Practice it beforehand if you’re not used to shaking hands. Be mindful of covid protocols, of course, but if someone extends their hand you should be able to take and shake it confidently. You should also feel comfortable extending yours as you introduce yourself.
Dress the part. Wear something one step up than you think is their dress code. If you think they wear dress pants and pressed shirts, add a blazer or a tie. Make sure you inspect your interview outfit for stains, holes, fraying, and loose buttons ahead of time and get anything fixed in time. Iron or steam your outfit and make sure to take a few extra minutes in front of the mirror to put yourself together.
Go Forth With Confidence
When it comes to searching for a job as a young professional, just brushing up on these job and interview tips could set you apart. Being prepared, understanding your online appearance and maximizing your digital presence are easy ways to approach your search confidently.