Key Job Strategies for Grads in the New Year

So you’ve made a New Year’s resolutions to update your resume and find the job of your dreams, pronto. We can help! IIDA is bringing you tips and insider advice on how to land the job you want and some important steps along the way.

1.       Get Connected.

  • LinkedIn is great place to network with people and setup informational interviews. Join your alumni association and any other relevant groups to your field that will have job postings, networking events and discussion boards to steer you in the right direction.

2.      Do Your Homework.

  • Employers don’t respond well to a generic cover letter.  Be specific. Why do you want work for their company? What do you know about their work? And what can you offer them? Bonus points if you can find someone who works there and talk to that person before an interview or while applying for the job.

3.      Ace the Cover Letter.

  • Try starting your cover letter off with a compliment.  Acknowledge any good news that you are able to find on the employer’s Web site in their press section. For example, “Dear Tim, Congratulations on the Green Building Award the city bestowed on your new headquarters” is more likely to get a manager’s attention.
  • Include your key skills and where you learned a particular skill, how it helped you in the past or how it will help your work in the future.


4.   Create a Strong Resume. 

  • Your resume should be a single page.
  • Find the right format. Look online at other resumes to see the best way to create yours.
  • Opening statement: The first 1-2 line paragraph should highlight specialized skills, key accomplishments and your career goals.
  • Put your most relevant work experience first. It doesn’t have to be in chronological order. Employers are looking at what you can bring to the table.
  • The best resumes describe experience using Action-Benefit statements, which describe an action you took in response to a challenge or opportunity and then explain how that action had a positive outcome.  Example: “Researched structural problems (situation) and developed a plan (action) that resolved 80% of the issues.” (outcome)
  • Use action verbs. Examples include: managed, launched, created, directed, established, organized, and supervised.
  • Make sure it’s easy to read by using bullet points.
  • Remember to stand out. Include information that is relevant and unique to you. Such as your summer volunteering trip or semester abroad and hobbies.
  • Proofread and spell check! Have someone else read over you resume to catch any errors.

5.    Prepare for the Interview.

  • Prepare at least three stories that can help show why you’d be the right fit for the position, but don’t be rehearsed.

Some examples include:

  • A time you overcame adversity (at a job or at school).
  • A time when you had to work on a team with difficult people.
  • A time when you had to multitask to meet multiple deadlines.

6.      Write a Thank You Note.

  • Emails are an acceptable form for a thank you, but handwritten notes have a special touch that shows you put in just a little extra effort.

If you’re ready to dive in and get your career going don’t miss out on IIDA’s Student Mentoring Week Feb. 20-24, 2012! Students will be paired with industry professionals to learn the inner workings of the design field. Sign up now!



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