My son or daughter graduated from a good university but can’t find a first job.

Such is the complaint of some parents who toiled to ensure that a son or daughter became the first member of the family to graduate from a university.

What Went Wrong?

Even though prospects are bright for new college graduates in the United States and in other major Western countries with growing economies, some will have problems finding work. That’s because, job recruiters say, they make common job search mistakes, such as writing wordy resumes. Another problem is they go after a lot of different jobs with the same resume. Many recruiters notice they are getting the wrong kind of resumes and throw them away.

Some young graduates are taking a scatter shot approach in job searches, employment pros warn, saying they are applying for every open job without considering where they would have the best chance to be hired. Frustrated young graduates will send out many resumes and receive no response, the job pros say.

Target the Job

Those seeking a first job also need to particularize a job search, says a new analysis of what new graduates are facing in the workplace.

“Tailor your resume for each position so it contains keywords from a job description,” according to the paper entitled “Notes for the Class of 2018.” The paper comes from the employment agency Robert Half.

Taking a targeted approach will ensure that resume scanning software keeps you in the job hunt, the paper says. And, if you have any personal connections to the company, list them.

“Managers often prefer to hire candidates who are referred to them by people whose opinion they value,” according to Abby Thomas. She is branch manager for Robert Half in Manhattan in New York City.

What else is wrong?

Part of the problem is that these job seekers don’t understand what employers want. And they don’t know how to present themselves to would be employers.

Some Bad Presentations

For instance, young graduates often make common mistakes in formatting resumes, says an employment expert.

“First, they fail to list relevant accomplishments near the beginning of a resume,” says Keith Johnstone, an executive with Peak Sales Recruiting.

“Too often we see candidates list work tasks instead of meaningful results,” he adds.

Another Way of Selling Yourself

Johnstone adds that showcasing volunteer work is another effective way for grads to connect their experience to the company’s corporate values.

Although most recent college graduates have been successful in becoming employed, or going on to graduate school, some recent graduates still have problems.

Johnstone notes that grads sometimes omit achievements outside of work.

“Today’s top employers are looking for candidates who not just bring the right skill-set. They are looking for people who go above and beyond and give back to their communities and society,” Johnstone says.

“The graduate should be able to look at the company and say what have I done that would be beneficial to this company,” she adds.

Some Good News

Eighty one percent of 2016 bachelor degree graduates were either employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

However, sixteen percent said they were still looking for work or further education, NACE said. But is the latter really a good option for young graduates targeting the first job?

More Schooling?

Newly minted BAs, the Robert Half study said, should think carefully before investing “substantial time and money in another degree.” A certification might be better than another degree and costs a lot less time and money.

Nevertheless, the Class of 2018 will have some advantages. NACE says companies expect to hire four percent more graduates this year than in 2017.

The trend of higher employment, NACE wrote in its “Job Outlook 2018 Survey,” continues “to point to a positive job market for new college graduates.”

Nevertheless, in any kind of market, a job seeker shouldn’t mince words, job recruiters say.

Get to the Point

A resume should be no longer than one or two pages, employment pros say. That’s because managers are often overwhelmed with applicants and start tuning out those resumes that go on and on, they say.

Imagine yourself, one job pro says, having to go through hundreds or perhaps thousands of resumes for one or two positions. They are grateful for the job candidates who make an argument for employment quickly and clearly.

“Hiring managers are busy people and they are looking for a select set of skills and experience,” Johnstone says. “Candidates,” Thomas says, “need to be brief.”

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Gregory Bresiger
Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent financial journalist from Queens, New York. His articles have appeared in publications such as Financial Planner Magazine and The New York Post. The eBook version of his latest book "MoneySense" is available now for Free Download by clicking HERE

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