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The top 5 job-hunting tips for 2014 grads

Career services director at Harvard offers guidance for the Class of 2014

Job hunting tips for new grads.

Director, Career Services Office, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Beginning the search for your first post-graduate job is a daunting process that tens of thousands of people face each year. In my experience, soon-to-be graduates’ most common question is simply, “where do I start?” Fortunately, there are lots of great resources that answer that very question. Before you begin your search, take a minute to read through my five tips for job hunting graduates:

1. Leverage your school's career office as much as possible.

Most universities have job posting websites, hold job fairs and offer workshops on getting your resume ready for a job search. Take advantage of these free resources while you are still a student. Your university may also be able to connect you with alumni who have already joined the workforce and work at companies you are interested in.

2. Start your networking close to home.

Reach out to your current network of family and friends. Employers often have candidates referred to them by their employees, so knowing someone at a company can be a great way to get the initial interview. Research has also shown that employers benefit from the referrals by increasing the speed to hire, the quality of the candidates and the average length of employment. For this reason, there are many incentive programs for employees to recommend you. You never know – you may actually be helping your contact as much as they are helping you.

3. Set up job search agents on career sites.

New grads tend to spend too much time and energy on simple online job searches, in the hopes of coming across a job opening. To bypass that tedious process, set up job search queries on career sites. Search agents allow you to save searches with keywords that crawl job postings all over the Web, across many sites. They will email you listings on a daily basis. This is a great way to hone in on jobs that best match your skills, experience, or interests.

4. Use a job search tracking worksheet.

As you research, apply, and begin to hear back from companies and recruiters, you will be challenged with keeping track of a lot of information. By creating an organized worksheet, you can you track your resume submissions, networking contacts and interview details all in one place. Several career sites have tools created for this purpose.

5. Negotiate your salary.

Undergraduates are typically too intimidated to negotiate their salary. Sometimes you won't be able to, and sometimes you may only be able to increase your offer by a little bit, but it helps to practice this important skill beginning with your very first position. You’d be surprised how common and expected salary negotiation is in the hiring process throughout your career.

By starting with these strategies, you will find the process less daunting. This will allow you to focus your time and attention on important job search techniques needed to land your first job, like interviewing and networking.

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