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How struggling college grads can find jobs

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There is a lot of news around the subject that there are plenty of qualified college students each year, but they are having a tough time finding a good job. The advances in technology have eliminated a lot of jobs, but it has also created jobs; people just have to change where they're looking and their approach.

Students with a computer science degree are fending off potential employers

For everyone else, the jobs are out there, but they are fiercely competitive. Let me try to help out as best I can, considering that I only hire a few people a year for our outsourced bookkeeping services company. First, they must get over the entitlement to a certain wage just because they earned a degree and are now in debt. Instead, they must focus on finding the right job and be flexible on their potential employer.

Network to find a job that is not advertised

The best jobs are not advertised. The very best jobs are not on Indeed, posted on college job boards, or even on LinkedIn. The best jobs are given through referral only. Some of the best jobs may not even be written down on paper, they might only exist in an executive’s head.

When applying for a job online, there is a ton of competition, and chances of getting selected for an interview are slim. In fact, most employers are looking for a way to disqualify applicants for the job rather than qualify them. Instead, networking with business owners in a preferred industry or attending local entrepreneurial networking events is one of the best ways to find these positions. Being specific about wants and needs and what role or job someone may be the best fit for are great ways to find the "diamond in the rough" jobs.

Don’t send a generic cover letter and resume

In our job applications I specifically state that all generic cover letters will be deleted (and believe me I delete a ton). The last time we listed a job online we had 105 applications, I considered five, interviewed two and hired one; yes, it is that competitive.

If an employer takes the time to write out a specific job description, then applicants must take the time to tailor a cover letter to the job. Believe me, an employer can tell when applicants are using a generic cover letter and they will immediately be disqualified from the job.

Craft each cover letter to the job and be different so the application will stand out.

Have an idea of what you would like to do

I see a lot of applicants with little to no direction of what they want to do. They just want or need a job, so they blanket the job market with their resume. It can be difficult, but honing in on a job and why the job is a good fit is important for the recruiter to understand.

Applicants shouldn't be afraid to tell a potential employer what they want to do in the future or what position they would eventually like to work up to. Employers love ambitious employees who have a vision.

A common interview question is "where do you see yourself in five years?" Show some ambition and be ready with an impressive answer.

Apply and follow up

Following up on an application is huge. I feel that many employees don't do this as they feel they might come across as desperate. From an employer’s perspective, it shows they're responsible, are genuinely interested in the job and that they care. I also would recommend that the follow-up be done via the phone rather than email. The resume was already emailed or an online job application was submitted, so it's appropriate to follow up with a differend method.

As an employer, I like to hear the tone of an applicant’s voice and how they present themselves.

Show up for free

If someone walked in the door of our office and said that they could be a huge benefit to our business, I might ignore them. If they said the same thing but offered to prove it to me, I would start listening. Remember the Seinfeld episode where George Costanza isn't sure if he got the job with Mr. Tuttle so he just shows up?

Show up and offer to work for free and knock their socks off.

Learn how to actually do a job

The major problem with college is that it’s too academic and not enough about how to actually do a specific business job. Learn how to do a specific job by gaining experience through internships. Consider taking additional training through a technical or business college.

As an example, if someone applies for a bookkeeping job with us and they have a college degree, that is good. If they have a major in accounting or finance, that is better. If they have a college degree with a major in accounting and they are QuickBooks Online Certified or a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor that is a huge plus. That applicant stands out and will most likely get an interview.

Consider additional training or certifications that complement a job. Additional certifications make job candidates stand out and will often at least help qualify someone for an interview.

About the author: Matt Roberge is the founder and CEO of SLC Bookkeeping. He has built an outsourced bookkeeping service with a culture that supports a strong work/life balance.