Advice for recent college grads

To the recent college graduate: This is a tough employment market, one of the toughest we have ever seen. Yet you can survive. You can succeed. I am a mother of three successfully employed young adults and I – as well as they – have learned a few fireproof ideas that I would like to share with you.

Most of you probably have graduated without a job. My son, Jim, graduated May 2011. With huge college loans, Jim did not have the option of going to graduate school to pursue his desired goal, so he spent three months walking the pavement, interviewing, attempting to gain a position, any position.

A few things he learned from his search:

• First, his job was to find a job. He made a decision to work hard just looking for a position, 40 hours a week.

• Second, what Jim found was that unless you are in a high-demand field, casting one’s résumé soley on or is not going to work.

• Third, he networked. This is the time to contact fraternity brothers, older friends and relatives. Ask for advice and let them know you are interested in their help in finding a job. Networking is the best way to get a job these days. Don’t miss family reunions, friend gatherings, weddings, etc. You never know whom you might meet. Parents can help here, as well. They have contacts that can be tapped for advice on organizations to pursue. All three of my children gained their first jobs from networking. Once you are employed, continue to stay connected. Also, thank those who have helped you. You may need these people again.

• Fourth, prepare for the interviews. Research companies, read books on interviewing. My sons and daughter all read “101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions.” They also had many eyes look at their résumés. A week before the interview, they spent time on the phone practicing with their Uncle Jim who is a marvel at the interview process. Prepare three main points promoting you as a prospective employee.

• Fifth, be prepared to move where the jobs are. Jim now resides in Kansas City. All my children have left the state for job opportunities.

• Sixth, after the interview, follow up with a thank you letter, not an email You will stand out. A week passes, two weeks pass and there is not call? I recommend what Jim did – you make a follow-up call. Businesses like this. It shows interest, persistence and dedication.

• Seventh, be aware in this job market your first position may not be the exact position you want, but this economy won’t always be difficult, it will improve. Just because this is not exactly what you want, give this company your best effort.

• Eighth, I suggest you stay current with your desired field through periodicals or part-time education.

Have a successful job search!

• • •

The next two mixers are May 8 at Paxem and May 21 at Gary Lang Auto Group. May 10 is our Never Eat Alone Luncheon at Corkscrew Pointe. Menu is $8.50 inclusive. May 15, McHenry Country Club hosts our golf outing. Shotgun start at 10:30 a.m. May 22 is the chamber’s next WINGs luncheon . Topic is “Change Your Money Mindset, Change Your Life.”

• Kay Rial Bates is the president and CEO of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at kay

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