As graduation season quickly approaches, many soon-to-be grads are worried about landing a job in our tough economy. Faced with a competitive job market that forces the newly degreed to compete not only with their peers, but others with more experience, getting into the job market can be quite daunting.

Thankfully, as many are getting fitted for their gowns, a new book aims to hip students on how to land a job soon after they’ve walked the stage.

Career coach and speaker, Ford R. Myers’ new book Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring teaches newbies how to land a job even in this tough economy. Along with a polished resume and cover letter, Myers says every new grad should have 10 things in their job-hunting toolbox.

Peep Myers’ tips:

Accomplishment Stories: Five or six compelling stories about school or work-related tasks that made you feel proud.

Positioning Statement: A “15-second commercial” about who you are, what you’ve done in the past (academically and professionally, if applicable), and the particular strengths you can contribute to an employer.

Professional Biography: A one-page narrative of your career in the “third person” – as though someone else wrote it about you.

Target Company List: A “wish list” of adjectives that would describe your ideal employer, such as size, location, industry, culture, and environment. Then research specific organizations that meet those criteria and put them on a list of 35 to 50 “Target Companies.”

Contact List: A list of all the people you know personally and professionally, including their contact information. Remember that approximately 80% of new opportunities are secured through networking.

Professional/Academic References:  List respected peers, advisors or professors who would “sing your praises” if asked about you. Contact each of them, and get approval to use their names on your list of references.

Letters of Recommendation:  Request letters from four or five business colleagues or academic associates, which will be printed on their professional letterhead.

Networking Agenda:  Write out a full networking discussion or script so you will know exactly what to say in the networking discussion – how it flows, what to expect, how to react to the other person’s comments, follow-up steps, etc.

Tracking System:  Keep a detailed record of your job search activities, including phone calls, networking meetings, interviews, cover letters, etc. This is essential to keep your process organized and productive.

Resume:  It’s the last on the list, but still indispensable. And, it has to be GREAT. Be sure your final resume is carefully edited and succinct (no more than two pages) with a layout that is easy for the eye to follow.

Unfortunately, job-hunting in this economy won’t be easy, but with a little planning and a well-stocked toolbox you can land a gig.

Are you worried about landing a job after graduation? What other tips do you have for new grads?

*New Grad? Check out 4 more tips to help you cope.

  • purplekeychain

    Tip #1 — INTERN as much as you can.

    I kick myself every day for not having done an internship in my field of study, so that I graduated without contacts or a working understanding of the field itself. It was all just theory. Young black folk HAVE to intern, ESPECIALLY if:

    -you are going into politics or non-profit work

    -you are a person of color hoping to start a career in a field where there aren’t many POC

    -you don’t have family connections to potential career opportunities, so nepotism won’t work to your advantage

    -you didn’t grow up around a lot of racial diversity

    -you need practice refining your social skills

    Tip #2: VOLUNTEER, be a continuous volunteer SOMEWHERE, don’t even think about graduating from college without being a current volunteer. In addition to just being the right thing to do, volunteering helps to fill holes in your resume, and you can pick up a NUMBER of real-world skills that employers are looking for, like problem solving or working with difficult people or managing a project on your own. Particularly if your volunteer work, or the kind of organization you volunteer at, relates back to the kind of job you are looking for.

    Tip #3: Be realistic in your expectations. You may have to take a job answering phones in a call center, being a program assistant at a non-profit, or doing data entry for law firm before you land the job of your dreams. That’s why volunteering and interning come in handy, because it shows that you are actively involved in your field of study, even while you’re waiting tables or being a receptionist.

    And my last tip is, once you’ve got the job you want, PAY YOUR F-ING DUES. I have interns every year who come in here thinking I should offer them a job after 4 weeks of running my errands. WRONG. Just because you graduated from college with a 4.0 doesn’t mean that you can do my job or make my salary. I live in DC, the city is flooded with interns every summer, and every single one of them thinks they are unique because they have a BA in political science. And it’s like, REALLY? EVERYBODY in DC has a PoliSci BA, and most of us have MAs in something else. Expect to put in work before you can roll with the big dogs.


  • Sonique

    great advice. I graduated last year shortly after I started working in the non-profit sector and I hated it. Now I’m working in higher education and I love it. I wish that I had interned in college then I would have found out that I actually dislike the non-profit environment. The work that the agencies do is good, but the people are often shifty and cliquey. I found through working there for about 8 months that I wanted a more collegiate goal oriented environment. I’m much happier now.

  • Chrissy

    Im thinking about working in higher education.

    What do you do? Do you teach, are you a counselor, administrator, etc?

  • Candi83

    I whole heartedly agree!! I just finished college and I want to do another internship. It’s taking me sometime to find one but I’m going to keep trying. The only thing I wish I did more was volunteer but I have more time now to do that.

  • FattieSoSlim

    Like purplekeychain said, INTERN! INTERN! INTERN! Luckily, I went to a school where internships and co-ops are necessary to graduate! A typical 4 year program becomes 5 years because we have to complete a 50 weeks of internships (not all at once). And typically, at my school, people get offers before they graduate. I walk in a couple weeks, and I already have a job offer :-)

    And because we intern so much at my school, and also because we have 2 major career fairs a year, we get a lot of practice with a lot of those items in the toolbox. Sometimes, even if we don’t want a job, we still take the interview just for the practice. Doing a lot of interviews last year really helped me nail it for the internship that I actually wanted.

    But I have to say, that results can be skewed… I am a black female in STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math), so the scales are weighted in my favor when it comes to the job search.

    But still… my boyfriend is a philosophy major, and he’s making sure he does internships. Even the unpaid ones are important. Very tough, (unless you come from a well-off family) but important. You can always get connections and sometimes you can find funding from your college for unpaid internships.

  • FattieSoSlim

    Also.. be involved in an organization at school. Work your way up the ranks to be a treasurer, VP, President, a committee member, anything. It shows initiative, commitment, leadership and problem-solving.

  • Nia

    Thank you for the advice. I’m only in my second year but I’m sure to keep the advice from this article so I can land a great career after uni!

  • MarloweOverShakespeare

    “Expect to put in work before you can roll with the big dogs.


    I love you for this @purplekeychain.

  • tulch

    With your first job comes your first salary, so here’s my 2 cents about taking care of THAT part:

    1. Make sure you get a free copy of your credit report at Fix any errors on your report and contest negatives, as EMPLOYERS, lenders, and some apartment rental places will check your credit scores.
    2. Make a budget BEFORE you get your first salary. Psychologically, it’s easier to portion out money before than after you have money in the bank account.
    3. Find out when you have to start repaying your student loans and realize there are MULTIPLE options, not just the default your lender gives you.
    4. Your rent shouldn’t be more than a third of your take-home pay–choose a new place wisely.
    5. Get a Roth IRA NOW, it’s the most awesome thing you can do for retirement, and remember that an employer match starts your “retirement fire” :)
    6. And, remember, salary can be NEGOTIATED, so be savvy about your first job offer!

    The best thing I did for myself after graduation was taking care of my money right away by getting a “financial personal trainer” at Community Ladders (, if you’re interested)

  • Steppa

    “I would have found out that I actually dislike the non-profit environment. The work that the agencies do is good, but the people are often shifty and cliquey.” Amen to that, Sonique. Let the choir say Amen!!!

    Also, I just want to point out that this book is not new as it says in the article. It’s from 2009.

  • C

    Great tips. Thank you.

  • C

    Great tips. thank you@purple.

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