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UofL Career Development Center director offers tip for grads seeking jobs

Don’t place all job search eggs in one basket

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (May 13, 2016) — UofL News spoke with Trey Lewis, director of UofL’s Career Development Center, about ways graduates can better position themselves to land their first job.

UofL News: What are some of the key issues facing graduating students in 2016?

Trey Lewis: There are three things:

  • Perception of the lack of direct experience (particularly for grads without internship experience).
  • For most entry-level positions that prefer 1 to 2 years of experience, many new graduates will experience competition from other recent graduates from the classes of 2014 and 2015.
  • However, prospects in Louisville remain fairly hopeful as there is a shortage of bachelor degree holders in our local marketplace.  In Louisville, the percentage hovers around 30 percent of working adults with bachelor’s degrees.  If you have a degree, there’s definitely an advantage to be had. The key is to have the degree and some level of experience.

UofL News: What are common mistakes graduates make while searching for a job and how can graduates improve their job hunting prospects?

Trey Lewis: Mistake No. 1 is grads placing all of their “job search eggs” in one basket. We have witnessed new grads apply for opportunities within their dream organization and spend little to no time applying to other opportunities.

This is a mistake as the grad sometimes is completely unaware of the profile or type of candidate that organization may be looking for. If they’re waiting to hear back from this employer, sometimes the process can take several months before they hear anything back.  It is also possible that they don’t hear anything back at all and if you’ve been waiting for a few months, that’s a serious let down and waste of time.

Mistake No. 2 is no LinkedIn presence or knowledge of how to leverage the platform. Having a professional LinkedIn profile is no longer optional.  A recent survey stated that 94 percent of recruiters use Linkedin to source and vet candidates.  You don’t want to be considered as a “mystery” candidate without a presence on LinkedIn. The LinkedIn profile should be constructed in a way that addresses the things that are important to the recruiter and not so much in a way that makes sense to you as an individual.

UofL News: If a graduate is struggling to find a job, how should they adjust their job search?

Trey Lewis: The first tip would be to adjust the way that they’ve presented the information on their resume so that it better aligns with positions in which the candidate is applying. We encourage all grads (especially recent grads) to think critically about how each resume section is laid out so that an obvious connection is made when a recruiter looks at the resume.

The second tip is to think of the job search as a game of numbers. Here’s a sample equation assuming an average resume, experience, GPA, etc. For every 20 positions applied for, we might expect a call back for four interviews. For the four interviews, we might expect to receive one offer. That’s one offer for every 20 positions applied for.

Now, let’s consider a grad with a resume that has been improved and tailored. Let’s assume that grad has some level of experience and a reasonable competency in interviews. Here’s the new formula: For every 20 positions applied, we might assume eight interviews.  For those eight interviews, you may be looking at potentially three to four offers.

This equation is not perfect but it does share some insight on the importance of having a solid resume, being prepared for interviews, and actually applying for multiple job opportunities.

UofL News: How does a graduate’s past social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) affect their job search?

Trey Lewis: It depends on how public and how positive or negative the information found on social media really is.  One time in my career, I worked with a student that had some public indiscretions linked with online articles that came up pretty visibly with a Google search.  As challenging as that situation was, we worked with them to carve out a strategy that included consistent LinkedIn engagement, blog contributions, etc. in order have the new content overtake the unflattering old content. In that case, there was no better time to start over than that present time.

UofL News: Suppose our graduate finally lands the job interview. How should they prepare?

Trey Lewis: First, we recommend asking a very important question during the interview:  “What would a successful performance evaluation look like for the selected candidate a year from today? What sorts of accomplishments would you like to see from the person in this position?”  This shows that you’re a person committed to being successful and it gives you a blueprint of what you need to do if you’re hired for the position.