As if leaving college wasn't hard enough, entering the real world and applying for your first "real" job can be just as challenging. To make matters worse, the lack of young professionals in Santa Fe deters many recent graduates from even applying in the City Different. Carlos Duno, President of Marcia Owen Associates, a permanent and temporary staffing agency located here in Santa Fe, and I have come up with tips for recent graduates to get through the job application process, and reasons why even you may want to stay and watch your career grow here.
First and foremost, Mr. Duno maintains there is a place for young professionals in the Santa Fe job market. He also says there is a reason for our demographic to stay here: the employment rate is between 3.2 and 3.7 percent, well below the national average, and demand for people in the medical, accounting and finance, and legal fields are booming here in the City Different.
Create Your Resume. You may already have a resume you used to apply to your neighborhood coffee shop or your best friend's mom's clothing store while you were in high school or when you came home for summers from college. But now is the time to create a professional resume. Including your degree(s) earned, honors programs, awards, volunteer work, and committees from college or graduate school will help enhance your leadership and self-initiative efforts. Listing previous relevant job experience (that is, relevant to the job you are currently applying) and detailing your responsibilities there will pay off. Mr. Duno suggests creating a heading on your resume called "Skills." Are you an experienced web editor? Are you an excellent typist? Do you know how to use Adobe Photoshop? Are you outgoing and have good communication skills? These are all characteristics a potential employer is looking for, so don't hesitate to include them in your resume!
Think Long-Term. It may be dreadful moving back in with your parents or postponing your move to Santa Fe to find a job, but thinking long-term about your career and the direction you want to go will certainly pay off. Even if you are not applying for your dream job, Mr. Duno recommends not applying to jobs that take you off your ultimate career track. Building your resume and keeping in line with what your goals are will, particularly for Santa Fe employers, be seen in a more positive light rather than taking whatever job is available. Mr. Duno is also quick to point out that if circumstances such as a lease ending or beginning, a bill that has to be paid, or any other situation disable you from applying for a job that is probably best for your career, do what you need to do first. In other words, take care of emergencies before you move forward in your career.
Research Opportunities. This step seems pretty obvious, especially once you have considered the direction in which you want to take your career. But researching a company or business should go beyond going to their website. If possible, talk with people you know who work there or know someone who does. Because of the size of Santa Fe, business' reputations are not hard to come by, which can only work to your advantage. As mentioned above, and as Mr. Duno advises, do not just apply for a job because it is a job (unless circumstances require you to do so). Instead, make sure the business(es) you are applying to can help you grow and give you the experience and opportunities you should be given over time. If you can't grow with a company you may want to rethink applying there.
Apply. Finally. You've created your first professional resume. You've put seriously thought and consideration into what you want from an employer and what you're willing to give in exchange. Now you can apply! Mr. Duno points out that in Santa Fe casualness is often mistaken for a lack of professionalism. When you begin applying for jobs don't make this mistake; schedule appointments with plenty of notice, be courteous to current employees, and dress up rather than dress down, even if it is just to drop off your application at the establishment.
Sell Yourself. I know, it sounds so exploitive. But Mr. Duno assures it is what employers are looking for. Once you have been offered an interview it is up to you to distinguish yourself from the other applicants, especially if it is a highly competitive position. As mentioned above, dress up, even if you know the business offers a casual environment. Of course, don't forget the basic rules of etiquette: give yourself time to get lost, arrive 10 minutes early, shake hands and maintain eye contact.
Explaining your best characteristics and leadership experiences you've had at previous jobs and in college will only work to your benefit; just make sure to keep stories and examples relevant to your ultimate point rather than bragging all of the things you have accomplished. Furthermore, Mr. Duno says there are three key steps to excelling in an interview. The first is to show enthusiasm about the position; of course this is a lot easier to do if you genuinely are interested in the job (hence why really thinking about where to apply is important.) The second step involves executing the work you've done prior to applying; let the employer know (in a subtle manner) that you have researched his or her company by saying something along the lines of, "I saw on your website you founded your company in 1995." The third step, which is often the most frightening, is to ask questions. In fact, it not only shows you have taken the time to research your future, but it is crucial for you to figure out if the job will best suit your needs. Have these questions prepared beforehand, even if you know the answers because it shows you care about the position. Ask questions such as, "What exactly does this position entail?" or "How many hours a week does this position require?". Mr. Duno says it is OK to ask about pay, but to not negotiate your salary until you have formally been offered the job.
Start Your Career. Congratulations! You got the job. Now it is time to start the journey-building your career. It can be an exciting new chapter of your life, and not just because you're no longer sharing a bathroom with your younger brother. But just because you have landed the job doesn't mean all will be perfect. Mr. Duno advises college grads to be flexible and open to the experience of your first job. It isn't going to be perfect, but you should keep an open mind and see your first "real" job as a challenge and an experience. Soak up as much as you can and perform to your best ability. The idea of the job most likely won't be the reality, but that doesn't mean it isn't going to be worse, just different. Moreover, it is easy to become distracted by coworkers and office gossip but remember your boss expects you to perform and complete the tasks given to you.
Enjoy it! It may take awhile for you to adjust to your first job and with the looming deadlines and other distractions you may forget to enjoy it. If you aren't enjoying it after a certain time period (say 6 months) reevaluate your career and what you want out of it. You should enjoy your first job and remain inspired, innovative, and hardworking as you grow with the company that hired you.
Special thanks to Mr. Duno at Marcia Owen Associates. (505) 983"¢7775 1411 Second Street Santa Fe, NM 87505. MarciaOwenAssoc.com.