Recent Grad Job Advice: The Best Career Books
There are some excellent non-fiction books out there to help you create the perfect resume, ace an interview, and put your best foot forward. Some are classics, tried and true, while others focus on the edgiest trends for 21st century job seekers. College grad job competition is high, but there are tools that can make you an excellent candidate for your dream job.
First of all, untag yourself on Facebook in any photo where you’re holding a beer. Before you fill out any job applications, make sure you do one crucial thing: Google yourself. Don’t just check what web sites come up when you search for your name, but also skim the photo results to see what a potential employer might see. If you want to take this a step further try a tactic embraced in Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, a career guide that focuses on building a unique image to sell to potential employers. Recent grads usually have only a few previous job experiences to list on a resume, and putting your best foot forward can be the extra boost you need to give you the edge over the competition. The book’s author, Dorie Clark gives well-known examples of successful individuals that have customized a public image, publicizing exactly what they want others to see.
Getting Your Bearings
You know what you majored in, but where will this take you? While the first edition of this handbook was published in 1970, What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard N. Bolles remains a popular bestseller on the topic of job searching. In fact, you may have already received it as a graduation gift since the title is so well-known. This indispensable guide covers everything from interviews, including difficult topics such as salary negotiation, to the “rejection shock” that is so inevitable in today’s difficult job market. One of its more reputable uses is the chapters on honing in on what you enjoy, what you’re good at, and how to apply these things to a life-long career. There are quite a few books that claim to do many of these things, but What Color is Your Parachute is a tried and true classic. It’s also rated number 7 on Amazon’s Best Sellers in Jobs and Careers.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook is published by the United States Bureau of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics; that’s a long way of saying that it’s the official data that professionals who study employment have supplied to represent the national averages. It’s a giant volume of information that can be a little intimidating at first, but you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn from this reference book. You use it like a dictionary or encyclopedia, looking up a specific career field first where you will find a few pages that apply to your particular field. It can help you narrow down your job specialty into a more specific title by listing the national average of the salary made, the increase or decrease of job openings, and similar jobs that are related to or have comprable requirements. Since this data is compiled every year, you will have to find an edition for 2013-2014 which will have the most up-to-date, accurate information.
Sheryl Sandberg’s new book Lean In has piqued the curiosity of those looking for jobs along with those who are just plain interested in the chief operating officer of Facebook and her incredible success. This national favorite has hit the number one spot on the New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction bestseller list this week. Along with making Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business, Sandberg is famous for giving a TED talk that focused on her fellow women who wish to further themselves in their career and how they unintentionally hold themselves back. Lean In has some great lessons for women who anticipate being put in workplace situations where men usually take the lead. The advice focuses on encouraging women to speak up, take the lead, and get comfortable going toe-to-toe with a male coworker. While the book has been criticized as slightly biased toward the perspective of a particularly privileged individual, many valuable essentials for recent graduates remain. Besides being a positive, empowering book that is likely to enlighten, this title is also very readable, almost as if Sandberg is relating her personal success secrets to you, making it enjoyable as well.
After all, it’s a tough job market out there and we all need a pep talk from time to time. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a fictional tale, a fable with a message. The main character in this story, Santiago starts out as a simple shepherd who seeks to leave his home in search of treasure. His journey takes him through many experiences, but the lessons he learns are worth more than the treasure he dreams of. It’s a beautiful little book, 197 pages in all, that will leave you with a sense of hope and appreciation for the little miracles.
What advice do you have for recent graduates who are looking for jobs?