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Job hunting tips for new graduates

Recent college graduates are facing one of the most challenging job markets in years. COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on employment, with nearly 10 million jobs lost because of the pandemic.

A survey by Michigan State University found that 25% of employers had closed open positions or rescinded job offers made to graduating seniors in response to the virus.

With jobs in short supply, those with degrees, but not much experience, will need to work hard to stand out from the crowd.

Here are some tips for job seekers to increase their chances of landing a position.

Home Field Advantage

It is hard to find a job in an area outside where you grew up. Local contacts do make a huge difference. Odds are your parents know somebody in your field of interest.

Ask them who they may know in your hometown that you could network with. If that person knew you in grade school and if they took an interest in, you then they would love to help you now. Maybe you played sports with their child and there was a connection or in you were the school play together? Do not discount home field advantage.


I have told my children, if you are passionate about something you will be good at it, and if you are good at it you should be able to make a living. When you love something, it is obvious to others.

In fact, it becomes infectious and people will want to know why. This passion is particularly helpful during the interview process. I do not care if it is in person or on Zoom.

Express your passion verbally and physically it will shine through in any forum. Pick a field of interest that you are curious about and demonstrate a sincere interest in it.

Read up on the jobs that are related to this field. You would be surprised at how much you can learn if you take the time to become knowledgeable.

Be Prepared

Interviewing is nerve-wracking enough, but when you are not prepared and must wing it, an interview is no fun. The better prepared you are the more confident you will feel and that will be readily apparent to others.

Do your homework and research the company and people you might be interviewing with. Plan to ask a few questions about the company. The more interest you show in the company or person you are interviewing with the more they will remember you later. This makes a big difference when there are quite a few job candidates. You want to be noticed.

Resume & Cover Letter

Keep your resume to one page. Make sure it is easy to read and does not contain any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Be sure to include activities and hobbies at the bottom of the page.

What gets you a job is probably not your GPA, but maybe what you did during a gap year or what you like to do during your time off. You never know if the person interviewing you has the same interests, which may spark a connection and a memory.

Cover letters are important. Take your time writing them. Make these first impressions interesting, include activities you might have done in college like sports or clubs. Again, no spelling mistakes or grammar errors.

If someone likes your cover letter, they will go on to read your resume. It would be smart to have someone else proofread your cover letter and resume to catch any mistakes.

Social Media

Clean it up. Delete fraternity party photos, spring break in Cancun trip, and drinking. Do not give your future employer a reason not to hire you.

These photos can conflict with the professional image you are trying to portray.

A good litmus test is to ask your parents to look at your social media pages and see if they would hire you. If they would not, neither will anybody else.


Hard works pays off and persistence is an offshoot of this. After you have had a good interview, send that person a hand-written thank you note. Corny and old fashion maybe, but you will stand out because nobody else will do it.

Most of the people you interview with will be impressed and remember you for taking the time and making the effort to do this one small thing.

A week after the thank you note gets there, follow up with an email to see if there is anything else, they might need to determine if you are still in the running for the job. If you do not hear anything, call them and leave a voicemail. The worst thing someone can say to you is no.

Given a choice between someone who is hungry for the job and maybe less experienced I will choose the go getter every time. In fact, our latest hire at Northstar beat out 40 other applicants and she had zero financial services experience. We hired because she was persistent and hungry. She has turned out to be a home run hire too.

Hang in there, this pandemic will pass, and jobs will become available again, and maybe even faster than you realize. The worst thing you can do is give up hope. Stay engaged, focused and do not lose sight of the goal, which is to land a job.

Put as many irons in the fire as possible because it becomes a numbers game. The more interviews you do, the more resumes and cover letters you send out the odds improve of getting hired.

0407 Northstar 24august2011 Fred Taylor co-founded Northstar Investment Advisors, LLC in 1995. The firm specializes in managing personalized investment portfolios for individuals, families, and retirees with a focus on income generation. He is a member of the Colorado Forum and also served as an economic advisor to Colorado Governor Bill Ritter from 2008 to 2010.