Advice to New Graduates in Their Job Search: ‘Put Your Baseball Cap to the Side’

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Harris Allied offers five tips for landing your first ‘real’ job.

Perhaps the best thing a job seeker can do for him or herself is get an advisor or mentor.... Having someone in your corner during the job search process can make all the difference.

Recent college graduates entering the job market after spending the summer backpacking through Europe or taking some downtime face a tight labor market according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute. Experts at Harris Allied, a New York City-based executive search firm, have some words of wisdom for landing that first “real” job.

“The truth is that it is just harder to launch one’s career today than it was when we graduated from college a few decades ago. But there are some basic, yet all-important, steps new graduates can take to stand apart from the crowd as they embark on their job search in this highly competitive environment,” says Kathy Harris, managing director of Harris Allied.

Harris offers the following guidance:

Have a great resume – The newly minted grad should have a resume that looks grounded and substantial. It should be free from typos, organized and feature a classic font. Don’t get artsy unless you are looking for a job in a creative field. It should be one-page long and leverage every marquis interaction you have had. Cite every internship and recognized brand company name.

Get great references – Call your professional references, network with them, and ask them if you can count on them for a glowing reference. Solicit their advice on your job search and ask for their feedback on your resume. This is the time to start thinking about who could be your mentor when you need to make career decisions.

Practice interviewing – Before you meet anyone, practice conducting an interview. You can find sample interview questions suited to your industry online. It’s important to be able to field tough interview questions that come your way, so rehearse interviews with a trusted advisor. Candidates who are unprepared for interviews are a constant source of irritation to hiring managers.

Interview for information – Ask and arrange for informational interviews. Not only are they an opportunity to practice your interviewing style, but they also may provide you with an opportunity to get your foot in the door. Go dressed like you are ready for a real interview; make eye contact; be aware of your body language and be prepared with questions. It’s important to demonstrate that you are serious even though the interview is informational. Ask about their hiring plans for the year. Ask them for advice. Take notes and pay attention. Follow up with an emailed or written thank-you note and connect on LinkedIn.

Know what you want and be specific – Be prepared to tell a prospective employer exactly what you want. Refer to your skills, education and contacts that are applicable. You should be able to clearly articulate your goals and vision. This can leave a far better impression than trying to be flexible, open to anything and non-committal.

“Be prepared to discuss the highlights of your academic career. Your GPA and even your SAT scores matter,” says Harris. “Prospective employers, especially for highly quantitative roles, look at these scores to benchmark candidates competing for entry-level positions. Now is the time to put your baseball cap to the side and look long and hard at how you can present yourself to an employer in the best possible light.

“Yes, it’s tough out there. But perhaps the best thing a job seeker can do for him or herself is get an advisor or mentor. Ask them for advice and candid feedback. Have them role-play interviews with you, review your resume with fresh eyes, and ask if they’d be willing to give you a reference if needed. Having someone in your corner during the job search process can make all the difference,” says Harris.

About Harris Allied
Harris Allied provides premier executive search, technology and quant analyst placement services to the financial services, professional services, consumer goods, digital media and tech industries. The firm represents clients who are at a variety of growth stages: from tech start-ups to established industry leaders. Harris Allied’s client-centric approach allows the firm to objectively assess the strengths of qualified candidates and thoughtfully match them with the right opportunities. For more information visit To view Harris Allied’s corporate video, “For Each of Us, It Starts with a Moment,” visit

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Nina Dietrich
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