Getting a job after college

General talk. News, religion, politics, your daily life, whatever, it goes here. Just keep it clean.
User avatar
localflick
Black Dragon Wizard
Posts: 495
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 7:07 pm
Location: Chicago-ish
Contact:

Getting a job after college

Postby localflick » Sun Feb 12, 2006 9:25 pm

I'm curious, has anyone had any trouble finding a job after they finished college? I haven't had trouble finding a job, but I can't find a good one to save my life, and I'm getting a bit frustrated.
I design websites although I'm much better at increasing usability, search engine optimization, and improving websites than design. There's not many places that do just that, and I found one last week. Then a week later I got laid off because they're moving to another building in a month or so, and the new building is going to cost them more than the little start-up company could expect so they got rid of me, and stopped hiring. Before that I worked for a company that seemed shady, then started bouncing paychecks, so i had to jump from that ship.
I've been freelancing and re-designing my own website to reflect where I am now instead of where I was when I made it.
But it's a strange situation since most places that offer fulltime positions require 3 years of experience, but you can't get experience without working. The freelancing thing is good, and can get me the experience, but it won't pay off my student loan debt which is why I'm looking for a fulltime in the first place. So is this a normal thing to go through, or am I just finding the wrong companies? I'm posting my resume, cover letter etc... all over this week. And I'm looking forward to meeting with whatever the next company will be like, but it's getting hard not to get jaded with something like this. Especially since the last company had to let me go so abruptly. They didn't even know until the weekend, so I had software they ordered me earlier in the week on the way to the building. They had things on deck for me to work on the next week, and when they laid me off they didn't even seem ready for it. My former boss felt really bad, and I was just confused. How can you feel secure at any job after that?!
Sorry to ramble like that, and I don't want to discourage anyone who's about to graduate from college, but again, is this a normal thing?

User avatar
GhaleonOne
Ghost From The Past
Posts: 9071
Joined: Wed Dec 25, 2002 4:59 am
Location: Not of this world...
Contact:

Postby GhaleonOne » Sun Feb 12, 2006 10:05 pm

It's normal. Depending on the field really. I'm in the exact same boat. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I found a job, but after a few days, realized it wasn't going to work out (long story short, 12-14 hour days at salary pay isn't worth it). I'm somewhat limited in the midwest, but have been looking in Colorado as well, and had quite a few bites, just nothing substantial yet. I'd say just keep freelancing until you find that job. It's what I'm doing, while also working on my book. I started out <a href="http://www.mickeyshannon.com/web/portfolio-5.jpg">with this</a>, and am <a href="http://www.mickeyshannon.com/">now at this</a>. I remember reading that the average person in a good field for the economy was spending 6+ months finding a job in their field even with a college degree and some experience. It just takes patience. I've been extremely frustrated at times lately too, but have to keep telling myself that something will come up eventually. Just remember, you're already ahead of a lot of folks with a college education.
-G1

User avatar
Imperial Knight
Black Dragon Wizard
Posts: 477
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2005 2:53 am
Location: Chicago

Postby Imperial Knight » Sun Feb 12, 2006 10:32 pm

Well, I'll be graduating at the end of this semester, but I can't say much about the whole issue of getting a job because I've decided to go to grad school. While the process of applying has its own stresses and whatnot, it's different enough from looking for a job that they can't be considered the same.

SilverOcean
Lyton Singer
Posts: 43
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2005 5:31 pm

Postby SilverOcean » Sun Feb 12, 2006 10:44 pm

You don't say if you've limited your job search to IT firms or big websites like monster.com. Have you tried large firms in different industries? A lot of these firms do IT in-house or subcontract to certain firms. Financial, insurance, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, petrochemical, and defense contractors all require a large IT effort & they all do a lot of web-based stuff, both in-house & with customers. Federal or state agencies might be a good bet. There are a lot of openings with the defense contractors now in California. Someone I know was fairly impressed with SAIC a while back.

User avatar
phyco126
Dragonmaster
Posts: 8125
Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2002 3:06 am
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
Contact:

Postby phyco126 » Sun Feb 12, 2006 10:51 pm

Eh, I got two jobs, then lost them both, now I can't get a job to save my life (almost litterally.) So.... yeah.
Image

- "Sometimes life smiles when it kicks you down. The trick is to smile back."

User avatar
Kizyr
Keeper of Knowledge (probationary)
Posts: 8183
Joined: Wed Dec 25, 2002 7:36 am
Location: Marius Zone
Contact:

Postby Kizyr » Mon Feb 13, 2006 1:53 am

You'll encounter vastly different obstacles depending on your situation.

I connected through my professors at my school and specific job listings for the area. I didn't use Monster.com or any other major job websites (it wouldn't've helped much in my field), but instead used a combination of professor recommendations, the career search website from my university (and the career center itself), and visiting websites and contacting companies themselves for listings. It took me about two and a half months of searching to find a job, and that's usually really good as far as time is concerned.

I'd have to know more about your situation to give some some reliable advice. Where do you live? Where did you go to college? What's your resume look like? Are you willing to relocate? Etc. KF
~Kizyr
Image

User avatar
Angelalex242
Legendary Hero
Posts: 1277
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 8:38 pm
Location: Lucia's Fortress
Contact:

Postby Angelalex242 » Mon Feb 13, 2006 8:50 am

I had trouble with it too...

But when my 40+ year old uncle switched careers from being an area manager of Medquest to Real Estate, I jumped my own ship and changed careers with him. I want to be able to put my youth and creativity behind experience, and we'll just make bank investing in houses now.
Don't blame me, Lucia promised me lots of snuggles and cuddles if I would be her PR guy.

Image

User avatar
localflick
Black Dragon Wizard
Posts: 495
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 7:07 pm
Location: Chicago-ish
Contact:

Postby localflick » Mon Feb 13, 2006 5:56 pm

I feel much better knowing it's not just me. I went to Columbia College Chicago, and while I'm still tweaking it, my resume is here as a pdf. When I made this version I left extra space so that I could put a profile in the text version that has keywords so potential employers browsing Monster, Careerbuilder, Columbia Works, and the other sites I'm listed at can find my resume easier. I also re-list it every month to keep it at the top of the list.
Columbia Works is my college's placement program. It boasts a percentage high in the 90% range, but in my field that's only because they have loads of intern work, and temporary one-time website jobs. Seeing a permanant position is pretty rare, and everyone pounces on it when it comes up.

You don't say if you've limited your job search to IT firms or big websites like monster.com. Have you tried large firms in different industries?

I've stuck mostly to big websites to list my information. Sites like Craig's list and indeed.com really help. It's like Google with jobs. Getting small jobs insn't an issue because there are lots of small agencies that find temporary work for whatever period you need. The jobs I've worked on through the agencies range a lot, and usually do span several different industries. But I've never considered a permanent position at any of them. And I don't want to freelance for little jobs the rest of my life. But for now it is a good way to get experience and money.
The student loans are what's killing me though. I'm coming out of forebearance, and it's going to be almost an extra $200 a month I'll have to come up with.
But like most of you said, it's just going to take time and patience. I feel a little bit better now.
Thanks.

User avatar
GhaleonOne
Ghost From The Past
Posts: 9071
Joined: Wed Dec 25, 2002 4:59 am
Location: Not of this world...
Contact:

Postby GhaleonOne » Mon Feb 13, 2006 6:15 pm

Resume says forbidden when I tried to click on it.

But on a side note, how much did your college cost, and did you consolidate? That helped considerably with my payments, as I went with a graduate choice. You're barely paying off interest for the first five years, but it makes it much more manageable until you get set with a good job. And it's not like you can't pay the loans of early when you do find a job (that's what I plan to do).

And I've found unless you have amazing academic records or parents that can help out considerably, it's just not possible to get through college without at least some loans at most school anymore.
-G1

User avatar
Kizyr
Keeper of Knowledge (probationary)
Posts: 8183
Joined: Wed Dec 25, 2002 7:36 am
Location: Marius Zone
Contact:

Postby Kizyr » Mon Feb 13, 2006 6:28 pm

G1, just re-enter the URL in the browser to view the PDF.

localflick wrote:I feel much better knowing it's not just me. I went to Columbia College Chicago, and while I'm still tweaking it, my resume is here as a pdf.


Ok, I got a meeting in a couple minutes, so I can't say anything right now. But before then, about how much help / feedback do you want? I could likely make a lot of suggestions regarding your resume, and a bit more on a job search now that I know where you are and what you're looking for... Perhaps a bit on contacts, as well. KF
~Kizyr
Image

User avatar
Dragonmaster Lou
Black Dragon Wizard
Posts: 483
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 8:58 pm
Location: Massachusetts
Contact:

Postby Dragonmaster Lou » Mon Feb 13, 2006 7:33 pm

It all depends really -- mostly on your field of interest/study and your timing. In my case, I was looking for a computer programming job at the height of the tech bubble, so I had no trouble whatsoever finding work. My fiancee, however, was looking for a graphic design job about 2 years ago, and she only really found a good one about six months ago.
"Guts can turn a 30% chance into a 100% chance!" - Taiga Kohtarou
Personal home page: http://www.techhouse.org/~lou
Lunar page: http://www.techhouse.org/~lou/lunar/
AMV page: http://www.tealstudios.com

User avatar
localflick
Black Dragon Wizard
Posts: 495
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 7:07 pm
Location: Chicago-ish
Contact:

Postby localflick » Mon Feb 13, 2006 7:34 pm

If my resume says "forbidden" check the restrictions on pdfs, or it might be saved for an older version of Acrobat. I'm going to convert it to html, and just have the pdf and .doc versions to download. It was exported with Open Office if that helps.

how much help / feedback do you want? I could likely make a lot of suggestions regarding your resume, and a bit more on a job search now that I know where you are and what you're looking for... Perhaps a bit on contacts, as well. KF


Tear it apart! Kizyr, the edits you've posted in the past were always great improvements, and this resume was rushed from a template. Heh, this resume was created in a frantic 15 minutes because last week I was pretty frazzled when I got laid off, and was panicing far too much. It cought me offguard because financially I wasn't ready for it. I was trying to juggle my sidejobs for income, while re-designing my site, while looking for a job, while helping with my responsibilities to my family, and my personal obligations, I was just going too fast. Sleep... didn't really happen. I'd like to make several versions of my resume to play up each skill set I can apply for. This resume doesn't even give a list of what I can do.
So this week I'm slowing down, breathing and calmly/rationally going over everything while taking my time. And any contacts would be GREATLY appreciated. I found out I have a cousin that may be able to get me a job too. My biggest limitation is my car, which can barely go for an hour without dying. That's why i'm trying to land a job in Chicago because there's a trainline near my house that gets me to the CTA loop where I can get to almost anywhere I need to go in about an hour fairly cheaply.

As for the loans, my "expected family contribution" is $0 because we can barely get by, let alone pay for college. I qualified for a lot of student loans because I fell into several categories like a low-income family, and single parent-household. My federal loans were consolidated (and it helped a lot!) without interest it's around $18,000. I also have $6,000 of Sallie Mae loans. Since I'll be making payments for both of them, it adds up quickly. It's almost as if you go to college to pay for college. At least for the first few years or so. But getting laid off really messed things up since it was the last thing I (or my employer for that matter) expected so I thought I was ready to come out of forbearance.
But I still think it's kind of funny that I worked at one company that couldn't pay their payroll so they bounced paychecks, and another company that couldn't afford payroll so they stopped hiring and got rid of the new employees. By comparison that first one wasn't so bad. :wink: It's also funny that the second one ordered software that arrived after I no longer worked there.

User avatar
Karthur
Black Dragon Wizard
Posts: 403
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2003 5:37 pm
Location: Southwest of Disorder
Contact:

Postby Karthur » Mon Feb 13, 2006 11:08 pm

I was a rare case: there were 64 openings for ITE teachers in SC the year I graduated and I was the only one who was graduating certified. Needless to say, I had my pick of spots--and job queries from numerous states. Why I stayed in SC...well, only because of my husband.

That said, my husband was out of work for 16 months a few years ago. He had a rough time finding a job and was screwed over numerous times by companies playing the "interview you, interview you again, don't even bother to send a rejection letter" game. I think what helped him the most was networking. Even if he couldn't get a job with a company, he'd try his hardest to find someone who knew of a soon-to-be open position.
"Even if I close my eyes the world will not disappear." -- Mathiu Silverberg, Suikoden I

User avatar
GhaleonOne
Ghost From The Past
Posts: 9071
Joined: Wed Dec 25, 2002 4:59 am
Location: Not of this world...
Contact:

Postby GhaleonOne » Mon Feb 13, 2006 11:31 pm

"interview you, interview you again, don't even bother to send a rejection letter" game.


That's happened to me quite a bit in the past 6 months. It can be really frustrating.
-G1

User avatar
localflick
Black Dragon Wizard
Posts: 495
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 7:07 pm
Location: Chicago-ish
Contact:

Postby localflick » Tue Feb 14, 2006 12:19 am

Same here. There's been a lot of places that give a good first impression, invited me in for the second interview, seemed really interested, then don't return my call(s)/e-mail(s) when I follow it up after not hearing from them. Is it that hard to send a pasted e-mail saying you didn't get the job?

User avatar
Kizyr
Keeper of Knowledge (probationary)
Posts: 8183
Joined: Wed Dec 25, 2002 7:36 am
Location: Marius Zone
Contact:

Postby Kizyr » Tue Feb 14, 2006 1:41 am

Same here. There's been a lot of places that give a good first impression, invited me in for the second interview, seemed really interested, then don't return my call(s)/e-mail(s) when I follow it up after not hearing from them. Is it that hard to send a pasted e-mail saying you didn't get the job?


Most places these days don't send rejection letters. It's actually better to just go ahead with a general strategy of following-up, while applying to other places at the same time. Assume that your status there is pending until after 2-3 weeks; if by then you don't get a response, it's usually safe to assume that you didn't get it.

That being said, it'll always help to have a general strategy for applying. What worked for me is sending or following up on an average of five applications a week. For any job, it's best to research the company one day, write a cover letter and format your resume the next day, then apply and move onto the next job. If you don't hear anything within a few days to a week, then contact them via email or phone, just to check up if they received your application and if there's any update in its status (all this while applying to other jobs).

As for where to go, well... that depends vastly on your field. If Craigslist and other sites are giving you good listings, by all means, go for it. Just be aware that the bigger the website, the more responses they'll receive, and the more original (and interested) you have to sound with your cover letter. Don't slather them with praise, but be very forthright with what you can offer to the company, and what made you so interested in the company to begin with. Particularly with things like Craigslist ads, being direct and brief works best. Oh, and if you're listing anything you've done in the past, bullet-point it; that immediately draws attention.

A strike rate of, like, 5-10% is usually really good for a response. If you ever actually receive an offer, then you might want to request at least a week to consider it first (or two weeks if you have other offers pending that you want to hear back from). But never turn down something outright, or assume that you won't get such-and-such position.

Oh, and after any interview... always, always send a thank-you letter! Phone interviews can merit an email thank-you, but any in-person interviews should get a physical letter (typed and signed is fine, handwritten only if there was something real special about it). Those give you the opportunity to a) cover up for any mistakes you might have made, or if you thought you misrepresented yourself at all, b) add onto whatever you said, particularly if you cut yourself off for fear of being verbose, and c) keep yourself fresh in the interviewers' minds.

Tear it apart! Kizyr, the edits you've posted in the past were always great improvements, and this resume was rushed from a template. Heh, this resume was created in a frantic 15 minutes because last week I was pretty frazzled when I got laid off, and was panicing far too much.


Before I say anything, I gotta give a disclaimer that I'm no professional. So if any of my advice clashes with what you get from a professional, ignore mine.

Now, I'd say first to trash this resume. You're a web designer, so you can definitely take the same approach you have with aesthetics in web design to present your own information. For instance, you could use the type of header you have on your webpage as the background to present your personal info at the top (name, address, phone, email, and website--name being most prominent, of course).

I actually designed my resume first in HTML, then printed it to a PDF file. Gives a lot more control that way.

Now about organizing the info... Yeah, it's good to have a space at the top for something like a general objective statement, saying what kind of work you want to do. You can replace this with specific information about the position for which you're applying if you're sending your resume to a specific company, instead of passing it around.

Next, because you have a lot of relevant experience, keep that up top (below the objective / job description). Be brief, but specific where possible (e.g., mention who was the company's biggest client, instead of just saying it was the company's biggest client). And, of course, most recent position up top. You might want to include the title of the position you held, if applicable.

Fourth, you can either list your education and then skills, or skills and then education, whichever you think accentuates what you know more. For the skills, the kind of programming (and amoutn of programming) you've done in the past is real important. So be sure to list as much as you can, and indicate how proficient you are with each. E.G., you can have a list for programming languages first, and say something like "advanced HTML, intermediate CSS", then a list for graphic design suites, then a list of any other programs (you can always put something like MS Word / Excel or MS Office just to be sure). Also, be sure to list any certifications you might have.

Fifth, for education, you might want to list any coursework which is highly relevant, provided it doesn't make the list too long. Something like "4 semesters of computer programming" or the like would be proficient. It's not terribly important since you have a decent amount of work experience.

Lastly, regarding contacts, you can put that on a separate page if you want. I can't think of any places that'll look at your contacts along with your resume, but rather they'll check out your resume first, and then any contacts if they become interested. There might be room for other things, if applicable, but in general it's best to keep it to one page unless there're extenuating circumstances (not including contacts).

Oh, and one very, very important thing: eliminate any and all errors from the resume! Any errors are likely to be an immediate dismissal (e.g., the "independant" instead of "independent"). That just means running it through a spell-checker and having other folks proof-read it, but it goes a long way.

So this week I'm slowing down, breathing and calmly/rationally going over everything while taking my time. And any contacts would be GREATLY appreciated. I found out I have a cousin that may be able to get me a job too. My biggest limitation is my car, which can barely go for an hour without dying. That's why i'm trying to land a job in Chicago because there's a trainline near my house that gets me to the CTA loop where I can get to almost anywhere I need to go in about an hour fairly cheaply.


Ok, it's good that you live in a large city. That'll help greatly. You seem to already have a few contacts. The usual suspects are your old college, previous employers, friends and family, etc. You shouldn't have to worry about relocating in that case. Don't worry if you have to take a week to reassess your situation and plan things out. Unless your in serious financial straits (and I mean down to having to choose between paying rent or eating kind of serious) then just expect for the job search to take some time. If you're holding down another job right now, too, then it might take more time because you can't devote your entire efforts to it. So, yeah, patience will play big in that.

Hm, this ended up being really long. But I hope that it helped you out. Good luck. KF
~Kizyr
Image

User avatar
GhaleonOne
Ghost From The Past
Posts: 9071
Joined: Wed Dec 25, 2002 4:59 am
Location: Not of this world...
Contact:

Postby GhaleonOne » Tue Feb 14, 2006 2:31 am

One quick comment...

There might be room for other things, if applicable, but in general it's best to keep it to one page unless there're extenuating circumstances (not including contacts).


This is where folks differ it seems. I've heard a lot of people tell me this, then both a job recruiter and two high-ups in companies told me if you can fill two pages with quality stuff, do it. Mine is personally two-pages, but I've been thinking of trimming it to one, as it can't seem to hurt any. I'm just not sure how, as there's not much in it that can be trimmed. I would be leaving out some fairly relevant stuff.

On a side note, my cousin told me that when he met his wife, who had come to America from Brazil for college, she showed him her resume. She apparently hadn't had any experience in resume-writing, and had 8 pages for a resume. She went so far as to list "gold stars" in elementary school and stuff like that under distinctions. We got a kick out of it, but she was fairly new to America and the whole idea of even writing a resume was new.
-G1

User avatar
localflick
Black Dragon Wizard
Posts: 495
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 7:07 pm
Location: Chicago-ish
Contact:

Postby localflick » Tue Feb 14, 2006 3:44 am

Kizyr, thanks for the feedback! In addition to the spell checker I need to make sure all the typefaces match as well. I was in such a rush that the header has 2 different typefaces in it. Designing it in html first makes a lot of sense since it's so relevant to the job itself, and it is a formatting language after all. I do have to go back and put in software/skill proficiency lists.
The fact that it looks like I have a lot of work experience is good because I really don't (that's why only the year is shown) and my last resume mostly played up work I did in college.
Thankfully because of the nature of the job, most applications are sent digitally. So I have a template cover letter and several versions of my resume that I tailor to whatever company I'm applying to. It's also a way to apply to several jobs a day which also speeds the process up a lot.
And "references available upon request" would free up space for the proficiency list among other things.
Thanks again!

User avatar
Alunissage
Goddess
Posts: 7182
Joined: Thu Dec 26, 2002 10:31 am
Contact:

Postby Alunissage » Tue Feb 14, 2006 3:49 am

Well, I'm used to academic resumes, for postdoctoral/research positions, and those are sometimes as short as two pages but practically never just one and more often three or four, or even more. But they're listing all their scientific achievements, such as publications and presentations, so that's expected. However, the general drift I've gotten even for the rest of the world is that over 1 page is pretty much okay. The one page rule of thumb is a legacy of paper filing, as is the bulletted list of qualities at the top, from when employers wanted to be able to just pick up a piece of paper and see everything about the candidate. These days, with so many job applications being electronic, keeping to a single printed page isn't nearly so important, and if you have more good stuff (as opposed to filler) to say about yourself then I'd advise taking the extra space.

If it's only a little more you might want to play with formatting to squeeze it onto one page for the PDF Kizyr recommends, but make sure to have a plaintext version as well; you'll want this for emailing in the body of a message (no markup -- including curved quotes/apostrophes -- unless you want to risk it getting chewed up) or pasting into a webform. Most of the latter will only take carriage returns and blank lines (if you're lucky), so don't depend on having some right-justified text look good, because it won't. Keep in mind that people who read their email in plaintext may have it wrap at 72 or 80 characters...okay, there probably aren't *that* many employers using Pine or whatnot, but there are surely some (like my boss)...and be careful that line breaks are only where you want them, e.g. at the end of paragraphs.

And I haven't looked at your actual resume myself, but if you're applying anywhere with programmers I do not recommend putting HTML and CSS down as languages. Granted, my group is generally looking for scientific programmers rather than web designers/developers (though actually I need to finish up a webdev ad to put up), but it tends to signal "person who only thinks he's a programmer" to actual programmers. I really cracked up at one wildly unsuitable candidate who said something in his cover letter to the effect of "Though I may not be an expert in the comp languages like Linux etc..."

User avatar
GhaleonOne
Ghost From The Past
Posts: 9071
Joined: Wed Dec 25, 2002 4:59 am
Location: Not of this world...
Contact:

Postby GhaleonOne » Tue Feb 14, 2006 4:55 am

And I haven't looked at your actual resume myself, but if you're applying anywhere with programmers I do not recommend putting HTML and CSS down as languages.


That's a really good point, and it's one I've heard a lot lately. In addition, people seem to get web design and web development mixed up (even the profiles for jobs I've put in for have done it, so it's not just at the job searcher level). Web Design is specifically the look and feel, with possible HTML and CSS involved. Web Development is the programming and database backend, but they can also be called a number of other things. But the general rule of thumb with companies who know better is that Web Design=aesthetic look and feel and Web Develop=backend type stuff. HTML and CSS work, and sometimes even JavaScript can fall into both categories. But then, even at that, most of the jobs I've seen in either field have at least some form of mixture. Specifically, Flash can be tricky, because most of the jobs that are centered around that are called "Flash Developers" and require both Flash and ActionScripting.
-G1


Return to “Almost Anything Goes Board”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 26 guests