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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Shawn’s advice to Graduates Looking for a Job

*This blog is dedicated to my Facebook Friends Jia Ireland and JM McSwain* Congratulations to Jia graduating this year with her BA, and JM McSwain who will soon be graduating with his BAS in IT.

I know a lot of brothers and sisters are coming out of college and they’re looking for work. And they’re becoming frustrated because the job market feels like an endless stream not of rejections, and online applications filled with crazy-making questions.

I understand their frustrations because I was in their spot twenty years ago. Back then I was going crazy trying to figure out why no one would call back after I sent out hundreds of resumes through the mail (no internet in 1994, you actually had to literally pound the pavement to look for work) and hoping, wishing and praying that I’d find a job. I know how hard it is to be the first one to graduate college in a family that and have NO support system to help find a full-time job. I’m hoping some of these tips can help some of those grads out there.

These are some of the things that brothers and sisters can do to break through the wall of indifference and access the job market:

Get the names. Sending an e-mail of a resume or an application to is a shot in the dark. In most cases it’s a waste of time as some companies have a dedicated server to these kinds of job listings and in most cases the resumes sent here are never read. (some are just collected for research purposes.

However, sending an e-mail to ensures that resume or cover letter will be read by someone at the company. Better yet once you find out the name of the manager, find out the address as well and send them a hard copy of a resume and a cover letter. A personalized letter gets on someones’ desk. And personalized letters get read and responded to at businesses.  

I gave my sister this advice 10 years ago after she finished Grad School. She was frustrated about not making any progress pounding the pavement. Following my advice got her a full-time job in a few days! When you take the time to figure out who to send your resume to, it says that you’re tenacious and are willing to take the time to do the research.

Craft a cover letter. Once you get the name of a manager, take the time to craft a dynamic cover letter. A well-written cover letter shows a manager that a candidate is truly passionate about your field. When a person who takes the time to get the name of a manager shows that they’re serious about working in a field. When a manager reads a cover letter with not only their name, but featuring detailed examples of ideas it shows that a candidate has vision, creativity and is going to be an asset to a company.

Have a Side Hustle/Work Free-Lance. They say you can’t get a job without experience. And you can’t get experience without a job. But when you have a side hustle you’re already working.

If you don’t have a job make one. If you have a particular hobby like building computers, art, or cooking, you can probably turn this into a business. Free-lance jobs are a great way to build up you reputation, your work experience and network with other professionals.

What got me hired at STRIVE and City College of New York was my years of experience as a free-lance writer. When the HR people saw samples of my writing, they saw I was serious about developing my craft and offered me a full-time job.

Some side hustles like eBay, Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Publishing program) NookPress and Smashwords only require a checking account and an e-mail address.

And while you’re working on these hustles you’re developing valuable business skills such as customer service, marketing and sales experience.

The cool thing about a side hustle/working Freelance is that it’s a way to build connections with other like-minded people. When you have a side hustle you can network with other hustlers out there and learn about other moneymaking opportunities. And

One thing hustlers and freelancers have to do is NOT let any HR person try to minimize your work experience. I’ve run into HR people who will say slick things like “this wasn’t a paying job” or “You weren’t on the payroll” in an attempt to devalue my work experience. However, people Side Hustles and Free-lance work show that they can be valuable assets to a company’s team.  In fact, they’re more valuable, because they show a manager they can work on their own. And free-lancers and side hustlers show a manager has more passion and initiative because they can work on their own towards finishing a project or completing a task.

And a side hustle it’s a great way to build into a business. Once you learn how to make enough money from a legit hustle and build up a solid base customers, you can turn a side hustle into a full-time business. The ultimate goal of getting a job should be working towards getting your own business. At the end of the day you are working for yourself, and your ultimate goal should be towards becoming your own boss.

Have a presence on Social Media. Most employers today Google people they’re considering. So having a blog, a Facebook and a YouTube page will give them an insight into who they’re hiring.

If you have a side hustle/Work Freelance Social Media is a way to sell your products to the world. I’ve met a lot of contacts on social media and I’ve actually gotten quite a few free-lance jobs that way. Again, people saw my work and wanted to offer me a job.

Register at your local Temp agency. The Temp agency is a good place to have your name on file. If they ever have anything available you’ll be called.

I have had iffy experience with Temp agencies, ranging from some that gave me one-day jobs to some that never called, so I can’t say they’re that great. But if you can get work at one it’s an okay way to get pocket money and some work experience.

Talk to your Career Services Office. This one is a bit of a longshot, but the College Career Services office might have some listings available. Some might even have manager names on hand. Some of these managers might be alumni and might give a chance to a fellow grad.

Register at a Job readiness Workshop. Programs like STRIVE can be very helpful to people coming out of school. And their job developers might have an inside track on work. HINT*Some of these programs get jobs set aside for their program graduates. So it’s beneficial to go into one of these programs. *

Register For Americorps* In 2000, I volunteered with Americorps* Vista. ( )I did a year of service with STRIVE helping them increase their resources to help their program recruit homeless adults. Americorps*VISTA as far as I know (it’s been 14 years since I served) pays a (tax-free) stipend that’s about minimum wage. I think there’s some student loan deferment/Forgivness (don’t know) and it’s a great way to help give back to your community. It’s not a “job” per se, but it’s a way to get experience and pay bills.

Head to your Local library. The library has a lot of job resources available. Things like and if you have a laptop/Cell phone, most have Free Wi-fi you can use to search for work
There are a host of sites you can use such as and which feature thousands of job listings across the country.

Go to your Local Unemployment office. This one is another shot in the dark as most of the listings here are OUT OF DATE. But sometimes they can have a lead on a job that’s useful. Register at your local Department of Labor and maybe they can help you.

Talk to relatives and Friends. 99.5 of all jobs are found through friends and relatives, and this is the untapped job market many don’t go to FIRST. People hire friends and relatives because  they trust them, and know they’ll do a good job. So if you’re coming out of school, make sure to let everyone in all your social circles know you’re looking for work. They might know of an opening you can slip into.

While looking for a job is challenging for a new college grad, if you know how where to look and how to look it can be less frustrating. Getting a full-time job requires drive, determination and tenacity. Keep pushing and sooner or later you’ll have that paycheck. 


  1. Considering that I'm jobless, I remember one time my grandmother that me and my aunt should take cooking classes in the future (which since I feel like I don't have anything better to do even with a computer) that would be a sigh of relief because I've been bored a lot.

  2. Ad, taking classes can be fun. I took a PC repair class when I got fired five years ago and it was invaluable to me. I loved getting out of the house and learning and meeting new people A cooking class could lead to a career and you could meet some awesome people there. I say go for it!

  3. When I was 18, my grandma had saved up $3000 for to go to school. I told my mom I wanted to take the Joe Kubert correspondence school, and my mom flipped out. I bowed to the pressure she put on me and went to the local university here and got an Associate Degree in Communication. I realize now that degree is completely worthless. The only thing that came of was a $20, 000 student loan and one retail job after another. To this day I wish I would have stuck to my guns, and done the Kubert school. Maybe nothing would have come of it, but I wouldn't have had a student loan debt hanging over my head. In my late 20s I was able to get a good job with the state government, but that came from my work experience not my degree. If I ever have kids the thing I'm going to tell them is to learn a skill that will get you a job in the real world, and don't listen those who say college is the be all end all.

  4. Yeah, you should have gone for your passion. Kubert School produces top quality artists. Degrees are nice, but it's not the end all to be all. I find it's best to go and pursue what you want to pursue not just try to get a job.
    Question: Why not go to the Kubert School now? Never too late to go for what you love.