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Graduated - Skills to Find that First Job

If you are one of the thousands of graduates out looking for a job, here are some tips to help you land the job you want.

Nashville, Ark. – College and High School graduations will soon be here. Finding a job in today’s world can be a challenge. If you are one of the thousands out looking for a job, here are some tips to help you land the job you want.

            First and foremost, find out the preferred method of applying for job. Many companies no longer use paper application forms and/or resumes. Today’s preferred method of applying may be technology. Companies post job openings online at their website. In fact, most of the former paperwork is now posted online. This includes letters of application, the application and the resume. Even references may be filled out online.

            Whichever way the company prefers to hire their employees, you will want to make sure your application stands out from the crowd. Keep in mind, you will probably be competing with dozens, if not hundreds, of applications for most jobs so:

  • Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight education, skills and experience relevant to the position. There are several great examples online.
  • If you do not have a lot of work history, play up your education highlights, volunteer or internship positions, awards, organizational memberships, etc.
  • Have strong references – and make sure you have asked them before putting their names and telephone numbers on the application. Family and friends should not be considered for references. Find someone who knows your skills and abilities. They might be a former teacher, someone who has seen you in action through volunteer work, a pastor, etc.
  • Proofread everything carefully and ask a trusted acquaintance to review your application before sending it in.

            Once you have sent in your application, it is time to start preparing for an interview. You may not receive an interview for every application you submit. Here are some tips to help you through this next stage of the job hunting search.

  • Google yourself. Review your social media footprint and remove photos or other materials that portray you unprofessionally. In fact, do not put anything on social media that shows you in a way other than professional. Think about posts from friends that may not be professional. Remove the posts.
  • Show up – on time—for interviews dressed appropriately, with extra copies of your resume, work samples and any requested materials. Do your homework. Know the company and what they do.
  • Dress appropriately. Make sure your clothes are clean and pressed. Wear the proper shoes. A great graduation gift may be a nice neutral blazer. This goes for both male and female to wear to interviews.
  • Be prepared to answer a barrage of questions about yourself and how you’d react in different situations. Use technology to look for potential interview questions online. Then practice how you would answer them.
  • Make sure you can back up any claims made on your resume or during interviews. Read over your resume before going to the interview so you will be prepared to answer questions.

            Landing a good job can take months or even years, so be persistent and tap all available resources. For example:

  • Contact your school’s career office to see which services are still available to you as a recent graduate. Many colleges and universities have a list of job openings. They will also help by reviewing your resume, conducting practice interviews and connecting you with alumni volunteers willing to meet for informational interviews.
  • Contact and join professional organizations in your field. Many jobs are listed through their newsletters.
  • Many companies use automated tracking systems to scan incoming resumes for skills and job appropriate key words before a human will ever see them. Make sure your resume includes these key words – provided your experience is relevant, of course.

            The bottom line is that you worked hard to earn your degree. Unfortunately, you may have to work equally hard to get your career going, so take advantage of all the tools available.

            Information for this article was adapted from the website “Practical Money Skills for Life”. Check out the website for lots of great financial information.

            For more information on building a resume, contact the Howard County Extension Service at 870-845-7517. Good luck on finding the right job for you!

Recipe of the Week

            Here is an often requested recipe for family potlucks and reunions. It is easy to make and is great for spring dinners. Every time I make it, I always get requests for the recipe. I’m planning to serve this at the Howard County EHC Spring Council Meeting.

Strawberry Spinach Salad



½ cup sugar                                                                                        

½ cup canola oil                                             

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon poppy seed

1 Tablespoon sesame seed

¼ teaspoon paprika

Mix together and set aside. You can use apple cider vinegar, if preferred. I use the red wine vinegar.


1 cup sliced almonds                         

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

Melt butter in a small skillet and add brown sugar. Add almonds. Stir again. Cook until caramelized, stirring often. Watch closely, almonds burn very easily. Remove from pan and spread out on wax paper or parchment paper. Allow to cool and break apart.


1 cup strawberries, sliced                               

1 bag ready to eat spinach

I usually buy the baby spinach and tear off the stems. You don’t have to do this, but I just think it looks better this way. Put spinach and strawberries in a bowl, drizzle with dressing. You may not use all of it. Sprinkle almonds on top. Toss and serve immediately.

Tip: Do not combine salad ingredients ahead of time. You can carry the spinach and strawberries in a serving bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, if you plan on carrying this to a potluck.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.