Grads: Land a Job With a Fortune 500 Company Using These 4 Tips

A job seeker meets with recruiters

A job seeker meets with recruiters | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

So, you’ve just spent a fortune on a college education, and now you want to cash in on your investment. Graduating from college with a degree in hand can be as utterly frightening as it is exciting, and though the uncertainty about the immediate future might have you on edge, it’s important to recognize that you’re in control of your own destiny. You can make or break your career early on, which makes it incredibly worthwhile to spend some time trying new things, finding and building your strengths, and gaining confidence in your abilities.

Once you’re ready to enter the workforce, however, it helps to have a strategy as to how you want to engage with potential employers. A strong resume and the ability to work your way through an interview are just the beginning. There are a handful of things that can make your position even stronger, and even land you a job among the Fortune 500 if you play your cards right.

As for what those things are? The Cheat Sheet had the pleasure of speaking with Erin Hendrick, TalentSearch leader at Progressive Insurance, to get the run down. Progressive, like many other top companies, actively looks for and engages in strategies to attract top young talent, including those graduating from the country’s colleges and universities. Progressive even tries to help out by giving interview preparation materials to those interested in the company’s numerous job openings.

“My role,” Hendrick said, “is really looking at, and making Progressive appeal to job seekers across the country. They may not even be in the market for a new role. We refer to that as ‘passive talent.’ People who fit the needs and skill sets of the needs we have today and in the future, and marketing and connecting with them.”

Hendrick explained that though companies like Progressive do have considerable resources for finding and tapping talent, it’s a two-way street — that is, those interested in working there need to do what they can to get noticed. If you’re a new grad, that means changing things up a bit to attract attention.

Here are four tactics and strategies new grads — or job seekers of any type — can use to help land themselves a job at a Fortune 500 company, like Progressive.

 1. Network

Businessmen shaking hands

Businessmen shaking hands | iStock

First up, you need to start networking. You need to network your ass off. That means shedding any introverted or shy tendencies you have, and start shaking hands. Meet people — go to parties, industry gatherings, anything. Just start learning people’s names, even if it’s a bit uncomfortable.

“When you think of networking, especially when you’re right out of school, it can feel like you’re asking for a handout,” Hendrick said. “It can feel like you’re asking for something without giving anything in return. But networking is so, so important.”

You can start online, by putting together a stellar LinkedIn profile, and expanding from there. Ask for recommendations from classmates or professors, and see who you know in your expanded personal networks as well.

2. Be smart about social media

Facebook "Like" button

Facebook “Like” button | Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Wrangling your social media activity into docility can be a major challenge. You’re leaving school and entering the professional world, and your online presence needs to match that. Stop posting every thought that comes to your head, and posting pictures from your misadventures. These will likely only hurt you. Employers will find it, if they want. And Hendricks says they are, indeed, looking.

Basically, Hendrick says you need to make your social media channels work for you, not against you. In addition to that, “make sure you’re posting your resume to different job boards,” she said. “LinkedIn, Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed — there are so many options.”

Again — start with LinkedIn, and make sure your Facebook and Twitter accounts are in proper working order, or at least have privacy settings intact.

3. Be open to change — including relocation

Packing up to move

Packing up to move | iStock

Not everyone is going to end up in New York City, San Francisco, or Chicago — there are plenty of smaller, highly-vibrant cities which are brimming with opportunity. You just need to be open to packing up and going to where the opportunity is. That can be hard and intimidating, especially given an individual’s specific circumstances, but if you really want to make things happen in your career, it’s going to require you to leave your comfort zone.

“We’re (Progressive) based in Cleveland, so we love to say ‘consider cities that aren’t on your immediate short-list.’ There are so many places across the country that have really robust job markets, they have vibrant downtowns, they’ve got awesome cost of living, and proximity to great resources,” Hendrick said. “Don’t be afraid to check out cities that don’t necessarily bubble to the top of your list.”

4. Be clear about what you want 

Body language radiating confidence

Body language radiating confidence | Vladimir Rys/Getty Images

This one is incredibly important: figure out what you want, and be very direct with it. If you want that accounts receivable job at Company X? Tell them you want it, and be very direct about why, and how you’d be an excellent fit. Many new grads are very wishy-washy about opportunities, and it can turn off employers. If you want the job, go at it with laser-like focus.

“If you apply to 10 roles, and meet none of the qualifications, that can show that you’re not quite sure what you want,” Hendrick said. “Be very deliberate about the roles you apply for, and zero-in on the companies that interest you.”

And we’re back to the two-way street — if you’re interested in a company, you need to let them know. Don’t just sit back and wait for the recruiters to find you.

Check out the numerous job openings Progressive has right now, and the opportunities for those who are still in school.

Follow Sam on Facebook and Twitter @SliceOfGinger

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