Career Tips: Breaking Into the Workforce for New Grads

career tips

As a recent grad, I know first hand how hard it can be to break into the working world right out of school. While some students start working right away, most experience a gap between graduation and employment. It can be difficult and confusing for us twenty-somethings, and even those with jobs, to know what the proper protocol is in the working world. Luckily, there are many professionals out there with the experience and knowledge we need and are willing to help! I was fortunate enough to speak to Maddy Spellerberg, a marketing strategist at Obviouslee Marketing, and hear her career tips.

Maddy Spellerberg

Maddy, originally from Minnesota, graduated from Chapman University in 2014 with a degree in broadcast journalism. During her career as a student, Maddy was able to rack up a lot of experience in event planning and marketing working for wedding planners, boutiques, news broadcasting stations, and even her university. While her experience did help in her job search, it was Maddy’s tenacity, drive, and bubbly personality that allowed her many opportunities as a recent graduate. Now residing in Charleston, South Carolina, Maddy works for a boutique marketing agency, Obviouslee Marketing. At Obviouslee she assists in the development and execution of clients’ social media, blogging, and PR. With her success has come many important lessons which I was lucky enough to have her share with me! With her permission, I share Maddy’s best career tips for recent graduates below.*

*Quotes have been paraphrased, condensed for reading purposes*


On Crafting the Perfect Resume…

Tailor Your Resume for Each Company You Apply For

While your previous experiences may not change, the way you pitch them can make or break your chances.

Make sure to vary your word choice when describing your role and responsibilities, make yourself sound impressive! Also, be sure to study the job description thoroughly. Notice what skills they prefer and what some of the basic job responsibilities are and find ways to highlight that you have these skills in your resume.

On Getting Notice & Getting the Interview…

Be Aggressive in Pursuit of Jobs You Want

If there’s a job you really want you should go all out in your efforts to get your resume seen by the right people. While you should obviously be friendly and polite, being aggressive shows that you want the job and will make you stand out to hiring managers.

One thing I did that helped me when I was job searching was get a LinkedIn premium account. It’s probably one of my top career tips. It allows you to directly message recruiters on job postings and search for employees that you can connect with. If you are polite and to the point, and are not asking for the job (*important*), you’ll likely get a positive response. Make sure the person you are reaching out to is relevant to the position you’re applying for. Don’t reach out to someone in IT if you’re applying for a marketing position.

For example, a good message when reaching out to a stranger on LinkedIn could look like:

“Hi! My name is ______ and I just graduated from ___ with a degree in _____. I have applied for the ____ position in your company and wanted to send you my most recent resume. I love ____ company because of _____, _______, and _______. If you had time, I would love to discuss the opportunities you have available and possibly pick your brain on the industry.”

Be Mindful of Where You Send Your Resume & How You Respond to Every Opportunity, People Talk

Don’t let the word get out that you will take any job (even if you will), or that you were rude or never responded after someone reached out to you. People that work in the same industry, especially when in the same city, know each other and the word will get out.

Pick out a few similar companies in a city and apply to just those. Hiring managers want to know you’re the right fit and applying for every company in town will get around and make your interest seem less genuine.

On Nailing the Interview…

Come in Knowing A lot About the Company

While this one may seem like a no-brainer, being prepared and knowledgeable about a company cannot be stressed enough.

My career tip for preparing for interviews is to make sure you can talk about the company intelligently. I think that, at the very least, you should know: how they started, their owner, the mission, the work they do, as well as some examples of their work that you can refer to. If you’re applying for a marketing position you should be familiar with their current marketing methods – social media, email, website, etc.

Know the Look and Feel of Their Website, Social Media

On a similar note to the last piece of advice, you should be familiar with how the company brands itself.

This is especially true in marketing. You should be familiar enough with their social media to know where they’re posting, what they’re posting, and how often. In addition, you should be familiar with the feel of their website – it usually speaks a lot about their brand personality. Getting to know both of these things will help you learn the “tone” of their branding and help you understand their mission more clearly. You can use this knowledge to adjust your resume, cover letter to match their tone. It can also help you answer interview questions in a way that resonates with hiring managers.

Find Out Who Your Interviewing With & Look Them Up

LinkedIn profiles were essentially designed for “creeping, use it to your advantage!

A good career tip, even outside of interviews, is to find out who you’re speaking to and see what you can learn about them beforehand. I like to try to find something we have in common that I can bring up later. I think doing so helps you make a personal connection with the person you’re talking to. This can be important when interviewing especially as you want to appear personable and like someone they’d enjoy working with.

Always, Always, Always Send a Thank You

You may have written off sending graduation party thank you cards after high school but your mom was right – thank yous make a difference.

I always follow-up with a thank you email immediately after an interview. Also, I send a hand written, personalized thank you note to their office. Anything that can help you stand out I recommend.

In General, Career Tips for Recent Grads

Keep Up On Industry Trends

To appear as an expert in your field, you have to keep up with the latest news and trends.

Out of all the career tips I have, this one is the easiest to do. Keeping up to date will not only help you do your job better but is also useful when networking – you must have intelligent, relevant things to talk about! It’s also really easy to keep up on these things, you can read them on your phone or in a magazine on your lunch break or on your commute. I spend almost an hour every day just reading. My personal picks are Mashable and Ad Age.

Where You Are Now Isn’t Where You’ll Be Forever

AKA, breathe.

I totally understand how it can be overwhelming not knowing if the job you’re in is really what you want to do. Everyone goes through it so try to remind yourself this is your current job, not your last job.


Pretty good stuff, right? Check Maddy out on Twitter and Instagram!


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