After we graduate from college, we need to start applying for our first full time job.  With the current economic and financial crisis, the full time workforce is more competitive than ever.  Therefore, we need to make an excellent first impression on potential employers.  Our resume and cover letter are very important because they are the first impression that we make upon potential employers. If we don’t have a strong resume and an excellent cover letter, we may not be contacted for a job interview.

Sandra  is a Human Resources Manager with over 20 years of Hiring Experience.  She currently works as a Career Counsellor and Professional Resume Writer.  If you are graduating soon it is important to invest some time and money into a professional resume and cover letter.  It may cost you $200 now for a professional resume and cover letter, but it will be worth it later when you have a job that pays $45,000 per year.

According to Business Week the average starting salary for a recent college graduate has dropped.  The average recent college graduate earns $40,000 to $50,000 per year.  There are a lot of factors that companies use to determine a recent graduates salary such as location, profession, relevant work experience, as well as the size of the company.  The starting salary for a recent graduate is not very often negotiable.

The average mid career range salary for some professional industries is over $100,000 per year.  Keep in mind that our career will be approximately 30 years long if we enter the full time workforce at 25 years old, and we retire at 55 years old.  It is not realistic to expect to earn $100,000 as a recent college graduate.

The average starting salary varies among industries. Industries such as customer service, retail, and arts pay significantly less than professional industries such as accounting, finance, and engineering. An average employee in the customer service industry makes less than $40,000 per year.

Here are some more great tips for recent graduates who are applying for their first job:

Sandra  tells us that resume without a cover letter is a waste of time.  It is best to make the extra effort and create a tailored cover letter.  She doesn’t consider candidates who submit a resume without a cover letter.

A resume and cover letter should be specific and include only relevant work experience. We know that in one day a college graduate can apply for several different jobs, but a tailored resume can make a big difference.

Always follow up. Sandra advises recent graduates to follow up 3-5 business days after we submit our resume. Following up with the hiring manager shows initiative and responsibility.

A Professional Resume Writer and Career Counsellor are beneficial to recent graduates because they prepare tailored professional resumes that focus on education and experience. A professional resume writer will also prepare us for job interviews, and provide all relevant information including a history of the company.

It is important to be prepared for a job interview.  Sandra advises us to research the company online. We should know at least 2-3 different facts about the company such as the founded date, the name of the President, locations where they do business and the type of services/products they offer.

Recent graduates should be dressed appropriately for a job interview.  Investing in good business attire is just as important as having a professional resume and cover letter. Appearance is important because it makes our second impression before a potential employer even speaks with us.  Hair and nails should be neat and nail polish should be neutral.  Men do not necessarily have to wear a tie, but they should.  A suit jacket with matching pants makes a good first impression.

Photo by Faramarz

Tahnya Kristina

Tahnya Kristina

Tahnya is 30 years old and lives in Montreal Quebec. She graduated in 2005 from Concordia University, and she currently works for a major International Financial Institution. She recently launched You can follow her on Twitter @TahnyaP.