If you’re wrapping up your senior year of college — or are about to graduate from school — congratulations on your achievements.
After pulling all-nighters to study for final exams, completing term papers and essays, and perhaps stressing about how you’re going to repay your college loans, you may be itching for a break, or at least a little bit of down time.
Once you’ve graduated, take a week or so to relax if you really need to, but then it’s time to get ultra serious about landing your first job.
Why so serious?
It’s a seriously challenging environment for all job hunters. But it’s especially tough right now for recent college grads and for African-Americans.
The Labor Department reports that employers added just 69,000 jobs in May 2012 and the unemployment rate in May actually ticked up to 8.2 percent, signaling that hiring is slowing. Plus, unemployment remains significantly higher for blacks, at 13.6 percent.
Still, none of this means you should despair over your job search.
If you’re an African-American college graduate, here are four job-hunting tips to help you stand out from the crowd and get started in the career you want and deserve.
Tip #1: Clean Up Your Social Media Profile
African-Americans tend to over-index on social media — meaning a lot of us are spending plenty of time on sites like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.
But having raunchy online photos or videos — like your partying exploits during Spring break –- can take you out of the running for a job position in no time flat.
Even the messages you post on social platforms — particularly about sensitive subjects like race or politics – can hurt you, since more than 9 out of 10 employers (91 percent) scour social networks to screen job applicants, according to a Reppler study.
What’s more, 69 percent of employers have rejected a job candidate based on something found on a social networking site.
To avoid this fate, check out this advice for 6 tips to purge your social media profile.
Tip #2: Consider Sharpening That Resume (in Sensitive Ways)
You’ve heard the traditional resume-writing advice before: Check your grammar, read everything over at least three times, use spell check, and so forth. Those things are practical advice all job-hunters should heed.
But what about specialized resume-preparing advice that African-American graduates should know?
For starters if you have a very ethnic sounding name, you may want to use initials or a middle name, if it’s more mainstream. It’s certainly not fair, and such a suggestion is likely to cause many people to bristle at the very notion of de-emphasizing their given names.
But some career experts say doing so can help you make it past certain corporate gatekeepers.
“I was just talking to another colleague and friend about this, and we both agreed that a very ethnic name, unfortunately, could be a disadvantage in the job market,” says Charles O. Wilkins, an African-American human resources veteran of more than 30 years.
Wilkins is President of Performance Plus Human Resources Management Consultants in East Brunswick, NJ.
“I’m not putting down ethnic names,” Wilkins adds. “But that kind of name will not help them at all. It will just identify them as being black.”