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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Q & A for New Graduates
with Sue Morem

Author of
How to Get a Job and Keep It: An Essential Guide to Landing Your Ideal Job and Making the Most of It

What’s the most important advice you have for new grads and other job seekers?

Be willing to start at the bottom: Identify your ideal job, but be realistic; know what you’re striving for and what you will settle for. Some of the most successful people have risen to the top one step at a time and you can too. Be willing—and expect to work your way up.

Get a makeover. If you look like a student, you don’t look like the professional you are trying to be. Invest in a great interview suit, professional looking shoes and briefcase. Update your hairstyle, change your make up; shave. When applying for a job, image really is everything.

Change your email habits: Little things make a big difference. Sending an email from ‘partygirl’ or ‘eyemhot’ to a potential employer sends the wrong message. So does using smiley faces and other emoticons. You may be used to writing in caps, using abbreviations and sending messages without proofing first, but it’s a big risk when you’re trying to impress a potential employer.

Treat looking for a job like a job. Even if you are unemployed you have a job: Your job is to find a job. Get up, get dressed and get going each day as you would if you were already working. This will help you get in the right mindset. The more time you devote to your job search the greater the likelihood you will get the results you seek.

Create a plan. You can’t get where you want if you don’t know where you are going. Decide what you want to do and identify your ideal job, but be realistic; know what you’re striving for and what you will settle for. Then create an action plan. Set reasonable and realistic goals and a time frame in which you will accomplish them

Practice interviewing. The more prepared you are the less stressful an interview will be. Anticipate questions you are likely to be asked and practice saying your responses. Conduct mock interviews to get valuable feedback; better yet, watch or listen to yourself on tape. Don’t wait until the night before the interview—practice a little bit every day.

Be patient. “Patience is a virtue" -- especially as it relates to finding the ideal job, or awaiting promotions and pay increases. Like Rome, your career won't be built in a day! Everything takes time, persistence, a game plan, a belief in oneself and the right attitude.

What are some easy, yet overlooked things job seekers can do?

Use business cards. Create business cards to hand out to everyone—even those you think can’t help you. Finding a job is all about networking and the more people you involve the better. Make it easy for others to help you, remember you, and contact you by giving them your business card.

Request informational interviews. Informational interviews are a great way to learn about an industry, a company, or a job. An informational interview is not a job interview. It’s simply asking someone in a position, industry, or company of interest to you to spend a few minutes talking with you. It is one of the best ways to learn and a great way to make valuable new contacts.

Get an internship. Internships are a great way to get the experience you’re lacking. Look for opportunities to get your foot in the door and gain experience any way you can. Although most internships are short term, many end up leading to long-term employment and other opportunities.

Ask for help. Most people are flattered, not bothered, when asked for advice and happy to help you out. Contact relatives, neighbors, friends, parents of friends, college alumni, etc. It’s the best way to get leads and stay connected.

Maximize your value. You have more to offer than you realize. Even if you lack relevant job experience you are not as inexperienced as you think. Don’t overlook skills acquired through participation in extracurricular activities, volunteering, and other, unrelated jobs held. Evaluate all of your skills, accomplishments and experiences to better communicate your value.

What can parents do to help improve their child’s chances of finding a job?

Talk to your child about his or her concerns. Initiate conversations; ask how you can be of help. Even children who’ve resisted your help before may be open to it now. Looking for work can be an isolating and frightening experience.

Share your personal experiences. Graduates are entering unfamiliar territory and can benefit from your experience. Talk to your child about the things you’ve learned over the years and what you would do differently if you could.

Reinforce the importance of things not taught in school. Remind your child about the importance of his or her appearance, professional behavior and good manners. Go out to eat for a refresher course in table manners.

Go shopping. Take your son or daughter shopping and help select a great looking interview suit. Better yet, offer to pay for it. Nothing boosts confidence more or creates a better impression than the person who looks and feels ready for work.

Be supportive. Listen, encourage, and understand; do everything you can to offer your encouragement and support. When possible, utilize your own contacts and resources to help your child.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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