You鈥檝e swapped your dorm room for a studio apartment, and instead of cramming for exams you鈥檙e sending out resumes. For many of us, searching for our first job as a new grad is one of the most humbling experiences of our lives 鈥 you鈥檙e riding high from completing a major milestone and instead of hearing dollar signs, it鈥檚 crickets.

But don鈥檛 despair! It may take a minute, but your hard work will pay off (even if you have to accept a job you don鈥檛 really want at first). And while navigating the job market solo is totally doable, it鈥檚 always nice to have help 鈥 especially if it comes from Lea Berman and Jeremy Bernard, co-authors of Treating People Well: The Extraordinary Power of Civility at Work and in Life ($27). These two former White House social secretaries (Berman and Bernard worked for the Bush and Obama administrations, respectively) know a thing or two about making good impressions (and even better connections!). We chatted with them to get their insider perspective on the easiest way to get your foot in the door, what to do about your Instagram account, and when it鈥檚 appropriate to leave work in the evening.


And no, we don鈥檛 mean sacrificing yourself to a horrible boss 脿 la Andy Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada. But Berman and Bernard believe that taking a job as someone鈥檚 assistant is the best way to learn if you鈥檙e not sure what you want to do. Bernard says, 鈥淵ou鈥檙e making connections, learning basic office skills that will always be useful, and gaining a level of discipline that you will need to learn no matter what you decide to do. It will teach you how to be professional and what the expectations of a business setting are.鈥 Often, it means you have a direct, intimate connection with the most powerful people in the company 鈥 not too shabby for an entry-level position.

MAKE YOUR Social Media Skills聽WORK FOR YOU

Berman and Bernard agree that social media is both this generation鈥檚 blessing and curse. They鈥檙e adamant that you should always keep your social media private, no matter how many followers you have. Bernard says that more than one qualified intern candidate lost their opportunity with the Obama administration because of things they鈥檇 posted on social media.

With that said, Berman does offer that 鈥渢he social media and computer skills that young people bring to a job can make them invaluable members of the team in a very short time. Older people (like me) have difficulty keeping up with technology changes 鈥 I use social media every day 鈥 but I鈥檓 always playing catch up. Offering to help with software glitches or posting to social media on different platforms will make any new hire very popular. It鈥檚 easy to shine if you鈥檙e willing to be a tech sherpa, and your good attitude will be noticed.鈥

It鈥檚 all who you know. Well, kinda

Sure, it helps to have connections when you鈥檙e looking for a job. But Berman reminds us that receiving that coveted offer letter isn鈥檛 as simple as grabbing coffee to pick someone鈥檚 brain. 鈥淭reat every connection like a possibility rather than a foregone conclusion that they will give you a job. It鈥檚 just a foot in the door, and however good your connection, you鈥檒l still have to prove you鈥檙e the person for the job,鈥 she says. 鈥淸And] when you鈥檙e trying to enter a profession where connections are essential (like writing, sales, or advocacy), don鈥檛 ask anyone to give you their own hard-won contacts they鈥檝e made while building their careers.鈥

If you鈥檙e interested in working for a particular company but they don鈥檛 have any openings that fit your skill set or are at your level, 鈥渃onsider other positions that will get you in the door,鈥 Berman says. She and Bernard agree that you have to remember that nothing is beneath you 鈥 most people have to start at the bottom. No matter what, you鈥檒l learn something, even if it鈥檚 just how to work in an office environment and get along well with others.


Networking can be nerve-racking, so Berman suggests this simple game plan: 鈥淲hen you walk into a room and you don鈥檛 know anybody, look for a group of people who are chatting comfortably. Avoid a group that appears to be in an intense conversation. Smile, make eye contact and introduce yourself. Say something general about the occasion that you鈥檙e all at [like], 鈥榃asn鈥檛 that a funny speech?'鈥 she advises. 鈥淎fter you鈥檝e been chatting for a bit, if it seems as though there鈥檚 not much left to say, it鈥檚 perfectly fine to excuse yourself and find another group of people to talk to. Just say, 鈥業t鈥檚 been so nice meeting you. I hope we see each other again some time,鈥 and move on. You鈥檒l become more and more comfortable with each introduction.鈥

be humble

Humility will serve you well, especially when you鈥檙e just starting off, and Bernard points out two areas where this is important. 鈥淏e flexible about what you think you should earn. You have no salary history, remember? There may be hidden opportunity for growth and promotion in an entry-level job,鈥 he says. 鈥淎nd one last thing 鈥 don鈥檛 leave work until after your boss leaves, especially the first few months. Unless they tell you to go home.鈥 It鈥檚 all about putting in that extra effort and showing you鈥檙e committed!

Are you a recent graduate who just scored an awesome job? Tweet us @BritandCo and tell us how you nailed it!

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(Featured photo via Getty)