Graduation is almost here. According to Ben Carpenter, it’s time to switch from “college” thinking to “real-world” thinking. If you treat each résumé-and-cover-letter combo the same way you do midterm papers (i.e., write, submit, hope for the best), you’ll spend eons in job-search purgatory.


Carpenter, author of the new book “The Bigs: The Secrets Nobody Tells Students and Young Professionals About How to Find a Great Job, Do a Great Job, Be a Leader, Start a Business, Stay Out of Trouble, and Live a Happy Life” offers tips for finding and keeping a great job including:


Make face-to-face connections with informational interviews. Odds are, you’re very effective at connecting digitally. But how are your in-person skills? Even if (especially if!) face-to-face, real-time communication is outside your comfort zone, you’ll need to work on in-person networking. Connecting a face and a personality to your résumé can be a game changer. Think about it: How many of your peers will potential employers meet (and thus remember) sans computer screens? Not many.


“Ask for an informational interview, in which you talk to someone within a company about his or her career,” Carpenter suggests. “This is a great way to get your foot in the door. Plus, informational interviews will help you build your confidence so you won’t be as timid, nervous, and unsure when you finally get a job interview. You can set up informational interviews by reaching out to your network—family, friends, friends’ parents, alumni of your school, etc.”


And don’t be afraid to “ask for the order.” Yes, you should absolutely use informational interviews to get a job interview. At some point toward the end of the conversation, if it hasn’t come up already, say, “Your company sounds exactly like what I am interested in. Do you know of any job openings I might be able to interview for?” And don’t feel like you are imposing or being too forward by asking that question, assures Carpenter. All reasonable and experienced professionals will expect you to be assertive. In fact, they may think less of you if you aren’t.”


“If your interviewer can’t personally recommend any jobs, you still have two arrows in your quiver,” he continues. “First, ask, ‘Could you introduce me to someone in Human Resources?’ The person you’ve interviewed with may not know about all of the open positions at the company, but HR will definitely know. Second, you can ask, ‘Do you know anyone else in the industry who might be willing to talk to me?’


“Yes, it takes courage to ask these things of someone you’ve probably just met,” Carpenter acknowledges. “But the truth is, when you’re looking for a job, you can’t afford to be shy! And if you work on developing your assertiveness and tact during your job search, these social skills will help you have an outstanding career in whichever field you choose.”