In today’s world, advanced degrees are not automatic golden tickets to dream jobs for college grads. It takes effort on the part of the graduate and job prep before you graduate, to land a job post-graduation. If you’re a senior, here’s how you can prepare for your professional future:
Explore what type of work you want
Depending on your studies, your career path may seem obvious. For example, if you’re an accounting major, your future as an accountant might appear evident but it’s still a great idea to take a moment, reflect and evaluate your future. What are you passionate about? What are you looking for in a career and what aspirations do you have for your future? These are important questions that can help guide you in deciding what businesses you want to apply to. A future accountant with a passion for social responsibility may choose to send resumes to non-profit organizations rather than large accounting firms.
This is also an important time to look honestly at your skills. What challenges might you face after you graduate? You might consider signing up for workshops to help you improve any areas that you feel might need work or that aren’t currently covered in your studies. For example, an accountant working for a charitable organization may be required to address board members, volunteers and other stakeholders regularly regarding the organization’s financial stability or fund-raising campaign results. In that situation, a seminar or course on public speaking could be helpful.
Who can help you in your job search?
Most universities offer a career center with academic and career counselors. They can provide a plethora of resources and advice to help you determine where you want to go and the best way to get there – starting with your resume! A well-crafted resume is the main tool for all job seekers, not just college grads. Having an advisor critique your resume can provide you with the feedback you need to draft a strong resume.
Besides offering guidance, many colleges can help students gain work experience before graduation. These may include internships, cooperative education, job shadowing, independent study, and other career services.
Networking is a critical activity when job searching. It’s important to remember that as a student, you have access to people on campus that can help you develop a professional network. Teachers and counselors can put you in touch with alumni and people in your field.
College grads can also attend seminars, often at a reduced price. Besides the obvious learning benefits, these events are excellent venues to meet other industry stakeholders. Participation and volunteering for trade associations and organizations can also increase your visibility in your future domain.
Who, What, Where and How?
The Internet makes it very easy to research companies in your discipline to find out about potential opportunities that may exist. What trends do you notice? Are the companies grouped in a particular location, like the technological epicenter, Silicon Valley, or are they spread out nationally or even internationally? Are you willing and able to relocate should local job openings prove scarce? Investigating and analyzing your particular job market can really help focus your efforts once you graduate and start sending out your applications.
While unemployment numbers are improving, employers are often inundated with a wealth of applicants for limited opportunities. So, as a graduate who is about to join the candidate pool, it’s important to know how employers are recruiting. Career fairs, applicant tracking systems, social media… these are all methods hiring employers regularly use and all avenues you should explore.
Career fairs are not only excellent places to find job opportunities, but also to conduct research and to build your network. Most colleges hold career fairs, as do many other regional, national and online organizations. Visit the website career centers of companies you are interested in and see what events, if any, they are attending. You can also see if there are any openings and apply through the website.
You may also want to think about submitting your resume on some of the major job boards like Monster, Jobboom, CollegeRecruiter or to recruiting agencies that specialize in your area. You can use an online resume tool such as Jobminx.com, (try it for free!). Jobminx can help you find jobs that match your resume by scoring how well your resume matches job opportunities.
Getting through the door
After all your hard work, it’s vital to make sure you are prepared when the call for an interview comes through. Think of your interview as an exam. Learn as much as you can about the organization and position beforehand. Make sure you clearly understand the job requirements, the company and its corporate culture. You’ll want to learn about the size of the organization, its products or services, organizational structure, major competitors, and news that may affect its business.
Then think about the most important elements you want your interviewer to know about you. Define your qualifications, skills, and interests and how your abilities fit within the needs of the organization.
Practice your responses to questions that you might be asked in an interview. Your college career center may be able to help with mock interviews and frequently asked interview questions but you can also practice with friends and family members.
Dress for success! While some companies have a casual ambiance, what you wear to the interview should still be business appropriate and you should be well groomed.
Get to know the route to the interview site. If possible, make a couple of trips in advance to determine the necessary travel time. Bring some extra copies of your resume in case there are additional interviewers.
It’s all in the attitude
Sometimes job seekers fixate on a particular position or a particular company or a particular salary. The reality is, as college grads, you may need to be a little creative and flexible to find and make the most of job opportunities. Keeping an open mind and an easy-going attitude during your job search can expose you to possibilities you’d never considered!