You’re close to the finish line – graduation. Whether it’s a few weeks or a few months away, nothing is more motivating than being close to finishing your degree. But what’s next? Are you preparing yourself for the impending job search? If so, here are some tips to help you potentially land a job after graduation.
The job interview process can take 12 weeks or more, according to Monster. So instead of considering jobs at the end of your final semester, you may want to start looking at the beginning or even sooner. At the very least, start researching potential positions you’re interested in and companies you want to work for early on in your academic career.
Know What to Look For
As stated above, researching what positions you can pursue with your degree ahead of time can help you narrow the job search. Make a list of specific job titles that you want to apply to so you have a go-to when searching career websites.
Keep an Open Mind
At the same time, it’s important to keep an open mind and consider jobs outside your major or area. For example, earning a bachelor’s in applied psychology can help position you for entry-level opportunities in the mental health field, but you could possibly be eligible for a wide range of positions that require people skills and other soft skills. Don’t sell yourself short.
The only person responsible for your job search is you. You have to be proactive and apply to an abundance of positions, even though they might not all be a perfect fit. A great opportunity may not be obvious upon looking at a job posting online.
You also have to take initiative in your networking efforts. Don’t expect powerful connections to fall into your lap – attend events, meetups and social media chats to put yourself out there.
Having a professional and well-crafted LinkedIn profile is essential in today’s job search according to Jarin Eisenberg, Online Instructor and Major Gift Officer at Florida Tech:
“I suggest that students invest time into curating their LinkedIn page – have a nice detailed summary, post a few articles, and start connecting with others.”
Clean Up Your Social Media
In addition to LinkedIn, recruiters will be looking for your other social media channels. So, it’s important to clean those up or edit the settings to private so that you do not come up from a simple Google search. For Twitter, creating a professional profile to promote thought leadership articles and industry news can be a great way to retain a presence on social media and portray your professional brand.
Don’t Fake Your Skills
While it can be tempting to portray yourself as an expert in Microsoft Excel, it’s essential not to overstate your skills or experience. First of all, you don’t want to fake your way through an interview only to get on the job and be completely lost. Second of all, recruiters consider inflated job titles to be a major red flag, according to The Muse. For tips on evaluating and showcasing your hard and soft skills, click here.
Having job experience – in addition to an education – in your desired field not only helps your resume, but also gives you the opportunity to determine what’s a good fit. Through internships, co-ops and volunteering, you can gain experience without having to fully commit to a job.
Networking is an essential part of the process, as Eisenberg says:
“Some experts say that 70% of people are in their current position because of networking. Start building your network early and don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice. Your school and professors want to see you succeed.”
Building relationships with your classmates and attending networking events are both ways you can increase your network. Eisenberg also advises that students “…get involved with their local Chamber of Commerce. Chambers are usually the hub of the business community and provide many opportunities for high-quality networking.”
Use the Career Center
Another resource is your university’s Career Center. Florida Tech has a Career Management Services that provide many services, Eisenberg states:
“Over the summer we have a Mock Interview Program students can participate in. This provides them an opportunity to get interviewed by an outstanding Florida Tech alumni and get some real feedback on their interviewing skills and resume. We also have several career days on campus, tons of internship opportunities, and conferences like ‘The Real World’ that help students understand how to network and provides insight from some of the top companies in the area. Those are just a few of the many programs offered – seek out opportunities and take advantage of every single one you come across. It will pay off the in the end.”
If you’re unsure about what jobs you want to apply for upon graduation, informational interviewing can be a great way to obtain more information about the day-to-day responsibilities and requirements for that career. LinkedIn and the alumni network are both potential sources of professionals with whom you can set up informational interviews. To learn more about the process, click here.
Keep Your Job Search Organized
Have a running document or spreadsheet containing the jobs you are interested in or have applied to, as well as the companies you would like to work for. Create a list of alumni and other professionals you will contact as well as professional organizations you should join in this space as well. By keeping your job search organized, you will be able to clearly track your progress and store resources for years to come.
Have an Elevator Pitch
As you’ll be meeting people at networking events and professional groups, it’s essential to have an elevator pitch at the ready. Being able to communicate who you are and what you do in a concise, effective manner is no easy feat. The Muse suggests breaking it down into the following categories:
- Who I Am
- What I Do
- How I Do It
- Why I Do It
- Who I Do It For
Having 1-2 compelling sentences under each category can help you create your 30-second story and eliminate unnecessary details. While you may want to add an attention-getting fact or stat at the beginning of your speech, ultimately the goal is to express yourself in a short period of time. So, practice is critical.
Customize Your Resume and Cover Letter
While it’s easier to create one resume and use it for all of your job applications, customizing your resume and cover letter for each application can help your information get into the hands of the hiring manager. Read the job requirements and incorporate relevant terms in both your resume and your cover letter to showcase that you are a good fit for the position. For example, if the job posting seeks candidates with search engine optimization (SEO) experience, list that as a skill on your resume and provide an example of how you have implemented SEO best practices in your cover letter. While this customization may take time, it will be worth it when you have your hard-earned job offer!