The last year of college is always a stressful time. Upon graduation, students are usually scrambling to secure a position before crossing the stage. Preparing to ensure job security after graduation is the right direction to reducing stress. Here are some tips to help get your foot in the door and on your way to starting your career.
Update Your Resume
Always keep an updated resume on hand. Include past work experience, highlighting major projects and responsibilities that you completed. If you do not have any professional work experience, list relevant classes or school projects. Recruiters want to see that potential hires are well-suited for the role so be sure to tailor the resume for the position. Use key words and phrases on the job listing and incorporate that into the resume. Always have someone review your resume before submitting.
Visit Career Services
Every university has a Career Services Office where a counselor is dedicated to support your career advancement. The counselor can provide you several tools and guidance on navigating through your job search. Some of these resources include resume and cover letter workshops and career fair advice. One great benefit of going to the Career Services Office is getting help with preparing for job interviews. Depending on your university’s program, they may have someone conduct a one-on-one mock interview, where you can practice and gain familiarity in an interview setting. Your university may also have an online software to prepare you for interviews. Many times, they will have a list of questions for you to review to prepare for a real interview. The Career Services Office can become a great asset and can help you pave your way to starting your career.
Attend Career Fairs
Career fairs are essential to the job hunt. Look through the list of attending companies and make a list of the booths you want to approach. Do research on the company’s mission and open positions that you’d like to apply for. You can make a good impression on the recruiter by introducing yourself and showing that you are interested in the company. Prepare a list of questions to ask the recruiter. This demonstrates to the recruiter that you are serious about applying to their company and shows you made an effort. Being friendly yet professional will help you stand out. Leave the recruiter with the memory of a good conversation that they can remember you by. Get the recruiter’s contact information and send a thank you email the same day. You can reflect on a fact you learned and allude to the conversation you had. This will help you stand out amongst the masses of students competing for the same position.
Use Your Network
As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Classmates, professors and even friends are a great way to get more information about a company’s job openings and can even score you a referral. Use your network to gain support and advice. The connections you make throughout college can play a big role with your future goals if you seek the help. Contact people in your network who are in the same industry you are looking to pursue. Send them a message expressing your goals and interest and ask them to an informational interview to “pick their brain.” You can do this either through email or even over a cup of coffee to make it more personal. Learning from those who have already been through the process of applying can give you good insight on what to expect, as well as a sense of direction to get your foot in the door.
LinkedIn is Your Friend
Social media has completely changed the way we connect with people in today’s world. Use professional platforms such as LinkedIn to your advantage. By searching a company and job titles that interest you on this site, you can find employees with whom you can reach out to with questions. Just as you would ask someone in your personal network for advice, you can do the same through sites like LinkedIn. Try sending a message to someone who works at the company you’re applying to or holds a role that you are working to achieve. Explain your interest in the company or learning how the person you reached out to worked their way to the position you want. Don’t forget to have questions ready and follow-up with a thank you message.
You may not always start your career with your dream job. A lot of times, your first job may not relate to your degree. Be flexible and keep your options open. No matter what the starting point of your career is, you will always gain experience. Experience is key and can help you grow your resume and skillset.
The job search can become very tedious but your efforts will pay off in the end. The more applications you submit, the more practice you’ll get. You’ll gain more experience and become familiar with the type of questions asked in each interview. Keep a positive attitude and have faith in your abilities. Good luck!
Sadaf Islamzada received a BA in Communication with a concentration in Journalism from George Mason University, and currently works as a Business Analysis Consultant at CGI. Sadaf volunteers with Afghan Academy, a non-profit organization, where she leads the Afghan Academy Professionals’ Network initiative. Her goal is to create an inclusive and supportive community to help foster the growth of professional development through organized activity. Sadaf enjoys traveling, photography, and journalism in her spare time.