5 realistic resolutions that will get you a job by graduation
Your friends will all wait until spring, so why should you?
Chances are you’ve got a senior year bucket list filled with quintessential college experiences (hopefully streaking the quad isn’t one of them). But if you want to lock in a job before graduation, now’s the time to get moving.
“Start networking as early as possible,” says career coach Susan Whitcomb, author of Job Search Magic. In doing so, you’ll get a leg up on the competition, since many seniors wait till the spring to enter “job search mode.”
Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to receiving a job offer along with your diploma.
1. Polish your resume
Before you start networking for a job, you need to get your resume in top shape. Your internships and work experience shouldn’t read like a summary of responsibilities, says Shauna C. Bryce, president of The National Résumé Writers Association. Instead, highlight measurable contributions (e.g., “wrote 24 blog posts on industry news”) and what you gained through the experience. “If you were a cashier during the summer, you might have learned about building customer relationships and diffusing angry clients, which are marketable skills,” says Bryce.
Since many companies use resume-filtering software, load yours with keywords that support your career objective, says Wendy Enelow, executive resume writer and co-author of Modernize Your Resume: Get Noticed … Get Hired.
2. Utilize your college’s free resources
Take advantage of your school’s career services department, says Jason Dorsey, co-founder of The Center for Generational Kinetics in Austin, a millennial and Generation Z research firm. Many of them offer resume critiques, mock interview workshops and job-search advice.
Evaluate your career goals ahead of time, says Amanda Haddaway, HR consultant and author of Destination Real World: Success After Graduation. “[Career services] can help guide and advise you, but it's best to know what general field you wish to work and the geographic locations you prefer,” she says. “It's really difficult to advise a student who says he'll work anywhere in any position.”
3. Get face-time with recruiters
Go to on-campus career fairs, where you can meet with prospective employers and get your foot in the door for a job interview. Look at the list of attendees in advance, determine whom you want to talk to and introduce yourself via email before the event. Arrive as early as possible, when there’s often less foot traffic.
“When you meet the recruiter for the first time, you are literally a walking billboard,” says Dorsey. “A solid handshake, appropriate business attire and confident introduction go a long way.” Have at least two questions prepared that are not readily answered online, Dorsey adds.
Since you have limited face time with the person, close the conversation by casually setting up a future meeting, says Beth Kuhel, co-author of From Diploma to Dream Job: 5 Overlooked Steps to a Successful Career. Try, “I have a few more questions, but I recognize this is a very busy time for you. Would you be open to meeting with me later on to continue our conversation?”
4. Tap your alumni network
Reach out to alums at prospective employers for job search advice, says Whitcomb. Find them through LinkedIn, your college’s alumni association and by attending alumni events in the geographic area you want to work.
Caveat: It's best not to ask for a job outright since no one likes feeling used. Instead, ask for an informational interview to learn more about the person’s work experience and the company. Bring a copy of your resume but only offer it if the person asks, says Kuhel.
5. Start applying to jobs now
Don’t wait until March or April to begin submitting applications (most college seniors do). The big months for hiring are January and February after hiring managers are back from vacation, Scott Testa, chief operating officer of Mindbridge Software in Norristown, Pennsylvania told Monster. "Job seekers who make contact right at the start of these cycles have the best chance of being hired," he said.
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