2017 Graduates (AKA: Future Job Seekers) Here’s what you should be doing NOW!
It wasn’t that long ago you were arriving on your college campus, equal parts nervous and excited. You couldn’t wait to enjoy your first taste of freedom and march one step closer to the “real world.” In the last three years you’ve learned a lot of important lessons- some more easily than others. Now here you stand, waiting to begin the last leg of your college race.
This final year typically brings a mixture of emotions: excitement over another year with friends, anxiety about what you’re going to do after you are handed a diploma one final time, and fear of not finding a job before your loans come due or your parents start charging you rent. (If they let you move home at all.)
During the next year, many people will offer you job search advice. Some will tell you the odds of getting a job right out of college are slim to none. A few might even try to convince you to avoid the job market altogether by hiding out in school a few more years.
The experts, however, will tell you this: If you want to land a job when you graduate next year, you’d better start working on it NOW!
Here are some things you should start working on today:
1. Get some experience. Your barista job won’t cut it. Use this last year to fill-in any experience holes in your resume. If you have not had the opportunity to work in your field of interest, now is the time to fix that. Internships are your strongest experience; so secure one now. If you’ve been involved with student organizations throughout your college experience, it’s time to start leading. Employers want to see your leadership abilities on your resume and they want to discuss them in your interviews. Not sure what you’re missing? Read job descriptions for the roles you’re looking at. Identify what skills and experience employers are looking for. Note what you are missing and fill in those gaps.
2. Use your Career Services Office. Didn’t know your school had one? You’d better start getting familiar with it. It’s nice when your dad’s golf buddy offers an introduction to the CEO of your dream job; but there’s no guarantee that’s going to come to fruition. So learn what services your Career Office offers and start taking advantage of them immediately. You should be able to find resume-writing assistance, internship and job leads, workshops, interview tools, on-campus career fairs and interviews, and even networking opportunities with alumni and other professionals. Take advantage of the services your tuition paid for.
3. Develop a Job Search Plan. A job search plan maps out everything you need to do between now and graduation to help you land the job you want. Whether it’s enrolling in an extra Business Management course or taking a leadership position in an organization on or off-campus, set specific goals to hold yourself accountable and keep yourself on track. Also, be sure to include all the job source leads you plan to use- interviews, networking, professors, job fairs, etc.- so you can begin making connections.
4. Create your LinkedIn Profile. Trust me, hiring managers and recruiters are looking for top talent (seasoned or green) on LinkedIn. Build a strong, comprehensive profile that includes your key skills and experiences, highlights all leadership roles and accomplishments, and a professional photo. Don’t forget to connect with your school’s faculty, former internship supervisors or employers, and any other professional contacts you know. Join LI groups within your industry of interest and connect with alumni.
5. Scrub your social media profiles. If you wouldn’t want your mother (or future employer) to read it, don’t post it. What might be funny to your fraternity brothers or roommates is not funny to an employer. According to Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting Survey, here are the top social media turnoffs for recruiting and human resources professionals: illegal drug references, sexual posts, spelling and grammar mistakes, profanity, guns, and alcohol references and images. Delete old posts and treat your social media account as a part of your resume going forward.
We would all like to know there is a job waiting for us as soon as we exit our college campuses. While there is no guarantee that will happen, there are many things you can do now to increase your chances. Take advantage of the numerous opportunities and resources available to you as a college student and be proactive in your job search. Trust me, your final year will be much more enjoyable if you aren’t dreading what’s waiting on the other side.
What job search advice would YOU give a 2017 graduate?
About the Authors
Ken Schmitt is the President and Founder of TurningPoint Executive Search and the Sales & Marketing Leadership Alliance. Specializing in placing sales, marketing and operations professionals across the country, Ken’s 18 years of recruiting experience have equipped him with the knowledge to serve as a thought partner to his clients for all recruiting, hiring and human capital-related initiatives. Ken sits on the board of Junior Achievement, San Diego Sports Innovators (SDSI), AA-ISP Orange County (American Association of Inside Sales Professionals), San Diego HR Roundtable and is an Advisory Board Member for the American Marketing Association.
Vicky Willenberg has served as the Social Media Manager for TurningPoint since 2011. In 2014, she was elevated to Digital Marketing Manager, broadening her participation across all things digital for the firm. A former teacher with a Master of Education, Vicky is an active and published blogger at The Pursuit of Normal and a marketing professional. She has her finger on the pulse of the latest trends in the recruiting, hiring and leadership sectors.