As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, many students are getting excited to reach their goal of the last several years: graduation! But if you haven’t figured out what you’re doing after school, that upcoming date can be nerve-wracking.
While it may seem that other students are scoring jobs left and right, it’s normal not to know what you’ll be doing post-college. In 2015, the Washington Post said that more than 4 out of 5 students graduated from college without a job. Despite these numbers, you shouldn’t lose hope. With the following tips, you can improve your networking and resume and make the most of the resources at your disposal. This will put you well on your way to landing the post-college job you’ve been waiting for!
1. Figure out what your university has to offer
University is one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your life. Not only do you gain knowledge from your classes and experience in internships, you gain access to a plethora of resources to get going in your career.
University career service offices offer all sorts of opportunities. They will review your resume and help coach you on your interviewing skills. They can get you access to programs where businesses offer opportunities to students at partner schools. They also maintain a network of former students, who can be a valuable resource as you get started.
Likewise, the hard work you did in class likely hasn’t gone unnoticed. Talk to your favorite professors. They can give you advice on where you can find opportunities and may be able to put you in touch with colleagues or former students working in that field.
2. Spruce up your resume…
There are many ways to make your resume stand out, even if you haven’t held a paying job in the field you studied. Don’t downplay the experiences you have had up until now. Figure out what transferable experience and achievements you’ve gained from internships, class projects, and summer jobs. Think about how those skills can fit job descriptions.
Those with less than a few years’ work experience also do well to play up their recent education credentials. Put your educational experience towards the top of your resume. Don’t forget to include any specialties or experience that set you apart, like a high GPA, scholarships you received, or minors you pursued.
…And your whole professional profile
While a resume provides an important snapshot of who you are, it’s not the only tool in your toolbox. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date. It should have a professional headshot, a catchy tagline, and a rundown of your skills and achievements. Make sure your experiences and branding are coherent across your LinkedIn, resume, and other application materials.
While you’re at it, take a look at your other social media profiles. It doesn’t take long for an enterprising hiring manager to find you online and see if your online behavior appears professional. So if your pictures show you partying, think about taking them down to maintain your private life private.
3. Connect with people in your field in industry settings…
There are all kinds of ways to connect with people in your field, find mentors, and stay abreast of current opportunities. You should keep a handle on upcoming industry events and network as much as you can. Go well prepared to those events. Bring your resume and business cards. You should know information about the companies that will be there and have your elevator pitch ready to go. These events will help you find people interested in your experience and willing to give a motivated grad a chance to get started.
…And in many others!
With networking, you don’t have to confine yourself to industry events! Figure out casual ways to get in touch with people working in your field. You can attend a happy hour with friends who work in an industry that interests you to get to know their co-workers. If you like to stay active and know a lot of folks in the field you’re interested in are in a local kickball league, try it out for yourself! This can give you the opportunity to make connections with people with whom you share an interest in a relaxed setting. Once you have a chance to get to know one another well in a casual context, they may be willing to give you a heads up when a new opportunity opens up.
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