Are you starting your senior year in college? If you want – or need – to have a job waiting for you upon graduation, you need to begin now. Here are 14 activities that are critical to your job-search success.
While these 14 activities are somewhat in chronological order, you don’t necessarily have to complete one activity before moving on to the next. The key is to accomplish all of these activities sometime during your senior year.
- Start Early. Why should you start your job-search now? It seems like you have a lot of time with nine months until graduation. However, you’ll be surprised at how fast your senior year flies by. And it’s always best to prepare ahead of time instead of scrambling to get things done at the very end. It’s almost guaranteed that the earlier you start, the more job-search success you’ll have.
- Explore Career Paths. If you still need to decide the exact type of jobs you want to seek, now is the time to work on that. Schedule a meeting with your faculty adviser or a favorite professor and discuss career paths. You should also consider scheduling a few informational interviews with professionals in your field so you can learn more about different types of jobs and careers. The more specific your goals, the more likely you are to accomplish them.
- Consider Your Options. One of the major considerations at this point is whether you plan to go to graduate school rather than enter the job market. Assuming you are job hunting, your other options include issues such as where you want to work and live, the type of companies you want to work for (size, culture, ownership type), and specific industries you prefer.
- Gain Experience. You absolutely need some type of work experience before you graduate, and your senior year is a good time to get that. Consider getting an internship, working part-time, or volunteering to get the experience you need. The closer your internship or job is to your career goals, the better.
- Take a Leadership Position. Employers like to see that college grads have held at least one leadership position. Being a leader adds a whole other dimension of key skills and abilities that are vital to the workforce.
- Register with Career Services. If your college has it, register for resume and on-campus recruiting programs and attend career fairs. Take advantage of professionals with career development knowledge to empower your job-search.
- Develop a Job-Search Plan. Make the decisions you need to make and develop a plan. A job-search plan maps out everything you need to do between now and graduation and sets specific goals you need to accomplish along the way to keep you on track.
- Polish Correspondence. Now is the time to develop – or polish- your key job-search correspondence. Work on one or more versions of your resume, a cover letter, and a thank-you letter now, while the pressure is minimal so that when you need one or more of these documents in a hurry, you’re ready to go.
- Consider Developing a Job-Search Portfolio. Most college students complete a number of big projects in school. Not only should you mention them on your resume, but consider compiling your projects and job-search documents into a career portfolio.
- Prepare for and Practice Interviewing. The most important skill you’ll need to master is preparing for job interviews. Become acquainted with the types of interviews you can expect, learn about the importance of first impressions and how to answer various types of job interview questions.
- Network. The strongest and most important element of your job-search is your network of contacts. The majority of all job leads will come from your network. You’ve heard the expression, “it’s not what you know, but who you know,” right? That’s networking.
- Use all Available Job-Search Resources. While networking is your best job-search resource, other methods should be included. If there are companies you are interested in, approach them directly. Send targeted cover letters and resumes to a select group of employers or call and ask for a meeting with someone in a position to make hiring decisions. Also, consider posting your resume on some of the major job boards, but don’t count on this method.
- Organize Key References. You’ll need a select group of individuals who can speak of your skills, abilities, and accomplishments to potential employers, and it’s better to contemplate and cultivate this list now than wait until an employer ask for them.
- Follow-up on All Leads. Always remember that your efforts are not complete once you’ve applied for a position or had an interview. One of the biggest mistakes job-seekers make is not taking the time to follow-up every single job lead. Following-up with employers shows your continued interest in the position and the organization. Following-up, as some students seem to think, is not a source of annoyance for employers – unless you go overboard. Be sure and call or email the employer regularly to check on the progress of the hiring decision and share any thoughts you have on how you can uniquely contribute to the company and the position.
Believe it or not, following the advice in this article will actually make your senior year more enjoyable because you’ll be under less stress than if you waited until the last minute to begin your job-search.
By: Rose Opengart, Interviews That Work
© 2018, Rose Opengart, Interviews That Work