With spring commencement just a few days or weeks away, soon-to-be college graduates who have yet to line up a job are probably feeling the heat from parents and advisors, encouraging them to start looking for a post-graduation job. But between studying for finals, saying goodbye to college friends, and preparing for commencement, how can college students in their final year keep their eyes on the prize?
Here are some career-planning “dos and don’ts” for the Class of 2018:
Start with an objective assessment of you. By now, most seniors preparing to graduate have done some thinking about post-college career plans. But paying a last-minute visit to career services or scanning job postings weeks before graduation may result in continued uncertainty and frustration. The best approach? Start with a complete and objective assessment of your full set of talents, skills and interests, based on academic and extracurricular experiences. Marrying this assessment of your underlying skills with your interests can yield a more focused list of career options, which will translate to a more effective job search.
Don’t settle for a job when you can start a career. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure for entry-level college graduates to simply “get a job” to pay the bills. While this may be unavoidable, it’s unwise to sacrifice your career ambitions in pursuit of any job at any cost. A smarter approach is to look for “transitional” work in your desired field or an adjacent industry, which can satisfy your need for a paycheck while providing invaluable experience for your future career. For example, if account management is where you want to end up, then customer service positions can be a great starting point.
Ask for help early and often. If you feel like you’re behind the eight-ball, don’t despair: there are an abundance of resources at your disposal. First, start with parents, parents’ friends, advisors and even friends’ parents. Grow your personal network and leverage those connections to make inroads with prospective employers. Ask for advice on your résumé, cover letters and targeted industries or job leads. Don’t be afraid to ask for introductions to people outside of your network – most will be eager to help.
Think outside the job search boards. The Internet can make job searches seem like a rote exercise: punch in some keywords, scroll through a few listings, find a job and upload your résumé. It seems simple, but it’s a highly ineffective “shotgun” approach that does not account for passion, interest, transferable skill or cultural fit. Rather than going it alone, career-bound seniors should consider all options, including third-party recruiting services that specialize in entry-level hiring. These solutions take the individual into account rather than relying solely on algorithms and applicant tracking variables. Third-party recruiters may also have access to positions that are not advertised publicly, giving you a better shot at the right career opportunity.
Stay positive, even if prospects seem slim. The right fit for you is out there somewhere. It takes patience and perseverance to find the perfect opportunity, but you should resist the temptation to sell yourself short, and you should never compromise for the sake of simply landing a job. Employers want energetic and engaged entry-level team members who are passionate about the company’s mission. If you are not enthusiastic about an opportunity, it will show during the interview process and ultimately, if you land the job, will make you more likely to jump ship. Stick to your strategy: you and the right opportunity will find each-other.
Tags: Interview Preparation, Job Search Strategy, Networking, Transferable Skills