Make yourself a stronger candidate for your post-grad job search.
As a recent high school graduate or new college student, you might not want college graduation advice or to be thinking about your life after college just yet.
However, it's never too early to begin thinking about your future. You don't need to know exactly what you want to do when you grow up, but you can begin to consider your professional persona and also take steps to help yourself land a job after your college graduation.
As a recent college graduate, you'll be considered an entry-level employee. This title implies that you'll have little to no work experience to show on your resume. With that said, there are other activities you can participate in or focus on to add a bit of oomph to your resume that will catch a prospective employer's attention. You can also begin to connect with experienced professionals and address other factors employers look at, like social media activity, when making hiring decisions.
Below I've provided some college advice, ideas, and tips to consider during your days on campus to help you land your dream job with more ease after your graduation. With a good dose of preparation and a dash of luck, you might even land your dream job prior to graduating, which is typically the goal.
Join clubs and organizations
One of our best pieces of college advice is to get involved! Participating in clubs and organizations is a great way to show initiative. If you join committees, even better, as it shows you can handle several responsibilities (club meetings, committee attendance, keeping the grades up) simultaneously. Once you enter the working world, you might find yourself in a similar situation, and employers will take this experience into consideration.
Find part-time work
Many college students turn to part-time work to have some spending money or help pay for college expenses. Another advantage of part-time work is the fact that it shows future employers that you are responsible and can hold down a job. Your supervisor could even act as a reference for future applications. Holding down a part-time job through college can help in getting a job after college. If you're worried about how to balance school and work, know that employers who hire college students typically understand that you need a flexible schedule, so you won't need to stress about scheduling conflicts.
Start your own business or freelance
Along the same lines as finding part-time work, nothing shows initiative to a prospective employer like freelancing or starting your own business. If you have any skills, like graphic design or writing, you could make some extra cash using freelance sites like upwork.com. Direct sales companies like NYR Organics, Jafra, and Isagenix can also be a great way to make some extra cash while adding to your work experience on your resume. Do your research, though, to determine what would work best for you and to avoid potential scams.
Volunteer or get involved with the community
Another way to get involved while in college is to start volunteering! It shows good effort, initiative, and responsibility if you choose to get involved with charities or community organizations. Employers also like to hire people who care about supporting and helping others, as you'll need to have such a perspective to work effectively in team environments.
Keep your grades up
Though grades aren't the only thing an employer looks at, having good grades does make landing a job easier in many cases. You don't need to graduate with honors to land a decent job, but grades do impact an employer's decision when you're first starting out as a new hire, largely because you have little to no work experience from which to base your performance potential.
Socialize and enjoy life
It may come as a surprise, but having a social life is just as important as keeping the grades up. Employers consider personality and emotional intelligence when it comes to cultural fit, and your social interactions are where these characteristics come from. Your life experiences also provide you with information to pull from during the interview process. At the same time, be responsible. A DUI or consequences from poor decisions and actions can have a negative impact on your future employment.
Identify leadership opportunities
If you don't think it will add too much to your plate, consider a nomination for leadership roles, such as President or Secretary, for the clubs and organizations in which you participate. Prospective employers will notice this type of initiative on your resume, and the experience will also present you with more examples to pull from during your future application and interview process.
If you're in your later years of college, you likely have chosen a major and can now identify industry-specific clubs and organizations to join and participate in. These are great networking resources to use for future opportunities, and you might even make friends that will be a part of your life for years to come. Networking online counts too. It's not too early to create a professional LinkedIn profile, considering that almost 90 percent of employers hired an individual via LinkedIn in 2014 per a report by Capterra.
Mind your social media Ps and Qs
Per a 2013 CareerBuilder report, almost half of all employers surveyed use of social media to research candidates and reject many based on their social media activity, such as putting down current co-workers and companies, provocative photos, and more. Be mindful of your social media activity now to support you in getting a job after college.
Consider graduate school
Many of us think we'll go back to get a graduate degree later, but life happens and it can become challenging to find the time. It can sometimes be easier to go straight through from undergrad to graduate school if you're inspired to do so. This is what I did, and it was the best decision I could have made as far as my education was concerned. It boosted my hirability and doubled my starting salary compared to what I would have been making with just an undergraduate degree.
In some instances, going to graduate school right after undergraduate school also supports those who would like to focus on a different major because they aren't in love with the discipline they chose as an undergrad (keeping in mind that some graduate degrees do require a certain type of undergraduate degree or course requirements to be accepted).
Utilize your school's career counseling center
Most colleges have some type of career counseling or employment support center to help students create resumes, cover letters, and apply for positions. Take advantage of it if your school has one. Many departments also bring in employers for students to interview with. This is how I landed my graduate internship and first job out of graduate school. Even if you're not interested in a particular employer, it can be worth it to apply to interview with them just for the experience of going through the interview process; you'll be better equipped to interview with the employers you do want to work for.
It will pay off down the road even if you choose just one or two of the pieces of college advice in this list and take action during your college years. Doing so will put you ahead of the game when it comes to your competition during what can be a daunting job-search process after graduation.
Click on the following link for more tips for your job search.
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