Finding a job after finishing your college degree may seem daunting, but it is possible. In fact, this is the first of many career learning experiences and a great opportunity to sharpen the skills that will help throughout your career.
Keep in mind that grades and degrees are not everything, no matter how well or how much you have achieved. Now comes the time for many “soft skills” such as enthusiasm, networking, personal branding, and flexibility. You don’t need to do one thing for the rest of your life; numerous studies show that more and more people are changing employers or careers more frequently than they did in the past. So keep your mind open and embrace new opportunities!
Be Enthusiastic and Positive
Be enthusiastic about looking for a job. If you truly love the course you’ve taken in school, know that’s exactly the area you want to work in, and are aware of what kinds of jobs you qualify for, that is a fantastic start. Potential employers love to see enthusiasm, so don’t be shy about saying that you are excited about the prospect of working with their company and believe you have a lot to contribute. Demonstrate your interest and optimism.
Make your Résumé Stand Out and Showcase Your Skills
As a recent college graduate, it’s essential that your résumé make the most of the experience you have, particularly if your working experience is limited. Take the time to know what a good résumé looks like. The internet contains numerous resources for creating and improving your résumé. Experts recommend including more keywords, better descriptions of your achievements to date, and relevant project assignments. That way, you can emphasize your transferable skills to prospective employers. You may also want to list leadership roles that you held in clubs or other activities during college as this will help demonstrate your leadership capacities and skills.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is not giving enough attention to detail in their résumés. This is often your first and only impression – make it count! If you can, invest in a professional résumé writer – it makes an enormous difference. A pro can spot mistakes you don’t even see, and make improvements you had not even thought of. It is a one-time investment than can pay huge dividends if it results in a job!
If you cannot hire a pro, then ask a trusted professional acquaintance or career counselor to take a look at your résumé and give you pointers. Ask them: “if you saw this résumé and did not know me, would you hire me?” Go through your résumé and each cover letter in minute detail, line by line, whether each point supports the requirements for a job.
Set Goals and Plan Well – Then Be Flexible
Be clear on what you want, so it’s easier to achieve it. Devise a professional development plan with clear goals and objectives regarding what you will learn, the skills you will acquire, and what you want to be doing at certain intervals along the way. Consult a career counselor or professional in the field to find out what other certifications, career moves, coursework and/or degrees are advisable for you to advance your career.
Make Google Your Very Own PR Department
Start cultivating a brand – you. Take a close look at how you appear on social media sites. Be sure that any personal information visible to the public reflects a professional image. Keep the following in mind: if you wouldn’t wear it, show it, talk about it or do it in front of a potential employer, don’t put it on Facebook. Nowadays potential employers do check the web to find out more about you – so make sure that what they find is someone they want to hire and not someone who could be a liability for them.
Build Your Experience Through Internships
Find opportunities for internships. This will enhance your résumé, contribute to professional experience, and also help to build your network. In addition, doing a few internships will also help you make informed career decisions down the road. Saying you want to work in health care sounds more plausible when you’ve already given it a try. Spending a couple of months working for free at a company or organization with a recognizable name lends you credibility in addition to experience. Very often, it can also lead you to a job when an opportunity comes up and you have already demonstrated your abilities.
Create and Update Your Presence on Professionally-Oriented Social Networks
Establish a complete profile on LinkedIn and ask a trusted colleague with more experience to look it over for you. Become a member in relevant professional groups, add as many contacts as possible, and follow profiles and tweets of experts in your field or inspirational individuals. Once you have shown your mettle, do not hesitate to ask for recommendations from colleagues, clients and other professional contacts over time. You can point potential employers to this site in the future.
Network, Network, Network
It’s not just what you know, or even how well you know it – it’s who you know. This old adage is true, time and again. Most job opportunities will come to you via friends, classmates, and relatives, even strangers if you have the courage to meet new people.
Tapping into your own personal network of friends and relatives is an excellent way of getting a head start in your career. So make as many friends as you can by participating in clubs and societies at college, and nurture those friendships as well as you can.
Benefit From a Mentor’s Wisdom
Seek out potential mentors who can draw upon their experience and wisdom to help coach you towards success. Regardless of what professional field you are entering, it is extremely useful to have a mentor. People with just a couple of years more experience or a more senior colleague can have valuable insights and broader visions. Don’t forget to check in with the mentor and let them know how you are doing and what their help has brought you. As your career progresses, give back to the community. Become a mentor to younger people or other less fortunate friends who haven’t yet found work. One never knows when that very friend may be in position to help you out of a jam in the future.
Job placement is a lifetime service that we provide to all students. If you are a student or a graduate of Florida National University (FNU), our Job Placement Office can also help you with your résumé and research and interview skills. We are committed to helping our students and alumni find employment in their chosen career. Get in touch with one of FNU’s career advisors today!