Students, particularly college students, often look at graduation like a finish line; the day you are finally free of finals, late night studying, and living off of top ramen. At the beginning of your college experience that finish line seems so far away, but the “finish line” inevitably approaches and it’s all students can do to not sprint through unprepared.
Before you graduate, it will be important for you to match your degree and college path with great opportunities that could be a “foot in the door” early on. There are several resources that you should be aware of as you make your way through college and after graduation:
The first place to start is with Linkedin. Let’s face it, social media is the future, and the future is happening now! While the relevance of different platforms ebbs and flows, Linkedin is a unique, career driven media platform that has proven to be incredibly valuable (when used properly) in searching for a job. Hopefully, you already have a profile, but if not, now is the time to build one and refine it for the job you want. There are several things you should consider:
- Photo. You have to have a profile photo, and this goes without saying, but unlike Instagram and Facebook, it needs to be professional and appropriate. This isn’t the best platform to post that bikini picture from your last spring break. Your LinkedIn picture should be a close headshot, where your face can clearly be seen. No selfies. Your headshot to be a good quality front facing picture. Photos in which you are looking down or to the side might be flattering and on trend, but the purpose of this photos is for you to be easily identifiable; you want prospective employers to click on your profile, and showing your face from the front increases your chances greatly. Consider the clothes that you are wearing in your headshot; Dress for the job you want! Choose a photo of just you; photos with another person are not ideal, and group photos are a definite no. And last but not least, smile!
- Description. Every Linkedin profile gets a small space to enter a headline or description of yourself. This is valuable real estate and is one of the few things a job recruiter sees before clicking on a profile. Make it specific and clever, but avoid clichés like “marketing guru” or “administrative powerhouse.” Show off your writing skills and your professionalism.
- Relevant Experience. There is ample space to include career experiences on your profile, which might feel daunting. You might be thinking, “I’m just a student, I don’t have a ton of relevant experience!” For college students, the key is quality, not quantity. Don’t include irrelevant information just for the sake of filling space. If you’re applying for jobs in the engineering field, it probably doesn’t make sense to list your summer job in high school where you cut your neighbor’s lawn. Include clubs, leadership experience, and relevant skills that are tailored to your career interests.
Once your profile is built, you can begin leveraging the power of Linkedin to find job opportunities. Be patient, make introductions, build a strong network, and don’t be surprised when Linkedin connects you to a few new opportunities!
Indeed is one of the largest, if not the largest, job boards on the web. The homepage is simple and streamlined. You simply enter a keyword, title, or company name that you are targeting, specify the location, and then click “find jobs”. Indeed also remembers your searches and you can sign up to get notified when a job is posted that aligns with previous searches.
CareerBuilder is very similar to Indeed and other job sites, but it’s always good to have another resource at your fingertips. While the search functionality is basically the same as the competition, CareerBuilder sets itself apart with its “Recommendations” feature. This awesome feature recommends jobs based on past searches, keywords in your resume, and details about jobs you’ve applied for in the past. The more you search and apply, the more accurate the results become. This feature is helpful to break up your routine search tactics and keep you from missing out on certain opportunities you didn’t realize were available.
4. PLEASE UTILIZE YOUR CAREER CENTER!
Whether it’s high school, college, or a trade school, visit your career center’s office before your senior year! This is an untapped, underutilized tool. Your career center will have information about upcoming career fairs and internships that can help you gain experience for your resume. Taking advantage of opportunities like that will ensure that when you graduate you will have applicable experience for your career or even entry-level jobs that can help brand your resume and make you more marketable. Large, reputable companies tend to have tables at college career fairs. They want to be the first to grab new, fresh talent, so utilize those resources to their fullest! It can’t hurt, right? They likely also have other resources like resume workshops, networking events, and career guides who can help answer questions as you get ready to join the working world.
As a student or recent graduate, you have to remember that the job search is the first major assignment in your career. Avoid being passive, but don’t rush the process. The key is to spend time each day searching for jobs, making connections, and putting yourself in a position to succeed. The right job will eventually come along and all your hard work will pay off!