Hats Off to Another Year of New College Graduates!
Congratulations to the Class of 2018! You did it! You have accomplished so much and now you are ready to share your knowledge and gifts with the world of work. You, and more than 3.8 million others of you who walked across the stage this year to receive your degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics government website, are now ready to get a job.
If you haven't already secured that coveted first job in your career field, what is your plan to do so? What salary are you hoping to start off with? Is it realistic? How can you differentiate yourself in the job market to land your dream job right out of the gate? How do you plan to sell yourself to a hiring manager when you have no real world experience? Have you developed your personal brand? What IS your strategy?
With so many new graduates flooding the market looking for either a new job or a different job, here are five things to help you create your strategy:
- Optimize your LinkedIn profile. Many recruiters and human resources departments utilize LinkedIn as a way to search for prospective candidates. Ensure that your information is accurate, highlights your skills, and utilizes key industry words in your summary and throughout your profile.
- Ensure that your resume will pass the the resume-scanning software test. Many larger companies utilize resume-scanning software as the first point of entry in the recruitment process. Therefore, you should ensure that you have utilized key words from the job description in your resume. There are several different online resume scanning websites that you can enroll with to put your resume through a preliminary test to check for automatic rejection.
- Develop your personal brand. Your degree is a wonderful achievement, but it will not necessarily make you stand out in the job search process. You should expand upon your education, and utilize key components of who you are, what you believe in, and what you stand for to differentiate yourself and begin to become known an expert in your chosen field. This can be accentuated through the use of volunteer work closely related to your major, issues that you have championed for, and special projects that you have undertaken. Developing your brand early in your career will need to be viewed as a work in progress to be built over time as you gain experience and carve out your niche.
- Polish your professional image. This would be the appropriate time to clean out your dorm closet and upgrade your wardrobe, shoes, make-up and hairstyle to reflect the image that you want to portray in your job search. Your image should be a reflection of the career you want to pursue. If you are uncertain what constitutes professional attire, don't be afraid to have a consultation with an image consultant to get on the right path.
- Network! Network! Network! Finding opportunities to network with people who work in your industry should be a vital part of your strategy. They can be found through your local Chamber of Commerce office, after-work networking events hosted by national organizations, local Meet-ups, and even by joining trade associations relating to your chosen career field. Be creative in finding networking opportunities, and also let friends and family know that you are searching for a job. Some open positions never get listed, due to company employee referral incentives. Additionally, some companies are also hesitant to pay the fees required to list their open positions on online job boards.
There are many other factors that should be taken into consideration when preparing for your job search or career transition. One of the most important things you can do to ensure your success is to be strategic about your search. If you are not presently working, your job search should become your full-time job to stay ahead of your competition. To streamline this process, consider hiring an experienced career coach to partner with you through this important transition from college to corporate. After all, student loan debt can go into repayment in as little as six short months. Congratulations on your momentous occasion and best of luck to you as you launch onto your chosen career path!