Whether you recently graduated or you’re graduating soon, you’re at the height of starting an exciting new chapter of your life – your career! It can be an overwhelming thought at first, and you may wonder what proactive steps you should take to begin. Here is a list of to-dos to set yourself on the path to success.
Update and Polish your Resume
The best advice is to always keep your resume updated and professional. After all, it's the first impression most employers will get of you. Companies are constantly receiving resumes and choosing the ones that stand out. Here are a few points to consider when putting together a winning resume:
1. Be Strategic
Think of your resume as more than just “life experiences”, but rather an up-to-date list demonstrating your skills and problem-solving abilities. Aim for more than simply a list of your past jobs and education. Highlight why you are different from other candidates. Are you skilled in Adobe Photoshop or a wiz at Microsoft Excel? Include that!
2. Keep it Simple
- Employers appreciate brevity. The less wordy, the better. Never go over two pages – one is better than two.
- Each position on your resume should include a title, place of employment, location, and a date range or year.
- Use bullet points to highlight specific achievements, so your resume is easy to scan.
3. Think like an Employer
Make sure employers can clearly see the connection between your experience and the position you’re applying for so they can easily see the similarities and that you have the skills that are needed.
4. Consider a Resume Service
Don't think you have what it takes to present yourself well to potential employers? There are companies that specialize in writing resumes that can do it for you. Don't be afraid to take advantage of their services.
LinkedIn, Online Portfolios and Social Media
Social media can be an asset or a liability in your job search. Do a quick Google search for your name to see what comes up. Be assured, potential employers are going to do this too. Hopefully, you've been thoughtful in what you've posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like during your college career. If not, it's time to start doing a little editing...and the sooner, the better, so that your deleted posts don't still appear in the search engine indexes. You only want positive posts to appear.
Used well, your social media profiles can give potential employers a better look at who you are and what motivates you. Some of the best social media tools include:
- LinkedIn – This networking site is a great place to connect with potential employers. According to company data, three people are hired every minute via LinkedIn.
- Online portfolios – These are ideal for showcasing your work if you are a graphic artist, web designer, writer, or another similar professional. Check out Wix and Squarespace to start and make sure to include the URL of your portfolio on your resume.
- Other social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram can be used to your advantage with positive posts that showcase your hobbies and passions.
Utilize your Career Center
It’s easy to overlook the power a career center has, but it’s one of the best networks to utilize. Virtually every college and university has one. These offices can help you polish your resume, secure job interviews, and help you determine if a particular career path is right for you. The best part is that these services are all free to students and alumni.
“It’s all about who you know” is a common phrase for a reason. Networking is more important now than it has ever been before. Find people who can help you with your career search using LinkedIn, Meetup, alumni functions and professional groups for your industry.
Internships are another good way to get your foot in the door. Many lead to full-time employment. Ask for internship opportunities at your university's career center or search online listings for opportunities in your area. Traditionally, internships were unpaid positions, but today more and more employers are offering interns a small salary.
Be Prepared for a Video Interview
Video interviews have largely replaced in-person interviews. For businesses, one of the advantages is a streamlined time-to-hire process. Lead with your best foot forward. Don't let a bad internet connection interrupt your interview – be sure to test your technology set-up well beforehand. Prepare like you would for an in-person interview. Learn about the company, be prepared to answer some of the most-commonly-asked interview questions, practice a statement about your strengths and be sure to have a couple of your own questions to ask.
Finding your first job may seem like a huge endeavor, but if you follow the tips presented, you'll be on the right path to finding a role that is professionally and financially rewarding. Check out our other relevant blogs for more helpful tips as you embark on this new chapter, Financially Preparing to Move Out & Live On Your Own and How to Pay Off Student Loans.