Prep for Your Post College Job Search

So, you and a million other people will be graduating from college soon and applying for jobs for the first time. How can you have an edge over these other applicants?

The answer is simple: preparation. In order to hit the ground running after graduation, you should be laying the groundwork for your post college job search today.

First and foremost, define your goals. What are your immediate plans after college? Receiving a job offer? Applying to graduate school? Landing an internship?

What are your ultimate, long-term job goals?

Once you’ve answered these questions, put a plan into place. Just as you invested time and effort in the college admissions process—researching universities, talking to college counselors and taking preparatory tests and classes—you should put time and effort into making yourself stand out as an appealing job candidate.

Visit your College Career Center Often
Your school’s Career Services Office is so much more than a place to peruse internal job boards (although it’s useful for that too). It’s also filled with career experts who can help you gain insight into your unique skills, interests, and personality, as well as how to translate those traits into promising career possibilities.

Career counselors can advise you on the job search process and help you write an effective resume, gain interviewing skills, get an internship, and learn about the process of applying to graduate or professional school. Your Career Services office can also provide you with lists of alumni to contact in different fields.

Create or Update your LinkedIn Page
These days, your LinkedIn page is your brand, so it’s important to make sure it’s as fleshed out, presentable and easy to read as possible. Not sure what to compare it to? Check out the profiles of as many users as possible to get an overview of what other people are doing. Pay particular attention to the pages of people who are successful in your field of interest.

Try to get recommendations from supervisors of previous internships or jobs you’ve held or from professors and advisors. If your job history is sparse, fill out your page with relevant skills obtained through volunteering, school organizations or internships. Remember to include any significant awards or honors.

Network, Network, Network
There’s a reason this topic is often expressed in triplicate. Because it’s so important! The key is to know how to network so that it’s second nature. Nobody likes to feel as if they’re being schmoozed.

The best strategy is to be genuine and open about your goals. Talk to everyone you know – professors, friends, parents, friends of parents, mentors – and tell them about your plans.

Reach out to alumni in your chosen field and invite them to coffee or, if they’re busy, a 15 minute phone interview to pick their brain. Ask them if they can refer you to people who may be of further assistance.

Go to job fairs and introduce yourself to recruiters. If you’re really interested in a particular company, make sure to do some research beforehand and prepare several questions that demonstrate your knowledge of the company. Remember to follow-up through LinkedIn or an email after the meeting.

Apply Yourself to Applying
Maybe you once had this vague idea that all you’d need to do is graduate and the job would come to you. This might be true in certain high-demand instances, but for the most part, finding a good job takes work. The more you put into it, the better your results.

Set aside several hours each week to peruse job listings on your college’s career services homepage or on other online job boards. Make a list of any companies you’d be interested in and reach out to them. Follow them on LinkedIn for job openings and see if you know of anybody who can put you in touch with a recruiter. At the very least, try to set up an informational interview.

Finally, keep an open mind and apply to everything. Sometimes the best jobs come when we least expect them.

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Written by

Nicole Cavazos is a Los Angeles-based copywriter and blogger. As a former contributor to the ZipRecruiter blog, she covered the job market and wrote advice for job seekers.

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