The last semester of college is one of the most exciting times in a young person’s life. It can also be one of the most stressful, depending on what your plan is post-graduation. If you, like me, hope to start working right after graduation, you might consider starting your job search as early as the beginning of senior year. Check out my five suggestions on how to get your job search started!
- Perfect Your LinkedIn Profile
Networking is one of the most important strategies to secure employment after graduation. Thankfully, the ‘Facebook-for-Professionals’ network, LinkedIn, is here to help! Its simple platform and large community makes it the best tool for graduating seniors to find a job. It allows you to showcase your accomplishments, education, and professional interests, as well as learn about different kinds of jobs and topics that could open doors to start your career. LinkedIn is basically an extension of your resume where you can justify your abilities and accomplishments in detail, and where you can connect with professionals and potential employers in the field you’re interested in.
Another feature of LinkedIn allows you to share things, such as content you create (blogs, essays, photos, videos) in order to show your knowledge on specific topics, products, industries, and more.
A very important feature of LinkedIn is that you can apply for jobs directly through the website. The job search section allows you to search for keywords within job postings and specify the location you desire. Once you find a job posting that fits your skills, you can apply with just the click of a button. A basic version of your LinkedIn profile will be shared with the recruiter, as well as your traditional resume if you choose to attach it.
Last tip: LinkedIn, while I jokingly call it the ‘Professional Facebook’ is NOT Facebook. Be cautious of what you share and who you follow, and most importantly, use a professional photo on your profile. No employer wants to see a selfie from your last night out.
- Think About What You Really Want To Do
Some students enter university knowing exactly what they want to do once they graduate. Others are not so fortunate. Especially in liberal arts universities, students graduate with flexible degrees that could get them a variety of jobs in multiple sectors. Spend time figuring out what your degree can do for you, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Think back to all of the academic work you did throughout your college years. Did one topic stand out more than others? What kind of job could put you in a position to pursue that topic further?
It’s okay if you are unsure of what you want to do, but it’s important to identify some options by evaluating your skills and interests, identifying the type of environment that you want to work in, and talking to people who might be helpful — including professors you’ve had, or alumni who have gone through this process not long before you.
I have met many people who hold job titles that I didn’t even know existed. There are so many jobs out there, so if you find you don’t fit into one of those broad job categories, do some research!
- Perfect Your Resume, and Create Multiple Versions!
If you don’t know how to write a resume, start with a Google search. There are many examples that can be found online to use as models. The typical resume format is as follows:
Part 1: Name, Title, Contact Information, and Basic Summary of Your Career Goals
Part 2: Experience (jobs you have held with short descriptions of your responsibilities and accomplishments there)
Part 3: Education (Name of university, degree, year graduated)
Part 4: Skills (Here is where you list skills relevant to the job for which you are applying, anything from languages to computer skills and personal skills)
Part 5: References (include their name and title, as well as contact information for all listed references. Don’t forget to get permission from them to be included on your resume!)
You may think that writing one resume is hard enough, but once you get your base model down, you should consider making small changes depending on the specific job you are applying for. Various positions require various skills and while it is important to show your potential employer how flexible and skillful you are, it is better to keep it specific to the position for which you are applying. Recruiters read hundreds of resumes each day and you’ll be lucky if they take a second look. Keep it simple, to the point, and job-specific. You will have the chance to showcase yourself better if you manage to land an interview!
- Practice Writing Cover Letters
Unless you happen to get the first job you apply for, be ready to write a large number of cover letters. You may get discouraged, as this can be a time-consuming process, but it is not one to slack off in. Cover letters are extremely important, as they give the potential employer their first look at who you are, your ability to write, and how you present yourself as a professional. Spend time looking at cover letter examples – there are countless resources online. Don’t forget to do your research, either. Get to know the company you are applying for, and make it apparent that you have done your research on the position.
Last tip – use the correct cover letter format. Address it to the company in question, and use a professional salutation such as: To Whom It May Concern. Keep it professional and formal.
- Seize Opportunities
Just because you are on your way out of university doesn’t mean you should stop attending lectures and events on campus. In fact, your last semester is the perfect time to be attending as many of these as possible! Lectures and events can be the best networking opportunities, or, at the very least, could spark an idea for a project or job you would like to pursue after graduation.
Besides university lectures and events, explore the city you have called home for the past four years. Is there a museum you’ve always wanted to check out but never got around to? Is there an event happening or a performance that interests you? Students, while they have a lot of responsibilities to juggle, tend to have more free time and flexibility than working professionals. Take advantage of this and find out what’s going on in your city, then get up and go!