You made it! Congratulations! You're all done with school and now ready to be part of the workforce! But the fact is most of you and your batchmates will be chasing after the same limited job openings. What’s important then is that you set yourself apart - that you stand out from the pack and become the most desirable candidate for the job. But how do you do that?
Set Your Goals
These first few years after college is the best time to explore and decide what you want to do and where you want to go. If you don’t know what your dream job is yet, chances are that you at least know what industry you want to work in, so set your sights on that. From there, set your goal.
"Is there a particular industry or company that especially interests you? While it’s unrealistic to assume your first entry-level job after college graduation will be your ‘dream job,’ it’s not unreasonable to target jobs at companies that are in your dream industry,” says Amanda Augustine, certified professional career coach and resume writer.
Update Your Resume
You probably won’t have a lot of work history to put down on your resume, but you probably have some relevant experience that will make you an attractive candidate.
Ask yourself some of these things:
- Did you do any internships?
- Did you have any part-time or summer jobs?
- What were the extracurricular activities in school that you participated in?
- Did you join any clubs or organizations?
- Did you help out in any civic or community projects?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you can include these activities in your resume that may be related to the job you are applying for. Job search expert Allison Doyle says, “The key is to emphasize those things that demonstrate your value to the company, and to leave out those things that don’t.”
Highlight Your Skills
There’s no need to go into details about the classes that you took. Focus on the skills that you acquired from them, such as specialized computer skills, foreign language fluency, technical writing, or other trade skills.
But don’t leave out soft skills such as time management, leadership, and presentation skills. According to writer Tyler Omoth, “While hard skills like being fluent in Spanish and being an expert HTML coder are fantastic, don’t overlook soft skills. The abilities to communicate, manage your time, and lead others are harder for employers to teach, so they want to see that you are already proficient in these areas.”
Work On Your Network
You may not realize it but through the years you’ve probably already built a strong network of contacts. Capitalize on these networks and find opportunities where they can help you. Amanda Augustine adds, “As you grow your network and discover new people who work in a field, industry, or company that interests you, reach out to them to set up an informational interview that will allow you to learn how they got to where they are in their careers and what you can do to get your foot in the door. “
As time goes by, try to keep growing your network. Join your school’s Alumni Association, attend trade shows and conferences, or sign-up and update our LinkedIn account.
Just remember that the network you build is there to help you, not do the work for you. “People in your network will likely be more than willing to help you, but not if they simply feel that you are taking advantage of them and their connections. Remember they are putting their own reputations on the line whenever they tell one of their contacts that they should consider you for a position!” says Arnie Fertig founder of JOBHUNTERCOACH.
Clean Up Your Public Profile
It’s time to let go of your past and create a new, professional persona. Start with your email address. Put firstname.lastname@example.org to rest. Retire email@example.com. Instead, create professional email addresses to include in your resume. Be sure to also take a look at your social media presence and check that it’s ready for the prying eyes of headhunters and human resource personnel. You can check out these simple tips on how to clean up your social media.
Looking for your first job will be a challenge but there are a number of online tools and references that can help you get ready for this next chapter in your life. Keep an open mind and listen to advice. Before you know it, you’ll hear those magic words, “YOU’RE HIRED!”.