As the job market continues to struggle, the need to remain competitive remains crucial for new and prospective graduates. Not only are you competing with each other, but you are also competing with professionals who may have years of experience and have recently been laid off or are looking for a change in career. Students should develop a proactive strategy for their job search to gain an advantage. Here are a few tips for prospective graduates looking to get the most out of their job search:
1. Start Early
Students expecting to graduate in May should start thinking about their job search and even applying for jobs now. Starting the job search will give students a good indication of what the market is doing and what companies may be hiring. It will also provide some insight into market trends — for instance, a particular area might have a lot of jobs while others don’t, or a big company that just announced a lot of layoffs could lead to a glut in the market. Starting the job search early will also allow students to start making contacts and developing relationships with company leaders.
Networking is one of the most valuable tools in the job search, no matter how experienced you are. Many professionals find their next job because of someone they know. Students should start networking by talking with their professors (who can provide recommendations or refer students to professionals in their own networks) and other students (who will become future colleagues). Students should also take advantage of networking opportunities initiated during previous internships or through contacts made at job fairs. Any of these contacts could lead to a referral or job tip.
- more – Building your network
3. Utilize Your College Career Services Office
Almost every college or university has a Career Services Office, which is designed exclusively to help students with their job search. Members of this office can advise students on best interviewing practices and job search tips. They can scrutinize a resume or cover letter and offer suggestions to make it stand out from the rest. They can even provide referrals from their own networks. Career Services professionals offer a valuable resource that students won’t be able to access once they graduate.
4. Cast a Wide Net
When jobs are not as plentiful, every job seeker has to widen the focus to make more opportunities available. Students who are developing a job search strategy should cast a wide net by looking for jobs in different locations, looking for job postings in a variety of places (such as online job boards, forums, company Web sites, job fairs, and more), and looking for jobs in a variety of related fields (for example, jobs in marketing and public relations and advertising). The more options you make available to yourself, the greater your chances of getting that first job and starting to accumulate the experience you need to land the dream job you want.
5. Consider Other Options
Have a back-up plan. If you can’t find employment immediately upon graduation, there are a number of other things you can do to build professional experience to ensure you remain competitive. Some options include working as a temp, taking an unpaid internship, volunteering in a position or with a company related to your interests, and working abroad. Each of these options will provide you relevant experience and expand your networking base. The experiences you have and the people you meet could very well lead you to a full-time position at a company you love.
The key to any successful job search is preparation and perseverance. Prospective graduates can use these tips to get a jump start on their job search now to ensure the best opportunities for success. What other tips might you have for new graduates looking for their first professional job?
Leah Landly is the community manager for BluWiki, an informational Wiki service and free web publishing platform. She covers many topics and answers popular topics.
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Good luck in your search,