Getting a head start after graduating college is no small feat. With a number of new graduates appearing across the country year-on-year it’s important to make yourself stand out. So, what can you do to get ahead of the curb? Well, there’s actually quite the number: here are College News’s Top Career Tips.
Work harder than everyone else
One of our top career tips for after graduation is to work hard. This seems like an obvious place to start, but just because it’s so obvious, it doesn’t mean it’s bad advice. There are a lot of highly talented people who don’t achieve much coming out of college because they don’t apply themselves enough.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), during “The 2016–17 school year, colleges and universities are expected to award 1,018,000 associate's degrees, 1.9 million bachelor's degrees and 798,000 master's degrees”
There’s also a projected 3,992,000 graduates expected from the various degree opportunities in the 2017-2018 grad spectrum, according to the NCES.
What does this mean? You’re going to have to work hard, know your skill set like the back of your hand and make sure you assert those skills at every opportunity. There’s no substitution for hard work.
Okay, that’s the clichés out the way, now for some more in-depth tips.
I imagine you’ve heard that dreaded word a million times over at college; but how do you go about networking?
LinkedIn: There’s a certain disgruntled face that often gets pulled when LinkedIn gets mentioned, but it’s an exceedingly handy tool to network with a vast and eclectic number of professionals and businesses.
It’s incredibly important to remember that while LinkedIn is a social media platform, it should be used much more like a brochure for your professional candidacy. With that in mind; make sure your profile picture is professional. Consider where you are and what you’re wearing––you at the beach wearing a vest and holding a beer is probably not the time or place.
LinkedIn also has a tool where you can join groups of similarly-minded industry professionals. Make sure you pick them carefully and try not to join groups just for the sake of it. Know the career fields you want to be included in and select appropriately. Make sure you’re active in these groups as it’s no good joining them and sitting on the sidelines. Post thoughtful, well-informed comments and you’ll start to get noticed.
LinkedIn allows you to connect with professionals around the globe, whether that is first-hand connections or secondary ones. Keep in mind that reaching out to secondary contacts can seem brash––try and get referred through a connection you already have.
Make sure to upload your work & achievements to your profile. If you’re a creative graduate, consider keeping your portfolio up-to-date via LinkedIn. Remember to be selective and don’t upload everything you do or have done.
Ask colleagues, professors and associates to write recommendations for you but also remember to return the favor when possible. Developing a give-and-take between industry friends and colleagues is never a bad thing.
Career Events: One of our top career tips is to pop along to some career events. Yes, a lot of people are going to have a similar idea, but if you work hard to prove you’re the best on offer then these can propel your career trajectory. Make sure you prepare, dress well and—above all else—communicate your desire to progress. There’s nothing wrong with being bold in these kinds of situations.
Who do you know? A key facet of networking is using what you already have. At college, you’re likely to have industry experts come to speak in seminars and lectures, and have alumni who have gone on to bigger and better things. Top career tip: use them. Make contact while you're still at college and build a professional relationship with them—they could quite quickly become one of your greatest assets when looking for a graduate job.
I imagine this one sounds odd, but new employers will more than likely type your name into Google. You should probably think about making changes if unwanted content appears OR if nothing appears.
Both of these aren’t desirable; ideally, you’ll have some online presence—even if this is just your LinkedIn—but you don’t want one that will put your employer off, so get those embarrassing college photos offline or onto private. We all know shenanigans ensued; we don’t need to see them.
If you have undertaken a degree that allows you to create a portfolio of work, make use of this. One of our top career tips is to create your own website. Wordpress and other similar web tools are great assets to you for this. Aspiring journalists, writers, digital marketers, editors, producers and numerous more will all benefit from having an online portfolio come up when they are searched online. Once again, select your best work, not all your work. Consider doing some research on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You don’t need to be an expert, but ensuring your blog/website comes up when your name is searched will be of great help.
Identify the jobs you want
Precision is always a good quality to have; this will become an important attribute when job hunting. Applying for anything and everything can leave you overwhelmed and underprepared. So realistically, target a select few companies (about eight-10) early on and cater your résumé. Online presence and networking around these eight-10 for now. If they don’t work out, you can re-adapt later on.
Create a clear and concise résumé
One of our top career tips is to work on your résumé. Your résumé should ideally take the form of a one-page marketing document. Employers will discard long résumés fairly quickly. Be concise and informative. Present to employers the key skills you want to put forward.
Begin with a clear and concise objective, three or four lines will do. Mention your degree and briefly touch upon your essential skills and the line of work you’d like to go into (make sure this matches the job you’re applying for!). For example, you could say you wanted an entry-level management position in the financial industry. Not being precise with your intentions could damage your chances.
Think about the qualifications you list and consider appropriate coursework to accompany these if you think it’s a good fit for the job you’re applying to. It’s important to realize that a college degree does statistically improve your chances of becoming employed. According to a study conducted by the NCES employment rates were almost twenty percent higher. The Pew Research Center has noted that the while employment rate of graduates has decreased, they still earn more and are more employable than those without a degree. These qualifications on your résumé will help––just be aware that alone they won’t hold the traction to get you a job. You need concise and relevant experience and marketable skills to succeed.
While at college, many of us have part-time jobs to help cover expenses and you may not chalk them up to have much experience. Another top career tip is to take the time, however, to properly analyze all the jobs you have undertaken. You might not think that working the customer service desk in retail, for example, is up to much but those client-facing skills will help to elevate your résumé.
Graduating won’t automatically get you a job. With the sheer number of us graduating these days that’s just a point of fact. Proving you’re a candidate worth investing both the time and the money in will. Make sure you’re diligent and take not of our top career tips when looking for a job. A slip up in how you promote yourself during your job search could be the difference between you and your competitors.