Making it to your senior year of college in a global pandemic is a big accomplishment and should be celebrated. You’ve achieved a great milestone and will soon graduate to conquer the world. However, this won’t be easy. The labor market has changed significantly as evidenced by the millions of layoffs in 2020 and the mass resignation in 2021. Millions of people are vying for the job that you want with the same qualifications that you have. Don’t fret though, there are actions you can take to stand out among your peers and ensure you successfully secure a job. After doing these things myself, and mentoring others to do the same, here are 5 things every college senior must do before graduation.
1. Update Your Resume
Updating your resume is the first step to securing a job and should be done well in advance of graduation. Remember, your resume is the first thing recruiters see and what their judgement of you will be based on. You want to make sure it is succinct but also informative. This means every line counts and should add value to the recruiter’s mental image of you. Don’t be shy to add relevant classes you’ve taken, extracurricular activities (even if you did not have a leadership role) and academic achievements. Add relevant skills you worked on throughout college. Are you good at Microsoft Excel? Maybe you took some coding lessons? Are you good at presentations? Maybe you took a data analytics class that you excelled in? They key here is to be strategic in the skills you choose and make sure you at least know the basics. Employers don’t expect entry level staff to be experts, but rather to have basic skills that are relevant to your field. The skills you list will make you stand out among your peers.
2. Start The Job Hunt Early
Once you have drafted that star resume, it’s time to job hunt. My recommendation is to start job hunting the semester before you graduate (i.e. if you graduate in the spring, start job hunting in the fall). It could take months before you get called for an interview, so you want to give yourself enough time to secure a job early. This also puts you ahead of the millions of other seniors graduating at the same time as you whick means less competition and an increased likelihood of a call for an interview. It also makes you look proactive. Employers want to know they are hiring someone who will be proactive about finding work, rather than sitting and waiting for work to be handed to them. Lastly, starting the job hunt early removes much of the anxiety that comes with job hunting. You get to cherry pick the jobs you really want and won’t worry if you do not hear back from a recruiter because you have time to look for a job elsewhere. In the ideal situation, you’d get a job offer before you graduate. Starting the job hunt early is something every college senior must do before graduation.
3. Invest In Interview Preparation
While your resume gets you through the door, your performance in the job interview determines if you secure the job. Interview preparation can make this experience a successful one. Once you’ve secured the interview, research the company and the people with whom you’ll be interviewing. You can find more on the company using the following websites:
- Company website
- SEC website (if publicly traded)
- Yahoo Finance
- New York Time Business
Having information on the company handy during the interview shows the interviewer that you’re prepared and showing interest in the company. Plus, any information you find, you can ask your interviewer to expand on, thus making you look like a critical thinker.
Take time to get to know your interviewer. Keep it professional by finding their LinkedIn profile. Where did they go to college? What was their thesis? How long have they been at the company? How long have they been in their position? If you can find their CV or research publications online, study those too. Having this information makes your interviewer more human, thus reducing how nervous you are going into the interview. It also allows you to find out what you may have in common with them. which helps you form a personal connection with them. Building a personal connection makes you more memorable and they will be sure to bring your name up when shortlisting candidates for the job. Having a good resume is great, but making a good impression in the interview is what secures the job.
4. Use Your Networks
5. Be Flexible
The road to success is full of roadblocks, twists and turns; you have to be flexible to navigate it. It is very likely that your first job will not be your last. It’s also very likely that you’ll gain the skills and experience you need to excel in your next role. What I’m trying to say is, be choosy when job hunting, but not too choosy. A role that you think is not for you may be the optimal to get you where you need to be to be successful. For example, my major in college was Finance. However, my first job after college was in Internal Audit; an accounting role. Now I’m pursuing a Master of Accountancy and am employed by one of the top accounting firms in the world. The best way to think about your first job is “How will this job help me become a strong professional.” Remember it’s better to start than to do nothing.
The job market has changed tremendously and is more competitive. These are 5 things every college senior must do before graduation to ensure they transition into the labor force with the most advantages.
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