Graduation is a mile marker. You have overcome many long nights of studying, cramming for tests and the final capstone project. Congratulations! You have walked across the stage in your cap and gown and received your well-earned diploma. The harrowing hard work seems to be behind you but only for an instance.
The next step after graduation may be filled with a variety of thoughts and emotions. One chapter has closed, and now it is time to move on, but to what you may wonder? You have had ideas percolating in your mind over the past year of studies?
The obvious move would be to get a job, hopefully in the field you got your degree, but the process seems daunting and you might be concerned you just aren’t ready. You would prefer to take those sleepless nights stressing over exams before you would consider entering the real world, but whether you are excited or not, it is time to start thinking about your future and what lay ahead for your career.
It is important to come up with a plan. The job search will not be easy, you will be faced with highs and lows. Interviews will come and go as learning experiences until you nail it.
In order to navigate the road ahead, you will need some guidance. Consider this list as a road map, steering you through the twists and turns and outlining the measures you should consider taking, to land your first job.
Consider these questions.
What kind of job do you want?
While it may seem like saying you can do anything to an employer demonstrates your flexibility, it actually works contrary to your ambitions. This statement conveys the message that you are desperate and will take any position the company has available. This does not prove that you are competent and have ambition. Someone who knows exactly what position they want within the company can go into an interview selling him or herself for the position. What qualities they possess that will make them the ideal candidate for the role. Being confident, prepared and decisive shows the employer you are professional, motivated and determined.
Demonstrate you have a sense of purpose, direction, know what you want, what you will and will not accept. If you need help in this area, look for online assessment tests, attend informational interviews to gain focus, or seek a mentor or career counsellor for more assistance.
Do you have experience in the industry you are pursuing?
Employers are looking for candidates with relevant experience. If you are reviewing your resume or CV, and find you are lacking in professional activity, there is no time like the present to get your feet wet. Consider looking for internships, co-ops, part-time positions, research projects, volunteer opportunities, or seasonal work in the industry you want to enter.
You have arrived; you are an adult. There are numerous online resources available to conduct research into open positions in your area, or go “old school” and pick up the newspaper, canvasing the want-ads for job openings.
Are you marketing yourself to the best of your abilities?
It is important to update your resume. Marketing yourself effectively means having a resume and cover letter tailored to the individual job you are applying for. Read the job description and cater your resume to include relevant keywords ascertained from the description.
Why is this important? Many companies use applicant tracking systems to prescreen resumes, and by using the keywords in your submission, you will keep your resume from being tossed in the slush file.
Ultimately, your application will land in human hands and it is critical to explain your accomplishments in various jobs and use numbers to quantify your achievements whenever possible. As a recent graduate, work experience may be slight. In this case, highlight any internships you may have participated in or pertinent coursework.
Do you have professional references?
Choose those people in your rolodex who will speak highly of you and can also refence any specifications that may make you the best candidate for the position you are pursuing.
It doesn’t hurt to get out there and network, expanding your base and learning the ropes of the trade from seasoned professionals who might be valuable contacts in the future. Get to know how the industry works. Research the major players by reading industry-specific publications, visiting industry websites, forums, and webinars. Participate in professional organizations and attend conferences and seminars.
That’s it! Welcome to the real-world! Do bear in mind, job searches take time and can be stressful. Don’t lose sight of your ambitions. Soon enough you will have your first job and, more importantly, your first paycheck!
Written by Emily Dawn Szajda, GBSB Global Content Manager