So, you haven’t heard from me for a few weeks because I’ve been knee deep in research for my thesis. (Picture me hunkered down at my desk with two dozen academic studies scattered around me. I love it. I hate it. You get the gist…)
Anyway, I’m studying how college graduates get jobs.
Specifically, I’m looking at why some students succeed in landing jobs quickly after college, and why some can flounder.
Are you a parent of a college student? Are you in college now?
Here’s the deal. The research is pretty clear and it absolutely jives with what I see anecdotally with students I coach as the Director of Career Services for Klein College at Temple University.
1. You must have experience and skills related to your field of study on your resume and your LinkedIn before you graduate.
Employers want to see evidence that you not only managed your classes but that you also did internships, that you were involved in campus activities and organizations. You may need to show your work ie: writing samples, portfolios, projects. If you just went to class and have a good GPA, it’s not enough unless you are going into the family business.
2. You need to build a network of supporters: professors, employers, mentors, alumni, career counselors, family friends to launch and recommend you.
In the most competitive fields (like media and communication), applying through a website is often not enough. You need someone on the inside to be an “ambassador” for you and carry your resume to the right person. It’s not uncommon for a good candidate to be identified before the job is even posted. A good network alerts you to the job opening before the rest of the world knows about it.
3. You need a professional LinkedIn profile.
Employers use LinkedIn to recruit. They REALLY do! Some employers lean heavily on LinkedIn to find their new hires. College students often make the mistake of using a picture wearing a cap and gown with the title of Student or College Graduate under their name. Instead, keywords reflecting skills and experience are better ie: Multimedia journalist/storyteller/content creator. A strong summary written in the first person and a professional headshot go a long way to attract employers. The worst mistake? Not having a professional looking LinkedIn profile page. (This goes for EVERYONE and ANYONE looking to find a new job.)
4. You MUST know how to tell your story!
I’ve seen some talented students struggle in the interview process. It’s hard to learn to talk about yourself but students who are comfortable with interviewing land jobs. Practice, practice, PRACTICE! Do mock interviews at your career center. Role play with your friends or family. You must know how to answer the “So, tell me about yourself” question. Don’t let the interview be the first time the words are coming out of your mouth. Practice makes you more confident. Answers to “what are your goals and why have you applied for this job?” must come forth from you with confidence and energy. Studies show obvious nervousness or lack of preparation can kill your chances of landing a job. If you practice throughout your college career, you’ll be a pro by the time you graduate.
5. Procrastination or lack of job search intensity.
I’ve seen some wonderfully talented students stall out after graduation because they aren’t ready or fear to commit to that first job and feeling like they don’t want to get stuck. It’s a big leap…college to career. I know it can be frightening but don’t let that fear paralyze you. Meet with your biggest cheerleaders, career coaches, or mentors to keep you going. Don’t stop looking while you are waiting to hear back from one employer. Network, coffee, lunch, dinner with anyone in your field willing to give you a few minutes of their time and advice. The first job is probably not the forever job. It’s just the beginning of your career journey. Let it begin. You CAN do this!
6. Finally, connect with your career center to make sure your resume, cover letter, LinkedIn, and all of your other job hunting materials are formatted well to make sure you are presenting the story you want to tell.
I dare you! Find your college career center. Most students don’t even know where their career center is. I promise, if you find it, you’ll also find dedicated professionals ready to help you create the life and career you want. The sooner you get there during your college years, the better.
Okay, do you feel like you just read a thesis?
Oh dear. Well, if you got this far, I hope it helps. Please share with someone who needs this!
Join us over on Facebook to continue the conversation: Lu Ann Cahn