By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes
Congratulations! You have ordered your cap and gown, completed all the necessary credits and packed up your college dorm room. The excitement of college graduation has hit, but so have the thoughts about what comes next.
You may have begun to worry about finding the perfect job and building your dream career. Questions like, “Was college worth it?” or “Will anyone want to hire me if I have no experience?” start to consume you.
Don’t spend time wallowing in the uncertainty of your future, or avoiding it by going to parties. Begin to take action, and follows these steps to prepare for your future ahead:
1. Build a resume.
It’s no secret, creating a solid resume is the first step towards applying for a job. And being a fresh grad, without years of experience to fill out the page of a resume, may feel discouraging. But it’s not all bad news!
Data suggests that soft skills matter as much, if not more than, your technical background and job history. If you worked in hospitality or retail, emphasize the soft skills you gained during this time. Don’t limit your experience to paid jobs. If you had internships, were a member of a volunteer organization or extracurricular use these to outline the skills you gained that translate into the job you are seeking. In fact, here’s a helpful article I wrote on 8 items you can keep or ditch on your resume.
Before you start sending your resume off to companies, be sure to proofread and edit. Share your resume with a friend, family member or mentor to get a fresh pair of eyes to review it. You can also install grammar software, such as Grammarly, to help you proofread and catch errors you would otherwise miss.
2. Use social media to get you a job, not lose one.
Seventy percent of employers use social media searching to screen out potential employees. And of that 70%, roughly half of them do not hire someone based on what they find.
Employers are looking at your media to understand whether you would be a good cultural fit, have a solid online professional persona and to see what others are saying or sharing about you.
With college life wrapping up, you need to do a self-audit on your media platforms. Needless to say, your hiring manager doesn’t want to see the spring breaker version of you. That’s why you must screen for any content that is in reference to drinking or illegal substances, discriminatory or offensive comments and whether you portray poor communication skills. Ask yourself, “Would you willingly show this to your grandmother or a hiring recruiter?” If the answer is no, remove it.
Think about how you want to portray yourself in person, and online. Remember: people who find your profiles on social don’t know you personally. This is all they have to go off of.
Begin to build an online presence with your career in mind and create a LinkedIn profile. This is the main media source for career growth and networking, not to mention a perfect way to find your dream job. Ditch the selfies and get a professional headshot to use for your profile and cover photos. Leverage the content you have compiled for your resume to fill out your profile.
3. Utilize your campus resources before they are gone.
College career fairs take place on campuses nationwide. Don’t sleep through these, attend them and before you walk into the fair, do your homework to prepare. Look at your college’s website to get a list of all the companies that will be attending. Take note of which ones you are interested in and pull together a few questions or topics to discuss with your favorites.
Bring copies of your resume in a portfolio and pen and paper to jot down notes between recruiter conversations. Ditch the backpack, and your friends, at the dorm. It might feel safer to walk the event with friends, but recruiters would prefer to have one-on-one conversations with leads and this will make you more memorable.
…Look at it like speed dating, would you really bring your posey of friends to join with each person you meet?
Once you arrive at the fair, do some observing and walk the floor before you talk to anyone. Allow your nerves to calm, and then approach a few companies, but save your favorite’s for later. This will give you the opportunity to warm up with introducing yourself and speaking to recruiters before approaching your dream company. While speaking to recruiters, stand confident and be sure to thank them for their time and request contact information to follow up.
After the event completes, set time aside the next day to reach out and thank all the companies that you spoke with. Send them an email highlighting your key takeaways and steps for the future. Know that it’s all about knowing the name and email of the recruiter you meet. Yes, hand them your resume, but also know the party happens best when you follow up.
…Even if they don’t have the job of your dreams available right now, still follow up, you never know what will become available in the future.
After the career fair, set up an appointment with a campus recruiter or career counselor to review your options and create a path forward. With less than 20% of undergraduate students reaching out for help from their career centers, these resources are heavily underutilized.
Leaving college life behind can be scary, but if you spend a little time between graduation parties preparing for what is to come, your future will be even brighter than those red solo cups!
For a FREE course to land a new job you love, launch your dream business, or find your purpose, visit https://ashleystahl.com/