A guest post by Sarah Fudin, USC Master’s Programs Online
If you’re finishing up a degree and getting ready to enter the job market, you may be feeling overwhelmed about the prospects for landing your first job out of college. Despite the current economic climate, the job outlook for new college graduates is becoming more positive. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that employers will employ at least 10 percent more new college graduates in 2012.
With brighter prospects before you, here are a few simple tips that will help you on a successful quest for your first post-college job:
- Leverage college resources. Take full advantage of the career center at your college or university. Whether you’re just starting to define your career goals or ready to begin interviewing, you’ll find resources for every stage of the job search. Career counselors have information about different occupations and can provide tips on writing resumes and cover letters. You’ll also find job listings and may be able to schedule on-campus interviews with job recruiters. Be sure to find out if your school allows alumni to access the career center, so you can continue to use this valuable resource after you’ve earned your degree. Want to find out about the colleges with the best career services? The Princeton Review rates career centers based on student feedback in The Best 376 Colleges. Learn more about the ranking in this NY1 video.
- Network with social media. It’s important to get the word out about your job search and maintain a network of job-search contacts. Social media is a great way to update friends, families, professors and former co-workers about your job search. Although your connections may not be able to provide a job, they may have useful information about your industry or advice on the job-search process. You can also use social media to reach out to fellow job-seekers from your college as a potential source for valuable leads and use social media profiles to research companies and managers before submitting resumes. This U.S. News & World Report article provides more in-depth strategies for using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as job search tools.
- Craft a winning resume. Your resume needs to stand out from the crowd. If you’re short on professional experience, highlight coursework and relevant extracurricular activities. Include all your previous employment (including internships, summer jobs and volunteering), focusing on your contributions and initiative. Once you’ve decided on the content of your resume, choose a format that is easy to read and well organized. Polish your resume with these Five Resume Tips for College Students from Monster.com.
- Take an internship. You can gain valuable industry experience by completing an internship in your chosen field. The salary is usually low and some internships are unpaid, but the potential for making professional contacts is invaluable. An internship is also a good way to find out if working in your chosen field matches your expectations. Some internships may lead to full-time jobs, but even if this doesn’t happen, having an internship on your resume will show potential employers that you are committed to succeeding in the working world. Check out Indeed.com for internship leads in your field.
- Learn from your professors. If you’re pursuing an academic career, your college professors should be your first point of contact for career advice and job leads. Even if you’re not interested in a career in academia, many professors have industry contacts and are eager to help students find their first job after college. The key is to begin networking with college faculty before you graduate so your face is fresh in their minds. You can also learn from academics who provide job search advice in articles and interviews, such as this interview with Rowan University professors.
Persistence is the key to landing that first job. Many graduates who are successful in their job search begin looking while still in school. If they haven’t found a full-time job by the time they graduate, they may take temporary work so they can keep looking until they find a position that is a good fit for their qualifications. Remember that your first job may not be you dream job, but it could be the first rung on your career ladder up to it.
Sarah Fudin works in community relations for the University of Southern California’s Master’s degree programs delivered online, which provide the opportunity to complete Masters in Education programs and MSW programs online. Outside of work, Sarah enjoys running, reading and Pinkberry frozen yogurt.