Graduation typically instills in students equal measures of elation, excitement, and anxiety. As a student, while you’re thrilled to move on to the next phase in your life, you might feel unprepared for the onslaught of decisions you must make. Creating a checklist of tasks to accomplish after the pomp and circumstance are over can ground you and ensure that you’re making the best use of your time.
Stop By Your School’s Career Center
A university career center or career services office contains a variety of free resources to help you land a post-collegiate job. Andrew Strieber of CareerCast recommends spending some time there before you say goodbye to school. Talk with a career counselor, and pore over the research materials.
You can also tap your professors for advice — especially those who teach courses related to your chosen profession. Ask to meet with them over coffee or during their office hours so that you can pick their brains about how best to proceed. Alternatively, shoot your professor an email asking a series of brief questions.
Customize Your Resume
These days, generic resumes and cover letters won’t land you a job. Customize each one to the company and position in question. Address key skills that will relate to your job performance in your resume, for instance, or mention some facet of the business you particularly like in your cover letter.
Collect a Few References
While personal references sometimes suffice for entry-level jobs, you’re better off providing professional references to potential employers. If you held an on-campus job, for example, ask your boss to write a quick reference letter. Request permission from anyone whose contact information you plan to supply to potential employers.
Other sources of references include supervisors of internships, managers for summer jobs, and even coaches or faculty advisors for extracurricular activities. If you worked on a special project at school, the professor in charge can also provide a reference. You might not use them all, but snag them before you leave school behind.
Diversify Your Job Search
Maybe you didn’t enjoy that composition class during freshman year, but you likely learned a few useful research skills. Give them some exercise now as you search for your first professional job. Don’t limit yourself to one online job board or a single classifieds forum.
Instead, visit as many job boards as possible to familiarize yourself with recent openings. Set up a LinkedIn account or use other social media platforms to learn about positions that might not have hit the boards yet. The more resources you use, the sooner you’ll secure a new position.
Set Broad Expectations
Many recent grads get their hopes up for landing their dream job. While it could happen, your first position out of college probably won’t resemble the caliber of job you’ll get when you’ve accrued a few years of experience. Shoot for getting a decent job now, but don’t stop looking for something better.
After graduation, you can go anywhere and do anything you want. Creating a plan will give your job search some direction and help you focus until you find a position that you’ll enjoy.