For college seniors, finding a job when they graduate is a huge source of stress, but there are ways to get the ball rolling well before graduation to make sure your job search is successful, says Jill Tipograph, co-founder of Early Stage Careers.
“College students should be preparing to enter the job market from the very beginning of college,” Tipograph says. This means thinking about the courses, school projects, experiences and internships you should be acquiring throughout your college career, she says.
“When it’s time for you to apply for a job, your story and your path has already been carved,” she says. If you’re trying to figure out what you want to do with your career, Tipograph shares her tips for making a career plan before you graduate.
Take a career assessment
Tipograph recommends taking a career assessment to refine the kind of career you think you would be suited for.
“There are many young people today who really don’t know what they should be doing, because they don’t know where their interests, their skills and their experiences all intersect,” Tipograph says. She recommends taking an assessment before picking a major and then again during your junior and senior years when it’s time to find internships.
This way, students will know what kinds of jobs are out there and the skills they need for them while they’re still in school. Additionally, Tipograph says students should be practicing “soft skills” like communication, critical thinking and collaboration. When it’s time to apply for a job, you’ll have everything you need.
Write a concise resume
Tipograph says recruiters typically spend six seconds scanning a resume, so students need to be mindful of what they’re putting on it and keeping it to one page. For things you’d like to elaborate on, use your LinkedIn profile, she says.
“Every recruiter will look at that, and that’s where more of your story can come out,” Tipograph says.
When you’re sending your resume out, Tipograph says you should not just blast it out to any job you think could be a fit. Instead, focus your search.
“When you apply to too many things that you're not qualified for, the rejection increases,” she says. “Take the time to analyze the job and your qualifications, and the chances of actually speaking to a recruiter will increase.”
Ace the interview
Tipograph says it’s important to make a personal connection with your interviewer—make sure you do some research beforehand and find some common ground, whether that’s something you’ve discovered on their LinkedIn profile or through a connection with someone else that works at the company.
And practice, practice, practice, Tipograph says.
“It's so important to do a lot of rehearsing because as you practice, it becomes easier to say things in a shorter amount of time —your answers will be on target,” she says.
Be prepared to be patient, but keep your eye on different opportunities that come your way, Tipograph says.
“It takes seven and a half months on average to get a job for a college grad and the longer it takes, you need to explain to them why you're not hired,” she says. “It’s important to always focus on the next opportunity even if you’re moving ahead in terms of a job opportunity.”