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The Top 10 Things Every College Senior Needs to Do Right Now

Hannah P. Morgan

Before you know it, graduation will be here and chances are you want to line up a job before you walk across the stage. Start prepping for your job search immediately by doing these things.

1. Have ideas. It will be difficult for people to help you if you don't know what you want to do. Conduct online and in-person research and investigate career opportunities that you are interested in. You may have one or two types of jobs you're interested in, which is better than none. Developing this focus will enable you to create a more refined job search. Tune your messages and documentation for the desired job and emphasize your most relevant skills and experiences. If you're having difficulty identifying the type of job you want, get assistance. There are numerous assessments you can take to help you with your decision. Talking to professors can also provide you with some direction. Remember, it is up to you to convince someone to offer you a job. Present yourself as someone who will benefit a company, not someone just looking to collect a paycheck.

2. Visit the career management office. Familiarize yourself with the services available on campus. The career services or career management office most likely offers workshops on resume building, cover letters, and interviewing. You may find they have the assessment tools mentioned above. And take advantage of the on-campus recruiting events. Companies often like to recruit from schools who have previously provided great hires. The interview experience is also a great bonus.

3. Create a LinkedIn profile. Hopefully you have already started using LinkedIn. There is a lot to learn about creating a good LinkedIn profile, so take time to get the most current information. Give these areas your attention:

--A professional looking photograph

--A headline that conveys what job you're looking for (or what skills you offer)

--A summary with details about your skills and experiences

--A vanity URL to put on your resume

--Recommendations from at least a couple of people who know your work

Now, start inviting alumni, professors, and people you met during your internships to join your LinkedIn network.

4. Craft a stellar resume. Your resume is not a one-size fits all document. You've probably noticed that not all jobs require the same exact skills. Therefore, you will need to customize yours based on the requirements of each job to which you apply. Be sure you emphasize and use the right key words for each job. You will know if your resume is stellar if your phone is ringing. In other words, employers are contacting you for interviews. If you aren't being contacted, get help revamping your resume.

5. Use multiple job boards. Set up searches on the major job boards, such as Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com, and Indeed.com. Using multiple boards increases the chances you will find more opportunities. Find and use niche job boards as well. A niche board focuses on jobs within a specific industry or types of jobs. Companies often have preferred job boards they like to use to announce opportunities, so don't rely just on one.

6. Use social media professionally. Before you begin using social media for your job search, make sure you clean up your updates and photos. Remember that when you connect with someone on Facebook they can see what you've shared, so it's important to understand and use the appropriate privacy settings. You should also be aware that nothing is really locked or private on social networks. There are Facebook apps such as BeKnown.com, Branchout.com, and Glassdoor.com's "Inside Connections," which help you find jobs and connections inside companies. LinkedIn is a professional networking site so remember to keep your updates and interactions 100 percent professional. Use the latter site to connect with company insiders, join groups, and become part of discussions. Twitter is another option for learning new things and meeting new people. Just be sure to keep your Twitter stream free of profanities and negative commentary.

7. Attend or join professional associations or groups. Investigate the professional groups associated with your desired job or industry. For example, if you're a marketing major, attend the American Marketing Association events. If you can't find a group focused on your area of interest, consider attending a chamber of commerce event with a cross section of professionals. The purpose of attending these in-person meetings is to learn about trends and meet working professionals who can provide real-time insight. If you're relocating to another city, you can still attend these meetings while you're in school. The information you acquire and the experience you gain from networking will transfer to other geographic locations. You may even be able to obtain contact information for people in the geographic location you're interested in.

8. Conduct informational meetings. You still have a lot to learn about jobs in your desired field. To fill this void, talk to people who are working at companies where you may like to work. An informational meeting (is one in which you invite someone to answer your questions about a particular job or career. Prepare for this conversation by:

--Researching the work history and background of the individual with which you will be meeting.

--Learning about the company they work for in advance of the meeting (what the company does, who are their customers, what is being said about them in the news, etc.)

--Crafting intelligent questions to ask about their career, company, and the industry overall.

9. Allocate time. You can't wave a magic wand and make the job appear. You will have to build time into your schedule, starting today. Dedicate as much time as possible to find and apply for jobs and this usually takes longer than you anticipate. You must customize your resume, research the company, write a different cover letter for each job, and often answer questions on the application. You will also have to follow-up with companies you've applied to, so make sure you track your job applications so you know when to follow-up. Keep the momentum going by working on your search every week. Finding a job is a long process, partially due to employers' interviewing processes.

10. Don't over think it. Your first job won't be your last job. Consider your first job as your launching pad. It serves as a way for you to learn about the organization, the industry and future opportunities. There is seldom a bad job choice as long as you have learned something from the experience and it helps you make better choices in the future.

Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.

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