(Guest blog by Jennifer Dillenger, Director of The Space to: Prepare, Wofford’s Career Services office. You can reach Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Wofford College’s alumni office hosts a party for our senior class each year entitled the “50 Days Party,” honoring the ever dwindling number of days left in the school year as the senior class prepares for graduation. It’s a lovely event, but it always results in a little panic among the students who have yet to receive job offers or graduate school acceptance. With that in mind, here are five steps to launching your career search in survival mode. (I’ve written these tips to apply to any college senior, anywhere, but I encourage Wofford seniors who read this to come see us in The Space, where we’ll help with all five tips below.)
1. Check your toolkit
A current resume is a must have for any job seeker. You’ll need it for applications and networking. In preparation for applications, ask several people to review your resume, proofing it for correct formatting, misspelled words, and solid descriptions. You also need a cover letter. While each cover letter applies to a specific job application, you should familiarize yourself with the format. Finally, check your digital image: do you have an impressive LinkedIn account? Is your Facebook page clean? Do you need to delete any questionable Tweets? Employers will complete a quick Internet search, so make sure you’re providing them with positive, complimentary information.
2. Pick an Interest Area
“I can do anything, anywhere” is not a satisfactory, or successful, approach. Instead, target a specific industry and job before beginning your search. If you’re interested in finance, consider job postings for financial analyst, business analyst, financial advisor, account manager, loan counselor, financial examiner, treasurer, and the list continues. You can quickly determine occupations for any industry, including non-profit work, banking, wealth management, publishing, reporting (TV, radio, print), the arts, healthcare, etc. Targeting your search based on industry and specific occupations will greatly increase you ability to land interviews.
3. Choose your top 3 cities
Just like narrowing your interests to include an industry and job titles, choosing three specific areas focuses your search and networking efforts on a manageable goal. You can’t contact everyone you know in every city, and you can’t apply for every job in every city. Choose to remain focused on your top three cities.
4. Start talking with the “adults” in your life
Your parents, older siblings, aunts, uncles, faculty, coaches and past supervisors care about you and often have thoughtful advice that will serve you in your search. Ask them questions about their jobs, their search process, and contacts they can share. Remember, you’re in a time crunch, so your stakeholders can become your greatest promotional weapon, opening doors and directing you toward better opportunities.
5. Make an appointment with your campus career center
Many career centers charge alumni for their services, often only giving graduates 6-8 weeks post-graduation to utilize their resources. Tap into their wisdom and assistance now. A career coach can review your resume, proof your cover letter, outline a solid career search, and connect you with alumni. Plus, he or she is a non-biased sounding board for your thoughts, fears and questions. Don’t neglect this important resource: schedule an appointment today.
The time after graduation may seem like a murky, scary and unknown future, but using these 5 steps during the next 50 days will bring you closer to an exciting offer.