As the school year comes to an end, college graduates are likely more focused on their final exams than the future. Yet, if they haven’t been preparing for what happens after graduation, they may find themselves in a bit of a bind in the weeks (or even months) following their cap toss.
In fact, a recent survey found that most college graduates are overly optimistic about their future career prospects, despite only a small percentage having a career in the bag come graduation.
We asked our career experts to share their must-know advice to help college graduates with finding a career after college:
“I believe highly that every college student should have a LinkedIn profile,” explains Wendi Weiner, attorney, Forbes Career Coach and owner of The Writing Guru. “Today, with over 400 million users on LinkedIn and more than 94% of recruiters utilizing LinkedIn to research candidates, LinkedIn has become the #1 resource for career professionals and job seekers to advertise and market their skills. If you think about it, your LinkedIn profile has become your online resume. It’s the place that employers go to before they extend a job offer and your LinkedIn profile is searchable by Google. For college students, it’s a powerful social network that really can position them well in their careers upon graduation.”
“Get your resume professionally done,” suggests career coach Marla J Williams. “Do not let your friend do it. Make sure the resume states your accomplishments and not the tasks of the job. Include clubs and activities you participated in.”
“Create a resume that really sells them and shows the potential employer why they should talk to them,” career coach Marla Williams explains. “I find that many graduates create resumes that are too factual and don’t capture or sell their essence.”
“Build your resume with your academic credentials, relevant coursework, honors/awards, community involvement and leadership/memberships,” Wendi Weiner adds. “Companies want well-rounded candidates so being involved in your community and serving as a leader is extremely important beyond good grades. I always recommend that college students should consider unpaid internships as great resume builders.”
“Networking is big!” Marla Williams says. “Network with friends, family, go to networking events. You want to work the field. You want to meet people. The best way to get a job is through someone else you know or have gotten to know through networking.”
Marla J agrees. “Attend networking events, get the business card and send a follow up email within 24-48 hours. Make sure the networking events you attend are in your industry. You cannot attend everything, be strategic.”
“One of the keys to success is to have a strong network,” explains career coach Benedicte Flouriot. “They need to do informal interviews to collect information around what they want to do, what are the possibilities to work or find an internship but most importantly to start building their network.”
“Since my first article on college graduates entering the workforce, I have continued to coach many recent graduates. As a result, I would say that the need to switch their mindset from student to professional is one of the most important must knows,” career coach Deb Goldstein explains. “Their professional branding has to switch from ‘I want to be.’ to ‘I am.’ They are no longer aspiring, they need to create a declaration of who they are – for their resume, LinkedIn, two-minute pitch, portfolio site if needed – all the way into the interview. That will bring about a stronger shift in identity to start to not just get a job but get their sights on the first right move to build a career.”
“Act and behave in the manner of the position you desire,” Marla J says. “Clean up your social media. Many employers look at social media before they call you for an interview. Many times social media can kill your chance of candidacy.”
“Get some information about roles and industries,” Benedicte says. “Most students are attracted by a position, a role, an industry but they actually barely know what it entitles. They base their choice on what they heard. They need to research, read, talk to professionals, got to industry events in order to make their decisions.”
“Their top priority should be to secure an internship in their field of study as part of their program or at the end,” says Marla Williams. “That is the most effective way to break into their field of choice. Too many students get a great degree and work really hard but have no practical experience. Employers are much more likely to hire students with some practical experience. In addition, that internship often leads into permanent employment.”
“Remember, a college degree does not guarantee you any job unless you pursue it,” Wendi explains. “Today, the job market is extremely competitive and the pool for higher skilled jobs often consists of college grads and those with even higher credentials such as MBAs and PhDs. I think you also have to look at a college degree as a starting point, but certainly not the end point.”
Kristen is the editor and community manager at Noomii.com and the Noomii Career Blog. Kristen's desire to ask questions and share information with others led her to pursue journalism. While she has worked at various publications, covering everything from municipal politics to local restaurants, it was her love of self-improvement and sharing inspiration with others that made Noomii the perfect fit. Connect with Kristen on Twitter and LinkedIn.