As important as your final year in university is, it is essential to think about more than just your assignments and exams. Graduating is not your sole focus and you have to start thinking about life after university. You will soon find out that it can take 6-9 months to find your perfect job, so the earlier you start, the better.
Putting yourself in a position where you are job-ready upon graduation will require initiative, planning, and research. Taking the necessary steps will help you stand out from the graduate crowd and prepare you for a successful career. So take a look at how you can best use your time in college to get ready for your dream role upon graduating.
1. Search strategically
The first step to bagging your ideal role is to thoroughly research all options available to you. You need to start exploring full-time positions that align with your interests while in university and work towards gaining the skills required for those roles. Run through job postings on Handshake, LinkedIn, and Indeed. You can use specific features like ‘saved searches’ to learn about new postings that match your criteria. Take advantage of online and offline resources like employer review sites, career fairs, and career pages to know the inner workings of an industry, company, or profession.
Hiring timelines can differ from industry to industry; consulting, accounting, finance, and engineering employers often recruit and hire in the fall. Companies in marketing, operations, creative fields, government, education, and nonprofits are more likely to hire as needed.
2. Build skills
The job market is highly dynamic and competitive, as skills are constantly evolving and the need for skilled employees is high. No matter what job you pursue, it is necessary to continuously hone your skills and build new ones. Some jobs are becoming automated, and new jobs are created frequently.
Aside from industry-specific skills, there are general skills that all employers value, regardless of industry. Consider a part-time internship or other practical experience while in university, as this can help build general skills. It can be difficult to find paid work as a student because you may not be qualified enough. Volunteering is a great way to bridge that gap and get experience relevant to your career.
Professional experiences are also a great way to explore interests, build new skills, and expand your network. Ultimately, these can help you secure a full-time job after your studies. It’s also fairly common for a part-time job or internship to extend into full-time employment.
3. Invest in networking
Networking with the right people can take you a long way in your career. Take some time out while you are still in university to build professional relationships with others in your field of interest. The professionals you meet during this time can provide valuable information, introduce you to hiring managers or refer you to new opportunities.
They can even give you feedback on your resume and prepare you for interviews. If you make the right impression, they could be open to informational interviews or mentoring. The easiest way to network is through LinkedIn; you can connect with professionals to learn about different industries and join conversations related to your career interests. Another way to meet professionals in the industry is to look out for job fairs and career events, where employers come together to connect with students.
Networking is not just about meeting new people; it also includes reconnecting or staying in touch with those already in your professional circle. This includes previous employers, supervisors, advisors, professors, family friends—anyone who has supported your career growth in the past and who might know of opportunities.
4. Update your resume and online profiles
Every employer will need a resume, and that’s something you can get started on before graduation. Your resume needs to be updated for every job you apply as it should be tailored to the open position. A generic, ‘one-size-fits-all’ resume will get buried under other similar candidates.
In addition to updating your resume, keep your online profiles up-to-date with relevant information. Make sure your profiles match each other and are consistent with the information on your resume.
5. Obtain letters of recommendation
Letters of recommendation can have a huge impact on your job application. Working closely with your professors and having them sign off on your good behavior can look great on a job application. Make sure to request letters of recommendation while still in university. This way, you will still be fresh in the minds of your professors and other references without running the risk of receiving a less effective letter.
Your university career center can be a great resource to help you get started with any of these steps, so don’t shy away from getting in touch with them. There will be a number of career development advisors to help. Moreover, if you wait until you graduate to start searching for and applying to jobs, you might run into big trouble.
Many entry-level jobs are snatched up before the school year is over. Besides, discovering what’s out there is half the battle; if you research what’s available and what you want, you will soon find the perfect role.
Anupama Kumar is a content writer based in Bangalore, India. She writes blogs, stories, articles and social media content and has a passion for helping people and connecting with them through her writing. A professional writer by day and a creative one by night, her own stories, musings, quotes, and poems inspired by her travels are also published on various platforms.
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