The credentials that come with having a college degree can open doors, but first you have to get yourself in the building. Here are seven things you can do — right now — to get ahead of the pack and put your education to work.
Get Advice Early
Learning what you need to know to become an attractive job candidate takes time and planning. Contact your school’s career services department and ask to meet with a career advisor. Even if you aren’t sure what jobs may be for you, it’s never too early to find out. When the job opportunity of your dreams comes along, you’ll want to have your resume, cover letter and interview skills ready to go.
To find the right job, you need to know what you are looking for. A career advisor can help you understand the job titles that best match your goals and qualifications. He or she can introduce you to online job search techniques, social media platforms and portfolio-building sites. If you’re already a seasoned pro, career services can help you identify your next steps toward seeking that promotion or new job.
Stand Out From the Crowd
As your first impression, your resume and cover letter need to show what makes you special, important and indispensable to a prospective employer. These tools also tell your story and convey your identity. Career services can help you create a personal brand that captures what you have to offer.
You know what to wear and what to bring to an interview, but do you know what to say? When it comes to answering tough questions, practice is key. If you haven’t interviewed before or have been in the same job for years, you’ll want to hone these skills as early and as often as possible. Find out if your school’s career services department offers mock interview sessions.
In addition to giving back and serving a worthy cause, the act of volunteering can help build confidence, strengthen your networks and solidify your good reputation. Volunteering in your field or for something that reflects your interests can help you apply your skills in a way that connects your professional and personal experience.
Get Out There
Many of us find jobs through someone we know. Use the networks you already have to let people know that you are in the market for an opportunity. If your network is small, let your career services department put you directly in touch with their corporate partners and connections. Kristy McArthur, AIU Career Services Manager, explains some of the specific job search skills that students should develop with the help of their school’s career services department:
There's no reason to put work on hold if you are a full-time student. Many colleges even offer class credit for internships. Internships are specifically designed to put into practice everything from resume and interview skills to real-world on-the-job scenarios. Talk to your professors, guidance counselor and career services advisor about how internships could help you.