Dear Matt: College graduation is only a few months away. While some of my peers have jobs lined up, I haven’t even started to search for a job. I’m starting to wonder if I’m behind. What should I be doing now that can pay off later and set me up for a job soon after graduation?
Matt says: Joanne Meehl (thejobsearchqueen.com), a Twin Cities-based career coach, created a free 18-page guide titled College Seniors: Step Up Your Job Search in January So You Can Land in May (http://bit.ly/StarTribuneCollegeSenior), a step-by-step, month-by-month guide that shows college seniors how they can make the best use of their job search time during their final spring semester.
Meehl put together this list of action steps to take now:
• Utilize the resources and counselors at your college’s career services center. Ask for résumé writing help and get to know what services they offer.
• Create a LinkedIn profile (linkedin.com). to start networking with professionals of all backgrounds.
• Check your online reputation by seeing what comes up when your name is typed into search engines. Delete anything potentially detrimental — and lock down your Facebook security.
• Attend all seminars, career fairs and visits from recruiters that your college is hosting.
• Check your college’s alumni database for names of contacts in your field with whom you can network.
• Ask your parents and relatives about their friends. Do they work at companies you are interested in, or perhaps in a related field?
• Get business cards printed so you can use them as you network — it’s the professional thing to do.
• Use spring break to network and meet people where you want to work.
• Download CardMunch (cardmunch.com), an app that snaps photos of business cards and imports the person’s LinkedIn profile.
• Start gathering references from your internship, jobs or volunteer work.
• Make sure your personal presentation is that of a young professional. Be prepared to invest in a few business suits if needed.
• Practice interviewing, preferably on videotape so you can see yourself.
• Start searching for jobs and sending résumés for those you are interested in.
It’s important to start the process now, so it’s not overwhelming come graduation.
“With all that you’re doing, this will not be easy,” says Meehl. “But if you want to be interviewing before you graduate, or soon after, now is the time to be aggressive. Chip away at it and you can do it. You can’t do it all in one or two weeks at the end of the semester.”