Crash Course for the Job Search Finals (Part One of Three)

As the fall semester comes to an end, students are busy finalizing papers, completing projects and studying for final exams. For those graduating in a few short weeks, the added pressure of conducting a job search looms closely overhead. My congratulations goes out to those who started the search early and have already secured post-graduation employment or acceptance into graduate/professional school. However, it’s not too late for those still on the hunt. Take this crash course in conducting an effective search and you’ll be prepared to ace the job search finals.

1. Establish Your Career Objective

To find a career that fits well with you, it’s important to know what you want. Think about these three questions: (1) What is important to you in your life? (2) What are you most enthusiastic about? (3) What do you want from an employer or a career? To help answer these questions, make a list of interests, skills, achievements, experiences, goals and values. Remember, no job will be perfect, but knowing what you want from your career and life will help you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each opportunity

2. Brand YOU

Personal branding has been a bit of a buzz word lately in career planning, and for good reason: it’s critical to marketing yourself. Think about how others perceive you and how you want to be perceived. Take steps to make sure the person you are in your personal and professional life matches with the image you want to portray to others. Communicate your brand clearly and with consistency throughout the job search process in your online presence, your appearance, and your personal interactions with others.

3. Motivate Yourself to Make a Plan

Let’s face it; job hunting is a job within itself. Sleeping in til 11:00 am on a weekday is not the best use of your time as a job hunter. Don’t sit around waiting for the perfect job to fall in your lap; instead, take an active role in your future. Make a daily schedule and set aside time to make phone calls, research companies, write resumes and cover letters, and prepare for and attend interviews. Establish deadlines for accomplishing tasks such as, “By Monday December 14 I will have used Tiger Recruiting Link and corporate websites to research and identify five companies I’m most interested in working for, taking notes on what interests me about each one.” Break the overall task of finding a job into smaller pieces. Taking one step at a time will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed.

4. Do Your Research

Education does not end at college graduation. Employers expect applicants and employees to stay abreast of trends and developments in their industry. Visit the websites of professional associations in your field to find articles and news or follow people at the top of the industry on social media applications like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Also, research the variety of careers available to someone with your educational background. Look for opportunities to align your education and experience with interests and values listed in Step 1. Investigating your options may uncover new leads on jobs you hadn’t previously considered. For example, a public administration major with an interest in health and wellness may explore career opportunities with healthcare facilities, nursing homes, or community agencies with a focus on public health.

Your Assignment: Tackle Steps 1-4 this week, take a quick breather and come back next week for Steps 5-7.

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