College graduation is around the corner for 2016 grads, and March is a perfect time to kick your job search into gear if you haven’t already started. March is a great time to start your career search for two key reasons: job openings become available during spring and companies can see a line of sight to your graduation date. I will be the first to admit that if I receive a resume from a college student six or more months before their graduation date, I file it and forget it. But a graduation date within 60-90 days makes you a viable candidate. Here are a few suggestions to get the ball rolling today and get you hired!
- Sign up with top temporary agencies for your field of study. Be picky about the assignments they offer you but jump on assignments at companies recognized in your industry. Get your foot in the door and prove yourself.
- Peruse job boards daily and sign up for alerts. I highly recommend indeed.com for entry level positions. Do your research and identify the best job boards for your industry.
- Post your resume in the databases of the job boards. Check out industry associations, they typically have job boards.
- Post on Facebook and LinkedIn that you are graduating, share your major and a brief summary about your skills. On Facebook, ask friends and family to keep at eye out on openings for you. Don’t underestimate the networking power of friends of friends and parents in your network. On LinkedIn your status should be more brief, informing people you are actively looking for a position and excited to begin your career.
- Identify careers fairs in your area and show up! Side note – don’t put all of your hopes into career fairs. They rarely yield job offers. However, it will give you good practice talking to hiring managers and learning about companies in your field.
- Run to your campus career services to have your resume reviewed. This is the only time in your life a professional will give your resume undivided attention. Once you leave the cocoon of college, no career professional will review your resume for free. Go often and get a second opinion on your resume. Don’t ask your Aunt from around the way.
- Hold mock interviews at your career center or with a friend. Practice, practice, practice answering basic questions such as why are you interested in our company or tell me about yourself? Consider video taping yourself to check on your nonverbal cues and catch conversational fillers such as “ums” or the dreaded “like.”
- Get on Pinterest and search career/interview attire. Find the look that matches your personal style and industry. Go shopping to replicate the look. Pay attention to details such as a sleek professional purse/brief bag, jewelry, earrings, and your nails. If you use your hands to talk, your nails will be on display as much as your attire.
- Buy thank you note cards, be prepared to send a handwritten thank you note to interviewers within 24 hours after the interview. Have it ready and write a nice simple note and toss it in the mail on your way home from the interview.
- Practice your elevator speech. Your elevator speech is a one or two-minute summary of who you are, what you are interested in doing and your skills/strengths. Write it out and memorize it. Be ready to share it at college fairs, phone interviews and face-to-face interviews. Sometimes you only have a few minutes to make a first impression. Having a rehearsed, memorized elevator speech will help you come across as confident and prepared within minutes of meeting a hiring manager. See my post on how to nail interviews questions.
- Start reading current news, watch Ted Talks about your industry. It will come in handy when you share a new trend or invention in your industry during an interview. Keep nuggets you find in the news in a notebook and review it before an interview. Find a way to slip the nugget into the job interview. Guaranteed brownie points. Oh yeah, also google the company the night before to see if there are recent news related to their business that you can comment on or ask thoughtful questions about.
You are big boys and girls now. Go out there and make your parents proud.