EDIT: September 20: The contest is now closed. We will be contacting the winners shortly. Thank you for your participation.
Contest: Win a hard copy of Al Coleman, Jr.’s book “Secrets to Success: The Definitive Career Development Guide for New and First Generation Professionals” by posting a comment on this post. Five randomly selected comments will win a copy of the book. The contest ends Tuesday, September 20, 2011.
With unemployment for young adults hovering around 26 percent, more than twice the national average for all workers, college students have to do all they can to set themselves apart in the job market. And given the extreme pressure on U.S. businesses [PDF download], it’s not enough just to land a good job, you have to employ the right skills to make sure you don’t join the ranks of the unemployed!
The following are 6 easy ways to ensure that you can find the right job and become a superstar employee with a paycheck and position to match.
Choose a career that interests you. Many students struggle with picking a career that’s right for them; after all, it’s such a daunting task; it’s what you’ll do daily for the rest of your life! Don’t be frightened by the magnitude of the decision. Choose what you love and the money will follow – through increased performance from increased job satisfaction, which leads to greater promotional opportunities, and ultimately leads to increased income.
Gain practical experience. Once you’ve identified a field that you love, try to gain as much practical experience as you can. Determine the skills and qualifications for the job you want, and then seek to gain relevant experience by volunteering, interning or gaining part-time or seasonal employment before graduation. The more experience you can gain, the better positioned you’ll be to land the job of your dreams. Don’t limit your search to external employers. You can gain valuable experience on campus as well. Find departments that employ professionals from your chosen field and try to obtain a student job where you can learn and observe the professionals in action.
Network with professionals. Whether at work, through an internship, or through a volunteer or student organization, you will have various opportunities to meet and network with individuals in your chosen profession. Use the opportunity to demonstrate the skills you’ve learned. Think of each interaction as an informal interview to showcase your knowledge and talent. It may lead to a job after graduation; but even if it doesn’t, it gives you an opportunity to build solid relationships with people you can call on for leads and references in the future.
Get your money’s worth from your CSO. Take advantage of the services offered by your career services office. Utilize their job banks to help you find employment in your chosen profession. Get assistance preparing your resume and cover letter for jobs you are interested in. Leverage any insights or personal connections to alumni they may have for companies where you are applying. Ask for interview tips or request a practice interview to help you prepare and make the best first impression you can. You’ve paid for this service as part of your tuition, so make the most of it. Employing the first four strategies outlined above should help you successfully land the job you want. Once employed, you’ll need to use the following skills to ensure that you have a long and successful career.
You’re in the Pro’s, act like it. As a professional you’re expected to do great work on each project and deliver results that exceed expectations. Make sure that you have a clear understanding of each project and deliver results before they are due. If you find your new position challenging, find a mentor and learn the ropes from someone at your company who has successfully made it through the challenges you’re currently facing. As the saying goes, “you don’t have to be good, you just have to know who to copy!”
Gain Exposure. Finally, ensure that all of your hard work is seen by key stakeholders within your organization; including supervisors, influential managers, mentors, and other professionals in your network. You can’t be promoted to the next level if no one knows what you are doing or what you have done.
Here’s to a successful job search!
Are there any other tips you thought of to successfully land your first job? If so, please share in the comments.
Al Coleman, Jr. is the author of “Secrets to Success: The Definitive Career Development Guide for New and First Generation Professionals,” required reading for any young professional seeking personal, professional and financial success. Get your copy on Amazon.com.