Good news for students approaching graduation! According to a new survey from NACE, employers plan to hire 7.8 percent more new college graduates for their U.S. operations in 2013-14 than they did in 2012-13. Additionally, they anticipate hiring 12 percent more new grads overall, including U.S. and international locations.
Knowing there will be more opportunities for new college grads in the coming months, it’s important to take steps now to jump ahead of the competition (meaning, the rest of your graduating class).
Learn last-minute skills. While you should never stop building your skillset, it’s a good idea to make some time to learn some last-minute skills before you graduate. Take a look at the job descriptions of entry-level jobs where you’d consider applying and jot down a list of skills they have in common. Is there anything specific you’re still lacking? Fill in the holes before you graduate. Ask someone to teach you how to use that certain software while you still have access on campus. You can also find a tutorial online to teach yourself. However you do it, by mastering those last-minute skills, you can add them to your resume and say with confidence you know how to do them.
Reach out to working pros. Another great way to set yourself apart from other grads is to be proactive about expanding your network. Use LinkedIn to reach out to professionals in your industry. Don’t just ask to connect and leave it at that. Introduce yourself as a soon-to-be grad with a degree in the industry. Explain that you want to connect to learn more about their job, company, or career path. If you form a strong relationship out of it, they might consider you for a job once graduation rolls around, but don’t ask for one right away. For now, just use the opportunity to learn something new.
Join a professional organization. Even if you’re nearing the end of your college career, it’s not too late to join a professional organization. What organizations do members of your industry join? Find the student version of that organization on your campus and get involved. Many of these organizations provide students with opportunities to learn directly from industry professionals and make connections in the professional world. Once you graduate, you can join the professional version of the organization and continue benefiting from those resources throughout your career.
Craft a well-rounded resume. Compile all of the experiences you’ve had during school into one well-rounded resume. Between all of the time you spent volunteering, interning, and learning in the classroom, you now have four years of work to show employers. Highlight all of your skills and your most important accomplishments on your resume. Consider all of your experiences and decide the most valuable things you gained from them.
Polish your writing skills. No matter what industry you’re in, you’ll need to have strong writing skills to land a great job. By now, you’ve made it through plenty of college courses where writing was required at some point, so you should know where you stand. If you know your writing is not up to par, get someone to look over your job search materials (resume, cover letter, etc.) to help you. You need to be able to communicate to employers that you’re the best fit for the job, and polished writing is the way to get the ball rolling.
Practice interviewing. Finally, you need to find out if you interview well. The best way to do this is to practice Lots of college campuses provide opportunities for students to participate in mock interviews. Make an appointment to find out what you need to improve. If you don’t have one of these programs, ask a friend or a professor to help you. Find a way to receive honest feedback on your interviewing skills. If you can become a strong interviewee, you’ll be way ahead of the competition when it comes time to snag a job.
Employers are planning to hire more and more new grads, but you need to put in the extra work if you want to land a great job. Work hard to boost your skills and network before you graduate, and you’ll set yourself up for a successful entry-level job search.
What are some other ways for new grads to be successful job seekers?