Congratulations, you made it! You completed your degree or are about to and then you will hold your diploma in your hands. With the end of your studies comes the beginning of your work life. Are you ready to jump-start your career?
If you are in the middle of this crossroad, it can be scary, exciting, confusing, overwhelming or all of the above. Following are some steps to make a successful college-to-real world transition and help you to kick-off your career as a young graduate.
1. Which direction are you taking? After four (or five, or six) years of college, you are completely certain about what you want to do, right? If not, now is the time to determine what your strengths are and identify what kind of careers suit you. Are you someone who loves to be around people? Or are you happier crunching numbers or creating computer programs? Consider all of your strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes and interests when thinking about your career plan. Read about fields that interest you and talk to others who are doing jobs that you find interesting. Focus your direction on positions and fields that match your interests and talents.
2. Do your research: It is vital to learn as much as you can about the companies that interest you and to consider all of your options. You should also be open-minded about opportunities in companies and industries you might not have thought of before. Once you have identified companies that you want to target, start looking at their web sites, reading news articles and possibly talking to current employees to learn as much as you can.
3. Your application documents: You will need convincing documents for your applications: A résumé, cover letter and a portfolio of your work. Take the time to develop a résumé and cover letter that clearly convey your strengths and experience. Here are a few tips to remember:
- Think about the type of résumé you need. A functional résumé, which highlights your abilities rather than your work history, is a good choice for first-time job seekers.
- Focus on accomplishments and results you have achieved, rather than simple descriptions of experiences.
- If you are low on practical work experience, look to your part-time work, school activities or volunteer positions. Evaluate all of your experience and translate how it applies to any job you might apply to.
4. Networking effectively: One of the most important tasks in any job search is networking. Take advantage of any resources you have: previous fellow students, friends who graduated before you and are already working, friends of your parents, former professors, neighbors… Find out if your contacts know someone who can help you. This way you may also get in touch with someone who works for a firm you are interested in joining.
5. Be professional: If you want to join the professional world, you need to act — and look — the part. Buy a business suit and wear it to all of your interviews. Also make sure your e-mail address is appropriate for communicating with employers. That means if your e-mail user name is “Partygirl2011,” you might want to get a new account. Also remember to be prepared to act professionally at home, in case you receive a phone call from a potential employer.
6. Don’t give up: The working world can be a real challenge. Set realistic expectations and recognize that you will probably have to start at the bottom and work your way up. You will likely face rejection as you start looking for your first full-time job, but everyone goes through it. Just remember to be proactive, be persistent and remain confident that there is a great job out there for you.
This article is by Stephanie Loleit from The Corner Office. The Corner Office is the career blog from CareerBuilder.co.uk which covers career-related topics and offers information to job seekers, applicants and workers. Readers can find tips, resources and news about job search, job opportunities and application and employment trends