The semester is starting and somewhere between reuniting with friends, ordering books, and going to football games, you're also supposed to plan out your future and prepare job applications. In the excitement of things, tweaking your resume and updating your LinkedIn falls to the wayside, until the day before career fair when you realize you've got nothing but a dusty suit. You need a plan of attack to help you prepare for these events in advance, while leaving plenty of time for school, work, friends, and everything in between. Here are five things you can start doing now to rise above the chaos:
1. My freshman year of business school, Brian Ray (director, Heavener School of Business) said "when you're starting to look for a job, talk to your parents, friends and your parent's friends." I still reference this in my post-college career as my passions and interests continue to evolve. Your personal network should know you well, and be able to give you advice, suggestions, and hopefully open up opportunities. Establishing these connections early on will make the job hunting process a lot less painful.
2. Once you've assessed your network, it's time to do some of your own footwork. Figure out what events on campus you want to attend that are relevant to your major and interests. For some, this might be career showcase or a company event put on by a campus organization. When you narrow down one or two things you want to attend, make note of the time and location so you know how much time you have to prepare (and more importantly, you don't miss it).
3. Now that your Smartphone, Google and calendar reminders are all set, it's time to do some research on exactly who will be at the events you're attending. Find out a little about the companies and the speakers that you will hear from (and hopefully meet). What positions are available? Do they offer internships? And most importantly, are they accepting résumés? Even if it's not specified, it never hurts to have a copy or two in your back pocket (or in a folder in your backpack, no one wants a crinkled résumé).
4. At this point you're probably a couple weeks out from the first event and the closest thing you have to a résumé is a letter of rec from an old coach or teacher. It's time to step up your résumé game and enter the world of 1in. margins, 10 pt font, and perfectly constructed bullets. You need to put together a résumé that is cohesive and presentable (and preferably printed on a nice piece of card stock). This step should take you the longest. It can be arduous, but there are resources to help, and once you get the first draft done updating it is a piece of cake.
5. So here you are the day before an event. You know where and when your event is, you've got a well-formatted résumé that makes you look like a star, a professional outfit that's been ironed (yes, you should iron it), and your game face ready. The last touch is often overlooked, but in the days of digital applications and internet presence, keeping up with your LinkedIn profile can be hugely important. If you don't have a profile (or don't know what LinkedIn is yet), it's not too hard to create once you've got your résumé icomplete. Making sure the information on your profile is presentable, professional and accurate will give you one more tool in your arsenal.
Following these steps will give you a plan of action, a clear direction, and ultimately an edge above your competition. You will have the confidence you need to attend events, meet potential employers, hand out résumés, and set the stage for an interview. When it comes to the job hunt, you can never be too prepared.
For more information and guidance in your own job search, visit Leona’s coaching site: morethanadiploma.com.