With just a few weeks left before you are flung into the real world, you’d probably rather sleep late than start thinking about your job hunt. But according to a recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, between 3 and 8 percent of new graduates don’t find work right away. So isn’t it worth the effort to position yourself as a must-hire? The sooner you start working on scoring your first full-time job, the quicker you’ll get hired.
Here’s what you should be doing right now to find a job in the coming months.
1. Take another look at your résumé. Sure, you’re sick of looking at it, but updating your résumé once won’t cut it. You’ll continue to revamp this document for your entire career, so start off on the right foot by polishing it before you start sending it out. Make sure you’ve addressed the questions employers will have, as well as covered every inch of experience you have in your industry, though it might not be much just yet.
Include your volunteer experience, internships and clubs or organizations you were involved in that relate to the career you want. For example, if you served as president for your university’s honor society, you could probably leverage some of those leadership skills on your résumé.
Once you’ve revamped, ask a trusted advisor to review and critique your résumé. A professor or counselor who knows you well might have a better idea about what employers are looking for and can help you get the wording just right. They may also be able to point out other experience you should add that you may have overlooked.
2. Spend that graduation money on interview outfits. You want to make the best impression possible when you do go on interviews, and that starts with your wardrobe. Invest that money grandma gave you for graduation on a few simple pieces: for women, a dark skirt, dark pants and button-up white shirt can be easily modified with accessories. For men, a pair of dress pants and button-up shirt offers a professional look.
Don’t forget shoes – they say your shoes tell a lot about you. Do you want your scuffed “church shoes” from freshman year to be the message you send potential employers?
3. Start the hunt now. There’s no rule that says you have to wait until you walk on stage and accept that diploma to start looking for work. And if you think it’ll be a quick process, that’s all the more reason to start hunting now. It can take several months to find a job, so consider what you’ll do for money in the meantime.
And don’t apply for just one job at a time. Dan Schawbel told Forbes staff writer Susan Adams that job seekers should apply for 30 to 40 positions if they hope to get responses. But remember to only apply for jobs you truly qualify for. Otherwise you waste your time and the time of hiring managers who have to exert energy disqualifying your résumé.
4. Spend time on LinkedIn. You’re a real adult now, so it’s time to spend more effort growing your networks. LinkedIn is where you build professional contacts and those inroads to the companies you’re interested in working for.
Make sure your profile matches your résumé, and join a few groups that cater to your industry of interest. Participate by joining in conversations to show your enthusiasm and experience. Then link to the people in those groups to grow your network.
5. Prepare yourself for anything. In an ideal world, you’d get snagged at the best company in town for your dream job. In reality, many graduates are taking on part-time jobs or jobs that don’t require a degree simply to pay the bills. It can be disheartening when you spend four years or more on your education, only to end up in a job you thought you wouldn’t work, but you have to be realistic and open to what the future will bring.
Be open to different positions in the industry you want to work in. If you’re running up against a wall in your job search, look for part-time jobs or even additional internship opportunities. Often getting your foot in the door is enough to help you be eligible for the right position when it opens up.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. Hoojobs was voted as a Top Career website by Forbes. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues and is chief editor of the HooHireWire – The Hoojobs Guide to Hiring & Getting Hired.