Find Jobs Before Graduation – According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), when employers rate the effectiveness of recruiting methods for college graduates, they rank the following as their top 10:
- On-campus recruiting
- Organization’s internship program
- Employee referrals
- Organization’s co-op program
- Career/job fairs
- Faculty contacts
- Job postings on the company web site
- Job postings on the campus web site
- Student organizations/clubs
- Job postings on commercial web sites
Notice that the top five preferred recruiting methods involve some degree of face-to-face interaction between the job applicant and the company. This means you need to get in front of the person who is making the hiring decision, preferably well in advance of graduation time. And forget about the job boards since simply posting your resume online is highly unlikely to yield positive results in the current job market.
Now, more than ever, it is critical that college seniors and recent graduates do the following three things:
- Start your job search early (3 months before you graduate is optimal)
- Visit your on campus career center often and get to know the staff there
- Learn how to network properly and start now
Getting the Most Out of the Campus Career Center
Most likely the campus career center staff are managed by a professor or staff member with a degree in counseling psychology. This is a great resource to have because people who have this type of expertise can help you make sense of the career skills assessment tests administered at the campus career centers. To get the most out of the career center, get to know the staff and especially the members who are counseling psychologists.
Learning to Network
According to the Federal Bureau of Labor, close to 70 percent of all jobs are found through personal contacts, and less than 2 percent are attained through blindly sending out resumes. This means that if you’re not networking, you’re not getting hired.
To start networking your way to a job offer make a list of everyone you know and organize your list into categories that describe your relation to that person. For example: teammate, coworker, roommate, person in the dorm, neighbor, teacher, parent’s friend, coach, boss, hairdresser, personal trainer at gym, gym buddy, family friend, boss, etc. All of these people are part of your network. Make an effort to talk to these people about your career goals and look for ways to help them also. Do not leave college without getting as many people’s contact information as you can. Don’t be shy. Remember networking is about building relationships and it can be FUN!
Second, you need to find ways to reconnect with people that perhaps you’ve lost touch with, or with whom you want to establish a more solid connection. This can be as easy as sending an email to a professor, or inviting a former peer at an internship to coffee. You could send out invitations to social networking sites like Facebook, or LinkedIn, along with a personal note stating how much you would like to stay in touch. Do not just send the standard default invitation because some people will wonder if you are just trying to increase your number of contacts on social networking sites to make yourself look good. If you take a few minutes to write a personal note, your request to network with someone is much less likely to be turned down.
Throughout your job search, and for the rest of your career, it is important to maintain your relationships with all of your contacts. This is critical to your success, and something that is easier to do now than ever before thanks to the internet and social networking sites. But even now, some of the most senior level professionals fail to do this and therefore miss out on career opportunities. Don’t make that mistake. A few years down the road you may decide that you want to apply to grad school, or you want to go back and apply for a position with the company you interned for while in school. It’s a heck of a lot easier to ask a professor for a letter of recommendation or to ask a former boss to be considere for a job when you’ve made the effort to stay in touch.
Review everything you learned about yourself and your career goals at the campus career center. Have a clear picture in your mind about which fields interest you and what types of companies (small, medium, large, corporate, private) you want to interview with. Be sure to discuss your career goals with members of your network. To learn more about networking etiquette and techniques, to make people want to help you, and to get more free career advice.
Finally, join volunteer organizations such as Junior League, Junior Achievement, or tap into opportunities to help the alumni chapters of your university, fraternity or sorority. These types of groups provide ample opportunities environment for college seniors and recent college graduates to develop and strengthen additional skills, both personal and professional. Attend educational seminars that relate to your career and interests. Take advantage of all of these events and turn them into networking events. It is going to take some time to find a job in today’s shrinking job market, but if you are persistent you will get hire.