There's a lot of job search career advice on the Internet these days. So much information to sort through, sometimes with conflicting suggestions... what's a busy young job seeker to do?
Find out the really important stuff by reading this excellent article by guest author Lindsey Pollak, in which she provides 11 commandments to guide college students and recent grads through the maze of 21st century career planning.
With so much career advice floating around, what actions are absolutely essential for today's young professionals? Here are my 11 commandments to guide college students and recent grads through the maze of 21st century career planning.
1. Cast a wide net. Quick quiz: Which has the best shot of leading to a job? a) a career fair, b) a connection from your best friend's college roommate or d) a quirky help wanted ad on Craigslist? The answer: You never know. It could be any of the above. This means it's crucial to follow every lead.
2. Clean up your Facebook page. Employers absolutely check you out on Facebook (and MySpace and any other social networking site that's popular in your industry). Make sure your profile is free of red flags-such as underage drinking, nudity, drugs or excessive profanity-that would indicate you might not be the most desirable employee.
3. Set up keyword news alerts. Sign up for news alerts (they're free from Google or Yahoo) containing the name of any company where you hope to interview. This means you'll be the very first to know about new products, new management and new business opportunities-invaluable knowledge when you want to stand out as the must-hire job applicant.
4. Get carded. Writing your phone number on a cocktail napkin or ATM receipt is cute at a party, but it sends the wrong message when you're networking professionally. Show that you are prepared to meet people by having business cards at the ready. All you need on the card is your name, a phone number (which can be a cell phone), and an email address. I am thoroughly impressed when I meet a student who has cards. It shows maturity, foresight, and an eagerness to have the appropriate tools for the working world.
5. Be a leader. Recruiters love to hire leaders, so be sure to include any leadership titles that relate to positions (paid or volunteer) on your resume. Great leadership words include: president, founder, director, manager and-yep-leader.
6. Network with your neighbors. Seventy to eighty percent of jobs are found through networking, so get out there and talk to the people you know. Tell everyone you're related to, everyone you see each day and everyone you meet (association members, friends of friends, airplane seatmates) that you are looking for a job and you'd love any advice or ideas they can provide. Most people are happy to offer some suggestions-or, even better, a hot lead.
7. Don't reinvent the resume. If you're new to the world of job hunting, there are many resume templates and examples available for free online. It can be very helpful to see examples before you start creating your own version. Sometimes the very site where you want to post your resume offers tips and templates, so take advantage!
8. Mock interview. You can anticipate the majority of questions you'll be asked on a job interview, so the more experience you have answering those questions succinctly and successfully, and the more feedback you've gotten about your performance, the better you'll do on the Big Day. Never let your real interview be the first time you talk out loud about your experience and what you want in your career. Practice makes perfect.
9. Make friends at Career Services. I guarantee you will benefit from taking advantage of at least one, if not all, of the following services offered by your school's career office: assessment testing, resume critiquing, databases of apprenticeship/job shadow/internship opportunities, career counseling, mock interviewing, career fairs, workshops and networking. If nothing else, visit the website of your school's career center-most have online resources that can be very helpful during your planning and searching.
10. Persist (politely). Sometimes the job goes to the person who is in the right place at the right time. This means you must stay on recruiters' radar screens by regularly reminding them of your interest and your fabulousness. Some ideas: Check in every few weeks with an additional suggestion for what you can contribute to the company, drop a note when you see the company mentioned in a news article (another great reason to set up those keyword news alerts) and check in whenever you have a new accomplishment to share. Warning: Don't make contact more than once a week. I said persist, not pester!
11. Don't curb your enthusiasm. All my research into career success yielded many tips and tactics, but one truth stood out above all: passion matters. An employer or client will often choose to work with the person who is most excited about her work and loves coming in to the office every day. Be that person and let your enthusiasm shine through!
Lindsey Pollak is a college campus speaker and the author of Getting from College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World (HarperCollins, 2007). Known as an expert on Generation Y, you can get more tips at http://www.GettingfromCollegetoCareer.com and ask Lindsey your career question.
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