By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
May seems like a long way away. But before you know it, you’ll be slipping into a cap and gown and walking the aisle to receive your diploma.
Then what, indeed.
To avoid being jobless in May and scrambling to apply for a job, follow these steps from Gary Morris, director of Career Services at SUNY Oswego — and stop by Career Services for more help.
1. Build your networking base.
This isn’t a time to hole up in your room and keep to yourself. Of course, you should study and earn good grades, but if you want to land a job at graduation, get out there. As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. According to Forbes, 80% of available jobs are not on job boards.
“Connecting with others and developing productive relationships takes time, so the earlier a student can start, the better,” Morris said. “This can also assist in clarifying professional pathways which will provide a student with focus and direction.”
Attend industry expos and meet-ups. You can find these listed on websites of organizations related to your field. Ask your parents about people they know who might want to talk with you about your future. Offer to take to lunch or coffee someone you respect who works in your industry and then ask about what can help you become successful. Showing you’re hungry to learn will position you better.
2. Go to employment events.
“Attend major events like career and internship fairs, employer information sessions, and networking events,” Morris said. “These are a great way to explore a wide variety of options in a short amount of time.”
Even if you don’t see jobs you want, these experiences help you know what opportunities are available currently. Plus, you can practice your soft skills while talking with people there.
3. Prepare your papers.
Nearly all employers prefer electronic resumes and applications. However, you still should prepare a resume so that all your information is in order. Morris also recommends writing a cover letter and LinkedIn profile. These are “critical for success,” he said. “It is important that these documents are tailored for each employer’s stated job description and desired qualifications.”
Each time you apply, you will need to tweak the cover and resume, but writing a basic template with your essential information helps. Consider having contact cards printed with your name, contact information (use a professional-sounding email, not email@example.com), and your desired industry, such as: John Smith, Marketing, Syracuse, N.Y. (315) 555-1234, JSmith11@gmail.com, www.linkedin.com/in/John-Peter-Smith12345