Fortunately, there are a few things you can do in order to prepare you for the grueling task of finding employment and beginning your career. Here are 10 steps for you to utilize before you begin your job search:
1. Build a strong resume and cover letter.
This is probably the most obvious step, but likely the most important step as well. Your resume and cover letter are excellent opportunistic tools that you can use to demonstrate your knowledge and experience and why you are qualified for the job you are seeking.
When building your resume, be sure to highlight important information without going into too much detail. That’s what the interview process is for! Employers want to be able to browse through a resume, see that you have the skills and knowledge they are looking for, and determine if you are a good match to set up an interview with. Your cover letter is also a chance for you to highlight your interests and explain why you are applying for the specific job or company.
2. Know your interests when searching for positions.
Looking for a job is very stressful, but working in a job that you do not particularly like or have any interest in can be even worse. When you begin your job search be sure to consider your personal interests and consider something you can see yourself doing for an extended period of time.
For example, a business student can virtually apply to almost any position imaginable, but that can also pose a problem when it comes to honing in on what industry you would enjoy working in. If you enjoy sports or athletics, search for positions with a company that specializes in such things. This way you can apply your interests to your career and not simply be in a position that will make you become robotic and bored at work.
3. Learn from leaders in your target industry.
There are countless industries and professions available in our modern economy. Once you know the type of position and the industry you want to work in, look for advice from leaders in said industry.
An entrepreneur, for example, may look to someone like Donald Trump for advice on how to go about building your professional network, or an individual interested in the real estate market may read one of Barbara Cocoran’s books about the real estate industry. There is plenty of material out there to help you figure out what industry would be well suited for you and which you would probably not be too likely to succeed in.
4. Research expected industry earnings or trends.
Whether we like it or not, another key factor in determining which job you decide to accept is how much you can expect to earn working in that industry. Checking up on industry trends can also help you narrow your options.
Stepping back to the real estate example for a moment, if a person that graduated in the last few years was interested in this industry, they may have become discouraged to find that the real estate market was not very strong and that there are currently not a lot of potential buyers, and therefore not a lot of money to be made. You should also research how companies in your target industry compensate their employees, whether by salary, commission, hourly rates, ect.
5. Utilize job search engines and keep your profile up-to-date.
Nowadays there are numerous websites designed to help you find a job in your specific industry. Sites like CareerBuilder, Indeed, and Monster allow you to build your own profile and upload your resume and cover letter for a broad range of potential employers to see. This will make your life easier because recruiters will start reaching out to you for interviews instead of always the other way around.
6. Utilize social media to help you find a job.
In the last few years social media has become an excellent tool that recruiters have begun to use in order to fill positions with companies they specifically recruit for. One in particular is LinkedIn, but more standard social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can also be used by employers to determine if you are a good match for their company.
Be sure to keep your social media profiles up-to-date, and unlike your resume, feel free to include more information about yourself on your profile. LinkedIn, for example, allows you to post your educational background and employment history, but also your extracurricular activities, interests, and hobbies you may regularly partake in that they believe would make you a strong fit for their company’s mission statement and goals.
7. References always help.
When you begin your job search, start by writing down a list of people that you know that work in a variety of industries. Whether they are family members, friends, or casual acquaintances, having someone that knows you and your interests can help make your job hunt that much easier. Be sure to also include a solid list of references in your resume, making sure you list people that have a good understanding of your knowledge and capabilities.
8. Get help from your university, high school counselor, or the internet.
Most universities have departments, like Career Counselors, that are devoted to helping you build a solid resume and to point you in the direction of where you want to go. Counselors that are aware of current industry trends and are well studied on writing resumes and cover letters can help you narrow your search when it comes to applying for jobs.
Some of these services are also available online. Do a Google search for examples on strong resumes and cover letters. You can also use business websites like Forbes and _ that provide recent articles covering everything from new markets to economical statistics regarding the industry you are trying to get into.
9. Attend job fairs in your local area.
Job fairs can help you get a better idea of companies that are currently hiring and even careers that you might not have considered before. Many are held at local schools or convention centers on a monthly or quarterly schedule. If you go, be sure to be sociable and ask the company representatives questions about the industry, the company itself, and what it’s like to work in said industry or company. This will make determining if something is a good fit for you that much easier.
10. Don’t fear the interview
While this may seem easier said than done, you must always bare in mind that a job interview is meant to serve both parties. The interviewer is simply trying to get an idea of who you are and what you are looking for in your career and if you would be a suitable employee for their company.
You, however, must also use the interview to ask questions and determine if this is a company that you will come and work for, regardless of whether they want to hire you or not. This is your career, and the decision to accept a position or not is really up to you. That being said, doing a little research on the company and the position to help you be prepared is never a bad idea!