While the spring semester may rejuvenate college students with a well-needed dose of vitamin D, with it comes a wave of stress for many soon-to-be graduates as they begin to prep for the “real world.” Saying “goodbye” to college’s customizable schedule and “hello” to the nine-to-five life can be downright daunting.
Victoria Kerr, director of Shippensburg University’s Career, Mentoring and Professional Development Center, works with students to help them meet their career goals and overcome the stress that comes with job searching. So if you do not know where to start, do not worry — these four tips will get you on your feet.
1. Identify Strengths
We are all familiar with the popular interview question, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” Knowing your strengths is not just important for the interview process, but it is important when applying for jobs, too.
Kerr said most employers say what skills and qualifications they are seeking in the job description. They also screen resumes for these keywords before selecting interview candidates.
According to a 2017 National Association of Colleges and Employers survey, the top skills employers look for on resumes include problem solving, working collaboratively, written skills and leadership. However, every job is different, and you should tweak your resume and cover letter with each application.
2. Outline Objectives
Many people get stuck trying to figure out their five-year plan, but in most cases, an entry-level job is a stepping-stone.
“Think presently,” said Jocelyn Chavous, a graduate assistant at the Career, Mentoring and Professional Development Center.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor found that the median number of years that workers aged 25-34 have been with their current employers is 2.5 years.
Instead of projecting too far ahead, Chavous said you should ask yourself, “What is it about this job that I’m hoping to get out of it, or what is it that I am hoping to contribute to this organization in the timeframe, however long it is, that I’m there?”
3. Set Time Aside
Managing the demands of coursework, extracurricular activities and a social life is challenging. On average, college students spend 15 hours a week studying and preparing for class, according to National Survey of Student Engagement results.
When you add job searching into the mix, it can easily become buried on your to-do list. Blocking out time to research and apply to jobs will hold you accountable.
“It’s a full-time job, applying,” Kerr said. She recommends dedicating 10-40 hours every week to job-hunting. While you may be thinking, “I don’t have that much free time,” any time you can block out will benefit you.
4. Get Creative
If you are struggling to find hits when job searching, broaden the location or consider other potential positions. Do not limit yourself to looking only on one platform, either.
While Indeed, Jobs.com and Glassdoor, are all good places to start job searching, it should not be where the searching stops.
According to a 2016 Society of Human Resource survey, 84 percent of organizations use social media for recruiting. If you do not already have a LinkedIn account, you should strongly consider signing up today.
“I think those networks can really help you, not only just get a job, but also professionally,” Chavous said.
The connections built by networking will not only benefit you now, but also in the future when you are leaving your first job to upgrade to your second.