By Anton Lucanus
University graduates fresh out of college tend to be hungry, ambitious and determined to land the job of their dreams. Unfortunately, very often these high hopes crumble very quickly in the months following graduation, as graduates realise they are now competing against the adult working population. In fact more often than not – statistics show that in the United States 67 per cent of college graduates leave school without jobs lined up, and more than 40 percent of college graduates end up taking a job out of school that doesn’t require a degree. But your first job really matters, and so here is some advice for getting you a decent job in your field – or maybe even the job of your dreams – right out of grad school.
During university, do something big, something good.
That may seem vague but stepping up your philanthropic activities while at University could earn you big respect in the corporate world. Take for example Former Polycom CEO Andy Miller, who publicly applauded and recognized two university students who raised $20,000 through a Swim-A-Thon and Bellyflop Contest for scholarships to help physically challenged student athletes attend college.
By undertaking a marathon in honour of a cause, or organising a nationwide fundraiser, for example, students can demonstrate they have the ability to both organise and promote an public event selflessly. Forever are their names attached to their monumental efforts, and not only will it look great on their resume, but it could garner the attentions of CEOs and headhunters.
Get on graduate job sites, geared specifically to university graduates.
These aren’t your average job sites, ones so competitive that you haven’t any chance in the world of landing a job unless you speak 12 languages and have over 25 years’ experience in the sector, but sites catering to those who mightn’t necessarily have experience but instead have enthusiasm and recent qualifications. In the United States, examples include Coolworks.com, Experiece.com, CollegeGrad.com and NACElink. Put some effort into whipping up a resume and get it online as soon as you have completed your studies. It’s also worth logging on throughout your studies to get a gauge of the kind of jobs advertised on such sites.
This one should almost go without saying. Volunteering not only offers you the chance to network with people in your industry, demonstrate your potential, and build on what you learnt at university, but if you are lucky a volunteer role might eventually convert into a salaried position. Of course, this takes hard work, dedication and being in the right place at the right time, but more often than not this is how strong graduates find themselves working for respectable companies – by doing a stint for free first.
Harness the power of social media in your search.
As a university student, you probably already excel in social media use and very likely have several platforms and profiles already set up. Use that to your advantage as social platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter can be used to find jobs. Join conversations on Twitter that relate to your desired career path and field. Actively use LinkedIn to find the right contacts and potentially connect with head-hunters of companies you aspire to work for. Research to date has suggested that 40% of employers use social media to screen candidates, so the key is ensuring that you have nothing publicly viewable on your profile that may damage your prospects of landing a job if a recruiter were to see it.
Most universities and college maintain an alumni database containing valuable contact information of alumni – alumni who may now be working for or managing top tier companies where you are seeking to get a look-in. In fact, some schools have already established mentorship programs or relationships with alumni, who are eager to offer job advice and possibly opportunities to graduates. Getting a foot in the door is absolutely vital to progressing in the industry, and you will find that very few people will ever turn down a request to grab a coffee and offer some advice to a student.
Most importantly, remind yourself every now and then that actually, it’s okay to not have a job lined up immediately after college. You will want some time to relax and reflect on what would very likely have been an intense few years of education, and to take advantage of some much-needed holiday time before it becomes essential to lodge and count your days of annual leave.
This is one of the few opportunities you will have in your life to take the time you need to really think about what you want, where you want to be, and who you want to be before entering into the professional workplace. Just remember, speed doesn’t necessarily equal success. It takes time to find the right path.
Byline – Anton Lucanus is the Director of Neliti. During his college years, he maintained a perfect GPA, was published in a top cancer journal, and received many of his country’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships. Anton writes for The College Puzzle as a means to guide current students to achieve personal and academic goals.