How are you preparing for the next step?
So, you are (or your child is) graduating from college this Spring. If it were me, I know I would want to take some time off this Summer after finals and graduation. Unfortunately, the competition is fierce, and because of the pandemic, jobs may be scarce until everything gets back to normal. Right now, unless you are in logistics or food markets, most companies are on a hiring freeze. So, what can you do to stand out, outpace your peers, and get one of those jobs? This week’s Good Read is about some things you can do this evening to get prepared for the next step.
If you have not started, get started, TODAY!
Of course, the career services department of your college should be your starting place. You should have already been in contact with career services. You may already have interviews or internships lined up. If so, great, still read through the things I list below. If you have not, you need to fire up some Zoom or Google Hangouts sessions with career services. What you should get hammered out ASAP is what resume review and proofreading services they offer and get that resume and cover letter completed. Find out if they have any jobs or internships available. Many schools have relationships with companies, and that may get you the shortcut you need to make up for the lost time.
The next thing you should do is to contact three to five of your professors and ask them for a letter of reference. If you have some experience from an internship or relevant job, shoot an email to the person you reported to and ask them for a letter. If you are not sure what you should ask them to write, talk to career services or Google it. Do not say hey, can you write this for me, it may be better to provide some points you would like the letter to include.
Here are the things everyone should do which career services may not tell you to do:
- Get private. Lockdown all of your social media accounts so no one can see what you do or post unless you allow them.
- Clean up your act. Review your entire social media presence and make sure everything but your LinkedIn profile is either locked down or clean and professional.
- Google yourself. Make sure a friend does not have you tagged in a photo at a beer pong tournament. Being a beer pong champion may get you points in college, but it will not do much for your career-building opportunities.
- Change your profile picture in all social media accounts to a professional headshot. Imagine your future boss may be checking out that picture. Beach and party pictures need to get tossed.
- LinkedIn. If you do not have one, get one, if you have one, review it. Make sure your LinkedIn profile tells the story you want others to know about you. Also, start looking up friends and making connections.
- Get someone to review and proofread your LinkedIn profile. Make sure your resume is accurate.
- Connect with alumni who are in the same field.
- Reach out to professionals in your field. Make a connection request on LinkedIn to people who are working at the company you want to work at in the job you aspire to have. Once you make that connection, thank them and then ask them. That’s right, ask them about how they got their job and how they like it. It is magical how others love to talk about themselves. Then as you continually build that relationship, ask them what you should do to prepare for a job at their company. You never know where that could lead.
Here is what no one will tell you:
If you are interviewing in the corporate world, the competition is going to be tough enough, do not make it harder. Play the game at least until you land the job and prove your talent. You do not have to take my advice. However, after thirty years in the corporate world, I have learned one thing. Do not buck the system until you have a firm foundation in a job. Until then, I suggest you do these things:
- Buy a new interview suit. Dress for success is such a cliche, but the first impression is everything. Neat and clean matters.
- If your hair color is not natural, change it back. Like I said before, it should not matter, but why make things harder than they have to be. Get in the door first, land the job, then, after a couple of months of showing them what you can do, change it back to the green color you love. All I am saying is to conform to business “standards” until you land the job.
- Get a professional haircut. Get it styled in a way that is conservative and easy for you to manage for a few weeks of interviewing. Like I said before, neat and clean counts, especially during the interview stages.
- If you have a big beard or mustache, trim it up, so it looks, you know what I am going to say, neat and clean. Get it trimmed up by a barber, tell him you want to look sharp.
There are a lot of things that can set you apart from your peers. What you do not want is to have people focus on items other than what your qualifications are. Even though the things I point out can be superficial, and others should look past them, why leave it to chance? At least through the interview process, let your character and skills set you apart.
Start reviewing your social profiles. Build out your LinkedIn profile. Make sure what people see is what you want them to hire.