Career tips for new grads

10 career-building tips for new grads

Graduation ceremonies are wrapping up for the class of 2017. And for newly minted grads, this could mark the beginning of a fulfilling career and an independent life. The quality of this new beginning, however, hinges to some extent on one thing: a job.

But Finding a job after college or university can be daunting and even stressful.

Here are 10 tips to make the most of building your career as a recent graduate:

Visit Career Services or a Career Fair

Even after you’ve graduated, your school’s career placement resources can be a great asset. Career counselors can help you plan a job search, build a resume and be a sounding board for questions. They are also the direct point of contact with employers who may have a last-minute internship or employment opportunity to fill.

Don’t over-invest in what may not be the right fit

There’s something to be said about listening to your gut. Think about what you want to get out a given opportunity. Think about what kind of culture, mission, team, and product you want to be part of. If something doesn’t feel like the right fit, or if the company culture isn’t right for you you’re not going to last. Stay professional but plan to pivot to something else.

Network

It is important to start building your network early, both professionally and personally. It doesn’t matter if it’s using LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat (though in-person is always best). Make connections with people and remember the old (but true) saying: it’s not just what you know, but also who you know. Networking and connections have always mattered, but in a global world fierce with competition they matter more than ever. Shamelessly tap into your network and see where it leads you.

Don’t underestimate the value of offline networking as well. Speaking with like-minded professionals or leaders face-to-face may help influence your ultimate career path. Keep up-to-date resumes and business cards with you wherever you go as you never know when an opportunity to network will happen and what could come of it.

Reach out for a referral

Once you’ve tapped into your network of professionals, try family, friends, neighbours, and even acquaintances.  LinkedIn offers a wealth of potential connections in a range of fields. If you do decide to reach out to a recruiter via LinkedIn, make sure you target your message to the organization and that you include something specific about your studies and background. Fellow alumni are also a valuable resource. Find a mentor in your field and get their advice.

Make the most of downtime

The most successful people know what they don’t know and always continue learning. So rather than taking the summer off, use that time more effectively by getting additional certification without building up more education debt, like studying for the CPA exam or a securities licensing test for those interested in a career in finance. Adding those kinds of certifications to your resume makes you a more attractive candidate.

Consider any job related to your field

Experts agree that doing some type of work is better than not working at all, so consider a temporary position or internship. You can continue your job search and build your network and skills in the meantime.

Consider a lower paying or lower level job (think long term)

When looking for a position in your field, salary shouldn’t be the only consideration. A lower paying or lower level job in a great company could come with excellent benefit packages and pension options, which always need to be considered. There might also be room to move up into a higher paying or higher level position over time. Assess any job extras you may get.

Find the diamond in the rough

Most people submit their resumes to the most well-known companies, however some of the best opportunities lie in companies you’ve never heard of. The best way to learn is to join a small company where you can do a range of different things and where there’s room to grow. Look for a company that empowers you to not just do your job but grow into a new one by allowing you to increase your responsibilities and expand your opportunities.

Emphasize soft skills

Employers increasingly are seeking employees with soft skills, such as writing, communication and organization. Particularly for recent grads without work experience, emphasizing interpersonal skills can make you a much more attractive candidate. Job hunters who are articulate, great communicators, team players and have strong business acumen will shine. One way to build these attributes is to volunteer for public speaking opportunities or join Toastmasters.

Polish your social media presence

Since social media will be involved in your job search, recent grads should build a strong digital presence to make yourself discoverable online. Social networking sites are a great way to show off your professional skills and expand your network. They also offer you opportunities to connect and interact with companies to increase your chances of being noticed.

As you start your career after university or college, one thing to keep in mind is that many doors will shut before one opens. You’ll hear no and no thanks, and you’ll fall and you’ll fail. That’s okay. Don’t get discouraged. It takes hearing no a few times to get a yes. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback when someone says no. Think of those times as opportunities to learn in your career-building process. Then take those lessons to improve your next attempt.

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