Are you ready for what lies ahead once you stroll across the graduation stage? Will you be able to steer yourself through the job hunt and, ultimately, your first job? Answer these six questions to find out.
Do You Know What You Want?
You might think employers will appreciate your "I'm willing to do or learn anything" approach to getting a job. However, most employers interpret that as "I'm desperate" or "I have no focus, so I'm just taking a shot at whatever I stumble across."
If you're fuzzy about the type of job you want, now is the time to work with a career counselor at your school. There, you can take a career assessment test, learn how and why informational interviewing can help you gain focus and talk over your specific concerns with someone trained to help you.
Do You Have Experience?
Employers look for evidence that you've gained experience in your field through internships, co-ops, part-time jobs, full-time jobs or even volunteering. If you haven't picked up this type of experience yet, it's a good bet many of your peers have and will likely have an edge over you in the entry-level job market.
But don't despair if you lack experience. You can get it now or after you graduate by doing a postgraduation internship, volunteering or temping.
Do You Know Your Chosen Field?
Imagine going into an interview and saying, "I love this field and know a lot about it -- that's why I want to get into it myself." The interviewer replies by saying, "Interesting. Tell me what you know." If you've been BSing to that point, you're in trouble.
Once you've chosen your field, study it thoroughly so prospective employers know you understand it. Research the field's major players by reading industry publications, visiting industry Web sites, and participating in professional organizations and attending their conferences and seminars.
Do You Have a Strong Resume?
You may be the best entry-level job candidate the world has ever seen. But if you don't market yourself effectively on your resume and cover letter, no one will ever know.
So make your resume the best it can be. Tailor it to each specific job you pursue, watch out for the most common mistakes and be sure the document looks as good as it reads. Learn how you can put together a decent resume, even as a recent graduate. Monster's Resume Center can be an enormous help, as can a campus career counselor, your professors, and present and past work supervisors.
Can You Back Up the Claims You Make on Your Resume and in Interviews?
Employers have met all kinds of candidates, including some who have flat-out lied about their accomplishments.
It's only natural for employers to be a bit skeptical. That's why you have to effectively support any claims you make on your resume or in interviews with specific examples. Better yet, consider putting together and using a career portfolio to prove your past achievements.
Are You Prepared for How Odd the Real World Can Be?
At times, the real world can be a very strange place because of people's diverse personalities, agendas and work styles. For example, decisions that ought to be made based on tangible information and logic are sometimes based on office politics. And your success on the job (or lack thereof) will depend as much on your people skills as your technical abilities. So be ready to be judged on more than your job-related accomplishments and to judge others on more than theirs.
For many, the postgraduate world can be stressful and exciting at the same time. You can minimize your anxiety and maximize your ultimate success by going in with your eyes open and your mind fully prepared for the challenges that await you.
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