Posted by Liz Seasholtz on May 3, 2011
Congratulations! You’ve passed your courses, turned your tassel, and framed your diploma. You’re ready to leave those ivy halls for the cubical corridors.
One small hitch: you need a job. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, only 25 percent of 2010 graduates had jobs lined up as of May 2010. Since it’s doubtful the other 75 percent are off to grad school, there’s a vast majority of students who still seek employment.
We spoke with Katharine Brooks, author of You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career and director of the liberal arts career center at the University of Texas at Austin, about what steps students should take after graduation to acclimate themselves to the world of job hunting.
• Create a professional email address
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you need to create a new, professional email address. The school address you’ve been using (the .edu one) will most likely expire a few months after graduation, and the goofy alternative email address you’ve been using since middle school (think firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, etc.) is not acceptable in the corporate world.
Use one of the free email services on gmail.com, hotmail.com, or yahoo.com to create a simple address: First name plus last name, and maybe a few numbers. Then set up a mail forwarding from your school account, so you don’t miss any important emails and have some time to notify friends of your new email.
• Join your school’s alumni network
Alumni networks are a great way to meet industry contacts with a similar background as you. Just make sure you’re not blindly reaching out. “You need to follow normal networking etiquette,” says Brooks. “Don’t just contact someone and ask for a job. If possible, find another common ground or way to link to the person.” Brooks also recommends reaching out to younger alumni first, because they’re more likely to remember what it’s like to break into the field.
• Have your resume critiqued
Assuming you’ve already created an entry-level resume, Brooks says to ask the staff at your career services center, family, and professional contacts from past internships or jobs to read over your resume and critique it. It’s important to do this before applying for jobs. One hint: If your GPA is higher than 3.0, it’s worth keeping on your resume as you hunt for that first job. If it’s less than 3.0, leave it off.
• Google yourself
Research commissioned by Microsoft in December 2009 revealed 70 percent of U.S. hiring managers rejected job applicants based on information they found online. Google yourself, and make sure all the results on the first two pages are positive. If there’s something you’re uncomfortable with a recruiter seeing, remove it or contact the website administrator hosting the information and ask him or her to take it down. And while you’re at it, go on Facebook and un-tag those photos of you taking shots from an ice luge, clean up your overall profile, and update your security settings.
• Join LinkedIn.com
LinkedIn is the grown up’s Facebook. If you haven’t already, join immediately and start networking online. Look for alumni groups to join, expand your network by connecting with classmates and colleagues, and search for professionals in your industry who you may be able to get linked to through your immediate contacts. Plus, LinkedIn has a job board to peruse.
• Ask professors for references Many professors leave campus during the summer to research or travel. If you haven’t already made your requests, don’t wait long after graduation to contact them about providing you a job reference. Brooks says to include your resume and remind them of the classes you had with them, your performance in the classes, papers you wrote, and any stand-out comments they wrote on your papers.