It’s time to trade in that backpack for a briefcase.
If the end of your degree is in sight, you are likely feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement. You’re eager to make a success of yourself and you want to take the corporate world by storm, but casting off the comfort blanket that is full-time education can be more than a little daunting. You know where you stand on campus, but the working world is unfamiliar, competitive and demanding.
Not many people discuss the often problematic career transition that occurs between education and a full-time job. It’s unfair to expect graduates to know exactly how to act and what to do once they’re handed their degree, so it is important for experienced professionals to lend a helping hand, and do all they can to facilitate this transition. Below, we’ve detailed the most important career development tips to keep in mind while crafting your resume, interviewing, and onboarding.
Don’t accept the first job you’re offered.
Understandably, you might be feeling anxious to get hired as soon as you’ve hung up your cap and gown, but don’t bow to this self-imposed pressure. More important than finding a job is finding the right job for you and your particular skill set. Consider your strengths, your weaknesses, your interests, and your ambitions.
Regardless of how well-paying the proposed job is, or how impressive it will look on your resume, keep the future and your career development in mind. Will this career path make you happy five years from now? One universal regret held by mid-career professionals is that they built their career based on the advice and encouragement of others, rather than doing what was right for them. When we make career decisions to suit the expectations of our friends, parents or the broader cultural environment, we aren’t able to explore our true passions and interests, which holds us back from making any real career progress.Turning down an ill-fitting job right now might mean you avoid joining the more than one-third of people who feel they are in the wrong career.
Ensure you craft an amazing resume.
A great resume can make all the difference when it comes to getting an interview. You need to ensure you capture all the right keywords, demonstrating you possess the pertinent strengths and skills for the job. Make sure the document in question is organized, well-structured, and visually appealing. In short, your resume needs to stand out for all the right reasons to catch the hiring manager’s eye.
It is also advisable to have a number of resumes, depending on the industry you’re applying to. There are lots of aspects to consider and it can get quite intimidating, but the more time you spend researching and crafting your resume, the more likely it is you’ll be successful in your efforts. Don’t forget that you can always hire a professional resume writer to double your chances of securing an interview.
Consider job searching to be your full-time job.
While you’re out of work, your full-time job is searching for one. Put yourself into a routine. Wake up at a specific time, get ready for the day, and begin your job search bright and early. Keep track of the positions you have applied for, what companies they are with, and what the job requirements are.
Don’t let your routine slide. Once you start waking up late and going to bed at the wee hours of the night, it will get difficult to force yourself back into regular hours when you finally begin work. This will affect your levels of productivity and overall performance. To make sure you start off your career on the best foot, it’s best to practice discipline as soon as possible.
Demonstrate determination during interviews.
When you get called in for an interview, remember to arrive well-prepared. Do your homework on the company, its history, its culture and its products and services. Be familiar with the strengths and skills necessary, and demonstrate them. At the same time, remember that more and more companies are hiring based on attitude and potential, rather than technical skills.
Be sure to show your interviewers that you have drive and ambition. You’re a determined and dedicated individual, able to maintain the passion for a project in the long-term. This kind of infectious enthusiasm will go a long way to getting you hired.
Accept failure with grace.
Not every interview will have a positive outcome. This is inevitable and a reality you should come to terms with now. Remember that even if you weren’t successful, there is always something you can learn from that job interview experience. Call the company up and thank them for the opportunity to get feedback on your interview behavior. They will be in the best position to give you tips and pointers on what to improve next time around.
Find a forward-thinking, flexible organization.
Your role isn’t the only thing you should be concerned with when you begin applying. Whether or not you will end up being a content, engaged and productive employee will depend greatly on the company you are working for.
Are they old-fashioned, inflexible, and unwilling to accept changing trends in management and HR? Or are they progressive, enlightened companies with policies on flexible working and telecommuting? Do they understand the importance of offering clear career progression? Do employees and managers engage in regular performance management conversations, or do they still operate a rigid, annual performance appraisal? Before you apply, take a second to consider what the company can offer you and your career development.
Speak up during employee onboarding.
Once you get accepted for a position, you will have an onboarding phase, where you get trained for your role and introduced to your company, its processes, and its goals. Nervous though you may be, don’t hesitate to speak up and ask as many questions as possible. No question will be considered silly or naive. Your managers want you to be curious and to learn as much as you can, and asking questions is a clear indicator that you are determined to contribute and be productive.
Never forget that you can transition at any time.
Your first job might be daunting, and regardless of how much planning and preparation you have done when finding a job after college, you might question yourself on occasion. You might wonder whether you made the right decision, or whether you made a mistake. Don’t worry too much; try to be patient. Listen and learn as much as you can.
If at any point you feel your skills and abilities might be best served in another industry or role, you should know that your first job is not necessarily your destiny and that you will most probably transition a few times during your career. In fact, regardless of how dedicated you are to your role, you should maintain an 'open relationship' with your job. Always keep an eye out for something bigger and better. You’re just at the start of your career journey. Where you end up in 20 years might surprise you.
Sure, the ‘real world’ is bigger than your campus, but you just need to take it one step at a time. A lot of figuring out how to find a job after college depends on the skills you already have–put them to good use and you’ll be good to go!
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