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College seniors are often scrambling during their spring semester — worried about securing a full-time job, finding a place to live and preparing for the big transition that takes place after graduation day. I talked to Abbey Overlee, Talent Acquisition Specialist at PeerSource, who graduated from Colorado State University in May 2017. She offered me ten tips for transitioning from college to the workforce.
1. Clean up your online presence.
“If you would be uncomfortable showing a photo or a post to a future employer, delete it,” Overlee advised. Hiring managers and recruiters often take a look at your LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms to gain insight into who you are as a person.
Make sure that you are enhancing your personal brand, rather than diminishing it.
2. Be on the lookout for new opportunities.
“Sign up for job fairs, subscribe to newsletters and check online websites like Monster and Indeed. There are so many job boards out there,” the Talent Acquisition Specialist pointed out.
Go to your professors’ office hours and have a conversation about your career goals. They are experts in their fields, understand changes that are happening in the industry and may be willing to connect you with companies that align with your interests.
3. Utilize your Career Center.
The CSU Career Center was a helpful resource for Abbey Overlee during her college years. “I actually went to a career counselor that helped me write my resume and cover letter, which was extremely helpful. You can schedule appointments with them once a week for about an hour. They review your resume, ask you questions and help you figure out your career path,” she said.
4. Tailor your resume to the specific position.
Hiring managers and recruiters are often overwhelmed with applications and scan for keywords when they are reviewing resumes. If your resume does not include those keywords, they may disregard you as a candidate.
Look over the specific job description and tailor your resume to showcase how you would add value to the company. In Abbey Overlee’s opinion — “Buzzwords are huge. It could be the difference between getting an interview or not.”
5. Be proactive.
After applying for a job, do your research and find out who the hiring manager is at the company. Send him or her a follow-up email expressing your interest in the position.
“This will show that you take initiative. It aids in building a more personal connection and may even help the individual remember you when they are sifting through applications,” Overlee advised.
6. Prepare for your job interview.
“Career centers often offer a mock interview service. Ask your advisor to critique your performance and provide tangible steps to improve your interviewing skills,” Overlee said.
Do extensive research on the company that you are interested in working for prior to the initial interview. Impress the hiring manager by having deep knowledge of the industry as well as familiarity with the organization’s past projects.
Hiring managers will often end an interview by asking the candidate if he or she has any questions about the company or the position. It is easy to freeze up in the moment, so mentally prepare a list of thoughtful questions ahead of time.
7. Be appreciative.
“Thank you notes and emails go a long way,” Overlee said. Take the time to thank the interviewer for his or her time. Even if you do not get the position, you will leave a lasting positive impression on the hiring manager.
8. Be prepared to discuss salary expectations and job offers.
Do your research and know what salary range people in your area are generally receiving for a given position. Websites like Payscale.com, Glassdoor.com, or Salary.com can give you more specific information and even compare what other companies pay for the same job.
After you have done this, figure out what the company is willing to pay and what their range is for the position.
Be enthusiastic. Even if the offer is lower than you expected, always be gracious and express excitement before you discuss your pay range needs. If you are going to negotiate the salary, be able to explain why you are asking for that amount and how you would bring that level of value to the company.
9. Accept or pass on the offer with class.
When you receive an offer, you can choose to accept the position or pass on the opportunity.
In both cases — be kind, patient and grateful. Hiring managers and recruiters will tell you that a person’s character is defined in these final moments.
10. Seek out mentors.
“It can be intimidating to reach out to experienced professionals for mentorship, but keep in mind that most individuals are willing to help young people. After all, they were once in your shoes,” Overlee reminds college students.
The worst thing that can happen is the individual says no. In that case, you have lost nothing. You are left in the same position that you were in before you reached out to the person.
Have the courage to extend a simple coffee invitation to a professional that you admire.
“Mentally prepare for the transition, and understand that it is going to be tough,” Overlee said. In the months following graduation, you will likely be overwhelmed. But, be reassured that this season of life will pass, and the best days are yet to come. Ten years from now, you may be the person offering college students mentorship and reassuring them that things get better.
Samantha Snellings is the Social Media Manager at PeerSource and a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Last summer, she interned for senior White House correspondent, John Gizzi, in Washington. She attended the daily White House press briefings, wrote articles, and only occasionally got in trouble with the Secret Service for stepping on the president’s lawn. She is passionate about her faith, journalism, entrepreneurship, traveling, and politics.
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By Samantha Snellings 8-3-2018