Soon-to-be Grads: What are you doing now that will help you later?

26 08 2009

I’m about to enter my final year of university. This is both an exciting and uncertain time as I don’t know what the future will hold after I leave the relative safety of university environment behind me. I have had two amazing years at Cambridge and enjoyed every second of it. And I’m eager to make the most of my final year as well. The workload will be high but also rewarding and I’m keen to take on everything that comes. At the same time, however, it is hightime for thoughts about my future direction after Cambridge. The “scary” job search is getting nearer and nearer. And whilst the possibilities of gaining internships and summer work experiences are mostly aimed at first and second-years, soon-to-be grads are left with great tools that can help in the future job search.

The best time to implement these, of course, is before you get into the swing of your senior year and schoolwork occupies most of your time. The summer before your final year at university should therefore be used not only to get some needed last-minute experience but also to prepare for what lies ahead and make your future job search a bit easier.

So what can you do now that will help you later?

  • update your CV and learn how to write cover letters and market yourself to potential employers

Put in the effort, do your homework, and make your CV stand out. Think about all your activities, skills and experiences that could show what you’ve achieved so far. Use the Situation-Activity-Result process to identify how your achievements can be presented on your CV. Research cover letter requirements and make sure you show yourself in the best light.

  • build your online presence

Almost 1 in 2 companies will now check your online identity before they make you an offer. That means almost a 50% chance that you’ll be “googled” before you even get an interview. Go now and perform a “vanity search” – putting your name into Google. What do the results tell you? Is your online presence strong? Is there something that you wouldn’t want a hiring manager to see? Check for unflattering information and then work on building up your positive online image. Social media can help you a lot and I suggest starting and maintaining a LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed and a blog. This way you can influence your personal brand on the web and prove your expertise and commitment.

  • build your knowledge of the field

School is not the only place to gain knowledge. Read blogs that talk about your industry. Follow experts on Twitter. Watch inspiring talks or listen to podcasts. There are many ways in which you can gain new expertise and thus enhance your job prospects.

  • devise a plan of attack

When and where will you start with your job search? Is there anything you need to do beforehand? Who will you ask for help? How will you balance school and job hunting? Sit down and make a plan of action. Figuring all of this out in advance will save you precious time later.

  • broaden your network

Networking is still one of the most important strategies in any job search. Do you know any people who could help you? Have you been in touch with old connections, classmates or peers? Start building and broadening your network by realizing who you already know and then building up on it. Attend events, get involved in Alumni groups and social networks. Work on your network now and offer value and help to others before you need help yourself.

What are YOU doing now that will help you later? Any other strategies that you would recommend?

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7 09 2009
Why You Should Act Now « Be like Alice in Wonderland…be creative and find your brand!

[…] You Should Act Now 7 09 2009 I have written before on the topic of early action. In Soon-to-be Grads: What are you doing now that will help you later? I suggested updating CV, building online presence or broadening your network as priorities on the […]

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