You’ve worked hard for that degree; you have a passion for your major field; and you are ready to get the dream job that you know is out there somewhere. As you begin your senior year, landing that job has to take some of your thought and action. You will have a degree but no experience. Here is how you can still make yourself marketable without that experience.
1. Get an Internship or Volunteer
If you have really thought ahead and pursued an internship in your field, you are ahead of the game. Internships and accomplishments during them can be a big piece of your resume. If you have not landed an internship, then pursue a volunteer position with an organization that relates to your major field. If, for example, you are majoring in biology, looking for some volunteerism in a lab or with an organization that focuses on environmental programs that preserve animal or plant life. If you are a broadcast journalism major and you didn’t land an internship, find a radio or television station that will accept you as a volunteer. Targeted volunteer work is important now. And, if you should not have a job offer by the time you graduate, continue that volunteer work in your niche, even if you have to do it part-time, while you take a job that is less than your ideal. Sometimes, your best trait is patience.
2. Identify All of Your Skills
It’s a good idea to get down on paper all of the skills you have. In fact, you might surprise yourself. And add a description of how you developed those skills. Again, this is in preparation for creating your resume. Sometimes, a skill that is unrelated to the basics of your ideal job will be important to a potential employer. For example, you may have a major in computer science. And, while in college, you may have done some freelance writing for blogs. Solid writing skills may just be a tipping point in your favor. If you have held leadership positions during your college years, this is great experience for companies that are looking for potential leaders in any field. And don’t forget skills you have picked up by volunteerism.
Look at the list of skills you have developed and think about how they can be transferred to a job in your career field. If you do get an interview, you will want to be able to explain this to a potential employer.
3. Identify all Honors and/or Awards You Have Achieved
These may not relate in any way to the position you seek. However, they do tell a potential employer that you have stood out from your peers, that you have worked to achieve specific goals, and that your accomplishments have been to a level that merited recognition. Again, you want to list these, as you prepare for your resume creation.
4. Put Yourself Out There on the Web
You want a potential employer to be able to access more than your Facebook page. Drive them to other information about you. Set up a LinkedIn profile that showcases the key courses you have taken that relate to your ideal position; create a website with a portfolio that shows you expertise and/or talents; start a blog and write posts that relate to your industry. All of these things can promote your expertise and your passion for your career field. And you can drive potential employers to these things via your resume.
5. Think about a Functional Rather than a Chronological Resume
A functional resume focuses on skill sets and accomplishments rather than a chronological depiction of work history. As a newbie into a career field, you don’t have the work history to showcase, so adopt a totally different approach. In the section that is usually reserved for employment history, list those skills that you have developed, examples of how you have used those skills in what you have done during your college years, and accomplishments as a result of using those skills.
6. Crafting that Resume
As you get ready to create your resume, you have lots of tools at your disposal. Use all of them.
• Your career placement office can give you some great pointers on crafting your resume.
• You can find sample resumes at large employment sites like Monster.com
• You can use a custom resume creation service or hire a resume expert, that will give you a piece of advice.
• You can access a specific resume tool site in your career area and use a template that fits your background
• You can make an appointment with a local private recruitment firm and receive help from one of the recruiters.
7. Do the Research Before Attending Any Job Fairs
Your career placement office will host job fairs during your senior year. The companies and organizations that will be attending will be published in advance. Your job will be to conduct the research on these enterprises so that you have enough information to know the following:
• Are there good opportunities that meet your career goals?
• Is the company “culture” a good fit for you?
Research may give you information that you can use during a short interview experience to let the interviewer know that you have done some research (this does impress). You will also determine if the organization is formal and traditional or more progressive – you will probably have a preference.
8. Explore Opportunities on Your Own
Do not just rely on the job fairs to produce your ideal first career position. Meet with a recruitment firm or two, specifically those that work with organizations that will have openings in our field. These are fee-based firms, but, if you use a reputable firm, employers pay those fees, not you.
If there are companies/organizations that are high on your list of desirables, access their websites, get the names of HR directors, and take some initiative, even if there is no specific opening at the time. Contact those HR professionals, indicate your interest and be certain that you deliver your resume to them. It is not unusual for job seekers to call HR directors and ask for a meeting – this is becoming more and more common, especially if the company is local. Personally delivering your resume and letting an HR director see you face-to-face will make a stronger impression and is likely to keep your name in mind when an opening does occur.
9. Do Not Ignore LinkedIn
You have a profile and you have a resume posted. Join groups that are related to your career field niche and begin to develop relationships during your senior year. This type of networking is valuable. If you have established connections with people who are already working in your field, they will notify you when positions open and may provide recommendations for you.
Conclusion – Keep the Non-Negotiables in Mind
Every graduate has an idea of his/her dream job and should have the specific “non-negotiables” in mind as they look at positions and potential employers. For example, you may want a casual work environment and a more progressive organization above all else. It is important that you keep those non-negotiables in mind as pursue employment and take those interviews. On the other hand, you may compromise some of those non-negotiables and take a position that does not meet your ideals, in order to get some experience under your belt while you continue to look. Fortunately, today, attitudes are changing, and it is not unusual for millennials to change positions more often than in decades past.