Graduating from college is exciting. After four (or more) years of hard work, it’s time to move on. This accomplishment is the next step on your journey toward a whole new life. While you might be nervous about this next phase, the good news is that the job market for new grads is improving. Roughly 52.9% of those who graduated with a bachelor’s degree last year were employed full-time this past winter, and 7.3% managed to find part-time jobs, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ First Destination Survey. Furthermore, a New York Federal Reserve report shows that 2015 college graduates may have an easier time finding a job this year.
If you’re about to start a new job or even if you’re still looking for your first gig, it’s important to work on making a good first impression. The Cheat Sheet spoke with career coach and psychologist Janet Scarborough Civitelli for some advice. Here are a few tips for making sure you start off on the right foot.
1. Your degree is not enough
Just because you have your degree in hand doesn’t mean your work is done. Now is not the time to sit back and relax. Know that securing a quality job takes more than a college degree. It will be necessary to gain some real-world experience and build a professional network.
“The biggest mistake is to assume that finishing a college degree is sufficient to land a good job. Most of the time, even entry level jobs require some related professional experience. Try to start gaining résumé-building experiences a couple years before graduation, not the month before,” said Civitelli, who is also the founder of career site VocationVillage.com and author of the book Help Me Find a Career: Strategies to Choose Work You Will Love.
You can gain experience through internships and volunteering. Several organizations such as American Red Cross, The National Institutes of Health, and J.P. Morgan provide hands-on experience. Two other programs worth looking into are Dream Path and Email Genius Academy, which are both offered through data solutions provider Return Path. Dream Path is a twelve-week sales and service career development program that will begin this June. Recent college graduates who successfully complete the program are offered full-time jobs. Email Genius Academy is a college internship program that exposes students to the email technology industry in an effort to provide training for marketing and software engineering careers.
2. Broaden your skills
The competitive job market will require that you learn as much as you can about a variety of topics and develop expertise in more than one subject area. Increasing your knowledge will make you a more valuable employee.
“During your college years, don’t get so narrowly focused on your major that you neglect to develop a wide range of skills. Employers say they want to hire people with demonstrated abilities in leadership, communication, teamwork, and analytic/quantitative problem-solving. Find activities to pursue that will give you something to discuss in interviews,” said Civitelli.
It is not always necessary to go back to school for another degree to learn new skills. There are plenty of certificate programs and short-term classes that can assist you with acquiring the knowledge you need to succeed in your career.
3. Utilize your school’s career services office
Don’t be too anxious to leave your school behind for good. The career services department can be a helpful resource. Also connect with your school’s alumni association. They can provide assistance with job placement and networking opportunities.
“Most colleges have career services offices that organize opportunities to get your résumé critiqued, meet recruiters, attend job fairs, and work with a career counselor to plan career development. Your tuition likely pays for these services, so take advantage of everything your school offers,” said Civitelli.