The transition from student to professional is not easy. It takes work. It requires you to think strategically and go above and beyond the bare minimum.
It’s expected for you to go to class and do well. It’s expected for you to craft a résumé and apply for jobs online. You need to be on LinkedIn. But if you only do these things you’re not likely to get your dream job offer. So if you don’t want to settle, you need to go beyond what’s expected.
Here are the top pieces of advice from our partner Virginia College on ways to go above and beyond on your job hunt that will help you land the opportunity you want:
1 – Start Before You Need A Job:
When most people think “job search,” the steps that come to mind include résumés, applications and interviews. In reality, when you are looking for a job, a successful search starts far earlier than that.
There is important groundwork to be done while preparing to pursue a new career, beginning with personal development, professional development, developing your brand and realizing your goals.
For more insight on this, check out Looking for a Job? Take These 4 Steps Now
2 – Define Your Brand:
Most people think a brand is gimmicky or salesy. Not true. It should be true to who you are and what you stand for. Your brand is essentially your reputation. Use the tools at your disposal to craft how you want to be known. Everything from your bio on social media to your ability to deliver your work in time is part of your brand. What are you passionate about? What do you care about? Who do you want to ultimately become? When people think of you what do you want them to associate with you? Practice discussing your learned skills and concepts. It’s important to be able to communicate your strengths verbally.
3 – Join Professional Organizations:
Professional development may refer to a variety of activities, including specialized training, formal education, networking events and other learning opportunities. All are intended to help improve your knowledge, skills and effectiveness as an employee. These organizations have networking events giving you the chance to network within industry associations. One thing many students don’t always realize is you don’t need to have a full-time job in that industry to join these groups!
For further engagement, be sure to volunteer and look for ways to get involved by helping to plan and execute events, or join the board as a student representative.
4 – Shadow And Intern:
Opportunities come through people. When you visit with individuals to see how they work or work directly with individuals this is your opportunity to build trust and respect. Don’t be afraid to consider meeting with a career counselor to discuss your professional goals. Virginia College students and graduates have access to Career Development teams at each of their campuses. Check to see if your college has something similar.
5 – Create An Elevator Pitch:
Most young people are unsure of where to start. It’s intimidating but push past that feeling. You have an agenda, and a mission that is bigger than how you feel in this moment. So whip out a blank sheet of paper. Number your paper from 1 to 10 and list the top 10 things that are most important about you.
Think about questions like:
- What do you do?
- What have you achieved?
- What are your goals?
When narrowing down your list, focus on unique details that will make you stand out. Then, you need to edit your pitch. Since elevator pitches are meant to be brief, it’s critical that you eliminate any information that is:
Additionally, consider whether you’ve left out any key information. And, be sure that each aspect of your pitch supports one main point. If you were to get cut off, what would you want the person you were pitching to remember?
For more on this topic, check out How to Do an Elevator Pitch.
6 – Have A Winning Résumé:
Okay great, you have experience, connections but your résumé needs a lift. Most people try to go the extra mile and design a special résumé, but it’s best to keep your design simple.
Let your skills and experience speak for themselves. Do not use overly sophisticated formats or fonts. A simple font like Times New Roman or Arial will suffice. Plus, you want your résumé to be easy to read!
Also tailor your résumé, to the job. Make it clear that you fit the bill. If an employer is looking for someone who “can work nights and weekends if necessary” or is “CPR-certified,” use these exact words in your résumé and cover letter. Once your résumé is ready, have a trusted friend, family member, or career counselor take a look at it. Students at Virginia College can reach out to the Career Development team for résumé help and interview prep.
For more résumé tips check out: 5 Résumé Tips to Help You Stand Out.
[This post is sponsored by Virginia College.]