A guide to a more marketable you after graduation
College is hard work, but the biggest job may lie ahead: selling yourself to potential employers. In today's tight employment market every possible edge is important, so taking a hard look at how you market yourself may ultimately pay off in a good job after graduation. Here are some tips to make yourself more attractive to future employers that you can put into practice no matter how far along you are in your college studies.
College is More than Just Good Grades
If an employer is trying to make a decision between two resumes, he or she will often choose the applicant who has additional interests outside of studying. Joining clubs and participating in extracurricular activities may give you an edge over those who simply made grades. Of course, you should not let your extracurricular activities interfere with your grades or studying; however, being able to show that you managed to balance school work while pursuing other worthwhile interests and passions can speak volumes to employers about your work ethic and time management. Some clubs or groups may also provide you with opportunities to meet professionals in your field and network prior to applying for jobs.
Apply for Internships
Internships are a great way to get on-the-job experience that will bolster your resume and prove your interest in the field. Internships can be competitive, so begin researching these opportunities as early as freshman year. You can often schedule internships for summer or seasonal breaks so that you do not have to take a semester off from classes. Internships allow students to build a network outside of school, and professional references from supervisors can go a long way during the post-graduation job hunt. If you are lucky enough to land one, oftentimes, a paid internship is the best step you can take towards landing a job out of college.
In fact, a study from the National Association of Colleges and Employers estimated that a paid internship will turn into a job offer 60 percent of the time.
Keep Your Grades Up
It is easy to forget that grades are something potential employers consider. A person who has engaged in extracurricular activities and internships but has mediocre grades may not be hired as quickly as someone with a high grade point average who was also active outside of class. It may not seem fair, but grades are still a measure that employers understand.
Attendance is Important
While most college professors do not keep a running score of your attendance, some do. If attendance is reported as part of your transcript, it can hurt your job chances if an employer sees that you missed every Friday for two months. Employers may also contact your former professors and ask about your commitment to class time. Even if your class attendance habits are still your secret, your future employer will surely hear about your attendance at internships or work-study jobs.
Take a Variety of Classes
Every class you take should be useful to you when you graduate, so it pays to take a variety of classes in numerous subjects. While you should not “major hop” or jump from one subject to another, use electives to explore areas outside your comfort zone. Doing so may make you more marketable and give you knowledge and experience that you can use in a future job, even if you are not planning on working in that particular field.
Build a Portfolio
Employers do not only want to see grades; they want to see what you can actually do. While internships are great for building job experience, they are also a good opportunity to put together a portfolio of your best work. Examples of your writing or samples of other skills, including presentations or projects you completed, will be helpful when you go to an interview.
Use Social Networks Wisely
One of the easiest ways you can begin marketing yourself while in school is to start creating an online presence. Most college students today use a wide array of social media sites—but many are doing so only to keep in touch with friends. Part of marketing yourself to potential employers should also include setting up a career-focused social media profile on sites like LinkedIn. A recent Student Career Development study found that too many students “are not aggressively preparing for their post-college careers.” While many students (95%) have a Facebook profile, only one third of students surveyed made use of LinkedIn, despite the fact that the majority of students surveyed (85%) “believe that having an internship is important or very important” to securing a job out of college, and sites like LinkedIn offer a multitude of opportunities to network for internships. In an effort to create a professional online presence, students who do have a Facebook profile should also be sure to eliminate any potentially harmful pictures or videos from their account.
Additionally, remember to make use of the resources you have at your disposal while in school. Career counselors and academic advisors can help you perfect your resume and cover letter, and these offices often host interview classes or job fairs. Following these tips will help you attract job offers and impress employers. Become a well-rounded college student and translate that work into future job potential!
Chad Fisher is an education enthusiast with a passion for building education and career-oriented websites to help people learn more about careers that interest them. He is currently interested in helping people find a career in physical training with his website SMPNET.org.
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