For college seniors, this time of year is one with mixed emotions. You’re quickly approaching the end of your collegiate career and about to be introduced to the “real world.” For many, this is the first part of life where there isn’t a concrete plan or path to follow. Where do you go next? For many, the logical step is to enter the workforce. Although graduation is still some months away, it’s important to prepare yourself for the competitive job market. Here are 5 tips to aid in the transition to the workplace:
Clean Up Your Online Presence
In the age of social media, it seems that we as a society are infatuated with taking every opportunity to share our lives online. With the end of your college chapter quickly approaching, it’s important to take a look at your social pages. Your online persona has formed a reputation. For some, this reputation has the possibility to hinder your professional image and the chances of landing an interview for your first job. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are often the first places that recruiters look to learn more about your character. First, enact your privacy settings. Next, take the time to comb through your post history, and be rid of anything that may jeopardize your job chances. The easiest way to verify you’ve done a thorough job is to google yourself. What comes up in your search query mirrors employers search as well so this final step will verify that you’ve left an appropriate digital footprint.
BONUS TIP: Be active on LinkedIn. When you Google your name, your LinkedIn profile is often one of the top results. This page is an extension of your resume. Utilize this platform to interact with business professionals and share content relevant to your industry (bonus points if you’ve written it yourself)!
Upgrade Your Professional Look
Dress codes certainly aren’t what they used to be. Gone are the days of mandatory office attire demanding dress shirts, ties, pantsuits, and heels. We’ve seemed to trade in the traditional office attire for a more lax environment. Don’t let this trend fool you into taking your current wardrobe with you to your first job. It is never acceptable to show up to an interview in jeans, even if the dress code permits it.
Ladies, putting together an appropriate interview outfit can be a challenging task. A blazer paired with dress pants or skirt combination is always a safe way to go even if you feel the look is over the top compared to the company “norm.” However, your look should not distract your interviewer. Makeup artist and hairstylist Abraham Sprinkle tells InStyle, “In putting together your interview look, it’s important to have balance. Being too overdone can come across as high maintenance while being too undone can suggest a lack of caring.” The less is more mantra is fitting here. Your makeup shouldn’t appear obvious, and should simply accentuate your natural features. Your hair should compliment your look, not be the focus.
Gentlemen, you may think that it’s easier for you to prepare an interview outfit, but that’s not entirely true. While your clothing options may be more limited to your female counterparts (a suit is always the best bet for an interview), there’s more of a focus on the small details of your appearance. This goes without saying, but your face is the focal point of an interview. Whether you’re sporting a trendy beard or maintaining a hair-free look, it’s important to master a tame appearance. Using the proper shaving products will ensure you’re groomed to perfection. This will also show your attention to detail.
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Continue to Gain Experience
You can never have too much experience. Make yourself more marketable by looking into an internship. Now, some of you may already have a list of internships that you’ve completed throughout your four years at school. Look a little closer. Are they all the same? Use the remainder of your senior year to broaden your experience. Test your skill set by taking an internship that is completely outside of your repertoire. It will show diversity on your resume, and also teach you more about your ability to adapt to new situations. The more exposure you have to different work environments, the more confident in your career choices you will become.
BONUS TIP: This is for those of you have already graduated. Landing your first job can be hard. It’s a tough market with lots of competition. Don’t be too proud to take an internship while you’re on the job hunt. It is not unusual to take an unpaid internship with the hope that it may lead to a full-time position. At the very least you’ve further expanded your connections, enhanced your skill set, and filled a potential gap in your resume.
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Become a Member of a Professional Association
A professional association is a group that consists of people in the same profession who gather for networking events geared toward setting the standard for the profession. There is no better way to network than to go to coordinated events with established professionals in your field. You make relevant connections, have access to internship and job openings, achieve certifications, and have a deep understanding of best practices and policies. You’ll remain continuously updated on changes and developments in your industry, all while gaining the respect of your superiors.
Find a Mentor
Social behavior in the workforce is not something that can accurately be replicated in the classroom. Your vision of reality may be skewed. To get a grasp on what to expect, you should find a knowledgeable mentor that is willing to take you under their wing. Seek out trusting professionals that you feel comfortable asking questions and soliciting opinions. Whether they’re professors or professionals from your internships, find different mentors for different reasons. Your mentors can have various areas of expertise, and it’s nice to have them in your arsenal.
Develop your self-confidence by seeking mentors who have similar work style. Watching someone with character traits that mirror your personal brand can help reveal your strength and unique skill set. It also allows you watch a more experienced and successful version of yourself in action. On the other side of the spectrum, it’s just as valuable to find a mentor who is very different from you. They will challenge you to solve problems with approaches that are likely outside of your comfort zone. This will test you to try new things and ultimately make you more confident.
What additional tips would you add? Please leave us a comment to let us know! As always, thanks for reading.
Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash