Wake Forest University career counselor says stay focused, don’t panic.
Newswise — (WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., February 5, 2013) As U.S. employers continued to hire, adding 157,000 workers in January, you might have heard a sigh of relief from college seniors and their parents. It’s college-recruiting season, and as career fairs pop up at universities across the country, second semester seniors kick their job search into higher gear. A Wake Forest University career counselor says while the improving economy is good news, graduating seniors still have to compete for those new positions. But there is time.
“Don’t panic,” says Carolyn Couch, associate director of career education and counseling in the Office of Personal and Career Development (OPCD). “Many students come to us worried that their roommates already have job offers – but students should realize different employers have different hiring schedules. Students with accounting majors, for example, are recruited early in the fall while most other industries hire on a just-in-time basis. We encourage them to share that information with their parents, too.”
So how can second-semester seniors maximize their job search? Couch suggests focusing on three key areas:
Learn to network efficiently
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says at least 70 percent of jobs across the nation are found through networking. That means developing relationships through in-person connections and social media is crucial. Couch says she recommends LinkedIn because profiles there frequently come up in the first page of search results.
“Almost 90 percent of employers tell us they use LinkedIn to scout potential employees,” Couch says, “We recommend that students treat their LinkedIn profile like a resume and use the service to professionally connect with others.”
Couch tells her students:
• Make sure your LinkedIn profile and resume match.
• Use a professional headshot for your profile.
• Join LinkedIn groups that match your school, industry,or geographic location. Groups let you send messages to other group members.
• Connect with prospective employers through your connections to ask questions about the field, seek informational interviews or find the names of hiring managers.
“Don’t underestimate the power of your school’s alumni on LinkedIn,” Couch says. “We’ve found that the 6,000 alumni and members of our Wake Forest University Career Connectors group go the extra mile to help seniors and recent graduates find good opportunities.”
Create a job search plan. Follow it.
“If you don’t have a strategy or a plan, you’re going to waste time,” says Couch. “If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you won’t find it.”
Couch advises students to track all career search activities on a downloadable spreadsheet like this network tracking tool to be organized and efficient. Having contact information, interview dates and other important data in one place allows job seekers to plan their activities so they are working smarter. Instead of trolling multiple job posting boards, Couch recommends students check out Indeed.com because it aggregates listings and allows users to set up alerts for chosen fields.
Couch also suggests contacting the university’s career counselor services. Conducting regular meetings with a mentor can help students stay focused and accountable to the job search strategy.
Leverage your skills in resume and cover letters
“Students should research not just the position but also the company,” Couch says. “Job descriptions will clearly outline the kind of candidate they are searching for. Use your resume and cover letter to highlight what you’ve learned and how you are a good match.”
• Write a one-page resume.
• Create bullet points with power verbs to highlight work or volunteer experiences.
• Tailor each resume and cover letter to the job description.
• Proofread! Spelling and grammar mistakes will cost you an interview.
• Practice. Doing mock interviews will help you get more comfortable with the real thing.
“The general focus should be on how you – as a possible employee – can benefit the company, not how the company can benefit you,” Couch says. “Remember your resume and cover letter are the first impression. Tell them what it is about you that makes you a valuable hire.”
About Wake Forest University:
Wake Forest University combines the best traditions of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large research university. Founded in 1834, the school is located in Winston-Salem, N.C. The University’s graduate school of arts and sciences, divinity school, and nationally ranked schools of law, medicine and business enrich our intellectual environment. Learn more about Wake Forest University at www.wfu.edu.