Back To School: How To Look For A Job Before Graduation

It’s that time of year! Millions of young adults are beginning their fall academic courses at colleges and universities across the nation. And while moving into dorms or apartments, purchasing or renting textbooks, and deciding which local dive will have the best atmosphere this coming Friday are undoubtedly preoccupying their thoughts, job search shouldn’t be entirely out of mind, even for freshmen.

Semesters may seem like centuries now, but graduation sneaks up on most college students. To best prepare themselves for the future job search, college students must familiarize themselves with job search best practices now.

If you’re a college student preparing to immerse yourself in the lackluster job market, check out these tips for how to look for a job before graduation.

Join A Student Professional Association
Name your field of choice, and it’s almost guaranteed to have a professional association. By joining a student professional association, you’re becoming a member of a special community of students with a shared passion. Plus, these are the students who will be in your upper division classes, so it’s best to get to know them as soon as possible. Doing so will allow you to avoid wasting time with personal basics when professors assign group projects in class.

Connect With Guest Speakers
Many college professors will invite industry guest speakers into class to provide expertise on a particular topic. Savvy students think of lessons with guest speakers as more than just another lecture; they see an opportunity to practice their networking skills. When the speaker is finished answering audience questions and class is dismissed, take the opportunity to introduce yourself to the speaker. Let him know that you appreciate how he took time from his busy schedule to share his expertise, then ask for his business card. Follow up with him a few days later on your professional social networks asking to connect.

Set Up Social Networking Profiles
In today’s job search, social networking profiles are a “must” for every young professional. Thirty-seven percent of employers use social networking sites to pre-screen candidates, and 92 percent of recruiters use social networking sites to find talent. If you already have social networking profiles like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, examine their contents closely. Even if you view your social networking profiles as personal, employers will be looking at the content you put out, so remember to be appropriate. If you don’t  have social networking profiles, or you prefer to keep the profiles you have private from employers, a public LinkedIn profile is still expected. (See how to optimize your LinkedIn profile for the job search.)

Establish Your Personal Brand And Perfect Your Resume
To stand out in the crowd of job seekers, professionals must establish and nurture their personal brands. In college, carefully think of the consistent image you’d like to portray as a professional, then run your ideas by professors. Once you’ve decided upon a brand, incorporate it in all of your job search materials, including your resume.

Attend Industry School Networking Events
School job fairs are one way to get your feet wet in the job search process, but university-wide job fairs boast participants looking for students in a variety of disciplines. Professionals in your industry of choice may be few and far between. Industry school networking events are much more beneficial for students. They guarantee professionals within your industry will be in attendance. Sign up for as many of these networking events as you can, even if it means shelling out a few dollars in the process. These events are great opportunities for building your network, practicing face-to-face communication skills, and learning of internship and job leads.

Read Up On Interview Best Practices
From how early to arrive to what to wear and how to follow-up, the Web is littered with interview advice. Begin reading up on interview best practices and ask your friends to help improve your performance with mock interviews even before submitting your resume for internships or jobs. That way, when it comes time to interview with potential employers, interviewing will feel like second nature. A killer interview tip to remember is that, in interviews for jobs, it’s not about what you, the job seeker, want or need. It’s always what you can do for the potential employer.

Apply For Internships
Most colleges require at least some of their students to complete an internship before graduation, but all students should pursue internships regardless of graduation requirements. Internships are more often than not the first step to employment. And even though students who complete paid internships are more likely to be hired by their employers, unpaid internships are still the best way for students to acquire professional experience. Ideally, students should begin applying for internships early in their college careers (after freshmen year), but it’s never too late to land lucrative internships.

What are some other tips on how to land a job before graduation for college students? Share your ideas in the comment section!

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