It’s been a long haul, but you can see the end of this phase of your academic journey; the light at the end of the tunnel is beginning to come into focus.
It’s essential that you not wait until you are bathing in the celebration lights to prepare for your post graduation challenges. By then it’s too late.
Your competition is already preparing their plans to do battle for the scarce jobs that will be available. You don’t want to be lost in their wake.
The period leading up to graduation is critical for you. It is a “finish and prepare” period where you can’t take your eye off graduating, but at the same time you have to get ready to hit the bricks running day one after you receive your piece of paper.
Preparing your plan the day after graduation is a nonstarter; you will give others the advantage.
What does the finish and prepare plan look like?
1. Dust off your career path plan
Make sure it reflects your current thinking. To prepare for the interview trail work on your answer to the question “Why should we hire you when there are so many others interested in the opportunity with us?”
Create your personal ONLY statement as the way to express your uniqueness in the job hunting crowd.
Let’s face it practically every job competitor will have academic credentials they can tout; you need to include much more if you want a recruiter to notice you and be intrigued with what you have to offer.
2. Reach out to your network
Everyone is busy so don’t be surprised if you have fallen off some people’s radar since you last contacted them. You need to be top of mind for those you deem critical for support.
You should be active in associations or other groups in the business community and now is the time to be in their faces.
3. Make appointments
Time is not your friend as your competition will be out there knocking on doors; drumming up interest in who they are and what they can do.
Decide on who you want to talk to and schedule an appointment with each as soon after graduation day as possible.
There is little “play time” available time to enjoy the fruits of your academic labor.
4. Revise your resume
Create a killer resume that stands apart from others. This shouldn’t be too difficult as everyone relies on boilerplate templates to do it. Think about your resume as your fingerprints that others will examine; it needs to tell your story and present what is special about you.
Furthermore, since your career plan should identify the organizations you are interested in.
Customize your resume for each to express your competencies in THEIR context — the unique challenges each faces. One resume does not fit all potential employers.
5. Engage your mentors
If you don’t have individuals in the business community you can look to for advice and guidance, get them fast! Successful careers are built around the experiences of others: what worked for them and what didn’t.
Reach out to a handful of your “besties”; engage them in your finish and prepare planning.
Create a list of no more than six questions to probe the areas you need input on and take copious amounts of notes when they speak.
6. Put your break on hold
It’s tempting to take a time out after graduation and delay active pursuit of your career.
After all, you have worked hard for 4+ years and you rightly feel you deserve some time off to rest and travel.
I’ve never seen this strategy work, really. While you’re exploring the world or hanging on the beach, others are active on the hunt to land a job and starting their career. The question you have to ask yourself is can you afford a late start and be in a catch-up mode?
Post-graduation success depends on how you plan your launch and how much more you want it than your competition.
Put in the time.