First the bad news: Just because you’re almost done at university doesn’t mean the hard work is behind you. Just graduating from university is not enough to get a job.
In fact, in many ways getting that first job can be harder work than your exams(!) Yes, that does suck.
Fortunately, if you take the right steps the journey to come won’t be that long of one. What’s more, when you’ve taken those steps it won’t just be your professors that are happy but your future self who will be grateful.
So yeah, it’s worth it. The big question is obviously what are those steps? That’s what we’re going to spend the rest of this article on.
1. Start early – the internship
A job is not like university at all. This is something you’ll realize when you’re working.
More importantly, it’s something that the people already at the company you’re applying to already know. For that reason, they’re looking for you to demonstrate you have some actual real world experience.
If you can actually get a part-time job in a sector (close to what) you’re interested in, great! Then do that.
But if you can’t, then consider an internship.
There are many different kinds of internships. There are the ones where you spend one or two months in the summer working full time at a company.
Then there are the ones where you spend half a year only going in one or two days a week. Try going for the latter. These look far better on your CV and give you a lot more time to learn important skills.
2. Tinker with your CV
CVs are best written over a few weeks, as the space in between will allow you to look at your CV in a new light. That will show you weaknesses, places you can do a better job and ways to order the things you’ve done.
So take those weeks. Also, make sure you don’t ever think your CV is finished. It’s a constant work in progress that should evolve after every job and after every round of sending it out.
Even better, have somebody else give you advice. If you know somebody in the industry you’re interested in approach them and ask them to help you out.
If you don’t, then consider getting some kind of professional resume service involved. Whatever you do, realize that your CV and your cover letter are often the only thing between getting hired and staying unemployed. So make them count.
3. Build a LinkedIn profile
Nowadays if you’re serious about getting anywhere in the professional world then you’ll want to get a LinkedIn profile set up. These are in many ways just as important as your CV. In fact, many people will use them as their CV and send links of that instead.
So make sure you send the same amount of time and patience on there as you did on your actual CV. Especially as your LinkedIn will keep working for you even when you’re not actively looking for a job – and that means it can be well worth it.
Remember, for not it’s okay to let everybody know when you’ve updated your LinkedIn profile.
Down the road when you’ve got a job, however, you’ll want to make sure that it does not tell everybody (including your boss) when you’re making changes as that can be hard to explain when you’re already gainfully employed.
4. Activate your network
Today, it’s so much easier to make use of your network. In days gone by you had to reach out to whoever was in your address book (and often when you were younger, you wouldn’t have many people in there).
Now, you can just join LinkedIn and throw a few posts up on some other networks and you can reach hundreds or even thousands of people.
Of course, reaching them is not enough. You need to get them to respond as well. For that reason, you need to approach your network correctly. First, put up a few posts making people aware that your university days are almost over, as well as what you studied.
5. Get in touch
Then, write people individually. This is vitally important as most people don’t see the posts we put up (only a very small percentage does). What’s more, even if somebody does see your post that does not mean they will reply.
This is true even if they have a job and even if they would hire you. We just so often get swamped with work, or distracted, or we just forget things.
So reach out to people individually as then the norm of reciprocity will make it far more likely they’ll get back to you. Also, if you don’t hear from somebody after the first time, send them a reminder a week or so later. They might still not respond, but what does that really cost you?
Getting a job is hard work that might not seem immediately rewarding. The thing is, if you do it correctly and invest your energy it can make a difference of thousands of dollars a year and millions of dollars over your lifetime as it can put you on an entirely different career path.
So make sure you put some serious effort in there.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask people for help. Talk to your university’s career office, discuss tips with your three times removed uncle, ask friends for advice and plunder the internet.
After all, getting that first job isn’t easy and people know that. And so, they’ll forgive you your efforts and your questions. Heck, many people might even enjoy helping you out.
In that way, you might just get that lucky break you’re looking for and in that way get a serious leg up in the industry that you’re trying to get into. That can put your whole life on a different course where you’ll be able to make more money, live a more fulfilled life, or possibly even both!